It has often been said... Birmingham is lot better than many people realise – so now a major initiative has been launched to boost perception across the globe.
Work is to begin on a regional branding strategy around 'Greater Birmingham' which aims to improve the region's reputation and offer a united hymn sheet for Brummies to sing from.
The £150,000 initiative, funded by the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP) and Marketing Birmingham, will see dozens of consultations throughout the city aimed at creating a clear and compelling narrative to tell others about the region.
LEP chairman Andy Street said with soaring exports, record highs in foreign investment and international visitor numbers and major infrastructure projects the region is in a purple patch.
He said local campaigns – including Twitter campaigns like #lovebrum and #brumbouncesback – showed a desire to share this and the initiative would offer a united story to tell the world.
He said: "The reality is we have a great economic story but perception isn't as good.
"Manchester doesn't have such a good economic story but perception is better – this is about turning that around."
He added: "This is about being able to tell the story of our success better.
"It is important to do it now because we have got a great economic story to tell. But travel 20 miles down the road and they wouldn't have a clue about the story.
"It's not about a slogan or logo, it's a positioning exercise so we can engage people."
The project will aim to overturn historic views of the city which fail to recognise its progress as a place to live and work in recent decades.
There is a school of thought that Greater Birmingham's approach has been too rational – focused on business strengths and value – and it needs a message that links with communities and heritage.
The result will be an agreed narrative for promoting the region – whether it is an individual speaking to friends, a business on an inward investment trip or a minister in Parliament.
In the same way the Big City Plan has set out the city's development priorities, the marketing strategy will create over-arching message about the city's successes and the direction it is heading. Neil Rami, chief executive of Marketing Birmingham, said the results should help define wider strategies for the region.
He said it was key to get the region's message right now ahead of 2015, when major schemes like Grand Central, the Mailbox redevelopment, the Midland Metro extension and Resorts World will be completed.
He said: "There is a huge appetite among all sectors to be involved in promoting our region.
"There will be a huge amount of engagement in this process, and now we think we have come to a point where there is a level of confidence in what we have to say."
He added: "I spent yesterday with Chinese investors. They know Birmingham as a city and that will help us to tell a full story and engage with overseas markets.
Marketing specialist Heavenly has been appointed to lead the consultation work having previously led similar initiatives in Wales, Northern Ireland and Yorkshire.