Identity crisis

Sheffield is suffering from an identity crisis which is hampering its ability to promote itself, says city development company Creative Sheffield.

Tuesday, 11th September 2007, 9:18 am
Updated Wednesday, 12th September 2007, 10:46 am

Marketing director Bren-dan Moffett says Sheffield’s economy is bigger than the turnover of major brands such as Nike, Apple and Ford.

At 7.9 billion, Sheffield is even bigger than Sony and Pepsi, but while all those companies have a clearly defined global presence, the Sheffield ‘brand’ is a confusing mish-mash of competing concepts.

City brands include Brit-ain’s Biggest Village, its Greenest City, The Learn-ing City, Sheffield Events Capital, Made in Sheffield, The Cutting Edge City and more. To prove the point, Cre-ative Sheffield - which is now putting the finishing touches to an economic masterplan designed to trans-form the city by 2020 – has put together a montage of the different messages Sheffield is sending out.

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In next to no time, the city development company was able to come up with 25 different images – including two which are at least a decade out of date - and that is just a selection of what’s around.

Brendan argues the confusion is reflected in the fact that although Sheffield is Britain’s fifth largest city, it is ranked 11th as a UK business location by people outside the city.

“You can cope with being behind London, Manch-ester and Birmingham, but when you are behind Liv-erpool, Newcastle and Nottingham it really starts to hurt,” says Brendan Moffett, who believes Sheff-ield’s lack of focused branding means the city is punching well below its weight.

“We’ve been busy with recovery, so image and marketing hasn’t been top of the priorities. Sheff-ield’s been getting on with it quietly, almost not wanting to blow it’s own trumpet,” he says.

“This city is worth 7.9bn and we need to ask ourselves how companies that are worth that kind of money area going about things.

“They have clear brand values, a clear proposition and everyone communicates those values the same way. The people live and breathe the brand.”

Brendan points to the success Glasgow has had on the back of its “Scotland with Style” brand and says Sheffield needs to develop a clear brand which everyone from entertainment to enterprise, City Council to commerce and sports venues to shopping centres can use as part of their own and the city’s promotion.

And Sheffield’s branding is one facet of Creative Sheffield’s Economic Mast-erplan, which is being discussed at a Sheffield City Council Cabinet meeting today and will be launched next nonth when consultations with the council and other interested parties are completed.