Council reveals what the £300K York rebranding exercise has produced

A ‘York narrative’ has been adopted by City of York Council after it spent £300K on external branding consultants.

The work will be used by organisations to pitch for funding, as well as to attract new clients and companies to the city.

Branding experts Hemingway Design, Creative Tourist Consults and for the Love of Place were enlisted by the council to work on the project – with more than 5,700 people responding to a survey to give their views on what York means to them.

Senior councillors approved plans to adopt the narrative at a meeting on Thursday.

‘Pioneering with purpose’

The rebranding panel. From left: Martin Boisen, Neil Ferris, Alex Saint and Jack Hemingway
A report prepared for councillors says: “The York Narrative is a way of describing York, together with its surrounding neighbourhoods and communities.

“It aims to help partners and residents understand how we can better present ourselves to local, regional and national partners and prepare for future funding opportunities whilst also identifying the values the city cherishes to inform future policy making.”

It says the narrative is comprised of three values.

  • These values are not slogans, rather they provide a framework to help describe York activities and events.

    The values are: Making history everyday; Prioritising human experience; Pioneering with purpose.

More than £600,000 was originally set aside for the project – but the plans were met with criticism from some residents, who said York did not need to be marketed and that the cash could be better spent elsewhere.

In response, the council reallocated £300,000 of the funding towards helping children living in poverty in York, providing skills and training for adults, and developing renewable energy sources in the city centre.

£96K spent on research

University of York – the work will help ‘attract and retain students’. Photograph © Johnteslade on Wikipedia
The council meeting heard £96,000 was spent on the research and developing the narrative, £50,000 on project management and steering group work and £5,000 on testing the narrative with young people and just over £27,000 is set to be spent on creating a toolkit for organisations to use.

A council report says:

  • The narrative is: History isn’t what describes York, history is what makes York the place it is today.”

    The people of York built and continue to shape their place; a beautiful compact city where every person can have a voice, make an impact and lay the foundations for a prosperous future.

    York is a place where people and their stories matter; where an individual’s everyday experiences are just as important as the city’s world-class achievements.

Adam Hewitt, speaking on behalf of the city’s two universities at the meeting, said they are supportive of the project and added: “It helps build stronger partnerships, helps increase investment and attract and retain students.

“More and more cities across the country and around the world are recognising this and doing similar pieces of work.”