Margate, fresh from its appalling rebranding attempts on The Apprentice is most definitely fighting back.
I wrote this article last week and found myself defending the place quite vigorously.
By way of follow up, I have just spoken to a very helpful ‘spokesperson’ at the Tourist information centre and they report that the town was absolutely packed this weekend with thousands of families looking for the type of break that Kate’s team were promoting.
I think there are a few things to learn from this. The first is that the opposite of love isn’t hate. It’s apathy and maybe many of us had got a little apathetic about Margate and British resorts in general. Maybe this programme forced many to look again at their own prejudices and get down there and judge for themselves?
The second and perhaps most important point is that in our own experience of place branding, you need a catastrophic event to start the fight back. There were so many people being negative about the place generally that those of us who have lived there and loved it, stand up and shout back at those who put it down – particularly those who have never even been there.
This has happened in Liverpool, where there is huge civic pride from almost all who have lived there. We saw the same happen in Nottingham when we went through the rebranding process there and maybe the same is starting to happen in Margate.
Margate Old Town is beautiful, the Turner Centre should be spectacular and bring in a whole new audience to visit the shops, cafes and bars of a regenerated town without all the homogenised high street stores we see in every other town and city the world over. If Margate dares to be different, it has a chance to succeed. If it bottles it and homogenises it deserves to fail.
Rebranding any place in isolation will achieve absolutely nothing. Using it as an excuse to show people you have changed and will behave differently going forward has the potential to really work. This applies to ANY brand, be it place, product or service.
Thanks for the shot which is from Blood Oaf on Flickr. See his excellent work here.