Positively Plymouth – the New Brand is Revealed
27/05/10 – This morning, I attended the launch/preview of the new brand for Plymouth: “Positively Plymouth”. As I listened to the speeches, I pondered the question: what does this mean for us? In this blog post I will give you my initial thoughts and ask you for yours…
I should point out firstly that we at InPlymouth.com have not been sent any press releases or pre-launch material for the new brand. What that means is that these words are my own opinion and are based entirely on what I saw and heard at this morning’s event.
I would love to hear what your thoughts are too. If City Council representatives, the PCDC or anyone at Lloyd Northover (the London-based design agency appointed to create the brand) want to comment, I would be more than pleased. You can use the Comments box at the bottom of the blog. Let’s have a conversation.
Well, we’ve been waiting for what seems like forever to see this branding. Of course, that may be due to our own impatience. The branding of an entire city is an enormous task, and I must say that Lloyd Northover have done a very fast job on it. Still, it’s something that is dear to our hearts and our wallets so our impatience can be forgiven.
The first thing we need to be aware of is that the new brand is more of a set of guidance notes rather than a logo in the classic sense of the word. The strapline “Positively Plymouth” is central to the notes. A new font has been designed specially for the logo/strapline by Lloyd Northover using both serifs and san-serif features (for the typographers out there). They recommend that we combine this with diamond shapes that represent the “hidden gems” in the city, such as heritage, waterfront, people etc. Their suggestions included using them in various kinds of mosaics. Don’t read too much into these words, I recommend you see what I mean yourself before you decide whether you like them. These sample images will be widely available from today. I’ll post them on InPlymouth.com as soon as I get hold of them.
The key thing here is not the look of the graphics. What’s important is the message of positive presentation. Apparently it takes a company from London to remind us that if we want to sell our city as a destination, we need to be positive about it. Yes, we have a pretty horrible bus station and we can come up with other things to complain about if we want to, but so does every other city.
Plymouth is an Amazing City
Nowhere is perfect, but I can tell you that there aren’t many cities as beautiful as ours. Don’t believe me? Take a walk on the Hoe in the sun. Or stroll through the Barbican and stop off for an al fresco meal during the Barbican Jazz Festival. Or even sample some wine at the Royal William Yard during the new Plymouth Wine Festival, organised by our own food & drink contributor, Stephen Barrett.
The Key Challenge for PCDC
The main issue facing the success or failure of the new brand is the willingness of the people and businesses of Plymouth to adopt the new brand. What Plymouth City Development Company (PCDC) needs do ask itself is: how does it present the new branding so that we all support it.
It’s Time to Raise Our Game
This new identity gives us all a rare opportunity. After years of promoting Plymouth online via InPlymouth.com and via countless meetings there’s one thing that is very clear: there are a lot of people who care about Plymouth’s future. Whether you call them stakeholders or partners, they are simply all real people who really care about the city. It’s not a statistical exercise or a project to complete for them; this is our city and the city of our children. It matters.
It is my opinion (if you disagree, please let me know, there’s a comment box below) that we should embrace this new brand and work together to show the world how great it is in the original Plymouth. Whether we like the brand or not is irrelevant: we need to promote Plymouth as the fabulous destination it is. We need to attract inward investment by sharing the benefits of our amazing waterfront, our stunning landscape and our talented and great-hearted citizens. When visitors from London, New York or anywhere in the world come here we should make their visit so exceptional that they can’t wait to come back.
That’s our challenge and I believe we’re up for it.
The challenge for PCDC, the Plymouth Chamber of Commerce and all the other bodies we look to for leadership on this is different. They need to work really hard to make us believe that they mean it as much as we do. Is this something that they’re doing, or is it something that we’re doing together? If it’s the latter, the time for saying the words alone is past. They really have to put their money where their mouth is (I mean that really and metaphorically). If they want us to evangelise about our city, to sell its benefits to everyone we meet, they have to join us and unite us.
It’s Time for Excellence
Plymouth is a city of small businesses and local traditions but enormous ambitions. Everyone else thought we were mad to make our World Cup Bid. But it worked. The Life Centre is going to be one of England’s leading centres for aquatic excellence. Our University is a world leader in Robotics and in Marine Sciences. These is not an accidents; we have enormous potential here. Now is the time for us to realise it, but this potential will not be fulfilled if we take the old top-down approach.
The people of Plymouth care deeply about it’s future. We are responsible for it, not our governing bodies. The way to recruit us all is by talking to us and sharing in our enthusiasm for the city. If they think that is going be done with a few public meetings followed by decisions made behind closed doors, they are wrong. However, if they genuinely want to share with us and want us to offer our enthusiasm, energy and drive, they will need to pick up their phones and call us. They will need to meet with us in small groups. I know that’s a lot of work, but nothing good was ever obtained without hard work.
The Challenge for us All
If they’re reading this, I hope they take up the challenge to truly engage with us. I’d love to hear their comments and hope they’ll join in here. My worry is that there are two different conversations going on about Plymouth; one of them is being carried on by the Powers That Be and another going on amongst Plymothians. Occasionally they touch. How much more effective would we all be as ambassadors for Plymouth if those conversations were merged? How much more could we achieve for our city… together?