Brand Scotland - There’s a North-east wind blowing...

Scotland is and has always been a brand in its own right. However, how that brand has been influenced has changed over the ages. The political, economic and cultural climates at any given time, push and pull our collective image around the globe and on our doorstep. Never is this more evident than today.

One aspect that will add richness and texture to Brand Scotland is our own city’s renaissance. A new story of Aberdeen and the wider region is being written and what emanates from us will find its way into the very blood stream of Scotland's culture and communities, significantly adding value and diversity to the brand.

This new narrative, borne from the realisation that the oil and gas industry cannot supply the wealth and opportunities we have enjoyed indefinitely, can be found easily across the region. As a brand agency, we have found ourselves in the fortunate position of working with many start-ups, initiatives and flagship projects that are at the forefront of this new wave of entrepreneurship and that will add the colour and momentum to Scotland’s brand as a whole.

From food and drink and technology to tourism and culture, there are a raft of projects that exemplify this progress and that directly influence the new vision of Aberdeen’s future - what we can be and what we need to be. The ambition of TECA (The Event Complex Aberdeen), the endeavor of ONE (Opportunity North East), the inspiration of NUART, the potential of the new Cultural Strategy and the entrepreneurial spirit of our start-up culture (Aberdeen was voted the best city for Start-ups in the UK 2018) are but a few. They are all well-known of course and rightly celebrated as great examples of a new, more vibrant ‘can-do’ attitude …but these are but the beginning.

Right across the region in every nook and cranny there is a new tourism idea like the SnowRoads, a historic food brand like Rizza’s and a new niché event like True Origins festival ready to take their story to a national and international stage. In addition both our universities are committed to supporting a whole range of exciting opportunities and innovations that in the long-term will directly influence the growth of a more diverse business community.

And what do all these examples have in common? They all are looking to the future, looking to help sculpt a new image for the region - an image of innovation, change and progression. But here’s the irony - that has always been Aberdeen’s image, we have just lost track of it and been a little blinded by the main economic influences of the past 40+years - the oil and gas industry.

For centuries Aberdeen was celebrated for our ability to adapt and change in the face of industrialisation and global economic shifts. We have been a hub of many a forgotten industry and have adapted to meet the challenge - look at how our harbour has changed over the past 500 years as testament to that. These changes not only affected the region, it provided Scotland with a greater connection to the north and and gave access to unrivalled skills, expertise and capacity.

Change is here and we all must get involved. Be part of it, influence it, talk about it, give away knowledge and support it where you can. Who else is going to influence the new story if not us, we are all the city’s ambassadors and benefactors so what we you waiting for. Aberdeen is poised to influence Brand Scotland in more ways than ever imagined but it won’t happen without us all. Let’s get it done.

A final anecdote that those who I work with know well and are probably sick of hearing. When I travel home on the B999, I drive over one of the new AWPR bridges. Looking east I see the new road stretching down towards Blackdog and beyond that the North Sea and the Aberdeen Bay Wind Farm. Or in other words…progress.

Mark Kemp, director, FortyTwo Studio

Mark Kemp, director, FortyTwo Studio