There is an interesting thing to highlight when observing the rivalry between the two main Spanish cities, Madrid and Barcelona. While locals from Madrid are known for their confident way of talking, the proud they are of their city… Madrid, although the capital city of Spain, seems to feel little behind Barcelona in terms of brand recognition and admiration.
There was a clear milestone for Barcelona to make its self-confidence grow and to launch itself to the world: the 1992 Olympics. Though they were a national project and effort, Barcelona knew how to capitalize them and take the lead of the Spanish city brands. They did it brilliantly.
And, since then, Madrid has not found the way to emulate that brightness abroad. No doubt Sports -and particularly Olympics- have such a branding power it can shadow many other plans.
There a few, very few places in the world at the cultural and historic level of Madrid. Few that can say they have an even similar sense of openness to anyone, that offer such a way to enjoy people and life. This means a lot.
To my understanding, Madrid has tried to emerge as an admired brand with a lack of creativeness and a dangerous and risky sense of urgency. Maybe the key lays in the sense of community and more-than-a-city conviction Barcelona has versus this short-term plans Madrid usually think of. Even those plans thought for long-term always come full of urgency.
Maybe Barcelona found by chance its way to brand. 1992 Olympics were planned to vertebrate the country, immerse in its way to economic growth. Olympics, Seville Universal Expo, the High Speed train… A part of a global plan that Barcelona understood perfectly and turned into the starting point of a global branding strategy.
Maybe Madrid is too immerse in the world of huge consultancies, big thinkers, and -as I pointed- lack of common sense and creativeness.