Why do some towns and places seem to have it nailed? All smug with their lovely markets, mix of shops and coffee shops (no vacancies!) and a thriving local community. And others seem to have given up.
The things that successful towns have in common are numerous and of course, no two places are the same. But one thing they very obviously have in common is a sense of identity. A clear sense of self. ‘This is who we are, this is what we have to offer and these are the reasons you should visit, live here, do business and invest here’.
A town’s identity is a brand like any other. There’s a clear vision and direction. It’s positioned to attract the right segments and engage the right stakeholders. It understands and leverages its unique assets to great effect – history, local heroes, food and drink, industry, arts and culture all provide inspiration.
And, like with any brand, it’s all about being distinctive. Understanding what’s special and important. Wrapping it all up in a way that can inspire local pride, attract visitors and investment.
Easy for pretty market towns like Harrogate, seaside gems like Deal or cosmopolitan hubs like Manchester perhaps? Maybe, but every town has a story, has a community, has a local economy and stakeholders that need it to work as a sustainable whole. From our work with our partners The Big Picture, we know that even the smallest or most unlikely places have something to say. Something that is the basis of an identity. Something that planners, councillors, developers, marketers, communities and business owners can rally round to fuel regeneration, attract visitors and create a destination.