Wrexham New Branding proposal.
January 27, 2021 at 6:27 pm #199745
You don’t mean Mickey Mouse and Dumbo, do you?January 27, 2021 at 9:19 pm #199746
Any news on when Chapter Court is opening? Seen some posters saying “soon” but no date given.
January 27, 2021 at 11:48 pm #199750
- This reply was modified 1 month, 1 week ago by Wrexham ITK.
Wonder if Chapter Court will come off now – current economic climate is not a time to invest in town centres with so much uncertainty. Looking at recent conversion from shops to accommodation look like they are going to be low quality bed sits with people on housing benefit- not really a clientele that would be going to a cafe culture the space like Chapter Court would provide.
There are so many empty shops in Wrexham now making the town more spread out than ever that will never be filled with retail again unless Governments started to impose massive tax on products sold online – something no Government would contemplate.
There is more likelihood that local shops in communities will be strengthened as people go back to Buy Local.
The plans announced by the Council about branding appears astonishingly naïve with personal ego’s being massaged. A few retailers I have spoken to in the town had not had any involvement and no one from the Council has been in touch about any proposals.
The Council and others who talk about Wrexham being a market town need to wake up to the fact we have not been a true market town for over 30 years – the Queens Square Monday ‘gathering of outdoor stalls’ certainly dose not create a brand ‘Market Town’January 28, 2021 at 10:59 pm #199818
Quite agree with Benjamin’s sentiments.
Please feel free to pass the re-work of an academic’s sentiments as outlined below (as paraphrased by myself).
The rebranding of Wrexham: a reworking of the branding expert Roger Brooks
Wrexham is a town (and county borough) searching for an identity. My mum, who shopped here in the 1960s, constantly referred to it as a Market town. On Social Media, this short summary of what people think that the town either is, should be or could be, crops up time after time. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately?), the 1960s came and went. Wrexham changed. Supermarkets and Multiples have come to the town. The Markets are clearly not what they were. Times have changed and so too have purchasing patterns. This is the age of the Internet.
As we search for a fresh identity, one which the town can develop and grow around, we have to recognise where we are as a town. Whilst many complain bitterly about Wrexham, it remains the case that the town has more shops and restaurants/cafes than any similar unit in North Wales. The town includes a huge ensemble of Independent and Market units, micro businesses that employ less that 10-20 employees and which are scattered around the Secondary sites of the town (with many also on the prime retail streets). There is considerable fluidity within this sector as micro-businesses enter the market place and leave. That said, many are of long standing. I will refer to these as Wrexham 1 and they occupy streets including Charles Street, Henblas Street, Chester Street, High Street, Yorke Street, et al. There are several pockets of Multiple development that remain relatively full of let units, those including Island Green, Plas Coch, Eagles Meadow, the Border Retail Park, the Central Retail Park and the Salop Road Development. I will refer to these as Wrexham 2. Wrexham 3 is the problem area. This is the area at the heart of the old town occupied largely by a rump of Multiple traders who did not relocate to Wrexham 2 as Wrexham morphed. There are some very impressive businesses within it and the outside observer would note that pockets of strong retailing have survived in some parts of those streets once almost entirely Multiple dominated (in others less so)
Given that Wrexham needs an identity, Wrexham needs to be re-branded as a vibrant yet convenient Anglo-Welsh border shopping and market town, a hybrid with the pick of the nation’s multiples but whose community identity is rooted in its Local, Independent, Retail and Markets offer fused with its outstanding Events, Arts and Craft offer. This can be achieved without seeking City status (and, indeed, I would argue that the town’s brand would be advantaged by avoiding City status). Achieving such is feasible for Wrexham. Why?
1. Brands are perceptions
Logos and slogans are NOT brands. Wrexham’s community brand is what people think of it, what their perceptions will accept, digest and be prepared to move towards. It is what people expect they will see and experience when they are in your area – good and bad. Logos, slogans, graphics and ads are just marketing messages used to support and promote the brand. Marketing Wrexham in the terms that I have outlined above is realistic and fits in with people’s perceptions.
2. Brands are built on the perceived nature of the offer/product
A brand makes a promise, and that promise is built on what is perceived to be available to the customer. You must have those activities, amenities and ambiance that match broadly with your brand promise because disappointment can be a brand killer. One of the problems in the early phase of Ty Pawb is that the marketing has over-egged the offer and the disappointment felt has amplified the damage to the Ty Pawb brand.
3. Brands are earned: sometimes good, sometimes bad
You never just “roll-out” a brand and expect the brand to fly. You must earn it and build it over time. Since a brand makes a promise, it’s essential that the promise is fully realized, obvious, and pervasive. Often towns and other communities need to focus on a repositioning or rebranding effort in order to change the perception of the community, which can be an arduous and time-consuming process that MUST start within the community.
4. Brands are developed through PR and word of mouth
You always build your brand through public relations and advertising can be used to maintain your position once you own the brand but, equally, can damage the brand. Remember, brands are perceptions – what people think of you. Advertising is what you think of yourself. You need the 3rd party endorsement that effective public relations can provide. Start with the web – blogs, YouTube, reviews, etc.
