Boxer is creating a brand for Birmingham as the city’s cultural and environmental renaissance gathers pace ahead of the launch of the revamped Bullring complex later this year and a decision on the 2008 City of Culture.
The group is currently consulting with stakeholders and the client, Marketing Birmingham, on an identity system to give the city ‘one voice’ and a clear positioning for tourists and investors. Marketing Birmingham is believed to be spending close to six figures on the project.
‘A great deal of investment and regeneration has gone on in Birmingham, but it doesn’t really have a brand identity,’ according to a Marketing Birmingham spokeswoman. ‘This work will create a positive brand awareness for the city, which will put it on to a European stage.’
The brand will be relevant to ‘anyone or anything that promotes the city’, explains Boxer creative director Paul Castledine.
‘To date, there’s not been a credible, consistent proposition that clearly communicates Birmingham’s vast opportunities as a city destination.’
Brand values and a ‘headline’ have been agreed, he says, that will ‘change perceptions’. This is now being ‘fine-tuned’, he adds, and should be visible on the first applications by the middle of May.
Castledine believes Birmingham’s image problem typically stems from ‘negativity about it being a grey, industrial city’. But perception is lagging behind reality, he says. ‘It now has the second largest service sector in the country after London.’
Castledine adds, ‘Of course, Milan is a grimy industrial city with hidden gems, and Bilbao was a grimy industrial port until the Guggenheim [museum] came along.’
Marketing Birmingham was set up in October 2002 as an independent public-private partnership to bring vision to the city’s communications.
Boxer was appointed to create the brand following a four-way pitch in December last year.