The trick to being your best self has nothing to do with other people. It is to turn the volume up on your finer qualities and let your unavoidable flaws fade to the background. Not just because it will present a better version of yourself, but because focusing on those better facets will make you act on their impulses more regularly.
The same goes for cities. Don’t ever try to be someplace else. Run for the hills from any branding firm that says it can turn you into “The Next Austin.” Because there is no “Next Austin,” there is only “Insecure City That Copies Austin.”
Instead get yourself a team that will help your city become “The next you, only more so.”
As Aaron M. Renn says in this great CityLab article, “A brand is really a city’s conception of itself. By selling itself as a facsimile of something it's not, a city ends up turning that into reality.” It’s the inverse of placemaking. It’s placelosing.