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City Branding: The French Revolution

Originally published at Atlantic Cities’ blog (July 2014)

July 14th marks the anniversary of the capture of La Bastille by the people of Paris. Because traditional celebrations are a significant component of branding, today we will focus on how city branding has been tackled by some French cities.

As a pioneer, the OnlyLyon trademark cannot be dismissed when referring to French city marketing. In 2004 the exposition « Lyon aux couleurs du monde » brings together 60 places, 60 different lions and 60 artists all around the city. Three years later, modernising the heraldry, Jump created Only Lyon with the red lion. Relanched in 2009, the initiative gathers today more than 24 partners and aims to make Lyon a European economic flagship, capitalizing on its leadership in several sectors as on its historic assets. In 2013, it evolved to an Addicted to Lyon campaign.

Brest Métropole Ocèane won in 2013 the award “Atlantic City of the Year 2014”, as the city is mobilized since 2007 to set in motion an integrated European maritime policy and implementation, more recently, of an Atlantic maritime strategy. Lately, the city has integrated the initiative “Brest Terres Océanes”, a territorial integrated strategy that reflects a shared commitment of all local actors to act collectively to better appreciate the many tourist attractions of the area, within a Britanny destination clearly identified but surrounded by strong competition.

Also a French Briton member of CAAC, Lorient transformed the name of the towns’ cluster from “Cap” Lorient to a simpler “Lorient Agglomeration”, inside a territorial marketing aiming to reach global scale through events like the Volvo Ocean race. Still in Brittany, CAAC founding city, Rennes has launched la Novosphère, “both an engine, a label and a showcase of local innovation “likes to remind Florent Vilbert, the host networker. “This is not only a process of com ‘, even if we are helping to publicize certified professionals and the general public. It’s (based on) concrete projects”. In addition, the city has launched cooperative promotion with nearby Saint Malo.

Already identified as a “NFC Leading territory“, Caen has submitted its interest concerning the “French Tech” label (as Rennes, Nantes and Brest,) This label aims to mobilize communities around the digital economy, “to, in a few years, make them internationally recognized for its entrepreneurial dynamism.”  says Fleur Péllerin, French Minister for NTC.  Bordeaux, which is also a French Tech candidate, is currently working around the label “Osez Bordeaux” (Dare Bordeaux). This label signs a new step for Bordeaux, advancing in its development and increasing international attractiveness, thus symbolizing a dynamic movement.

URBACT project ESIMEC counted in the participation of Cherbourg. This European project aimed to improve the positioning of medium sized towns so as to ensure sustainable economic growth. With talent attraction and retention as a core issue, Cherbourg action plan brought together initiatives to develop the marine economy in its diversity (seafood, boating, marine renewable energy, port operations, marine tourism, shipbuilding) strengthening training systems to meet the needs of businesses.

As for cooperation among Atlantic Arc Cities, the Nantes- Saint-Nazaire International Agency (Nantes Just Imagine) was created jointly by Nantes Métropole, the CCI of Nantes Saint-Nazaire and Greater Saint-Nazaire in early 2011. Its objective is to promote the metro area abroad, sustained in valued like quirky creativity and controlled growth. From its side, AIRE 198 (an association between La Rochelle, Niort, Poitiers and Angouleme) was born in September 4, 1989 in La Rochelle, with two main ideas: to manifest the role of cities and towns as a lever for development and that demonstrate the added value of an action network.

When creating the CAAC fifteen years ago, Atlantic Arc Cities were already positioning themselves around a concrete geography, the Atlantic Arc. Today, their individual strategies converge in a cooperation network, therefore putting into practice effective and cohesive coopetition.

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