City of Budapest / tourism branding

At the end of 2010, a decision was made, and at the same time, a design contest was announced to draw up the capital city’s unified and new tourism brand. The Tourism Destination Management Company of Budapest aimed to create a unified visual corporate image and tourism brand which is modern and competitive in all aspects, and able to represent the tourism and cultural values ​​of the city.

The strategic expectations towards the visual corporate image of the company BTDM are as follows:

Brand Budapest: The reinforcement of the Budapest brand aims to attract more foreign and domestic visitors to choose Budapest as their city-break destination and create a positive perception. The main objective of rebranding was to sharply distinguish Budapest from the major cities of the neighbouring countries, suggesting that it is worth choosing Budapest with its promises of relaxation and revitalization. This brand, which is communicated on the inbound and national markets, is an independent one, differs from the one that Hungary as a country would use. The new corporate identity should be understood by all age groups. There is no deeper of further target group specification, so all potential visitors must be addressed. The Budapest brand reveals the relationship that connects the town with water, primarily the River Danube, but the aspects of historical spas or islands are important, too.

Danube: It refers to the key message ​​that the water or the river may convey: it is renewable time on time, can be reborn, has got dynamics, and refreshes. It nourished by the past and the proceeds to the future, connecting the West to the East. Bath City: It refers to the values ​​that the local hot spring waters mean: to relax, to be cured, to be recharged. It can express the duality of the city in terms location, and in terms of its modern and trendy world on the one hand, and its traditions on the other hand. This duality gives exciting and dynamic characteristics to the city.

Additional requirements: With a stunning profile, to be distinguished from the city images of the neighbouring countries, especially Bratislava, Vienna, Prague, Zagreb and Krakow. An up-to-date, modern logotype, or logo, and image design should be carried out, which possibly shows the abstract of the brand message. It is important to have a simple, easy-to-decode logotype / logo, which is characteristic enough to become a lovemark. Blue colour was suggested to dominate the visuals.

It was clearly stated in the call for application, that the client gives priority to the importance of water. The capital’s tourism development company underlines the evidence that, due to climate changes, in a few decades water will have become a source of conflicts, similar to the ones that oil causes today. In the future, therefore, the importance of the thermal spa waters in Hungary will be extremely high due to their special hydrological characteristics. Both their quantity and quality on a global scale are outstanding. This could be a break point, around which the country’s and the capital’s scattered pictures can be organized. Budapest, of course, is known on many international markets, and has got a broader attraction awareness, which are not less important, but for the above-described reasons, water may be the key motif that can give a profile to Budapest, clearly distinguishing it from the neighbouring ones.

Using an abstract symbol is also justified as there are no buildings in Budapest, which are internationally known by everyone; but if there were, listing the attractions themselves would not be enough considering the fact that tourists no longer want to see something for its existence only. River Danube is a determining factor in many aspects, so looking at Budapest, it is a monumental stream of water that may symbolize the prime element of water. Although, currently it is not utilized neither for entertainment, nor for walking, according to future initiatives, the relationship between the city and the river comes to life: the river becomes part of the daily lives of city dwellers, and river bank and some island attractions will bring new opportunities. Due to its potential, Danube can become a dominant motif, the main tourism image of Budapest.


The choice, that the emblem of the Danube appears as a blue ribbon, was inspired by the title of a documentary series “Blue Ribbon of Europe, the Danube ” directed by Charles Gyenes on the occasion of the Millennium. The ribbon is a fresh-looking, plastic, well-bendable thing, and aside from its logo appearance, it implies some further opportunities during the construction of the image. Being a European capital, Budapest is rich in history and colourful traditions, the bends suggest it in the logo. In other words, it is not a free, uncontrollably swaying ribbon, but it is formed in compliance with rules. The ribbon folds, according to the rules set in the corporate identity manual, mean an opportunity for creative constructions, in a way that they ensure a single formal appearance. In the logo, some indirect associations can be discovered, such as referring to the lovable heart motif as well as the city’s “B” monogram.

A good logo is not only technically good and has got its expressive ability, but a simple everyday story may be linked to it: in this case, River Danube was folded along the Budapest bridges, and it gave the final shape of the logo. The Danube, as a key motif with its folded blue ribbon, is a reference point that may be further thought by the creative the spirit in many ways. Thus, the freshness, the momentum, the constant skills of renewal, the diversity can create the experience of adventures. Visitors can experience the little story which is formulated in every good brand at its birth, they can identify it with the message of the city.


A number of studies and best-practices on branding show that blue and red colours of the most recognizable, easy to produce, and least sensitive ones on both offline and online platforms. The basic colours of the image, due to the reference to the water, of course, are determined by the blue colour, but other colours also appear with the function of illustration. The chapters of the official Budapest Guide book published by tourism office, are colour-coded by the additional colours as well.