What is Thinking Place and what does £45,000 get Harrogate?

Some people have shown their support for Harrogate Borough Councill's new Thinking Place initiative, saying it will help the town stand out from the crowd.

Monday, 18th November 2019, 2:41 pm
Updated Monday, 18th November 2019, 2:49 pm
How should Harrogate and district be branded and marketed in future to maximise its economic potential and attract visitors?

Others have complained the £45, 000 it has cost to get the cutting edge marketing company to help rebrand the town and district as a sheer waste of public money.

But what is Thinking Place?

When Harrogate Borough Council took the decision to spend £45,000 on Thinking Place, it knew what it was getting for its taxpayers money.

The established marketing company based in Preston works with local authorities, local enterprise partnerships, developers, investors and visitor agencies, National Parks, property agents, architects and more.

And it already runs similar schemes for Doncaster, Lancashire, Coventry and Warwickshire.

Thinking Place sells itself as no ordinary marketing firm.

It prides itself in “really getting ‘under the skin’ of a place so it not only appreciate its assets, opportunities and selling points but also its personality, relationships and distinctiveness.”

When the The Thinking Place steering group of leading figures in Harrogate draws its conclusions on what the Harrogate district’s branding ought to be at its final meeting at the end of January, it is unlikely to be its final contribution.

Boasting the slogan “we help places maximise their pote ntial”, it says its approach is all about collaboration and involving those who don’t always play a part in their place - from the outset right through implementation of the strategy and beyond.

In the case of most of its clients, the company develops a long lasting relationship, even after the original commission is complete.

The goal is to produce messages which are simple, are for everyone and are distinct.

“Thinking Place has championed new thinking about the need for places to focus on their distinctiveness and offer as a means of enhancing their competitiveness and attractiveness,” a spokesman said.

“From the evidence base created we develop a brand narrative which acts as a framework and ‘bible’ for the creation of a strategically driven brand, visual identity and visual language, thereby creating a sustainable and significant change in their reputation and performance.”

The idea is that local businesses and other organisations become the ‘storytellers’ themselves.

The Thinking Place marketing team is part of a new breed of private companies operating in the public sector which prioritise economic objectives.

Its website proclaims “if a place is to succeed the days of leaving it to the local authority are gone.

“Forward looking places are creating new models of ‘place leadership’ with our help.

“Every place has assets and potential, yet in a changing and ever more challenging world, places need to work differently and harder to communicate the opportunities they offer and promote what makes their place special to ensure they stand out from the crowd.”

How was Harrogate's Thinking Place formed and who is involved with it?

Commissioned by Harrogate Borough Council, Thinking Place has set out to engage as fully as possible with the public and local organisations.

Thinking Place steering group

The project’s steering group in Harrogate is made up of representatives from : Beerhawk, LCR LEP, Bettys & Taylors, Intechnology, Harrogate & Ripon CVS, Harrogate International Festivals, Gent Visick, Harrogate and District Chamber of Commerce, Harrogate College, Naughtone, Ilke Homes, Harrogate Spring Water, H2k Skincare, Farmison & Co, the Harrogate Advertiser and Harrogate Borough Council, pictured.

Thinking Place stake holders

Thinking Place stakeholders include: Businesses, residents, voluntary sector, town and parish councils, young people, the education sector, community organisations, chambers of trade, Harrogate BID, transport providers, Harrogate International Festivals, local enterprise partnerships, resident community groups, pressure groups/lobbyists, Nidderdale AONB, North Yorkshire County Council, town representatives, retailers, representatives from the visitor economy, historic societies and civic societies.

Thinking Place public consultation

Four workshops have been organised across the district over the last week to capture everyone’s views on what the district’s story is.

An online survey was also conducted by Harrogate Borough Council under the heading “Making the Harrogate district an even better place to live, work and visit - We need your help .”