Ask Google about the UK’s second city, and the highlighted result is Birmingham. The smaller print might point you further north; but the official answer still stands, and with a nudge from some healthy competition, Brum is working hard to retain that top spot.
Anyone who lives or works in the city will know it’s a hive of activity of late. A huge cruise-shaped complex has sailed into town in the shape of the all-encompassing Resorts World, the prestigious Mailbox has reopened its newly glossed doors and Grand Central has given us an impressive new gateway to the world.
Birmingham hasn’t suddenly woken up; it’s just entering the implement phase of its brand-build, and not too soon after taking some time to take a look inwards.
An insight into the city would have revealed some challenging perceptions. A 2012 poll revealed that Birmingham inhabitants ranked it as the most miserable place to live in the country, not to mention the 2014 YouGov poll that kindly elected the Brummie accent as less intelligent than silence. Not quite the dream brand image that the city would be going for – but the sbirminghamilver lining? It’s the perfect starting point for an almighty u-turn. Remember how Burberry went from plastering the football terraces to elegantly sitting atop of the luxe list, without losing its signature check? – Well it’s channeling something like that.
The ideate phase of brand Brum would have uncovered a world of opportunity. With London prices soaring, many professionals have been looking to the Midlands as a not-too-far from-the-capital alternative, especially with the much-anticipated HS2 line in the process. Named just this month as the UK’s fastest growing regional tourist destination, Birmingham is giving the Northern Powerhouse more than a run for its money. And it’s not only tourists that the city are attracting, with HSBC set to move in their head office, alongside the big players such as ASOS that are taking advantage of Birmingham’s budding tech scene.
With all of this inward traffic, it’s only right that Birmingham has been implementing change: cleaning up its act and putting on a decent spread. Birmingham’s brand development is about identity, offering, and growth. People are coming to visit, so the leisure and retail facilities are working to make sure they return. And people are coming to work, so businesses are busy crafting their presence to make sure they stay. There’s still work to be done, but the shift of Birmingham’s proposition, teamed with the development of its identity is creating a sustainable platform. The canals and culture combination is still at the heart, proving a charming winning formula, and it’s easy to see why the positive upturn of brand Brum means there are exciting times to come.
We work with brands, businesses and people the world over, from Madrid to Dubai. But for us, Birmingham is home – and proudly so.