Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Marketing your town - why retailers are better than councils

We love Stamford. It’s the nearest town to RVHQ, we love the pubs, the shops, the restaurants, the hotels, the architecture. It’s a lovely town and you can see why it was named the best place to live in Britain, by The Sunday Times (though they didn’t mention the, ahem, rougher parts of town and flat-roofed pubs).

As well as some great independent shops and pubs (Paradise Found, Snow Designs and Interiors, The Fine Food Store, TheTobie Norris), the town has big name, but higher-end, chains like White Stuff, Fat Face, The White Company, Cook and The Cosy Club. All these are big draws to Stamford for people who live outside the town and they promote themselves well, with a touch of style befitting the general feel of the town.

This year, a group of business owners have got together to arrange two late night shopping events, with a prize draw on each night. It’s a great idea and the poster (designed independently) for it is prominent around town and on social media. It’s simple but stylish and gives a great feel of what the town is about.

The late night shopping poster - thumbs up

Also this year is the town council’s official Christmas festival (we may have mentioned this in earlier posts…). The poster for this event is, well, not exactly in keeping with the town’s image.

We’re hesitant to criticise the designer – we don’t know who did it and they may have had their hands tied – but is this really a classy, sophisticated poster for ‘the best place to live in Britain’?

The council's poster - we're not impressed

One local business owner told us they felt the festival was completely geared – and marketed – towards the wrong audience for the town’s retailers and that it did not benefit them in any way.

It’s just another example of why we feel the powers-that-be are out of touch with the way the town – and life in general has moved on. And it’s not just Stamford Town Council – the district council, South Kesteven, recently produced a video to attract investment into Stamford.  To us, it feels terribly dated, with a stuffy voiceover, 80s graphics, shaky camerawork and a general lack of flair and imagination. Again, we don’t know who filmed it, so we really don’t want to be ultra-harsh, but it’s not good when you compare it to the work of some local freelancer videographers who we’re sure would have made a much better job of it. Take a look at the work of Chris Rigby, or this video recently unveiled by Rutland’s best restaurant, The Olive Branch.

Maybe the poster was designed for free, maybe the video was done in-house. We understand that taxpayers' money has to be spent carefully (like councils have ever wasted our money…) but surely it’s better to invest in a quality product (and they’d probably be surprised at how reasonably priced most good quality freelance designers and videographers are) and give off a better, more modern, vibrant image of the town, than to do it on the cheap.

What do you think? Are your local councils the same? Can you find examples of councils getting it right when it comes to design and marketing? Comment below.