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Black country gains visual identity

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LogoWatch If ever proof were needed that the newly classified mental illness known as 'brand building' had taken hold in offices up and down the land, it must be the inert efforts by councils to brand their cities.

Rather than simply advertise what a city has to offer - throw in a few pics of big buildings and scenery, maybe some happy kids and a local character or two - it now seems that what you need to boost your tourist appeal is a new visual identity for the city. To you and me - in fact to anyone that didn't spend months in a glass-walled room with half-a-dozen polo-necked 'creatives' - a logo.

Birmingham - Spelt with a b

And this masterpiece of design simplicity is what Birmingham, UK has come up with. An over-excited press release explained all: "Over the past half year, Marketing Birmingham and its preferred design agency, Boxer, have been engaged in developing an exciting new brand for Birmingham. The new visual identity for Birmingham was officially unveiled on 8th July in a stunning display at Villa Park, Birmingham."

There can't be much more to say than that can there? But, oh there is: "The brand itself is rooted in a set of values which relate to the people and institutions of Birmingham. The values reflect Birmingham's diversity and present it as dynamic and human," it espouses. And here was us thinking that it was the word 'Birmingham' squeezed into a lower-case 'b' with a short-stem.

There's more: "Through logo, font, language, slogan and colour palettes, the brand is capable of almost unlimited application." And: "The new branding emphasises Birmingham's cultural diversity, providing a platform to market new initiatives."

But having spent six months on this sensational piece of ocular real-estate, Marketing Birmingham is keen that local people embrace it. "To maximise the impact of the brand, public, private and voluntary sector agencies across the length and breadth of the city are being asked to adopt the brand in a form which is relevant and applicable to them." Alternatively, they could just write out the name of the place where they live and stick a big circle round it.

But then, in a moment of pure marketing genius, it exposes the world to the bastard offspring of brands - sub-brands: "Three organisations - City Centre Partnership, Locate in Birmingham and Marketing Birmingham - have already agreed to corporately align themselves as fully-fledged sub-brands of the new city brand." Sub-brands!?!

Will this branding never end? Not if Dr John Heeley, head of Marketing Birmingham, has anything to do with it. "There are surprisingly few cities effectively branding themselves," explained the poor man. "With this new city brand, I believe we can steal a lead and powerfully communicate the Birmingham advantage within the city and across the world stage." And with an image as powerful as the one above, who can doubt they will be successful in their quest? ®

Update

Thanks to Rob Manuel of B3ta fame who says: "Of course, what they need is a nice uplifting song that makes Brummies feel good about their city rather than just a new logo." And provides us with this link: www2.b3ta.com/birmingham. Enjoy.

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