Does Edinburgh really need a catchphrase or slogan?

YOU can see the logic behind it. After all, Edinburgh is a pretty incredible place to live – if you close your eyes to the tram works and the bins chaos.

YOU can see the logic behind it. After all, Edinburgh is a pretty incredible place to live – if you close your eyes to the tram works and the bins chaos.

So when the creative geniuses at The Leith Agency – the brains behind the Irn-Bru Phenomenal adverts – were asked to come up with a word which summed up the Capital of Scotland, their answer was “Incredinburgh”.

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Marketing Edinburgh – the body responsible for selling the Capital to visitors who briefed the advertising agency for the new £300,000 campaign – ran the results past 18 city “stakeholders” from John Lewis to National Museums Scotland and even the chief executive of Edinburgh City Council Sue Bruce, receiving a “unanimous yes”. Unfortunately, when the idea was presented to the council leader and his deputy, their answer was more a “areyourightintheheadinburgh”?

According to deputy council leader Steve Cardownie, both he and leader Andrew Burns were appalled at the strapline and concerned that it could easily be subverted to the denigration of Edinburgh. A quick look at comments on Twitter yesterday perhaps proved their point.

But maybe the question should not be whether Edinburgh’s marketing approach needs refreshed after trundling along for seven years with the rather uninspiring “Inspiring Capital” tag, but if it needs a slogan at all? And if it does, can a city so multi-faceted and cosmopolitan possibly be summed up in just one word?

“To be honest, I don’t think Edinburgh needs a trendy, poppy slogan,” says Councillor Cardownie. “Edinburgh is world renowned, and although I know it’s a tough market and we face a lot of competition from international cities, I don’t think a one-word slogan can do the city any justice. And I also don’t think sub-slogans like ‘Romanceisnotdedinburgh’ do anything more than provoke laughter.

“I always thought Inspiring Capital was quite clever, but it probably needs refreshed. However just because The Leith Agency has come up with ‘Incredinburgh’ it doesn’t mean it’s right for Edinburgh. I’m not sure whether they were briefed to come up with just one word, or that it must be a play on the word Edinburgh, but it doesn’t work. It’s trying to be too clever when Edinburgh shouldn’t really need to try that hard.”

While Cllr Cardownie praises the old Inspiring Edinburgh tag and logo, when it was launched in 2005 it hardly won rave reviews, with many people confused about what the three arching lines were supposed to represent. In fact, Colin Montgomery, then a creative director at agency Citigate SMARTS, said that the logo was “far from loveable . . . clunky . . . it doesn’t really cut it.”

And it seems many feel the same way about the “Incredinburgh” slogan.

Scott Douglas, director of public relations agency Holyrood Partnership, says: “I’ve been in the Scottish media for 25 years and there are few city branding efforts which have been successful. The two which spring to mind are Glasgow’s Miles Better and Dundee City of Discovery.

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“Edinburgh hasn’t ever found the magic formula. One reason might be because most efforts try to effect some play on words on the city’s name. That might work with the ‘Edenburgh’ theme, which is narrowly focused on recycling and creating a green environment, but it simply doesn’t work to promote the Capital for all of its sights, culture, history, heritage and architecture.”

He adds: “Trying to brand it as ‘Incredinburgh’ is a clunky and clumsy pun even for native English speakers and, I would think, meaningless in just about any other language.”

Ewan Colville, an Edinburgh-based marketing consultant formerly with VisitScotland, agrees. “My view is that the brand is Edinburgh and it does not need a strapline or any appendages. If Edinburgh is confident in how it projects itself internationally as a brand – and it should be because it has a very strong 
international image and reputation – it’s not in need of some sort of slogan.

“If there’s public money to be spent it would be better off done promoting Edinburgh the brand rather than embarrassing it with superfluous straplines. I don’t believe Glasgow’s Scotland with Style works either as it’s led it down a path which narrows its appeal. And the Glasgow’s Miles Better was all about Glasgow talking to itself, it’s a myth that it encouraged more UK or international visitors – it was about regeneration and making the people of Glasgow feel better about where they lived.”

So is it worth spending hundreds of thousands of public money on these advertising campaigns at all? While new marketing slogans give places a chance to project a new image are they needed when destinations are so thoroughly mapped and reviewed on the internet?

There must be something in it as nearly every city – and country – seems to have one from I HEART New York to Las Vegas: What Happens Here, Stays Here; See The World: Visit London to I FEEL sLOVEnia, Taiwan Touch Your Heart and Jamaica, once you go you know – even if they say little about the place itself. And it’s almost universally acknowledged that the Glasgow campaign in the 1980s did change 
people’s perspectives.

Louise Fraser, of Edinburgh marketing research firm Jump Research, thinks that’s what “Incredinburgh” could do too.

“I think the new slogan does a great job of telling others how people feel about living in this city. It’s much more down to earth and popular than ‘Inspiring Capital’ and it gives people of Edinburgh something positive for a change rather than all the 
negativity which surrounds trams and now bins.”

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Certainly Lucy Bird, Marketing Edinburgh’s chief executive, is being bullish about it. “Over the past few months, we’ve collaborated with many of our city partners to develop a dynamic and lively new campaign for Edinburgh. As you would expect, there’s a huge amount of planning and discussion around a project like this and we’re welcoming feedback.”

She adds: “Various iterations of the campaign have been considered and our business partners throughout the city are really excited about our current plans. It’s a brave, new look for Edinburgh that’s modern, magical and celebrates everything that’s extraordinary about the city. We look forward to launching our winter marketing in a few weeks’ time.”

But marketing expert at Edinburgh’s Napier University Dr John Thomson urges caution – and warns that slogans can end up backfiring. “There was a period when branding was all about the design of the logo and not the substance or essence of what was being marketed. That has changed. What are the values which underpin ‘Incredinburgh’? You can see lots of places and things which are incredible. It doesn’t make Edinburgh sound unique or distinctive.

“And remember, if you promise something in a slogan then you have to deliver. You only get one chance in a market that is so competitive.”


THERE’S never a shortage of humour around when the Edinburgh public feels that the city council has made a mess of things – and the “Incredinburgh” slogan instantly became the butt of many a Twitter pun or Evening News website joke yesterday.

Here are a few of the subversive alternatives suggested playing on the Incredinburgh line . . .

• Tramroadworksdomyhedinburgh

• Citycentreisdedinburgh

• Smellierthanthemedinburgh (for poor suffering residents of Porty)

• Glasgowinsteadinburgh

• Notworthgettingoutofbedinburgh

• Norightintheheadinburgh

• Nobonesaboutitedinburgh

• Bythetimetramsarerunningi’llbedeadinburgh

• Wouldn’tbeseendeadinburgh

• Doin’maheadinburgh

• Allegedly from Her Majesty the Queen (though we very much doubt it) offwiththeirhedinburghs

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• Lothian Road on a Saturday night: nedinburgh or drunkinedinburgh

Then there were others who just went for the jugular:

• Edinburgh: You’ll have had your tea

• Edinburgh: Where creative thinking ends

• Edinburgh: It’s tramendous

And finally . . . Forget incredinburgh, what about Fabuleith!

Design a logo for your Edinburgh...

SO just how easy is it to create a new logo for a city as diverse and cosmopolitan as Edinburgh? The Evening News’ design editor Mark Fearn designed the one above in a matter of minutes yesterday. But perhaps you think you can do better?

Send in your designs to Newsdesk, Edinburgh Evening News, 108 Holyrood Road, Edinburgh, EH8 8AS or e-mail [email protected]