Liverpool – or rather the organisations responsible for branding the city – is/are getting it in the neck again, this time from the business community.
Liverpool is “‘not credible as a place to locate knowledge economy businesses”, according to LDP Business, paraphrasing a report by the outgoing chief executive of Liverpool Science Park, Dr Sarah Tasker.
Dr Tasker – who is apparently like a ‘dyed-in-the-wool native’, albeit one who lives in Cambridge – says that Liverpool is known primarily for culture, football and The Beatles.
Tasker makes the point that while Liverpool’s cultural branding successfully conveys all the fun stuff, it’s not attracting any wider interest. This is due to its failure to brand itself as a knowledge economy destination.
However, the Mersey Partnership says that Liverpool is doing better than the national average for employing those in the knowledge economy.
So, this is a problem of branding, again, if you listen to Dr Tasker. Following Liverpool’s various branding disaster of its logo and slogan, the people responsible for marketing the city must be close to jacking it in.
It’s interesting to note that Dr Tasker is essentially in charge of Liverpool Science Park, a joint venture between University of Liverpool, John Moores and the council, and an area of the city that no doubt plays host to a significant number of knowledge economy employers.
Sarah…is currently researching the impact of globalisation on knowledge economy development and international trends in knowledge-brand creation.
In a sector where ideology is sometimes prioritised over delivery, Sarah’s research is focused on how science parks and City Regions can create additionality, strong brand-values and market advantage through pragmatic best practice.
So Dr Tasker wants the council to attract more knowledge economy employers to her science park. Isn’t that her job? Who knows – the complexity of these public-private partnerships is beyond me.
Anyway, this caught my eye because I’ve been pondering JG Ballard a lot recently, following his passing this weekend.
My favourite novel of his, albeit one that is extremely similar to several others, is Super Cannes – ostensibly a murder mystery set in a sprawling science park called Eden-Olympia in Southern France.
Eden-Olympia’s employees live, work, exercise and indulge various leisure facilities at the park, not all of which would be likely to feature in the brochure.
At night, encouraged by Eden-Olympia’s psychologist, its inhabitants drive into nearby Cannes and beat the living daylights out of its population, basically for a laugh.
So I thought of Ballard again when I read these passages from the LDP.
Efforts have also been made to upgrade the fabric of the area with Hope Street – a key attraction for leisure and cultural pursuits.
Research suggests leading professionals demand an attractive habitat.
Liverpool Vision chief executive Jim Gill added: “The area’s growth depends on a high-quality environment in which people can experience the arts, meet, socialise, live, eat and drink.”
Who knows, maybe a little Ballardian slant would make for memorable branding.