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Meeting of Eurocities WG Branding Management and City Attractiveness 17-18 Feb 2011 in Gothenburg

17 February

The conference started with a cup of coffee and a welcome speech by the Lord Mayor at Älvrummet, a public venue for city development in Gothenburg. Glenn Evans, one of Gothenburg’s official city guides, briefed the group about the city’s past and future using a miniature model of Gothenburg. After this little warm up, the group was ready to begin tthe theme ”Interrelations between City- Region- and Nation Branding.” Mr. Markus Andersson, Analyst & Business Developer at Tendensor AB, introduced the theme and claimed that different brands must complement – and not compete – with each other. He argued for the idea of a portfolio of brands, instead of sticking to a single one. This portfolio of brands, he explained, may consist of

a wide range of local, regional, national, supranational and cross-border brands. In general, he argued, it is crucial to build alliances and partnerships and explore possibilities of co-branding. “If you can’t beat them, join them”, he said laughing. The Wheel of Gothenburg was the next stop on the agenda. The members of the working group fearlessly stepped into the cabins of the Ferris wheel and enjoyed a 360° sightseeing tour over a sunny, but somewhat snowy, city centre. The spinning, however, teased our appetites and afterwards we had a lovely lunch at the Gothenburg Opera.

Workshop: Interrelations between

City- Region- and Nation Branding In the afternoon workshop, we continued to discover the interrelations between place branding at different levels. Mr. Joakim Norén and Ms. Ninni LuthinKärling, representing the Swedish Institute, rejected the idea of a hierarchy of brands. Instead, they argued, relations between brands should be considered as different eco-systems – or, as pointed out by Mr. Anton César, as Russian dolls. All speakers of the day emphasized the importance of involving the citizens in the branding process. In the end, the pride and the commitment of the citizens are essential for a brand to be successful. “But if we do well”, as Mr. Norén put it in the case of Sweden, “we will have nine million people in our sales force”. In the afternoon group discussions, the groups continued to reason on how to make all stakeholders engaged in the branding process and be supportive of the brand. In one group, however, the

difficulty of pleasing all stakeholders was brought up for discussion as well. It was argued that “It is impossible to create a brand that will fit everyone” and “At some point there is a need to make a final decision, so there’s something to work with”. Clearly, city branding is a challenging task. But, as stated earlier in the morning by Ms Ulrika Blennius, Director of Communications ,City of Gothenburg, “we must be humble to the task, but bold to the challenge”. In the evening, we enjoyed a wonderful dinner in one of Gothenburg’s most beautiful houses of representation. As we toasted and admired the impressive collection of art hanging on the walls, we continued to share our experiences in city branding. Judging from the conversations overheard around the table, surely many participants got inspired to continue their work in their home cities.

18 February On Friday morning, we met in the Museum of World Culture. The focal points on the agenda were the future of the working group itself. “How do we want to continue working in this group” Mr. César, representing the chair Gothenburg, asked. All the present members of the working group were enthusiastic about continuing the work of the group, and several cities showed an interest in organizing meetings. The chair suggested two or three more meetings to be held this year. The chair also expressed the need for an online arena of discussion, which many of the members agreed to. It is important to share experiences with cities going through similar branding processes. It is, however, equally important to share the challenges with each other as well: “We need to share our mistakes with each other too”, one of the participants said. Hopefully, a vibrant deliberation forum, containing both successes and failures, will be realized during this year. After two days of branding, tourism and promotion it was about time to make a “critical twist” to the conference. And as we already were in the venue of Museum of world culture, we took a guided tour of one of their popular exhibitions, called Destination X. The exhibition stresses the many faces of traveling and, in particular, the many reasons why people choose – or are forced – to travel. Surely it gave us all something to think about in our continued work with city branding.

Koncept & Layout: Flic-en-Flac Productions, Editor: Maja Magnusson, Photos: Maja Magnusson & Jens Larsson

Looking ahead...

This little fellow is a piece of paper-art made by Shin Tanaka and can befound at the Museum of World Culture in Gothenburg.

Brief Facts City of Gothenburg > Sweden’s second city with about 500 000 inhabitants > Administratively organised into 10 city districts > Approximately 47 000 public employees. 70 percent of these work in the city districts > Administrative capital of the County of Västra Götaland > A large number of municipality owned companies in various fields of business

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Gothenburg Foto: Göran Assner/VIEW

WG City Branding in Gothenburg 17-18 Feb 2011  
WG City Branding in Gothenburg 17-18 Feb 2011  

Short magazine depicting events at Eurocities WG City Branding meeting in Gothenburg 17-18 Feb 2011