Introduction: This brief sets out the requirements for the development of a ‘Naturally’ place brand and consistent brand strategy for the East of England’s tourism industry that can be applied across all our coastal, countryside and urban destinations.
Key stakeholders: The Suffolk Coast, All About Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds & Beyond, Discover Newmarket, Visit Great Yarmouth, Visit Norwich, Visit North Norfolk, Visit The Broads, Broads Authority, Visit West Norfolk, Visit Suffolk, Visit Norfolk, Visit East of England.
All local authorities in Norfolk and Suffolk, New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership.
Background: Norfolk and Suffolk’s DMO Coalition was created in Summer 2020 when the pandemic encouraged the DMOs to agree to combine the local authority-funded marketing pots of Visit Norfolk and Visit Suffolk and to promote the East of England as ‘Unexplored England’. This was about highlighting the more than 9,000km2 of coast, countryside, National Park, AONBs and open space for outdoor activities and holidays. The strapline was ‘find the paths and places less travelled’.
The coalition was successful in bidding to Government funds to support the initial marketing activity.
Read more about ‘Unexplored England’ here.
What have we learnt?
Our collaborative work so far has been successful in establishing the opportunities of working together, but our collective panhandling, including consumer research, has established ‘elephants in the room’.
- Potential customers will go abroad again when given the opportunity.
- In our activity, we talk to the ‘same people’, invariably those who know us and do not need converting.
- We do not know what our regional proposition is, so why would a potential customer?
- We have a disparate but symbiotic destination landscape. It is a stronger proposition for being the sum of parts, but therein lies a fundamental issue – what is the collective offering?
- For people looking for something different, why are we the solution?
- There is a lack of awareness of what is here that might be different from other destinations.
- If any at all, what is the domestic perception of this area? ‘Windy, flat, cold, wet, boring’, ‘Nothing to do’, ‘Difficult to get to’? (Visit Norfolk SWOT Research). And yet we have the best overall climate in the UK. We have superb built and natural capital. Our road and rail infrastructure is good.
- We are competing with historically better-funded and better-organised destination brands who are adept at opening Government doors.
- Outside Cambridge, we do not attract considerable numbers of inbound visitors. How can we take advantage of Hook of Holland-Harwich, Norwich International Airport and London Stansted Airport? Our historical narrative should be able to attract North American and European visitors.
East of England Placemaking
This work is being commissioned to develop a competitive destination proposition and place brand, enabling the region to realise its visitor economy potential.
With the successful vaccine roll-out and the pandemic effectively over, the local destination organisations and local authorities undertook a Placemaking exercise from which ‘Naturally’ was chosen as the brand to help shape the distinctiveness of the region for potential visitors.
The tourism Destination Development Plan emphasises the need for an overarching offer to domestic and international visitors, with strong, cohesive messages, values and a visual identity which brings together our world-class location to stand alongside other regions such as the South West, North East, North West and Yorkshire.
The ’Naturally’ brand will sit as an ‘umbrella’ for regional tourism above a large number of local destination brands. ‘Naturally’ will be used to coordinate and amplify our region’s offer, and not to replace any existing brands or campaigns. It will be used in particular to drive sustainable tourism and for it to be tailored for different locations and activities in order for it to gain traction with stakeholders. All activity will be equitable across local authority areas.
The place brand management will be used to capitalise on our local assets, uniqueness and potential, with the intention of promoting destinations where visitors – and natives – can experience happiness, well-being, and enjoyment in a sustainable, natural environment.
Local destinations will continue to market their strengths, and local authorities will bid for national funds to develop their local interests, but for the wider activity we require a long-term solution that will chime with the strategic activity. The broader, region-wide work is complementary to, not competitive with, local destination and authority activities.
Key objectives are to address sustainable tourism and overcoming the main barrier to productivity – not having a constant level of demand year-round that is spread geographically.
What is the biggest issue?
The region’s visitor economy is very successful, with a broad and disparate offer. This is a strength in terms of having something for all types of visitors but a weakness in providing a collective brand. We want ‘Naturally’ to work as an umbrella identity to overcome that.
What is the one thing we want to say to our audience
The East of England is a location of disparate destinations but with a collaborative objective to develop and promote sustainable tourism.
