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Let’s talk about Stoke-on-Trent

In collaboration with our partner agency UP THERE EVERYWHERE and our friends at Howle Communications, this week we started an important conversation about the future direction of our city. 

Stoke-on-Trent’s recent bids for the UK City of Culture and Channel 4’s creative hub sparked a new sense of optimism and energy across the region. Whilst the bids didn’t win first prize, they have unquestionably ignited fresh ambition and a real desire to let the whole world know about our incredible city.    

But as a Stoke born-and-bred creative agency with an unhealthy obsession with branding, there’s something that’s on our minds: what is Stoke-on-Trent today? When people ask about our city, what’s the story we tell them?

To chew this over, we assembled a small group of people who genuinely know and love our city. Guests from business, education, politics and the community joined us at the wonderful New Vic Theatre for a morning that might just prove to be the start of an exciting new chapter for Stoke-on-Trent. 


After an introduction from our very own Paul Brammer, we heard from Paul Williams, one of the main driving forces behind the City of Culture and Channel 4 bids. Paul talked about the importance of cultural identity and the need to continue the work that’s begun in changing Stoke-on-Trent’s story and image, reminding us that we still have some way to go in addressing external perceptions of our city. 

Next up was Julian Stubbs, founder and CEO of Exesios’ partner agency, UP THERE EVERYWHERE. Julian certainly knows his onions when it comes to place branding. He’s developed brand positioning strategies for destinations worldwide, including Stockholm as The Capital of Scandinavia. He’s even written a book on place branding: Wish You Were Here.


Julian outlined the detailed, long-term process employed behind effective place branding strategies, citing successful examples such as Liverpool, Stockholm, Barcelona and New York. He explained that there are no quick fixes when it comes to place branding – it’s not about a logo and tagline. And further emphasising Paul Williams’ earlier message, Julian drove home the fact that it’s external perceptions that really matter.

Nigel from Howle Communications then led a lively Q&A session. It was clear from the discussion that this is something people are extremely passionate about. There is a genuine pride in our city and everyone is in agreement that Stoke-on-Trent needs to start building its brand if it is to take its rightful place on the national and global stage.

We plan to expand the conversation over the coming weeks and months, so watch this space!


  • Branding