KEY stakeholders have joined forces to help raise Crewe’s reputation as a great place to live, invest and spend leisure time. Community groups, leading councillors and major employers took part in round table discussions on developing the Crewe brand to help attract inward investment and boost economic growth.
A workshop, Crewe Place Branding, drew more than 70 people all keen to see the town prosper and regain its civic pride. Among them also were NHS staff, local police officers, representatives from Crewe Bus Users group, Marketing Cheshire officials and church leaders.
The event, staged by Crewe Town Council in partnership with South Cheshire Chamber of Commerce, produced lively discussion and a commitment to change the perception of Crewe.
Guest speaker Professor Vish Maheshwari, head of marketing at Staffordshire Business School, said it was critical to begin at home – in the ‘hearts and minds’ of local people. He drew a comparison with the rebirth of Liverpool as a European Capital of Culture – a city once much-maligned but now enjoying a new heyday as a top place to be and be seen in. Positive ‘place brands’ driven by local people, he said, had also supported Glasgow and Hull as vibrant leisure, tourism and business destinations. He said: “Place branding is a perception that people have about a place and its reputation in the eyes of residents, business, investors, workers, visitors and the wider public. “In Liverpool it was that sense of pride its local people had in their city that supported its European Capital of Culture bid.”
The meeting aimed to pinpoint the identity and personality of Crewe. Rail heritage, excellence in engineering, hidden gems of history were highlighted but also hard-working, down-to-earth and friendly people. A famous town, known worldwide for trains and luxury cars. But it was also a welcoming town where 120 languages are spoken.
Council leader Simon Yates said: “The turn-out was better than a similar event to launch the rebranding of Liverpool and it was interesting to see the immense pride in the room for Crewe not only from townspeople but people who have settled to do business here. Quite unfairly, Crewe has suffered something of a down-trodden image but it’s time to change that perception in the hearts and minds of local people and visitors. There’s so much to shout about in Crewe and now is the time to do it.”
Staged in the Crewe Alexandra function suite, people were asked to form their own task forces to begin a positive ripple effect.
Already underway is a new Crewe Heritage Group which aims to highlight the town’s historical features and take people on tours. And earlier this year Crewe Town Council launched the #InCrewe initiative flying the flag with Shop Crewe, Eat Crewe, Culture Crewe and Events Crewe road signs.
Mr Yates added: “This branding exercise aims to encapsulate all that is positive about Crewe. We have a good mix of multiples and independent shops across town and superb owner-managed eateries and coffee shops where the emphasis is on customer experience. We have landmark hotels in the Crewe Arms and Crewe Hall offering fine dining and where else in Cheshire would you find a stunning Edwardian theatre like the Lyceum offering star-studded shows and top quality dining. Soon we will have a town centre redevelopment and an exciting new Market Hall. A buzzing place where people can meet and eat just like they do in Borough Market London and European markets.” He added: “People of Crewe unite and raise your spirits. This is a great town.”
South Cheshire Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Paul Colman said: “We were delighted to be part of staging this event and it’s clear the business community are behind efforts to raise the profile of Crewe. HS2 is great and in the future. We need to celebrate all that is great and good about the town now.” The Chamber recognises excellence at its November Business Awards which includes categories for people who contribute to the community and fly the flag for the area.
For more information on becoming part of the Crewe Place branding project contact Crewe Town Council Marketing and Events officer Simona Garnero on [email protected]