Brand Manchester – a Downtown event – 29/6/2012

3 Jul

Sue Woodward, Michael Taylor, Angie Robinson, Nick Johnson and Frank McKenna

And so, another new beginning. My first event as the chairman of Downtown Manchester was a sell out breakfast at Deloitte’s offices in Spinningfields. The topic was Brand Manchester, what are the aspirations of the city? how are they aligned with different strategic objectives in digital industries, destination marketing and in how the city is sold overseas?

The panel, pictured, were on awesome form. They all know their briefs so well and grasp the challenges and the opportunities for Manchester. As chairman of Marketing Manchester, Nick Johnson is embedded into the Manchester family of institutions and sees the bigger picture. Angie has run two other major organisations in the city which gives her a unique perspective on where Manchester Central is seeking new business. Susan Woodward is head of Manchester’s digital strategy and is running the Sharp Project.

As has been a common theme on this blog, the trick was to get the best discussion going amongst the panel and then to inspire relevant and focused debate from the audience.

The questions came pretty thick and fast once we’d established what each of the panel was there to do and that we weren’t about to debate the interpretation of what Original Modern means. Twitter seemed to be enjoying the event too. I particularly liked the interjections from people who run digital and creative businesses, what would constitute support for their sector to give Manchester a global edge? Sue Woodward was particularly good on this.

Where the debate seemed to lose the audience a bit was when we talked about Mayors. I sensed this and asked for a show of hands – there were more people against the idea for the Greater Manchester Mayor than for, and even more were non-committal. Time to move on. That said, it isn’t going to go away and the debate will return.

Taking all of the themes together there were some useful calls to action – some ideas for focus for Downtown and some useful insights into what lies ahead.

There are more photos here.

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