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How to rebrand a city: Voices unite for real change

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Published on 07 June 2018

Helping rebrand Sunderland
Helping rebrand Sunderland

A panel of business, industry and cultural experts will come together to discuss how to better market Sunderland to investors and visitors from outside the region.

 The debate, hosted by the University of Sunderland, will look at the changing face of the city and what more can be done to promote it as a great place to both live, work and invest.

 Professor Lawrence Bellamy, Academic Dean to the Faculty of Business Law and Tourism, is among a panel of guests preparing to debate the issue at the University’s Sir Tom Cowie Lecture Theatre, at St Peter’s Campus, on Tuesday, 12 June.

 Professor Bellamy said: “The North-South divide has been a topic of substantial debate over recent years. The concept of the Northern Powerhouse has been useful to focus efforts to drive investment through integrating and investing in the industrial strengths of the North of England.

 “Whilst much of this debate, partly due to the political position of strong voices, has been focused upon the North West, the North East remains a crucial contributor to the UK economy and to a certain extent untapped potential.

 “Sunderland boasts real strengths in world-class manufacturing and an outstanding record of export. It also has a low-cost local economy, making operations highly-competitive and the physical scope for commercial developments on a large-scale. Yet it is often overlooked by investors, partly perhaps by the lack of understanding of the opportunities that the city holds.

“The recent City of Culture bid highlighted that Sunderland is much more than simply an industrial centre. There are many features which make Sunderland a great place to both live and work. The cultural economy is growing and benefitting visitors and residents. From art and performance to great events such as the Tall Ships Races and the Airshow, Sunderland is also located close to some of the most attractive beaches and rural areas in the UK.

“So whilst the city has shown recent economic growth and a number of key development projects the challenge is to accelerate the rate of growth. That means attracting further external investment. Marketing Sunderland as a destination for businesses remains a substantial challenge, as the old perceptions of the industrial past still linger. Changing this is taking a huge effort. How do you re-brand a whole City? The key is about developing clear consistent messages and collaboration across all major stakeholders.”

Huge change is already underway across all sectors of the city, with recent announcements including Sunderland Twenty Four Seven, a multimillion pound programme that will establish the city as a national leader for “cultural place-making”.

As part of the discussion about the future of Sunderland, the debate will hear views from other panel guests including:

  • Irene Lucas CBE - Chief Executive Sunderland City Council
  • Michael Lavery - CEO Brand & Reputation
  • Graeme Thompson - Pro Vice Chancellor University of Sunderland

The debate takes place between 5.30pm and 6.30pm.It is free to attend and open to all. People are asked to register here