Tourism, Talent, and Trade : Improving a City’s Brand Positioning

Improving a city’s brand positioning

Just as I was putting the finishing touches on my post about the Best of Germany national image campaign, the British Institute of Internal Communications newsletter ran an article about effective communications that mentioned the City of Edinburgh’s integral branding program. I was so impressed by what Edinburgh has done to help businesses and institutions implement the cohesive promotional strategy it has developed that I decided to mention it in this blog. As was the case in The Best of Germany campaign, Edinburgh’s Inspiring Capital campaign was as much about improving  average citizens’ sense of identity and civic spirit as it was about projecting an image abroad. By transforming them into engaged stakeholders, Marketing Edinburgh gave residents of the city and surrounding region a more positive image of themselves as a collective social unit and built a broad base of local support for the initiative.

The Marketing Edinburgh initiative is a model for any city or region that seeks to engage local stakeholders in the promotion of its identity, image, and brand. While its  public-oriented websites cater to Edinburgh insiders, business tourism clients, people interested in visiting, living, working, investing, or studying in Edinburgh, and even film producers looking for the right location for their production, its back office operations support a unified community promotional strategy designed to involve the public sector, private industry, and educational and cultural institutions in the project. The front office and back office meld perfectly, for example, in the site designed to promote film production in Scotland:

Great Locations, Great Attitude 

Edinburgh Film Focus is the local Film Commission for Edinburgh, the Lothians and the Scottish Borders.

If you’re working on a feature film, short film, TV drama, commercial, corporate, documentary, pop promo or stills shoot, we’re here to help. Let the following pages bring this area into focus.

Our FREE service can help you with:

LOCATIONS From medieval castles to wild coastlines, from historic ‘Old Town’ to modern thriving city life, from Georgian townhouses to palatial mansions. Access our huge, easy-to-use library of location images online.

REGISTER your property with us as a potential film location. We keep a database of thousands of possible film locations and are always looking for new locations of all sorts, so if you’re interested in the possibility of filming at your property, please get in touch.

FILMING Check out how we can help with filming and parking permits, funding and incentives and other services. Find out who else has filmed here already, where Edinburgh, the Lothians and the Scottish Borders are, what our weather is like and many other FAQs.

PRODUCTION GUIDE Our online directory of experienced local crew, film services and production companies will help you find the right people at a budget that suits.

Or you can keep updated with regular NEWS reports on the latest developments in our filming community.

We hope you enjoy using this website. We are always delighted to receive your calls or emails, so please contact us anytime.

Edinburgh Film Focus, now part of Marketing Edinburgh Ltd
1a Glenfinlas St
Direct: +44 (0)131 622 7337

By filming in Edinburgh, the Lothians and/or the Scottish Borders you may be eligible to apply for:
UK Tax Credit – up to 25% of 80% of qualifying UK spend. Visit the UK Film Council for details.
Creative Scotland screen investment – up to £300,000 content production finance. Visit Creative Scotland for details.

Helping small- and medium-sized businesses communicate a city brand through the implementation of a user-friendly support program

Edinburgh Film Focus is just one example of how cooperation between government agencies and private organizations can help a wide range of stakeholders reduce costs, lock in business, and reach common goals. Marketing Edinburgh makes it particularly easy for small- and medium-sized institutions and businesses to become involved in (and benefit from) the alliance. Registration is free and even those who don’t register are given access to information about graphic materials designed to promote the city, sound advice about how to use them effectively, and case studies illustrating how they have been implemented.

The downloadable communications package available through the Marketing Edinburgh website includes a custom logo, color scheme, and typeface, as well as several style guides that offer clear advice concerning how to make optimal use of these elements and what combinations to avoid. The site also features a stock photo library that not only includes recognizable Edinburgh points of interest, but also generic images of the type used to illustrate content about conference centers, business services, restaurants, and hotels. The stock photo library is an attractive resource for communication professionals dealing with limited budgets and tight time frames and a clever mechanism for ensuring that stock images used to showcase Edinburgh are high quality and that even detail shots of cobblestones, flora and fauna, and restaurant and meeting room interiors were really taken in the city they purport to illustrate.

