Why Yorkshire needs a new slogan to sell itself to the world - Stewart Arnold

Places can be over dependent on one industry.
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It’s fair to say that Yorkshire has seen its share of industries that have been shut down with nothing to replace them leaving big economic holes in local communities.

This is equally true at a global level. In our increasingly leisure inclined world there can be a perception that places are tourist destinations and not much else.

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Egypt is one example. With its beaches on both Mediterranean and Red Sea coasts and, of course, its rich cultural heritage, it attracts millions of visitors annually.

Library image of Swaledale in North Yorkshire,Library image of Swaledale in North Yorkshire,
Library image of Swaledale in North Yorkshire,

Even though it has a strong manufacturing sector we would be hard pushed to name a single Egyptian producer.

Could this happen closer to home? Is there a danger that Yorkshire becomes overly synonymous with tourism? The stunning photos of the Moors and Dales and coast are familiar globally.

Similarly, Yorkshire’s history and heritage, whether it be the York Minster or the National Railway Museum, is constantly rated as being a huge draw for tourists.

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There is a danger though that this can constrain us and the Yorkshire we want to present.

Writing recently, historian Marianne Gilchrist, said: “It should be possible to remember the past and be informed by it, without being imprisoned by it.”

We know the variety that makes up Yorkshire. The ‘One Yorkshire’ campaign, despite its relatively short life, was able to bring together the diversity which is the region.

Its promotional material was a mixture of the urban and rural, of heritage and contemporary. However, it remains a key task for all those involved in encouraging the Yorkshire brand – how can the enormously successful business of promoting Yorkshire’s landscape and heritage be connected to its commercial expertise?

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What’s needed, in my view, is a slogan (as part of a campaign) to defer to both the traditional and the modern.

Interestingly, Bavaria went through a similar discussion about 20 years ago.

This part of Germany was seen as a very traditional region, popular with tourists, but largely rural and quite poor.

There was a move to marry the traditional elements to a forward-looking approach.

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So, this region, with its Alpine chalets, traditional dresses and beer gardens is now a centre for a hugely important hi-tech sector (one of the largest in Europe) and hosts some of the world’s largest car makers, in what is called the ‘Lederhosen and Laptops’ formula.

Does Yorkshire need a slogan to capture this combination of the traditional and the modern in the same way as Bavaria.

If so, what should it be? And nobody please say wifi and whippets!

By Stewart Arnold - Lecturer in Marketing, Hull University Business School