Magazine article Marketing

Making Capital of London

Magazine article Marketing

Making Capital of London

Article excerpt

With a new unifying logo and an [pounds]8m budget, Britain's capital is updating its image to pull in a new breed of international tourist.

As the capital prepares to head off Birmingham's bid to host the prestigious Millennium celebrations, it is London's long-term image for the 21st century that is under the media spotlight this week.

Yesterday (Tuesday) saw the unveiling of an identity for the capital; the first ever full-scale branding exercise for a city which has until now relied on its reputation, rather than on professional marketing, to keep the international crowds coming.

Only they aren't. Instead of flying to London, the new generation of travellers from Asia and the Far East are increasingly choosing Sydney rather than St James' and opting more for New York than New Bond Street.

Armed with a new symbol and an [pounds]8m cash injection, tourist chiefs are confident London's dwindling share of the tourist cake, which with growth of a little over 5% a year is trailing behind the world average of 8% or more, can be reversed.

An [pounds]8m investment over two years, funded jointly from government, British Tourist Authority and industry coffers, is hardly generous when set against comparable branding tasks in the private sector.

Yet the London Tourist Board, long accustomed to small-scale budgets, is confident that the re-launch of the country's first city can at last begin.

Let me take you by the hand...

While London still has an enviable reputation for history, arts, museums and pageantry, the clear message from tourist chiefs is that today's young cash-rich traveller - hailing from Thailand or Tokyo - wants action as well as antiquities.

It was left to the directors of the London Tourist Board to explain to guests at yesterday's launch, where the line-up included heritage secretary Virginia Bottomley and athlete Kriss Akabusi, that London's quaint image of bobbies on bicycles and bowler hats no longer cuts the mustard in the ever more aggressive tourism market.

"Anyone who knows London is well aware that the city is at the cutting edge of fashion, music, shopping and nightlife," says Colin Hobbs, LTB's managing director. "But there is still a tendency among foreign tourists to view us simply as the home of Big Ben and Buckingham Palace.

"Our new identity, and our forthcoming international ad campaign, will stress the vibrancy of the capital, without sacrificing our unrivalled reputation for history and culture."

At this stage, the new London brand identity, devised by Beresfords at a cost of around [pounds]40,000, will be visual only. …

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