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Marketing Manchester
Re-framing a city region’s brand

The context

Manchester, recognised as the city at the heart of the Northern Powerhouse has, over the last decade, benefitted from huge growth, significant inward investment and an ever-improving international reputation. 


Looking ahead, the next stage of growth and development for Manchester heralds new opportunities for the entire city region. In 2018, with a new Mayor in place and with Greater Manchester's Combined Authority committed to collaboration across the wider region, it was clear Greater Manchester needed a refreshed positioning for the city region, as a whole. 


A positioning that could enable growth and build profile for Greater Manchester, articulating the collective strengths of the wider city region.  Without diluting the power of the ‘Original Modern’ city brand and the reputation Manchester had established nationally and internationally.

The approach

Depth interviews with senior leaders at GMCA, Marketing Manchester and MIDAS Desk research and analysis Major strategy review Formal and informal consultation and engagement with senior stakeholders and partners Q&A’s and workshops > narrative and framework


The strategic shift


A flexible, strategic framework.  Not a ‘brand’ solution.  


Whilst there was clarity on what was missing – a shared understanding of the positioning of the wider region – there was a divergence of views on what was required.  With ‘brand’ often being used as a shorthand for what was needed, but often misunderstood. 


Our recommendation was to develop a strategic framework for Greater Manchester.  Aligning the new vision for the city region (articulated in the GM Strategy), major mayoral promises and investments, with the external marketing message, priority sectors and specialisms.


Creating a single positioning for the entire city region that harnessed the power of the Greater Manchester collective, whilst enabling Manchester to remain the attack brand nationally and internationally.  



















A natural evolution.  Not a revolution.  


The new positioning needed to reflect the growth of Manchester, from a city centred on tourism, culture and sport, to a thriving city region of science, innovation and industry.  Whilst retaining its distinctive Mancunian spirit and ethos.  Requiring an evolution, rather than revolution, of the ‘Original Modern’ brand strategy.


Balancing economic prosperity with social responsibility 


To reflect Greater Manchester’s perennial commitment to balancing economic prosperity with an ingrained collective sense of social responsibility, the new positioning had to align sector specialisms and scientific endeavour, with the liberalism and tolerance the region is renowned for.


A brand strategy for place making, as well as place marketing 


Our recommendation made it clear that any new positioning needed to be as true for residents as it was to visitors, businesses and customers.  Therefore, the solution needed to be as useful and informative for dynamic place making, as it was for compelling place marketing.  


Rigorous strategic thinking.  Simple presentation. 


With a huge number of diverse stakeholders across the city region needing to understand and approve the new positioning, the clarity of the presentation was as important as the content.  Our output was a simple, strategic framework ‘on one page’ to enable collective understanding and effective advocacy. 

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Having worked with Claire at boardroom on several projects I can recommend her as one of the best brand strategists. She brings clarity and direction to complex projects, providing logical thinking and a fresh perspective to every issue.


Sheona Southern

Managing Director

Marketing Manchester

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