Project description: What we’d like delivered
Specialists in place marketing and branding are invited to tender for this work.
All proposals should be costed to include:
- Consultation and communication with the DMO coalition to identify our opportunities and offer.
- The development of a visual identity that is transferrable and will work with B2C and B2B eg hero shots of demographic specific travellers in iconic places
- The development of our place’s brand values for domestic and international visitors.
- The development of clear marketing messages to be tailored to specific target audiences – a narrative to build our credentials/brand articulation.
- The development of a communications plan with messaging.
- The development of an Ambassadors cadre to tell our destination story.
- For agreed visual identity, logos and materials in all forms and comprehensive brand guidelines.
For the pitch, we’d like you to answer the following tasks:
Give us examples of how destinations, urban, coastal and countryside, can apply ‘Naturally’.
What creative ways can ‘Naturally’ be used eg accessibility – ‘We’re inclusive, Naturally’; LGBTQ – ‘Be Yourself, Naturally’; destinations – ‘Great Yarmouth, your choice for family-friendly fun, Naturally’.
What are the contemporary stories we can tell? For example, authentic experiences, farm-to-table culinary experiences (West Lexham), vineyard touring, unique accommodation (Lighthouse Camping). From a destination perspective, Norwich’s bid to remove car transport from the city centre, driving pedestrianisation and use of cycles; Bury St Edmunds restaurants reducing food miles by using local produce, encouraging West Suffolk College students into their kitchens.
- For the East of England to be a more ‘top of mind’ destination.
- Develop a more balanced, year-round visitor economy by spreading demand seasonally and geographically, raising the overall tide of tourism towards the high-water mark of Summer.
- Promoting and encouraging the region as a Net Zero sustainable destination. This is two-pronged, for consumers (eg more public transport, more Active Travel) and businesses (eg adopting greener practices).
- Convert day trippers to stay visitors.
- Encourage overnight stays and increased spend.
- Attract younger audiences unaware of Norfolk and Suffolk. VEE’s Consumer Sentiment Survey has suggested that we have a captive audience in older demographics but have less resonance with 18–40-year-olds. Pre-nesters and pre-school families are a focus; visitors who wish to enjoy experiential travel and ‘live like a local’.
- Use social media to attract new audiences, particularly younger people for whom we’re not a consideration. Develop an Ambassadors programme to overcome this.
- Grow the consumer database with new demographics.
Objectives – long-term
- Use brand alignments to help define the East of England.
- Develop brand sponsorship partnerships.
- Build a proposition to attract overseas visitors.
- Develop trade marketing opportunities, particularly with bookable product. This will support efforts to develop business conference events and work with UK Inbound, of which Visit East of England is a member.
- Collaborate to build engaging, bookable itineraries, potentially creating new product that will enable bids to national Challenge Funds such as Discover England.
Tender issued: August 2, 2022.
Tender closes: August 25, 2022.
Interviews with shortlisted agencies: September 9, 2022.
Agency appointed: September 13, 2022.
Work to be launched: November 2, 2022 at the Visitor Economy Conference.
Payment will be made against specific milestones agreed by the client and agency.
Project management and monitoring
The project will be managed by Visit East of England but the successful agency will be required to work and liaise with the DMO coalition.
VEE requires the following for the tender process:
A brief outlining a work plan and schedule for development of brand values and visual identity.
Examples of previous place branding work.
Details of who in the agency team would be involved in the project.
A budget of up to £20,000 (excluding VAT) is available for the work. An extensive campaign to promote the ‘Naturally’ brand will follow the place exercise and the successful agency will be in a strong position to administer that either wholly or in part.
Applications must provide the costs associated with the various elements required in developing the work. All costs must be quoted in Pound Sterling, excluding VAT and must be fixed.
Tenders should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Tenders should be submitted in Word or PDF format and should not exceed 10 A4 pages. Tenders must be received by 5pm on August 25. Applications received after this time will not be considered.
Agencies will be selected for the shortlist on the basis of:
- Value for money
- Creativity shown in examples
- Expertise in place branding
- An understanding of the brief
A shortlist will be selected on the basis of initial tender submissions. Shortlisted agencies will be invited for interview by a selection panel by September 9.