Sunday, 12 March 2017

Branding the town

I was lucky enough recently to attend an event at the re-furbished City Hall in Leicester, formerly home to the Willie Thorne snooker club! The hall has been beautifully restored and whilst some of the fittings, like the clock, are the original art deco artefacts, much has been faithfully reproduced, making the interior decor seem authentic.
Inside City Hall Leicester

The art deco clock in City Hall Leicester

Anyway, the event, attended by interested people and representatives from interested organisations from across the Midlands and beyond, was on town branding for heritage organisations.

As you might expect of a conference being held in Leicester, we heard from various presenters about Leicester's 2000 year history, about the stories of Leicester and about the vision for the future of Leicester. But, we also heard from the experience of the likes of Nottingham, with their world famous brand that actually makes promoting other aspects of the city - like the castle and the caves - difficult; from Lincoln, with its obvious cathedral-based heritage that eclipses everything else; from Stamford, the perfect example of a small market town; to Grantham, a town struggling with its heritage and image - Newton or Thatcher?

After lunch we were put into groups based on our own geographical area, and I found myself on a Charnwood table. Those of us who live in Charnwood can appreciate the difficulty of trying to brand an area that contains Leicestershire's biggest market town, a couple of small towns, and numerous small villages, all of differing character. Oh, and 90% of Bradgate Park!

Focusing on one branding necessarily excludes many others. So, for example, if we were to identify the area using Loughborough as an example, then we might use images of the Carillon, the Great Central Railway, the canal, Taylor's Bellfoundry, Ladybird Books, but the villages might struggle to identify with this. Similarly, if we were to brand the area by focusing on Bradgate, for example, then the people of Loughborough would probably be saying "when was the last time we saw a deer in the Market Place?".
Deer in Bradgate Park

In the end, I think we plumped for suggesting Taylor's Bellfoundry as the focal point of the area and to tell the story of Charnwood, through its connections with the town of Loughborough, the canals, the railways, and roads, it being the only bell foundry left in the country now that Whitechapel is likely to close, its long association with the area and the spread of its products world wide. But we could just as easily have chosen to brand using Swithland slate, a material used throughout Charnwood as roofing material, and other building material. Or Mountsorrel granite. Or ...
The closing of the Whitechapel Bellfoundry, as reported in The Times, 11 March 2017
The Carillon in Queen's Park, Loughborough

A roof of Swithland slate

The Great Central Railway station at Loughborough

On the Grand Union canal, Loughborough, the Boat Festival

The former Ladybird factory on Windmill Road, Loughborough

The cast of the Great Paul bell, made by Taylor's, in Queen's Park, Loughborough

Now, where's that picture of Mountsorrel granite disappeared to?

You are welcome to quote passages from any of my posts, with appropriate credit. The correct citation for this looks as follow:

Dyer, Lynne (2017). Branding the town. Available from: [Accessed 12 March 2017]

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