Marketing Edinburgh also provides a list of quotes about the city made by famous visitors ranging from Cristina Aguilera to Andrew Carnegie that can be used to dress up copy about the city. In his day, Henry James considered Edinburgh’s Princes Street to be one of the most impressive thoroughfares in Europe. More recently Beyonce said, “I love the people here, they are so friendly and nice. Edinburgh is a really classy city.”

However, what caught the attention of the British Institute of Internal Communications was the website’s short tutorial on the tone of voice copywriters should adopt when writing about the city. Like everything else in the Marketing Edinburgh branding packet, this advice is tailor-made. The organization carried out extensive research on what made Edinburgh a distinctive place to visit, invest in, or live. It then created a brand pyramid that listed the characteristics that supported the new city logo “Inspiring Capital.” The Edinburgher tone of voice provided the foundation for the values, and personality traits that informed the overall brand—how we communicate with others really is important. According to the group’s research, Edinburghers are imaginative, vibrant, determined, authentic, and confident. In terms of a tone of voice for communications, the guide suggests exploiting these concepts without betraying their integrity. It even provides a series of copyediting editing tips for crafting better communications and before and after examples:


Original text:

As well as the world’s greatest arts festival in August, Edinburgh
also hosts several other notable events throughout the rest of the
year. One of these is the Hogmanay, which has grown to be one of
the world’s major winter events.

Codyedited text:

Two of the world’s best parties in one city. What are the chances?
Edinburgh heralds the new year in style with its legendary
Hogmanay and crowns the summer by serving up the greatest
arts festival on the planet.


– A bold claim to open
– A question to challenge and engage
– Rich language (legendary, heralds, crowns) positions Edinburgh firmly on the world stage

This example explains how to work the key word “vibrant” into a text about Edinburgh as a place to live:

Original text:


There’s a real buzz about Edinburgh – and that’s a fact. In a survey
commissioned by fashion chain DKNY, Scotland’s capital  came
second only to Cambridge in a top 10 of UK cities with ‘buzz appeal’.

Copyediting text:


The vibrant city of Edinburgh has outshone London, Manchester,
Glasgow and Birmingham to claim second place in a ‘buzz appeal’
survey of UK cities. Scotland’s capital is seeking to topple Cambridge
from top spot in the table which takes into account each city’s
economy, culture and energy


– Bold headline
– Explicit use of ‘vibrant’
– Light allusions (outshone) are a metaphor for imagination
and complement sound allusions (buzz) adding richness
States a vision to be first – striving

By offering marketing materials, stock images, and advice about how to tailor communications around the Edinburgh city brand, Marketing Edinburgh makes it easier for communications professionals to incorporate the campaign’s elements into a wide range of documents. Companies and organizations are encouraged to use the logo and key words in all their communications, from employment advertisements, catalogues, and letterheads to street banners. Standard city branding materials such as pop-up stands, banners, fact sheets, bags, pens, and lapel pins can be also ordered directly through the website.

Early planning and research for the Marketing Edinburgh initiative were carried out through the Scottish government’s Cities Growth Fund. Since 2008, the project has been fully funded by the City of Edinburgh Council. The Edinburgh city brand program is an example of what can be accomplished with a long-term government commitment, regional coordination and cooperation, and a comprehensive and effective plan to improve the quality of audiovisual and written communication across the board.

Not all cities and towns have the economic and population base needed to mount an initiative similar to Edinburgh’s  Inspiring Capital campaign. What can your city do to project a powerful  and positive image if it has a population of less than 600 and an average household income of $25,000? A lot. Just ask the folks who live in Quinhagak, Alaska. The two places share a few key characteristics: attributes such as imagination, a vibrant personality, determination, authenticity, and confidence, a love of local fresh salmon, and a  bilingual identity. A recent Christmas video produced by the  fifth grade class of a local school as a class project is going viral worldwide this holiday season. One Internet site claims that it has registered over half a million views. If you’d like to see a truly original video version of Handel’s Hallelujah chorus, a cleverly conceived and executed  idea that fuses image and text, and get to know the people of Quinhagak, Alaska, here’s your chance. Thanks to Phil Freshman of the Association of Art Editors for the link to the video and Merry Christmas and congratulations to the fifth graders at Kuinerrarmiut Elitnaurviat school. You’ve warmed the hearts of people all over the world and put your hometown on the map.