Greater Birmingham to define story as global competition heats up

GBSLEP and partners set out to strengthen area’s ‘sell’ in bid for investment and tourism.

The Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership has commissioned Marketing Birmingham to develop a regional branding strategy that will strengthen the area’s reputation across global markets, in order to maximise economic returns for the region and ultimately the country.

Foreign direct investment and international visitor numbers to Greater Birmingham are at a record high, with inward investment projects creating almost 5,000 jobs last year. Global exports are growing and major infrastructure projects that will change the face of the area and boost its connectivity are being delivered. Competition from cities and city regions across the globe however, is growing.

The GBSLEP has come together with partners from across the wider area to ensure it retains its lead by clearly defining Greater Birmingham’s competitive position as a place to live, invest, visit and do business. The project aims to create a clear and compelling narrative for the area and provide partners with the tools to communicate it to key audiences.

Andy Street, Chair of the GBSLEP, said: “Greater Birmingham’s reputation as a place to live, invest, visit and do business is growing. Historic and redundant views are being replaced with a growing appreciation of what we have to offer. To build on this momentum we need a step change that will herald the next stage of the area’s development and reputation. This project aims to do just that – it will provide the tools we need to sell our area across domestic and overseas markets.

“It is important that we have a clear narrative that works for the broad Greater Birmingham area. Working with partners from across the patch, we are confident that this exercise will help bring clarity and strength to our globally competitive position.

“In the coming months we will be consulting extensively with a broad cross section of people, partners and representative bodies to explore what is important to them about our area. This will feed into the positioning work and provide a narrative that will inform the area’s strategy and communications for years to come.”

Sir Albert Bore, Leader of Birmingham City Council, added: “Birmingham is enjoying an investment and economic resurgence, meaning that there has never been a more important time to define our story than now.

“Greater Birmingham is a diverse and unique area with many strengths. Defining exactly how we want this part of the world to be known and for what is often discussed with most having a view. However, to make an impact on international and business audiences we need a clear, evidenced proposition that everyone shares. Clarity of our strengths as a wider geographical area, and unity in their communication is the key driver behind this project.”

Place marketing specialist Heavenly has been appointed to lead on the consultation work and ensure that it results in a convincing positioning and narrative for the area. Heavenly is an independent agency with a wealth of experience in place marketing, including work for Wales, Northern Ireland and Yorkshire.

Cllr Mike Wilcox, Leader of Lichfield District Council, said: “This is an important project for Lichfield District that will not only help us to define and promote our region’s unique offer, but how we can promote the Lichfield District as part of the Greater Birmingham & Solihull LEP area.

“The project has been established on the basis that cities and city regions around the world are competing for investment, visitors, talent and positive media attention. The wider Greater Birmingham & Solihull LEP region needs to stand out in this crowded and competitive global environment. To realise the economic potential of this locality we need to be clear about our competitive positioning and identity.”

Interested parties can register their interest in taking part in the consultation on Greater Birmingham’s positioning on the GBSLEP website: