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City brand

 

Białystok is a rather big town but at the same time significantly smaller than the biggest Polish cities; it is not very well known, and its common picture may be described at best as not very well defined, on top of that it is often associated with a derogatory term of “Poland B”(as opposite to western “Poland A”). Białystok doesn't seem to occupy a prominent position in common awareness and if there are any associations with the town in most cases they would be negative. Even its inhabitants find themselves provincial and their impression is reinforced by many complexes they bear, for instance those referring to their local, eastern-sounding accent and pronunciation. All of the above resulted in the city authorities undertaking a campaign aimed at promoting their town.

 

Works on creating a long-term promotional strategy begun in 2008. A presumption was taken that such a foundation would set a solid framework for future activities. Information from the Regional Data Bank was scrutinised to appraise the image of Białystok when compared to Lublin, Olsztyn, Elbląg and Płock. Other research papers were also analysed including the “Report from appraisal of Białystok's investment potential from the point of view of entrepreneurs” by Radosław Orzyszczyn, Institute of Sociology, University of Białystok and research done by PBS DGA company for “Gazeta Wyborcza” as part of a Poland-wide project “Przystanek Miasto [<>Bus Stop]”. Numerous actions have also been undertaken to involve the citizens in building the city brand.

 

Creating the brand of the city of Białystok is supposed to act as umbrella for the rest of strategic objectives related to promoting the city. We would like to come up with a coherent picture of the town regardless of which activities will be emphasised in marketing messages in the future. Thus the content of the latter ones may refer to investment advantages, activities popularising studies in Białystok, or, for instance, projects encouraging young people to voluntary work. The modified brand must be, of course, accepted by the inhabitants i.e. the essential target group from the point of view of promotional strategy. Other target groups should perceive the brand to be built on a solid and meaningful foundation.

 

The starting point for promotional activities is an attempt to debunk the negative stereotypes and associations especially those referring to the derogatory terms of “eastern wall” or, similar in its connotations, “Poland B”. Białystok is a very important, if not the most important place in Eastern Poland, therefore its key role in this part of the country should not be passed over in silence but strongly highlighted. This unfavourable location may surprisingly become a form of a communicative asset. Bluntly speaking: it is better to be number one on the “eastern wall” than eighteenth or fortieth within the whole country. Therefore the main promotional idea is contained within the word “Rising [Wschodzący]”.

 

Altering the common perception of Białystok underlines its “live multiculturalism” - Białystok is the only town in Poland where we deal with real, ongoing and authentic mix of various cultures, languages and religions. In other words: when taking into account its history, geography and community Białystok is very interestingly situated within the popular area of multicultural communication.

 

The basis of promotional activities involves defining the key message comprising the vital features distinguishing the brand of the city. Thus the promotional mission was phrased as follows: “Rising Białystok - a gate between East and West drawing upon its multicultural tradition; a centre for transferring people, services, finances, ideas and modern know-how flowing from West to East, and simultaneously a city opening Europe to eastern inwardness, cultural inspirations and economic potential.”

 

At the beginning of 2008 many activities aimed at promoting Białystok were undertaken. We were using a multitude of various techniques and available methods including various forms of analysis, comparison studies, consulting experts, public consultations, marketing research, creative interpretations based on experts' knowledge and their broad experience.

Public consultation played a very prominent role in creating both the promotional slogan and the system of visual identification. It was also important to publicise the subject within the local media so that citizens were accurately informed about the progress of the scheme and felt in touch with the development strategy. When the time came to choose the best leading idea of the new brand, Białystok's papers ran surveys of public opinions which attracted over two thousand respondents. For majority of them “Rising Białystok” was a favourite choice in accordance with the recommendations and presumptions of the authors of the promotional enterprise.

