The Edinburgh ‘Inspiring Capital’ brand

Ailsa Falconer is Edinburgh’s Inspiring Capital City Region brand manager. She is the first brand manager the city has employed in its long and august 1,000-year history. Prior to joining the local administration, Ailsa worked for ten years at branding giant Unilever. Her colleague, Lesley Martin, works as team leader for strategy and economic development of Edinburgh.

Maintaining of robust brand values

Edinburgh has to keep pushing boundaries and cannot rest on its laurels,’ Ailsa explains. ‘We cannot afford to stand still – we face an increasingly competitive global marketplace for trade, tourism and talent, and if we want to succeed we have to be innovative and take the lead.’ As one strategic document explains, ‘[w]e have to shout even louder to be heard and do more to ensure that we stand out from the crowd’.7 In order to attract the ‘3 Ts’ (trade, talent and tourists) Edinburgh must present itself in the ‘most powerful and vivid way possible’.8 Developing Edinburgh as a brand is seen as the vehicle for doing so: ‘Key to destination and business success is the building and maintaining of robust brand values. With consumer choice leaning to highly branded destinations, it is the brand strategy that will help to determine who is successful in today’s competitive business environment.

Concluding remark

The brand delivers against this promise in several respects. First, the brand makes it possible to compete with other cities. As Lesley tells, the Royal Bank of Scotland has had its headquarters in Edinburgh since 1695. A strong brand that attracts global top talent is key to keeping such an important employer in town. Second, the brand develops a sense of identity that goes beyond council boundaries. While the jurisdiction and the powers of the City Council are clearly limited, the brand does not stop at political boundaries.

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