5. Brands must be experiential
Community brands MUST be experiential or activity-driven, not just based on something to look at or a warm and fuzzy feeling. There must be something solid in the offer. Geography, historic features, scenery and “feel good” slogans are very rarely effective brands and whilst they can be part of the ambiance, the stage, there needs to be more. People are looking for experiences, things to do. Static attractions that are simply things to see quickly become “been there, done that” experiences, and thus not sustainable brands. Ty Pawb has fallen into the classic trap of lacking things like a 24/7 pottery or working Art facility (complete with easels) and the offer remains insubstantial.
6. Branding is the art of differentiation
Wrexham’s brand is what sets the town apart from everyone else. When someone mentions Wrexham’s name, what is the first thing that comes to mind? A City or a Market town? One differentiates the town from its greatest and nearest competitor, the other doesn’t. The name must become synonymous with the brand.
When we mention the following communities, what comes to mind?
These places are all associated with something that differentiates them from each other and if we placed the words Pottery, Beach, Eisteddfod and the Beatles these towns are easy to identify. But would you have ever heard of Salem, Massachusetts if it hadn’t been for the witch trials that took place over 300 years ago? A brand sets you apart from everyone else and puts you on the map.
7. You must jettison the generic
Avoid, at all costs, the generic in your marketing. If a slogan can be applied to virtually any community, it is too generic, and doesn’t make you stand out from the competition. The days of “A Great Place to Live, Work and Play” are over. That’s what everyone says about their community. Remember – differentiation. Any community can say “great place to visit,” “Four Seasons of Fun,” “Fun for the Whole Family,” “Unique by Nature,” or other such bullshit. Do those tell you anything about Wrexham, what you might experience there or give you any reason to go there? Much better to state that Wrexham is (as the brand statement above describes it) PLUS it is the home of Wrexham FC, Glyndwr University, several Markets, Eagles Meadow……and so on
8. Say no to focus groups
You NEVER build a brand using focus groups. Period. If creative services come into your local focus group and sell you on a logo or slogan by explaining what makes it so great, are they going to be there to sell it to everyone who sees it? If a slogan has to be explained, toss it. Focus groups come up with slogans that are generic and designed to make everybody happy. “We have something for everyone.” You need to set yourself apart, not try to be everything to everyone.
9. Find your niche, your specialty
Wrexham needs to understand the difference between its primary lures and its diversions. The primary lure is what people can’t get closer to home, and it makes you worth a special trip. This may include Erddig, the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, Yale’s Burial site, the Parish Church, et al
Diversions aren’t the primary attraction that brought the visitor – people could do diversions closer to home, but they will do them while visiting you as well. Golfing, bird watching, trails, parks, local museums, historic downtowns, wineries and outdoor recreation are usually diversions. (They are sometimes the primary lure – if they’re the biggest, the best, or the first.) And it’s OK to be a diversion! Eighty percent of visitor spending takes place on diversions. Why do you think Disney built Downtown Disney?
It’s critical to promote the town’s primary lure first, diversions second. What makes you worth a special trip? In the case of Wrexham, it has to be the unique width of its offer BUT and this is a big BUT it has to be also about developing that width by a concerted effort.
10. It takes a village
It takes a village to build and own a brand – everyone must be on the same page and pulling in the same direction. Can you imagine what would happen if every Coca-Cola bottling plant designed its own Coke logo, label and ad? The Coke brand wouldn’t exist. You are much more powerful as one loud voice than a number of small voices. It is vitally important for the local government, chambers of commerce, business groups and destination marketing organizations to work together to bring a brand to life. This is still lacking in Wrexham. So, what do people think of when they think of your town? What sets you apart from other communities nearby? Is that what you’re promoting? Embrace what is unique about your community and promote it – and make sure you’re ready to deliver on the promise so visitors will get the experience they’re looking for, and want to come back again and again. Most importantly, don’t damage the brand experience by making it penalising to access the products that your town offers. Access restrictions and poor inconvenient parking merely adds to the notion that you don’t want to sell your brand whilst your competitor does.January 29, 2021 at 12:09 am #199819
Alun- good academic response but you have missed out cause and reason regarding people’s behaviours based around the instinct of choice. With so many options (after Covid allows for free travel) for people to have freedom and the choice of a 10 – 15-minute drive into Wrexham vs a 20 -30-minute drive that gives a perceived experience of going somewhere and not just staying local makes a difference.
With people traveling between 30 -60 minutes to work a 30 min journey to shops is no different.
Shopping is split into three — essential, non-essential and urgent.
Essential but not emergency could be dealt with a by a supermarket delivery or a travel to shop purchase within an acceptable distance.
Urgent – something from a chemist or DIY project – items needed ‘now’ will be local.
Non-essential- items that can be bought online or can wait till the next time you go to work- items where the biggest choice of places to purchase.
Part of the essence of branding and marketing is who is the target audience – all the points above affect local people by giving choice.
