Brand Cape Town Discussion Forum

It was a meeting of some of the best creative minds in the Mother City as Cape Town Tourism introduced the city’s proposed new brand positioning to a receptive audience during its brand workshop at the Freeworld Design Centre in the CBD last week.

Mariëtte du Toit-Helmbold, CEO of Cape Town Tourism, spoke passionately about the new destination strategy that focuses on marketing our hometown as an inspirational city in which to live, work, learn and invest.

While we may be receiving fantastic accolades, including being named as TripAdvisor’s 2011 Travelers’ Choice top destination in the world, we find ourselves in a brand vacuum following the end of the World Cup. The new destination marketing strategy, conceived by Cape Town Tourism in conjunction with creative agencies Brand Union and Ogilvy, is crucial to positioning Cape Town as a leading global competitor for talent, business, investment, visitors and students.

The audience included some well known faces like television personality Liezel van der Westhuizen, Plexus Films owner Lauren Groenewald, designer Michael Wolf and World Design Capital 2014 bid Cape Town committee member Mel Hagen, amongst others.

One of the key points that Du Toit-Helmbold addressed in her presentation was the fact that we have become far too reliant on using Cape Town’s beauty as a major selling point. Yes, the Mother City is breathtakingly beautiful, but so are plenty of other seaside places, each marketing themselves with similar images as fun, leisure destinations.

To avoid being lost in the globally saturated marketplace, says Du Toit-Helmbold, “we need to reassess our strategies, go beyond the traditional or what has become the norm, challenge our thinking and innovate”.

The proposed new brand positioning seeks to turn Cape Town into a powerful brand destination, as well as tell her vibrant story in a fresh, captivating way. We must establish our city as a sought-after destination in which to live, work, learn and invest by incorporating all the sectors including business, education, the arts, creative industries, human capital and tourism, into our new strategy. Pertinent to the success of this strategy is its acceptance by Capetonians. After all, a city that is loved and well lived in by its residents will be more appealing for visitors to travel to.

Attendees were then asked for general comment and also to share their thoughts about the new destination strategy. Mugendi M’Rithaa of the World Design Capital 2014 bid committee expressed a desire for the new strategy to inspire citizens to participate and help to co-design a future for Cape Town that we can all be proud of. Alex Jongens, a Masters student at the University of Cape Town, said the Mother City’s struggling townships, which create remarkable structures out of nothing, inspire him.

The many good stories that can be told about the city, as well as our authenticity and cultural heritage, is what fires up Theo Cromhout of Taj Cape Town’s creative engines, while David Cotton of Design by Trick finds inspiration in the way we communicate.

With positive feedback like this and more brand positioning workshops to follow in other important sectors, Cape Town Tourism is committed to establishing a unified identity for the Mother City that truly tells her vibrant story, warts and all.

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