As we all settle back to a “Nolympics” life – our existence bereft of wall to wall sporting excellence - we all have our individual favourite memories. Judging from comments the following day, every Brummie was bursting with pride whe the victorious triumvirate of Bolt, Blake and Weir all gave heartfelt thanks to Birmingham after their 200m sprint victories.
Their warm comments and their aftermath made me think about the nature of “brand Birmingham” and just whose job it is to promote that brand.
I have been to countless meetings where well-meaning, helpful people have exhorted us to “promote the city” and “big it up”, “shout about our successes” and so forth. We Brummies all look around slightly hopelessly and witter on about our first class facilities, proud inventive industrial heritage and superlative retail and entertainment offer. It’s true – as a city we boast many features and benefits. But it’s not for Brummies themselves to promote them: here’s why.
Fierce Earth has recently re-launched as Creative Shift. It has a shiny new website and a lovely brand livery made by the clever people at Orb. We employed Johnny Cullen of Euston Do You Copy to write our website copy. He, and the folks at Orb, kept asking us what other people would say about our services, what we thought the results were for our clients and what those clients said about our work.
In other words, what third party perceptions did we know about and which endorsements did we win? What we said about ourselves was deemed far less persuasive. At worst it could be read as idle boasts and posturing. What Johnny and Orb wanted were testimonials, stories and anecdotes about the results we produced from clients themselves.
Which is why third party endorsements from the fastest men in the world, or in the recent New York Times article that said Birmingham was a Top 20 worldwide destination in 2012 are worth significantly in branding terms more than home-spun spin.
It is our job to create simple, effective messages for ambassadors like Bolt to send out to the world. But we need to outsource the delivery of those messages by giving our visitors and guests such a superlative experience that they will shout it from the rooftops at every opportunity.
* Helga Henry is Director of Creative Shift – www.creativeshift.uk.com