Perhaps the concentration needs to be on what is Wrexham offering to people outside of the Wrexham area so that it targets the sale of nonessential items that people will but if they have a retail experience and an offer that is unique.
Wrexham retail unfortunately does not have a unique offer except Techniquest/Explore what else do we have that is not found in nearly every other town or city in radius of 20 miles.
The conversion of many upper retail space into ‘apartments’ that are the size of a glorified walk-in wardrobe is a clear indication that the twin centre will become filled with people on Housing Benefit with very limited disposable income so nit even a demand for a café culture.
Yes, it might be good to have new owners of the Football Club and the hype that has brought but unless the team performs and rapidly moves up the league the newfound Hollywood fame will be short lived PR exercise. The levels of funding being talked about would not even buy half a decent team of players. We have many people tagging onto the ego trip that they think will bring Hollywood celebrities flocking to Wrexham- where will they stay Premier Inn or the Wynnstay!!
Older people can get their free bus pass and go for a day trip out of Wrexham – never see many coming for a day trip to Wrexham from outside the area.
We have a University wanting to sell off assets the community have regarded as their amenities and also concentrating only on trying to make their buildings better at a time of listing good lecturers and developing online degree curses.
There is no easy answer but pumping ratepayer’s money down the proverbial town centre drain is not the way any citizen in Wrexham should allow to happen at a time when Education, Social care are in such a desperate state.January 29, 2021 at 11:22 am #199824
Choice and behaviour are interesting themes. The reason that Benjamin is correct about the current approach in Branding terms is that WCBC appear to have churned out some simplistic words which they hope will appeal to potential shoppers, tourists and even incoming residents. The juxtaposition of words and reality cause damage and when my plagiarised article talks of the village, you get that.
WCBC’s plan should be based upon what could be, what we have, and what we can build upon. I did this with my business and I enjoyed the busiest year I had had in retail 2019-2020. I left on a real high.
The “academic” work isn’t intended to be academic at all. It is just a basic lesson for life. Don’t try to sell a pretend product, but attempt to identify a realistic projection of what the town can be with some major tweaking. There are some doomsters writing on these sites that think that can never happen. It may not happen in a flash but it can happen. Sadly, it won’t happen if responses are based upon bland nothingness
January 29, 2021 at 1:23 pm #199843
- This reply was modified 1 month, 1 week ago by Alunh.
One of the key issues is the Council seem to be trying to reimage the town to an image it used to be and is not being visionary and taking into account the retail sector will nit return to the Market Town days so why pretend. There is waste amounts of data available about current and future market trends not least of all is the there will be commercial disinvestment on a mammoth scale in the next 5 – 10 year. The past 9 months has accelerated change in the retail sector far quicker than anyone could have anticipated and we are now seeing online sales that only 12 months ago were projected to occur from 2025 onwards.
The Council needs to be holding a dialogue not only with those that may want to invest (currently appears to be only Welsh Government) but also the commercial sector that are looking to disinvest to try and convince them to put their actions on hold. Most of these investors have no affinity with Wrexham and any of their properties are just an asset within their accounts.January 29, 2021 at 5:39 pm #199869
The Internet and the current Pandemic between them will shake out the Multiples. Even before the Covid crisis, the most viable route forward for towns was to go Back to the Future. Cafes, Nail Bars, local services, the Arts, the Crafts, the Curious and Unique, these will be at the heart of the reconfiguration. Markets won’t be what they once were but some pivot towards local and independent is almost inevitableJanuary 31, 2021 at 9:33 am #199905
It seems obvious to me that the retail in Wrexham is too spread out, and not enough demand for it given the total amount of retail. Seems like bad planning on the part of the Town.
I think the answer could be (post Pandemic of course) to put funding, grants, etc into upgrading and modernising the retail units in the traditional heart of the town (Hope Street, Regent Street) and incentivising what’s left of the retail in Eagles Meadow (principally M&S) to relocate into these modernised units, therefore concentrating the national chains into a smaller, more central area.
Then, transform Eagles Meadow into an entertainment district – national chain and local bars, restaurants, keep the cinema and bowling alley. Allow them to utilise the central outdoor space with tables, outdoor bars, perhaps an outdoor stage for live entertainment etc (think Concert Square in Liverpool). You could also perhaps expand the residential aspect in and around Eagles Meadow to complement this.January 31, 2021 at 11:52 am #199908
Agreed. As things stand, Wrexham is too spread out Wrexham ITK. Sadly, one reason for this is the quest for customer access. M & S moved out of the town because older town centres no longer suit their purposes (unless, like Chester, they’re very busy). Plas Coch, Island Green, Eagles Meadow and Broughton have all been developed for that reason. Reversing that pattern won’t happen in Wrexham unless access issues are resolved.
The second thing is money. Government doesn’t want to throw money at property owned by the private sector and, in the main, nor should it. There are targeted funds available for development and heritage projects, as you would expect, but a more prudent approach might be to reduce business rates to encourage private sector money to come forward in pursuit of profits
- This reply was modified 1 month ago by Alunh.
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