I’m based in Glasgow, a city with a difficult reputation. From neds, eccies, and Buckfast, to crumbling high rises and violent ‘schemes’, people are often turned off by my fair city. I’ll change your mind. I’ll rebrand Glasgow for you.
Glasgow is a place that has reimagined itself, showing the importance of good storytelling. An identity is formed by perception, by the pieces we choose to emphasise. That’s how we shape a narrative, codify it, and package it up into something we can easily communicate. What’s left out isn’t important; what’s left in is. So, here are the pieces of Glasgow that are important to me, here’s my Glasgow. It’s a braw wee place.
LET’S TELL BRAND NEW STORIES
Glasgow is a thriving city, full of art, creativity, music, museums, beautiful parks, and great brands. And I spend a lot of time thinking about great brands. Which got me thinking. Do places have their own brands? Do all of the little arty shops just off Byres Road in Glasgow’s trendy West End, alongside the hipster bars and restaurants in gentrified Finnieston, create an identify bigger than the sum of their parts? Can I package up the different pieces that make up Glasgow into a big city wide brand? And am I but a piece of that brand?
Perhaps it’s cynical to think of a city in this way. A marketable commodity, with an identity that can be sold. But I do love the Glasgow brand, and with good reason too. From kimchi and bibimbap, through Mono’s vegan pizzas, to the bars and restaurants in Merchant City, and the craft beers tucked away down by the river Kelvin in hipster haunt Inn Deep, there’s a lot to celebrate about my Scottish City.
Now for me, something that’s important when considering a business and how to shape its identity, is the pieces I choose to market. Whether that’s the fact that a food company is vegan, or a graphic design team once worked with Saatchi and Saatchi, these things come to define an audience’s understanding of a brand. So, when you think of Glasgow, if you’re not from here or have never visited, you’ll have an idea of the place and it might not be an accurate one. Or at least, it might not be one that’s shaped by marketers and ad folk (like me).
The reinvented Merchant City, with its trendy bars and expensive converted warehouse loft apartments is a bustling city centre neighbourhood with a distinctive cool New York lower East Side vibe. There’s Finnieston, an ill-defined area somewhere between the affluent West End, and the city centre business district; full of quirky cafes, hipster bars, and trendy restaurants. Then, my neighbourhood, the West End. An old, storied place, divided up by uber cool Byres Road, and bordered by Kelvinbridge and Great Western Road. From ice cream at Nardini’s, to picking up retro clothing at the Glasgow Vintage Company, the West End is the bohemian epicentre of Glasgow. There’s the uni too, and the Kelvin walkway. The list of beautiful places in Glasgow is far too long for one blog.
For vegans, Glasgow is something of a Mecca. Dubbed by Peta as the UK’s vegan capital, there’s plenty of food on offer. From vegan Lorne sausages at Rose and Grants in the Merchant City, to India street food at Ushas, or an asian fusion dish at the The Hug and Pint, Glasgow is moving far away from its deep fried roots. Although, there’s still a place for a good (vegan) haggis supper.
Ah Glasgow, a sunny place you’re not. But that doesn’t stop us having one of the hippest sunglasses company around. Tens, a brand that hails from the rugged Scottish highlands, design sunglasses that change the way you see the world. Their intention is to make everyone see the world ten times better – hence the name. Our intention isn’t quite so bold. We simply want you to see Glasgow in a new light.
We’ve got some of the best craft beers and breweries. From West’s German inspired wheat beers, through Williams Bros IPA/lager hybrid Caesar Augustus, to Drygate’s wonderful cans, there’s plenty for the discerning booze consumer. And then there’s Valhalla’s Goat too, a wee off-licence, with an enviable collection of beers and liquor from all four corners of the world, located just off Kelvin Bridge.
There are excellent art exhibitions too, from the historic Art Galleries, to the Hunterian Museum; from the Gallery of Modern Art, to the East End’s Pipe Factory. Whatever your flavour, we’ve got it.
So, that’s my guide to the Glasgow brand. That’s how I see the city, and those are the pieces I chose to package it up. It’s a place constantly renegotiating its identity, and those negotiations are never finalised. So, put on a pair of Tens sunglasses, grab a bottle of Joker IPA, head on over to Kimchi Cult for some Korean bibimbap, and then watch the sunset over the squinty bridge. You’re just as much a part of the Glasgow story as I am. What will you add?
I love Glasgow. I love being a part of the place. And I know that if Glasgow can shrug off its post industrial malaise, embrace its discordant parts, and reinvent itself as a vibrant city of culture, I can transform your business too.
Leave the rebranding to me.