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Guest blog: Challenging perceptions

CopyrightGillWilliamson

Thank you to everyone who voted and commented on my brand/logo concepts for Nottingham. There was a combination of reactions and feelings to the visuals – the odd surprise if I’m honest, but some good, constructive criticism – so mission accomplished. I’ve learned a lot, so am now on to the refinement stage, which I hope to reveal in my next post.

To continue where I left off in my last article, and to clarify a few points, that were maybe not so clear previously. The original concept behind my project brand ‘The Republic of Nottingham’, specifically targets the attitudes of people towards Nottingham. The big question being – is there enough support for the city from its people and from outsiders? Perception has been at the centre of this project from the start – this is key to understanding the idea of truth versus reality. These are not always one and the same, as we know to be so in Nottingham – it has not always had the reputation it deserves.

For a brand to work it has to have support of its audience – in this instance the creative audience of Nottingham (which is why it’s been so interesting reading your feedback). Whilst the logo is not the brand in its entirety, it is important to the brand’s relevance. It helps define the personality and gives the brand its creative potential or scope – to analogise: it’s the brand’s front door.

Strong foundations

Brand difference is not just about tangibles. This concept grew from a belief in the inspiring people of Nottingham – past, present (and future) – they are at the heart of the brand. Nottingham has had and will continue to have this essence. Everything about the nature of the place is geared towards creativity – of thought or actions – whether artistic or sporting endeavours, or of scientific discovery. We have many inspiring places too – with the new Nottingham Contemporary and the Market Square – just two of many focal points in Nottingham’s cultural diary.

Even with all of this, we are never far from the local hero – and he certainly cannot be left out altogether. Along with the obvious lack of heritage attractions upon arrival, we have just never applied the character of Robin Hood well. While some like to focus on the negativity attached to the legend, the reality is, that most resonate with his inspiring nature.

By embedding symbols of this into the brand, we have obvious resonance with the place. There is a need to do this through a mechanism that is also relevant to the contemporary and aspirational place that we know today.

The role of the Republic of Nottingham

So we like Nottingham, but do we love Nottingham? Should we love Nottingham more? I’m asking people to start believing in Nottingham because this is how we begin to make a difference. It’s how we grow to be harmonious. A Nottingham weakness is the tendency as a place, to do our selves down. But place offer anywhere is about continual improvement. Nowhere is perfect, but through aspirations we achieve. Nothing ever improved by staying the same.

Positive change can only happen if everyone contributes, and this is the idea behind the ‘Creative Revolution’. This is what Nottingham needs – something to raise its reputation as an inspiring, creative and connected place. This is where the creative community, leaders and businesses of the city have a real role to play. Like Robin Hood, and those that followed since Nottingham needs to be brave – in Nottingham, we have proof – there is plenty to believe in.

Here’s more background about me as Creative Nottingham’s first guest blogger.