 

The very first action recommended by the strategy was to elaborate a system of the city's visual identification. The form of graphical sign is the most important element of this new system and corresponds to the dynamic, aspirational brand “Rising Białystok”. The choice of colours refers to the traditional colours for centuries assigned to Podlachia region. Owing to the introduction of a visual identification system, marketing communication of the city gained a significant asset – it became very distinctive, well defined and comprehensive.

 

Next stage of the project focused on the internal activities. For “faces of the campaign” Bialystokers themselves were chosen – people who love their city and contribute to its development by undertaking various activities. We consciously did not choose celebrities of Białystok origin (most often living elsewhere), nor totally “anonymous persons” but people well known within their circles for whom participating in this campaign was only a certain confirmation of the appropriateness of their life choices.
Billboards, illuminated street media, Internet and local press adverts and bus posters featured : Maria Dzięgielewska – a flute player, Sławek Mojsiuszko – an architect and culture animator, Mariusz Gogol – a young Jagiellonia footballer, Gabriel Piotrowski – star of “You Can Dance”, Marcin Moniuszko – a young doctor whose works have been appreciated by both: “Polityka” magazine and the Foundation for Development of Polish Science and Jolanta Szczygieł – Rogowska – an employee of Białystok History Museum.
 

All the above Bialystokers are set off against the background featuring new city investments, especially those increasing its attractiveness, positively modifying its image and at the same time associated with exploring various areas of interest. To achieve this effect we used the projects of the Philharmonic Hall, rebuilt town market and the new city stadium. Essential elements of the campaign were the new brand and logo of the city – similar to famous “I ♥ NYC” or “I ♥ McDonald’s” with the sign of love replaced by the logo of “Rising Białystok”

 

Highlighting the people in these adverts was part of a wider strategy. It resulted in establishing first in the history fan club of the town – a unique platform for people who are not indifferent to the image and potential of their city. Without those people the new brand would barely be a marketing fabrication, shallowly rooted and without particular chances for survival for longer than the campaign itself, i.e. for a month. The whole project was complemented by a series of cultural events aimed at various groups and referring to various aspects of the city life. In most cases they were inspired by the values of the new brand “Rising Białystok” and included: Dance Fighters (dance contest for professionals and beginners), outdoor painting workshops, a graffiti jam session (for street art enthusiasts), XXL Colouring-in Book (children portraying Białystok of their dreams) and the project “Delete!” (against adverts cluttering public space). The symbolic beginning for the new brand (after meaningful nine months work) was marked by “Welcoming the Sun” gathering on the 3rd of October at 6 a.m.

 

Debut of “Rising Białystok” turned out very successful. The leading concept had a broad appeal amongst the citizens and the new logo became widely recognisable. Next moves performed in accordance with the accepted strategy brought even more positive attitude to the project. Slogan “Rising Białystok” attained a high, third position in Poland in the ranking of “Press” magazine. Also the research conducted during the campaign by SMG/KRC for “Gazeta Wyborcza” clearly showed that Białystok obtained a leading position amongst the Polish cities whose citizens were happy because of the changes occurring around them within the last two years (opinion given by 90 per cent of the respondents). It should be mentioned that the inhabitants particularly appreciated the change within the common city image.

 

Following these actions Białystok set off for the first time time in its history an external campaign. Advertising billboards appeared in the ten biggest cities of Poland. The key message was still “Rising Białystok”. The main objective of the scheme was to promote the new image of Białystok by debunking the stereotype of earlier mentioned “Poland B”. We found it immensely important to show Białystok's wide offer for the potential investor, tourist or citizen. To show an ongoing change in the East with Białystok being at its centre. The city opening a new chapter of its history book. Rapid progress of the region and resulting possibilities for tourism and various investments. Human capital - young, well educated people eager to work, passionate, open-minded and bursting with ideas. Good localisation for new technology programmes and investments. Brand new Poland.

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pdfStrategiaPromocjiBialegostoku.pdfpdf, 5179 KB
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Bialystok European Capital of Culture 2016 logo:

 

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