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83 words. How hard can that be?

by Claire Boden

Our host city vision finally came in at 83 words. You can read it here.

There’s no right or wrong way to write a narrative. Simples…or not!

Believe me it was one of the hardest tasks of my career to date to write Birmingham City Council’s Proud Host City narrative for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.

In layman’s terms the narrative required is to help communicate the aspirations and benefits associated with the city hosting the Commonwealth Games in 2022.

My aim was to articulate Birmingham’s ambition for the operation and legacy of the Games, coupled with the creation of energy and inspiration to make change happen.

The narrative was broken down into three sections: vision, mission statement and strapline.

The vision is about guiding an image of success, long-term goals and aspirations. An ambitious and memorable statement of words was needed. This was the most difficult section to write. The mission statement is best described as road map in which how we will meet the goals outlined in the vision. The strapline, the most exciting part, is a powerful, short and easily remembered phase deriving out of the vision and mission.

However, one ‘minor’ thing that we had to consider was that the country is in the middle of a pandemic, so sensitivity was paramount.

Our narrative journey began in October 2020. A three-week pulse survey was conducted to help build a narrative for the city. Three surveys targeted the city council’s 12,000+ employees, Birmingham residents and elected members on their thoughts and feelings on the Games.

The data garnered was analysed and key themes, words and phrases were pulled out to help form the base line of the narrative. Pride, friendly, history, culture and diversity were some of the main talking points. Alongside the surveys, background reading and research on key council delivery plans, Games mission pillars and the original bid for Birmingham to host the Games took place to make sure the Proud Host City narrative complimented existing plans.

Then the hard part – writing the narrative. Many hours, days and conversations with key council officers with differing opinions proved to be galvanising and frustrating at the same time. We went back to the drawing board time and time again until we had what we thought was the perfect narrative.

The acid test came when we presented to a staff focus group. This was enriching as the feedback was fantastic. A few tweaks here and there and bingo we were in a good place to share with the Leader and Deputy Leader of the council.

At this point things started to move quickly with approvals from across the council and the birth of Be Bold, Be Birmingham began!

Be Bold, Be Birmingham is about promoting and propelling Birmingham as a city and its people to the forefront. Birmingham is not the second city, it is a pioneering city of firsts. We are proud, creative, young, vibrant, diverse – we are Birmingham, look at us!

The launch of Be Bold, Be Birmingham coincided with the 500 days to go until Birmingham hosts the Commonwealth Games milestone on 15 March. A digital only soft launch approach with a social media 24-hour takeover on city council digital platforms was the preferred route, with a range of user generated content served up, animated and councillor videos, GIFS and a podcast.

The takeover reached over 2.7 million people and 229,000 impressions, with the podcast being the most clicked post on Twitter and LinkedIn.

The branding for Be Bold, Be Birmingham is yes, you’ve guessed it – bold! A simple, typographical style with a strong colour pallet worked a treat. Due to the lockdown restrictions, we took over 97 digital advertising roadside screens.

The soft launch of Be Bold, Be Birmingham was a resounding success and we are now developing plans for phase two in mid-May. We have an exciting and bold collaboration with a local street artist so keep your eyes peeled for that – believe me it is BOLD!

Be Bold, Be Birmingham has certainly grabbed people’s attention so far and this is only the beginning of Birmingham’s bold journey to the Commonwealth Games and beyond.

Claire Boden is promotions & engagement officer – Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games


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