Brabant is the knowledge and innovation region par excellence - the area of the Netherlands that offers a pleasant balance between work, everyday life and leisure. This perception of Brabant is one of the main factors that motivate entrepreneurs, knowledge workers and students to settle in Brabant. Strengthening this positive image is the key objective underpinning the branding strategy implemented by Brabant Branding.
The 2019-2023 Administrative Agreement of the Provincial Authority of North Brabant (Dutch version) prioritises this ambition. Branding is an instrument that is to be used to strengthen the already positive image of Brabant. Team Brabant Branding – part of the International Affairs Department of the Provincial Authority of North Brabant - has been instructed to develop and implement the branding strategy. The team collaborates with a large number of external parties to achieve this.
Branding aims to establish a differentiated presence, or ‘brand’, in a market. In this case, the brand is ‘Brabant’. Team Brabant Branding focuses on campaigns and actions that result in a positive reputation and greater familiarity with the region. The three brand values of Brabant - Courageously Unconventional, Purposefully Collaborative and Remarkably Immersive (more information can be found on this page) - are the point of departure for those activities.
Branding is not the same as marketing. Branding focuses on evoking specific feelings in target groups; those feelings are positive and match the desired image. Marketing encourages target groups to take specific action; i.e. to invest or settle in the area, or pay a visit. That is the task of organisations such as Brabant Development Agency (BOM) and VisitBrabant. So Brabant Branding supports and facilitates the (marketing) objectives of other parties.
Branding publicises Brabant as a leading European region in terms of knowledge and innovation. As a result, the activity supports achievement of the region’s economic and international goals with regard to investment, trade, innovation and collaboration with other regions. In short, branding indirectly creates jobs and adds value.
Team Brabant Branding actively profiles Brabant in collaboration with a large number of partners. To give a few examples: Brainport Eindhoven, BOM, VisitBrabant, BrabantC, AgriFood Capital, various Campuses and the universities in Tilburg and Eindhoven. They and many other parties play an important role in regional branding.
Team Brabant Branding's efforts focus on ensuring the greatest possible level of uniformity in message and style when these parties act or communicate in a way that is representative of Brabant. This activity, which is called ‘place brand management’, is needed because branding is only effective when all those involved tell the same story: the exciting and empowering story of Brabant. The three brand values that make the region so special are the central themes of this story.
Until recently, Brabant presented itself based on the values of ‘high tech’ and ‘high touch’. Successful in the fields of business, knowledge and innovation (high tech), but also pleasure-loving, hospitable and friendly (high touch). Those values were recently reappraised and, although judged appropriate, were found to be too general. So newly formulated values that more accurately reflect Brabant have been agreed with the collaborative partners. The choice fell on the following three brand values, which make Brabant totally unique. They embody the identity of Brabant. They are:
We refer to events, attractions, campaigns and projects that match the three brand values as ‘on-brand’. Activities that do not match the three values are ‘off-brand’. Team Brabant Branding encourages partners to organise their image-building activities in a way that is as ‘on-brand’ as possible in terms of content and form. In addition to general advice, the team has provided three instruments.
The brand filter has been developed as a tool to help organisations and government agencies act in a way that is ‘on-brand’ to the greatest possible extent. The filter can also be used as a yardstick for assessing grants or co-financing. The Provincial Authority of North Brabant, BOM and VisitBrabant have jointly agreed to use the filter. These parties have a best-effort obligation rather than an obligation to achieve results: in other words, Brabant Branding is responsible for focusing on (directing its efforts at) activities that contribute to building the desired image.
The strategy aims to ensure that all the parties use a uniform approach in their communication about the region. Brabant Brand Box was developed for this purpose. This online toolbox is available to partners, the press and other parties who communicate about Brabant. It is a repository for photos, videos, copy and inspiring (on-brand) examples. The information provided is not subject to copyright or other rights of intellectual property. Brabant Brand Box provides material for telling the story of Brabant, in a convenient form that matches the three brand values.
Content is the principal element of the branding strategy. So no new logo has been developed. After all, the idea is to inform target groups about the region based on relevant content and not based on a logo. However, a wordmark is available. The wordmark can be freely used if a consistently formatted ‘common denominator’ or name is required for a stand, an event or as a heading for a project plan, etc. But there is no obligation to use it (as opposed to a logo, where this often applies).
Monitoring is part of the branding strategy. Regularly measuring and assessing the activity will allow timely adaptation. This monitoring activity includes assessing the extent to which Brabant Brand Box is used and the level of satisfaction among its users. And we also assess the degree to which the partners involved in the activity (particularly the Provincial Authority of North Brabant, VisitBrabant and BOM) have complied with their best-effort obligation in using the brand filter.
Establishing the region of Brabant as a brand is a complex process that requires input from many parties. Collaboration is crucial to success. This also reflects the brand values of Brabant: joining forces, allowing others freedom of action and working together to achieve success. We can only make a difference if we work as partners!
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