Manchester City Council

What the World Thinks

(Tuesday) Spent a chunk of yesterday afternoon at a presentation by Simon Anholt on his National Brand Index and more specifically his Cities Brand Index (in which Manchester figures) and spent a chunk of the evening questioning him on it. The Cities Brand Index takes fifty cities around the world, some somewhat randomly selected - this does not purport to be a comparison of the world's top fifty cities - and asks a large number of people in different parts of the world what they think about them. It is, according to Simon, one of the five biggest public opinion surveys in the world, it is a survey of ordinary people, it might not be objective but it does give lots of food for thought.

So what does this enormous panel think about Manchester? Well not a lot and not very often. Before anybody gets too upset about that let me explain. Most people in most places spend very little time thinking about anywhere else other than where they live. The same is true about countries (with the sole exception of the United States which a lot of people think about a bit and normally with admiration). When people are asked about us we come out pretty average which is far better than below average. Some things are good, familiarity, have actually visited, our higher education. Some things are not so good. Our climate though no surprise there, particularly when you know that many respondents still think London is permanently shrouded in fog. More worrying is that we don't do very well in the perception of friendliness, but then other countries tend to see the whole of England as being a bit unfriendly, aloof, stuffy, stiff upper lip and all that sort of days of the empire nonsense. What is even more worrying is that perceptions are not improving.

Does any of this matter? Very much so. In many respects, in a globalised world, we are what people think we are - reputation is the only thing that matters. There is an enormous body of evidence that shows a clear correlation between image and economic performance, between image and jobs. Surprisingly the single most important element of image is a moral one. The places that people most admire are places that they perceive as being "good".  Something to work on there.
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There are 3 responses to “What the World Thinks”

  1. franky Says:

    I' m not surprised at the views expressed in the survey, just as many people here see Germans as humerless etc, they see us as stuck-up bowler hats. However more relevant is the young person from the south who said Manchester people are more friendly!

  2. Marc Hudson Says:

    Welcome back, Richard. Hope the trip to the States was fun. Can I recommend Nantes for September? There's a world conference of Mayors on the subject of climate change. I'm sure it's not too late to book!

    You write "In many respects, in a globalised world, we are what people think we are - reputation is the only thing that matters." Call me old-fashioned, but isn't what we DO kind of important too? As opposed. I mean, to what we say, and what we say we will do?

    Do you ever fear that in thirty years time, when the impacts of climate change are really biting everyone (but especially the poor) Mancunians will look back on the naughties and the teens as squandered decades when we talked about "City Brands" and talked about doing things, and produced action plan after action plan, implementation plan after scoping exercise? I do. I think our children will curse us. Something to work on there.

  3. Erica Says:

    Does any of this matter? Very much so. In many respects, in a globalised world, we are what people think we are - reputation is the only thing that matters. There is an enormous body of evidence that shows a clear correlation between image and economic performance, between image and jobs. Surprisingly the single most important element of image is a moral one. The places that people most admire are places that they perceive as being "good". Something to work on there.

    Really? And what about all those cities in China that are economic powerhouses ? Many of which we and the majority of the rest of world don't even know the names of? It seems to me that the British Government and Local Councils should get on with improving the standard of living, assisting with job creation and aiding growth. The bottom line is can companies in other countries (and regions for that matter) do business with us? It is not what stupid strap lines we invent for ourselves.

 

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The blog of the leader of Manchester City Council, Councillor Richard Leese.

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