To build a successful destination brand requires a lot of effort from the DMOs at the destination and stakeholders in building and implementing the brand. The ONLYLYON campaign from the Lyon city of France is the example of an innovative collaboration to enhance the global reputation of the city.

Lyon is a beautiful city located in southeastern France with many historical areas and architectural heritage and is famous for its culture. However, in 2004, the city of Lyon encountered a problem that the image of the city from international travelers’ perspectives was not as positive as its historical, cultural, and economic advantages. To change this, in 2007, some key economic and institutional stakeholders from Lyon launched an international branding campaign for this city named ONLYLYON.

The purpose of the ONLYLYON campaign is to build Lyon’s international reputation, enhance the city’s image and competitiveness to attract travelers, investors and talents from around the world, by transforming a metropolis into a creative city. The ONLYLYON brand represents the desire to show the differences, values and identity of the city.



Slogan ONLYLYON is an interesting pun with the city name (LYON) and the exclusivity of it (ONLY). This brand name is also evocative of the lion – the symbol of this region with the meaning of strength and majesty. With such meanings, Lyon has conducted many activities to promote and share its brand image.

The city has built some text walls in red and white showing the word ONLYLYON and a lion. Some of the walls were placed in strategic locations of the city where events organized to increase brand awareness.


ONLYLYON brand communication

A special thing of the ONLYLYON branding campaign is the social media strategy and establishment of ONLYLYON ambassadors network.

In addition to the media campaign using ONLYLYON image at many major airports in Europe, many social media marketing tools are also used to increase ONLYLYON brand visibility nationwide and worldwide.

The ONLYLYON ambassador program is original from the idea that each resident of Lyon is the city’s most valuable representative and asset. Therefore, the cooperation of many people in sharing photoes and experiences about Lyon will make a difference in enhancing the position and spreading the image of Lyon to the world. ONLYLYON ambassadors can be inhabitants of Lyon, people who visit the city to study, travel or work, love Lyon and able to promote the unique and exclusive image of the city. ONLYLYON ambassador network currently has 26,500 members, many of which are CEOs, executives, celebrities, influencers, etc all over the world.




The success of the ONLYLYON brand is created by a partnership between 12 institutions in the public and private sectors of the city with a commitment to making Lyon one of the most influential cities in France and in the world. Now, all of these partners continue to promote ONLYLYON brand in their international communication activities and marketing strategies.

With clear communication purposes and a strategy that unites the strength of the community of ambassadors, Lyon from a city blurred by the image of the glamorous Paris capital has risen to one of the top destinations in the world.

Source: Destination Review