“Cornwall should be seen as a California, not a Florida”.

Opening up my emails this morning I received a briefing note on Cornwall’s LEP from the Portfolio Holder of Economy. After reading it, I think it needs to be translated into plain English. Talking to my colleagues at County Hall, they are equally perplexed to the briefing note. Feel free to translate.

If you can translate it you will win a prize. How about one of those rare Cornwall Council ties, everyone’s must have fashion accessory.

I will though put the conclusion first, as that might save you from enduring the whole document

5. Conclusion
Cornwall has changed considerably over the last two decades and is still changing, but this is not fully understood by external audiences. The adoption of a “competitive identity approach” will enable a focused and coherent series of mutually reinforcing, cost effective communications and promotions to be undertaken. This will raise the profile and build on the excellent reputation of the existing successful sectors to drive greater awareness and recognition of the emerging/hidden growth industries and thereby assist in its economic development and building on the real pride and self determination of those that live and work in Cornwall

(Those brave enough please feel free to read the whole document)

The Title of the paper is: Cornwall – Competitive Identity “Cornwall should be seen as a California, not a Florida”.

1. Introduction

The paper details the background and rationale for developing a focused and integrated approach to raising the profile of, and changing the perception of Cornwall, in the rest of the UK as well as building a higher profile in Europe and target countries in the rest of the World.

2. Background

The Perception of new/ potential customers and investors is a critical success factor for any city or region. Over the past two decades many cities in the UK have completed a transformation in ‘perception’/profile terms by a combination of economic and physical regeneration combined with effective, targeted profile raising and marketing. Notable examples of cities that have achieved this profile/perception transformation include Manchester, Newcastle and most recently Liverpool (greatly assisted by the European City of Culture).

Over the last two decades, Cornwall has had the benefit of substantial amounts of public sector investment from the EC objective 5b, One and Convergence Programmes, as well as UK programmes, in addition to significant investment from the private sector.

In the last two decades, Cornish food and drink has grown in value and reputation and is now widely recognised as premium products. The tourism sector has invested and evolved into a multi award winning inspirational leading destination which is regularly endorsed at national and international level.

However, the perception of other sectors of the economy of Cornwall has not substantially changed in line with its transformation.

The challenge is now to build on the high profile, recognition and status of our leading sectors and use these positive values as a foundation on which to increase the focus and impact of raising the profile of the other less well known high performing and emerging businesses and sectors. The overall message being that Cornwall is a great place to work/advance a career, start/expand a growing and successful business, invest in, buy products and produce from, as well as visit and enjoy.

Cornwall should be a place where talent and investment returns, or “runs to” rather than a somewhere to go when “running away” from the “rat race”.

3. Branding vs. Competitive Identity

All too often, branding of a region/destination is associated with the creation (and then an obsession with) a ‘logo’ and even worse, brand values that people want to aspire to, rather than the ‘brand’ reflecting on honest communication of the region’s identity and this approach has been promoted by one of the leading branding experts , Simon Anholt.

Competitive identity is how the rest of the Country/World perceives your region and/or the reputation it has. The essence of a competitive identity strategy is based on the projection of an honest image and related communications reflecting the truth strength and weaknesses of a region.

Although competitive identity is in effect “branding”, it is not focused on logos and brand values (which for Cornwall could not be effectively policed) and more on the effective honest communication of the opportunities Cornwall has using a multi layers messaging and reinforcing approach.

A competitive identity is created by six interrelated areas of activity, namely:

– Tourism Promotion and tourist’s first hand experiences.
– Export promotion activities.
– Inward Investment initiatives and promotion.
– Policy decisions/reputation of the regions ‘governance’ key/body (ies).
– Food & drink produce in the case of Cornwall.
– Cultural activities and exchanges.
– How people of the region, from high profile figures/leader, sports stars behave as well as the population as a whole.

It was proposed to and agreed by the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership that Cornwall adopts this “competitive identity approach” in all its external promotion/profile raising activities by use of a ‘signature’ for Cornwall, as the name itself is very powerful in marketing terms and very well known within the UK with a growing reputation in certain international markets.

It was also agreed that the relationship with the Cornwall brand and the Isles of Scilly brand should be reviewed and that consideration should be given to see where there are mutually supporting and reinforcing actions for shared benefits.

4. What are the next steps in developing a more comprehensive approach to a competitive identity for Cornwall

The next step will be to develop a project plan and identify talent within Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly in order to establish a project team who will develop a clear plan and deliver the work which will include:

1. Establishing a cross sector (including the third sector) stakeholder group to advise and support the project

2. Agreeing a set of core value/messages/descriptive words/messages that honestly reflect the values and practices of that service or product for the following target markets:

o Renewal Energy
o Tourism
o Creative Industries
o Knowledge Economy
o Food & Drink
o Niche Manufacturing
o Inward Investment
o Education and Research
o Cultural activities

Producing the overall multi layered communication strategy and a three year delivery plan. The Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership will oversee and champion this project.

The Chairman of the LEP – MK2

Today at twelve noon, the new Chairman of the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) for Cornwall and the Isle of Scilly was announced. The appointment of is role has been made to Chris Pomfret, a man who lives in Port Isaac and seems to have a wealth of experience working in business and industry.

I would like to wish him the best of luck in what is likely to be a challenging role. Let’s hope as head of the LEP he is able to attract the vital investment Cornwall needs without forgetting the smaller players that are currently working hard in Cornwall.

Click HERE for the profile for Chris Pomfret from the Food Standards Agency