All in the same punt.
Published 1st May 2018 by Chris Dell
When you live and work in Cambridge, as I do, you become very familiar with the simple businesses branding concept that everyone thinks of and many pursue – namely add Cambridge to your business name and it will immediately add value. So we have many, many businesses using Cambridge as their prefix. From start-ups to multi-million outfits, consultants to candy stores.
Well because the word – and the place – brings with it all sort of positive and pleasing connotations:
- Cambridge means research
- Cambridge means world heritage
- Cambridge means international
- Cambridge means independently minded
- Cambridge means energetic and youthful
- Cambridge means tech and bio tech
- Cambridge means world leading University
So Cambridge brings a smart and clever dimension to any business – a value that most brands are happy to associate with.
And increasingly that word traveled well – especially in new frontier industries – so it became an international bonus ball.
We were all rather pleased with this local added value that locating here carried – it helped mitigate the increasing inconvenience that congestion has brought!
The only problem – no one organisation actually manages this brand name. It is a free for all, as all city names are. This hasn’t seemed to be an issue – after all we were responsible businesses trying to do a good job – and often rubbed along together in the local ecosystem. Cambridge University, of course, manages its own brand separately and successfully - although also often, confusingly, it is referred to as just Cambridge.
However, this has been brought into stark focus over the last two weeks with the actions and fame Cambridge Analytica has attracted (globally). If it knocked billions off the value of Facebook overnight, what damage has it done to the Cambridge brand name? Have these alleged allegations brought with them lasting negative associations to the Cambridge brand name – ones of manipulation, lack of scruples? And this business is not even based in Cambridge, not even in our community, not under the influence of the village elders. They are predominantly a London based outfit!
Whilst trademarking a City name is not a desirable, even possible response, perhaps it is time to consider other ways of representing and protecting the interests of this City? If there was one organisation charged with representing us all, they would have at least been able to monitor brand issues and speak out at this time of trouble – helping remind all of the many positives associated with this great cluster.
Is it time to think again? Time to take control?