In his Private View (DW 26 September) David Bernstein correctly highlights the superficial nature of rebadging over rebranding, the subtext here raising the old need of giving ‘branding’ a ‘brand’.
Having created and developed the Real Essex brand and tourism campaign for the council, we are delighted to report to Bernstein that, in fact, there is nothing wrong with Essex per se – certainly nothing that cannot be found in any other county. The one key exception being perception.
The Essex Girl, Essex Boy phenomenon has a hugely devastating (and unfair) effect on how the county is seen beyond its borders. This fact is not helped by the inclusion of ‘Essex Girl’ in the latest edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, an action that could be seen as promoting, at best, discriminatory, and, at worst, racist views.
The fact that Essex County Council has identified the problem and is taking positive steps to change these perceptions should be widely applauded.
It shows belief in the concept of branding and its importance not just at commercial levels, but also at political and social levels too.
Glasgow, Birmingham and Croydon have all successfully achieved a positive shift of perceptions through effective, strategic branding.
Essex will achieve the same, but without the need to change radically what it has and what it does. The reality is far better than perception. So on that level, maybe it’s a question of ‘polishing the badge’ rather than simply redesigning it.
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