Welcome to the Nottingham Riviera brand

Any of us who have lived or worked in Nottingham for any length of time couldn’t help but notice that it isn’t terribly close to the seaside – and for me, this is the only part of living here that I have ever missed, having grown up in sunny, sandy Margate.

But now we have a brilliant solution. The seaside has come to us with the launch of the Nottingham Riviera yesterday.

Nottingham Riviera
Nottingham Riviera

And it looks brilliant, despite some dark clouds threatening the perfect seaside break inland.

Nottingham has worked hard over the years to dispel the ridiculous myths about its problems. All of which are based more around a tiny political boundary that distorts the figures than any real issues that any other growing city doesn’t face.

Perhaps if Nottingham gets the march on Torbay, who are apparently rebranding to become the English Riviera, the City could own this creative space before Torbay moves into it.

Is this the end for Torbay and is Nottingham the new English Riviera
Is this the end for Torbay and is Nottingham the new English Riviera

But it seems that the Nottingham ‘Brand’s is becoming about innovation, which we have recommended for years as being the way for any brand or even any place to continue to be loved by its audience.

Yesterday also saw the arrival of Sven to the city to take over as Director of Football at Notts County – The oldest Football league club in the world. Again, great news (albeit a bit surreal) and another huge jaw dropping positive piece in the news about the city.

Today sees the first meeting of the Sheriff’s Commission – a panel put together specifically to show how Robin Hood can be more embedded into the fabric of the city. When we did the City brand some years ago, we were hammered for saying we did not have a strong enough offer for our green hero and choosing to focus on some of the other positives in the meantime. Thankfully this may now be coming to an end.

Melbourne have just undertaken their own rebrand through Landor and seem to be getting the usual bollocks about what it cost and how little effect it will have, but if this is what it takes for a city to start acting differently it’s money well spent.

The New Wonky 'M' Melbourne logo
The New Wonky 'M' Melbourne logo

Considering we’re meant to be in a recession, Nottingham genuinely feels like it is really fighting back. It’s become proud and innovative again and is building its brand by continuing to act differently and by actually being innovative.

Branding is about the sustained differentiation of a product, service or place. In this regard Nottingham is practicing some of the best branding you will see from any city anywhere.

Long may it continue.

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Innovate or its gonna be roadkill

It seems obvious to most of us that unless we innovate with our brands we die, but why do so many organisations and brand owners slowly drift into mediocrity? Branding is far more than changing logos, it’s about renewing the entire presentation of an organisation to its customers or agreed target audience, who may become customers of the future.

The Little Chef brand in UK is a great example. Their Olympic breakfast used to be exceptional but year by year it became less Olympian and more local track event. Bits started dropping off and others became ‘extras’ pretty soon a simple breakfast became a £10 plus extortion.

By the time they drafted in ‘expert’ Heston Blumenthal of Fat Duck fame, who is quite obviously a brilliant chef, but as far removed from a motorway service as could possibly be imagined, the cheese had most definitely moved. It was so far gone that no amount of PR could bring it out of hiding.

Over almost ten years there was a generational change (or neglect) that meant an entire new audience grew up NOT using Little Chef as their roadside café of choice.

The rather excellent site Motorway services info rates Motorway services over a number of different ratings to do with cleanliness, friendliness and pricing and then rather weirdly. gives them a burger related rating.

Tebay in Northumberland always wins because the owners – as it is amazingly, still privately owned – care enough to keep renewing their offer and ensuring their staff are behaving as they would want, the prices are what they would be happy to pay and the showers are ones they would even use themselves.

Bottled water in most services is actually much more expensive than petrol or diesel (at over £1.50 per litre) and in these value aware times, most people are wising up and either bringing their own ‘value’ products (from home, from Aldi or even from taps) that the likes of Moto will soon start to seriously struggle unless they renew, and renew fast.

I drive thousands of miles on Britain’s motorways and for me the biggest mover of cheese (and pickle and ham etc etc) has been Marks and Spencer. The arrival of their brand in services has brought a new price structure and a level of quality only seen before in the likes of Tebay.

There is nothing new in marketing and ever was thus. The clearest example we were given whilst training in marketing at college was the Swiss watch industry being decimated by Swatch. They just didn’t see the competition coming from electronics. Whilst they haven’t quite died, the volumes of mechanical Swiss watches is far smaller than in the 60’s.

Brands have to innovate, in any industry. The road to LONG TERM branding success is littered with glorious failures and quiet disappearances, but if it can happen at the roadside, where could it happen to you and your brand – more importantly, what are you doing to ensure that you move the cheese before the others realise it has even moved.

Ps if you want read the ‘Who moved my cheese’ book that I refer to in this article, click below.

Who Moved My Cheese?: An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life by Spencer Johnson