Regarding the recent We Are Cork branding campaign and investment, Cork City Council CE and Chair of the Cork Brand Steering Group, Ann Doherty, said: “The need for Cork to market itself overseas has long been acknowledged – the Cork Area Strategic Plan (CASP) identified the need for effective place marketing of the Cork area in 2001. In 2008, the CASP Update reiterated the need for a more effective and integrated effort to market the Cork area, which should build upon a strong brand for Cork, which will resonate with international entrepreneurs and multinationals.
“Reflecting this at a Cork City level, the development of the Cork Placebrand is embedded in the policies of Cork City Council. It is referenced in Cork City Development Plan 2015-2021, the Cork City Council Corporate Plan 2015-2019, the Cork City Local Economic and Community Plan 2016-2021 and the Cork City Council Annual Services Plan, all of which were approved by the Elected Members as part of their Reserved Functions.
“To progress the initiative and to meet this identified strategic need, local stakeholders, including Cork City Council, Cork Airport, Port of Cork, University College Cork, Cork Institute of Technology, Cork Chamber, Cork Business Association, IBEC, Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland, Fáilte Ireland and Visit Cork, developed and are using the We are Cork brand.
“This partnership was formalised through a Memorandum of Understanding, using the same model as the Learning City.
“The project and website allows all of us to present cohesive messaging to position and showcase Cork nationally and internationally. With increased global movement of companies, and Brexit uncertainty, never has this been more important.
“Our stakeholders are incorporating the brand and its messaging into their individual communications and marketing strategies, referring clients to the We Are Cork website and will disseminate new marketing content. This approach is increasingly seen as best practice globally and also is the most cost-effective way to leverage marketing spend in international markets.
“The power and impact of the brand will be greatly enhanced by the breadth of stakeholders already committed to and using the We are Cork brand. It is a great reflection of Cork speaking with a unified voice, projecting a shared message about Cork.
“The We are Cork initiative is one part of a larger project, which is made up of two strands:
- Development of a Cork placebrand, including visual identity and messaging, which works across the various pillars – education, investment, place to live, business, visitor offering etc – and brand guidelines, so that all the stakeholders involved are consistent and clear in their national and international marketing of Cork City and County as a place to study in, invest in, live in, do business in and visit.
- An investor-focused economic marketing strategy – planning, coordination and delivery of activities to promote and position Cork City and County as a global business destination for indigenous and foreign business. This addresses the economic development pillar referenced above.
“Cork City Council fulfilled the role of project management for the project and in that regard has a contract with OCO Global – working with Collaborate – to deliver both strands of this project. OCO Global is a leading authority on foreign investment and offers a range of economic development services. It is Belfast-based but they have a worldwide network of offices. For the purposes of its tender, OCO Global linked with Collaborate, a design studio in Belfast. The contract was awarded in 2017 following a request for tenders published on etenders and the EU’s TED. The costs associated with the contract are shared by Cork City Council and Cork County Council. Additional contributions have also been agreed by the project partners.
“The new Cork placebrand and website (wearecork.ie) went live on September 17, and generated significant national and regional media coverage, as well as exceptional social media reach. In its first three weeks the campaign had a total audience of over eight million people.
“Cities and regions have become the new battleground for skills, investment and enterprise and Cork has significant potential, which we all have collective interest to realise. Cork, like other progressive regions, recognises that.
“Reducing the placebrand to just a new logo is not representative of the scope of this two-year project. Place branding and marketing is not simply about development of a new visual identity or logo. The We are Cork brand and website project, the power of the people of Cork through the message Cork Can; it is a celebration of all the positive and unique things happening throughout Cork – highlighted through videos and images showcasing our amazing talent across business, culture, sport, food and drink and education. Through the stories of people who live, work, study and have invested in here, We are Cork will amplify to the world all that is good about Cork. It is a one-stop website for people thinking about investing, moving to or studying here.
Across Europe, cities and regions of economic significance have placebrands and economic promotion programmes, which dovetail with national programmes. It is internationally accepted that development of brand identities and a strategic place marketing approach have a positive economic effect for cities, regions and nations. The UK’s Great campaign to encourage people overseas visit, study and do business has had a return of 20:1. The growth of the We are Cork brand and its impact will be reported to the SPEDE SPC. I am confident that the return on investment in our joined efforts will pay dividends over the forthcoming years as we continue to roll out a single brand that sells Cork at home and abroad.”