Focus on Glasgow – City Brand Leaders

Andrew Stevens


Creativebrief asked Andrew Stevens to speak to experts on Glasgow and suggest how it might become a better brand.

The Style Council: Glasgow

The pace of Glasgow’s marketing activity could best be described as frenetic yet measured, and I’m not talking about the sector as a whole but, rarely perhaps, through the active branding of Scotland’s biggest city by its marketing agency.

Since its formation as the city’s destination marketing organisation in 2005, the Glasgow City Convention Bureau has been responsible for the development and implementation of the widely-acclaimed ‘Scotland with Style’ brand as well as targeting key sectors for enhancement of its economic profile, most notably in the visitor economy. The organisation is led by a dynamic team who remain respected in both the marketing and tourism sectors (the UK’s top-rated convention bureau seven years running), underscored by a hungry yet diligent approach to increase the city’s revenue derived from tourism and events. While Glasgow has been gifted the 2014 Commonwealth Games, the authorities are keen to assert its other vibrant and diverse offers against not its ‘festival-dependent’ and capital neighbour Edinburgh but also other leading UK centres and European competition.

As CEO Scott Taylor is often keen to illustrate, the city can hold its own in gaining new business against the likes of Tokyo and San Francisco, never mind the likes of Birmingham and Dublin. Next year’s Games are a spur for a new brand, this time a crowdsourced web conversation via social networks, which saw global contributions flood in (‘Clyde and Seek’ anyone?). Ahead of this month’s refreshed brand launch for ‘People Make Glasgow’, I spoke to key figures in and around the city to understand better how Glasgow is positioned to the world and also its creative strengths as a global player.

  • Host of XV Commonwealth Games in 2014 and candidate for 2018 Youth Olympics
  • UNESCO City of Music, staging on average 130 events a week across the city
  • Business tourism hub – national and international conventions booked through to 2020 and world-class convention centre
  • Academic excellence – five universities, including the world-famous School of Art
  • UK’s largest retail centre outside of London and one of Europe’s leading financial centres, including the £1bn International Financial Services District

Scott Taylor: ‘Glasgow: where more really means more’

We are entering a key period in Glasgow’s economic history; one where it is important to forge ahead during challenging times by building on the city’s many strengths and the opportunities that are coming our way. A real strength is the resilience of Glasgow’s tourism sector which continues to lead the city’s economic resurgence, thanks in part to our strategy of attracting a diverse portfolio of international conferences and major sporting and cultural events. Glasgow entered the sporting limelight five years ago when we won the right to host the Commonwealth Games in 2014. And while the global focus is now turning towards those Games in the wake of London’s successful Olympics and Paralympics, as a city we are continuing to work hard at attracting more major events beyond 2014.

This process really began two years ago when we became the first city in the UK to launch a formal Major Events Charter, which guarantees the provision of support for organisers considering bringing major sporting and cultural events to Glasgow. We followed on from that earlier this year when we unveiled our specific Major Sports Events Strategy, which is aimed at positioning Glasgow as one of the world’s leading destinations for sport through to 2018 – reflecting our bid to host the 2018 Youth Olympic Games.

Our ambitions were recognised at this year’s SportAccord Convention in Quebec, Canada, when Glasgow was named one of the world’s top 10 sporting cities ahead of major destinations including Paris, Tokyo and Moscow. We also retained our position as the number one city in the world in terms of sports marketing and branding. As a UNESCO City of Music, Glasgow stages an average of 130 music events every week. We’re a very lively city, which is probably a result of our very youthful population.

As well as acting as a magnet for young people, Glasgow’s five universities also drive forward the city’s reputation as a world-leading centre for academic excellence and quality research, particularly in the fields of medicine and life sciences –we’re currently building Europe’s largest hospital. It’s little wonder then that conventions are intrinsic to our events strategy. Business tourism secured over the past seven years has been worth more than £800m to the city’s economy; generating three million conference delegate hotel room bookings – and we’re on target to achieve the £1bn milestone in 2013.

Glasgow recognises that by making the city an attractive place to do business then conference and event organisers will return. The Glasgow business model is based on service and loyalty – the city’s reputation is built on delivering on our promises!

Creative Clyde

Creative Clyde seeks to build on Glasgow’s growing status as a hub for the creative industries, delivering new jobs and economic growth for the city. Key industries involved are film, TV and radio, advertising, publishing and design, web and digital media, animation, software and games development. Creative Clyde is a collaborative partnership involving Scottish Enterprise, Glasgow City Council, Scottish Development International, Creative Scotland, BBC Scotland, University of Glasgow, Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre (SECC), Clyde Waterfront and private enterprises. It aims to build on the success of the Digital Media Quarter which, over the past ten years, has seen the arrival at Pacific Quay of HQ buildings for BBC Scotland and Scottish Television, the opening of Glasgow Science Centre and Film City Glasgow and the completion of The Hub, offering top quality, flexible workspace for up to 50 companies.

Source: Glasgow City Marketing Bureau

The Marketing Society Glasgow

The Marketing Society Glasgow has been created by members keen to develop a local network of connections and build a marketing community in and around Glasgow and the west of Scotland. The Marketing Society is a global network of leading marketing professional members and organisations. There are over 2,700 members across the UK with around 330 in Scotland. By building a stronger marketing community based in Glasgow it will help promote the west of Scotland as a great place to study, work and invest in marketing. This will lead to more marketing jobs, business growth and economic prosperity.

Glasgow has an enviable creative reputation both in arts and culture and also with new and innovative businesses. The various academic institutions are also highly regarded throughout the world. There is also an appreciation and heritage of craft from the days of shipbuilding on the Clyde which has now been replaced by design, digital and media expertise. In the run up to the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games there is an exciting opportunity for the local marketing community to build a world class reputation. The Marketing Society Glasgow committee consists of representatives drawn from city agencies such as Circuit Break, Material, The Big Partnership, Spider Online and Locofoco.

Source: Marketing Society Glasgow

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Guest Author

Andrew Stevens



Andrew has advised a range of partners and agencies on urban development and place strategy in the UK. In particular he works as a researcher on urban policy. A senior editor of (since 2004) he has written widely on city branding, as well as for The Guardian, Time Out and others. His books include The Politico’s Guide to Local Government (several editions, in translation) and a chapter in City Branding – Theory and Cases (2010). He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and a Member of the Regional Studies Association, Urban Economics Association and Urban Land Institute.

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