Brand Initiative: Is that your Liverpool?

Downtown in Business hosted an exclusive lunch time panel discussion, sponsored by KODE, to dissect strategic approaches to marketing the Liverpool brand.

The esteemed panel brought together a variety of voices and opinions from across the marketing sector including Director of Marketing Liverpool, Chris Brown; Managing Director of Agent Marketing, Paul Corcoran; Creator of Opportunities at KODE, Aaron Hayes; and Downtown CEO and Chairman, Frank McKenna.

Looking at the construction of a marketable Liverpool brand from a business orientated perspective, Chris Brown opened the discussion assessing the burning question of where does the Liverpool brand need to be. When talking about promotions and reach Chris said, “promoting a city through logos and slogans is over – working on brand initiative and getting the people to be the city’s biggest advocates” is the best approach.

Focusing on the Liverpool community approach within the business district, Chris emphasised the thriving and marketable independents culture that Liverpool boosts, however, he cautioned the obstacle of private sectors working in silos negatively effecting the commercial movement. He suggested the business community needs to brag not only about their business capabilities to outside investors but include the Liverpool brand as part of that promotion.

Paul Corcoran desires an approach that is less subtle in comparison, empathising that the much greater city region should be included in the discussion and references when speaking about the Liverpool City brand. Paul was not shy to highlight the shortcomings this project does experience due to too many voices not working in unison to promoting Liverpool resulting in a diluted brand message.

Downtown guests all agreed that attracting students, young professionals, tourists, and investors into the city should be prioritised, with Paul suggesting that we look towards the flourishing creative culture of the city on both business and social levels to entice these communities. Paul concluded; “we need to be ballsier and brave in promoting the [Liverpool] brand”.

The conversation was soon channelled towards the elephant in the room, leadership in the city. Many questioned the direction, support, and actions of the Liverpool City Council. Leading on this conversation Frank McKenna said an overly bureaucratic approach form the council has caused the private sector to turn inwards. However, it was mentioned that budget is, and always will be, a restricting factor for the council.

While the debate for what should be the appropriate marketing approach is young and dynamic, both guests and panellists agreed on two concluding factors. Restrictions, power and processes are the greatest hurdles holding back the development of the Liverpool brand, and the trickle-down effect is being felt by businesses in the city.

The second conclusion, lending to a more optimistic note, looks at the incredible scouse community as the city’s best advocates. Word of mouth, social media, and online community reviews construct the greater perception and reputation of the city and ultimately the Liverpool brand. What is needed from such advocates is inward reflection on how Liverpool is perceived and ask yourself if that is your Liverpool.

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