My first post on this initiative, published here and in The Place Brand Observer (TPBO) www.placebrandobserver.com earlier this month, summarised the development of the city region brand strategy during 2013 and 2014. This work was carried out by a team led by Colliers International Destination Consulting, including Fuzion Design and PR (Cork), Location Connections (London) and Placematters.
This second post (also published in theTPBO) summarises the work undertaken to assess local opinion on the current offers and experience of the region and the messages it was communicating about them. The next post will be on the development of the agreed brand proposition for the region.
Audit: Current Perceptions on Cork Region’s Offer and ExperiencesIn mid-2013, the first tasks in the agreed work programme to develop a unifying and strategic brand and marketing strategy for the city region were to:
- Assess local people’s views about the city region and its offer and experiences.
- Assess the views of those in the business community about the economic development attributes of the region.
- Review the current messaging and marketing being undertaken by a variety of stakeholders in order to establish what messages were being transmitted about its current offer and experiences, the extent to which there was commonality and alignment of messaging, or a lack of it and where mixed messaging existed.
Assessing People’s Views
- The scale and accessibility of the city of Cork is a really strong factor in attracting and retaining people in the region:
- The quality of the environment of the region attracts and retains people; it’s not just about jobs and business support services:
- The nature of the welcome given by Cork people and organisations to visitors and newcomers is a powerful factor in attracting and retaining people and business, one that has often been overlooked in previous city brand initiatives:
Cork City Region – Identifying Place Attributes
Physical AttributesThe scale of the city, its accessibility, the nearness to water, the varied nature of the city, the surrounding towns and villages, the scenery and the quality of the built environment, the feel of a big town without its congestion, the ease of access to the offer.
The Experiences OfferedThe atmosphere and the buzz of the place, the food offer, the pubs, the Cosmopolitan nature of the place, the culture and art offer, the range of festivals, the sports opportunities and access to a large range of outdoor activities, the great choice of things to do.
The results indicated to us just how much local people believed that Cork was BIG on the quality of life, BIG on friendly, BIG on size, BIG on access, BIG on choice, BIG on atmosphere.
It also alerted the team to the existence of a powerful menu of offers and experiences which, in different combinations according to personal or business needs and preferences, served to attract people to the place and retain them as learners, employees or as entrepreneurs wanting to start up their own businesses. This would, after much more assessment and debate, become the essence of the eventual brand proposition.
A major benefit of using social media to enable local people to express their views on the place and its attributes was that we had primed a lot of people to take an active interest in the brand development process who responded to our draft Brand Descriptor which we put online to test the brand proposition some months later.
Consultations with Sectors and Communities of Interest
Assessing Formal Messaging
Summary: Place Brand Audit and MessagingIn summary the results of the audit indicated that formal communications about the existing offer of the city region:
- Lacked the passion of the people who had responded to our social media conversations.
- Were functional, not particularly engaging and largely not effectively targeted.
- Were often not clear and not doing justice to the city.
- Failed to capture the great stories of the place and its people elicited through social media.
- Were largely unconnected.
- Failed to exploit the local, regional, national and global connectivity of the region.
- Lacked the unifying effect of an agreed brand proposition and marketing strategy.