Tuesday, April 26, 2011

I Amsterdam, why planning is important

In 2009, the city of Amsterdam came up with it’s new brand, a brand that served the purpose of promoting the town and its inhabitants to foreigners and making it look more attractive. The motto and brand “I Amsterdam” in red and white clearly shows and says that the habitants are what form the city: without them, Amsterdam would not exist, every person there is Amsterdam and Amsterdam is its inhabitants.

This is quite a simple and clever motto to use as it not only gives the people living their real sense of community but it also shows the outsiders that Amsterdam is more than just its districts and tourist attractions. As far as the colors are concerned, he red and white help visually as an eye-catcher and shows us the distinct words in the motto: “I Amsterdam” becomes “I am Amsterdam”. The font used is simple but reflects a strong, professional and decided mind set, words that could easily have been used to describe its people during the marketing campaigns.

The information given on the website also points out that the brand is supposed to show that its inhabitants are proud of their town. It then enumerates a number of interesting facts that help the city stand out from its neighbors.

The brand comes primarily with a website, www.Iamsterdam.com that uses the same colors as the motto and gives interesting and useful information about events and tourist attractions in the city. The website also helps us plan our stay in Amsterdam, has a section of interesting links about the city and has a business section designed for young entrepreneurs.

From the information I can find, I Amsterdam’s main goal is to give a younger feel to the town’s image on a tourism level and on a professional level by making the town seem more interesting for investment. Indeed throughout the information given by the officials, the details that stand out the most are those concerning the economic or structural advantages that Amsterdam has to offer to investors. I was going to quote some text but I actually couldn’t find a part that was of more interest than the others, so here is the whole page: http://www.iamsterdam.com/en/amsterdam-partners/i-amsterdam/iamsterdam-manifesto

To me, this branding process is poorly executed. Yes, the motto is good and helps Amsterdam stand out from other towns and regions. Yes the website is well done and informative. Yes the strengths of the city are well put forward and encourage foreign investment. But what about the rest?

As any marketer should know by now, creating a brand and a good website is not enough to be seen by the public. It does give more credibility to the region or city and helps people remember it, but it needs to be followed up by a well planned and strong marketing strategy in order to give this creation the merit it deserves. I have been quite disappointed to see that they seemed to suddenly stop in their efforts after the brand was created and that they did not use it to make promotional videos or adverts for the town based around the motto or the website. A promotional video can be made for very little money and just left on the internet (Youtube) for people to find. All it takes really is a good concept in order to create a buzz or make people want to share the video with their friends.

I believe that Amsterdam has a lot of economic and geographic advantages that most investors are unaware of. I believe that the city has a lot to win from some good old advertising and that it can still use the brand to create some renewed interest in the region. In creating I Amsterdam I think that the main problem was the lack of a proper marketing strategy that included a long term plan taking the concept further than the simple creation of the brand and website.

Nevertheless, on the plus side, if one has a look at the “Shop” part of the website, one quickly sees that there is a great number of articles in the classic Dutch orange color and sporting the motto I Amsterdam. These are all at good prices and are quite fashionable and can easily tempt anyone looking for a way of supporting their town. This is a clever thing to do as it spreads the brand in a different way than what we are used to. http://www.iamsterdamgifts.com/

All in all unless the town has already planned a follow up that I am not aware of, we can clearly see here a good example of poor marketing strategy planning.

By J.Berry
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