Are we ready to say it’s great up North?

Localism and closed city thinking is nothing new, but from a brand perspective, it’s a route to disaster. The way to get heard and create more opportunity is to work together as one.

Places and regions can learn so much from companies and how they invest in promoting their brands.

Working on multinational brands for the last 20 years, I’ve seen so many marketing and PR campaigns get diluted by too many cooks being involved. Budgets get weakened by different messages. In a quest to keep everyone happy, brand campaigns get watered down, you reach less people and results are slowed.

Whether you’re in Manchester, Leeds, York, Chester, Hull, Sheffield, Newcastle, Blackpool or Liverpool, we need to work as one.

The people that can make a real difference (outside investors) to The North don’t care about our individual city agendas. It’s imperative that we see and sell the bigger picture of The Northern Powerhouse.

Here’s what works when you build a brand
One message.
Momentum, collaboration, partnerships, attraction, big thinking, long term strategy.
The snowball effect of all resources being used on one message, consistently.
Leadership for the greater good, with autonomy (at the risk of some people not being happy).
A sound understanding of your target audience, which means not trying to reach everyone, but reaching the people who can make a difference.

Here’s what doesn’t work when you build a brand
Individualism, small mindedness, chips on shoulders (usually against London).
Short term thinking.
Splitting budgets across multiple areas to try to keep everyone happy.

With this in mind, I see so many local marketing, private and public sector teams tasked with their remit as the immediate problems of their city.

Whilst this is important, just imagine what could be achieved – what type of thriving economy and future we could create – if we pooled these marketing resources and focused on promoting The North as a whole.

Rachel Clark works to build places and brands with property companies in the North. She’s attending the Great Northern Conference in Leeds this week. You can find more opinions and blogs at

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