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We worked with the Isle of Man Government on a brand project covering for the whole island. The project addressed four main segments: citizens, trade and industry, inward investment, and tourism.

Objectives of the Project

Despite having a highly diverse and successful economy, the Isle of Man suffered from negative external perceptions, being seen by some as a ‘tax haven on a windy, barren rock in the Irish sea’. Our task was to communicate the positive aspects of the island in a coherent and cohesive manner.

This extensive project involved evaluating all aspects of the island’s life through a comprehensive research programme, interviewing, and running research sessions with people from all the diverse communities concerned, both on and off the island The brand positioning we ultimately developed was meaningful for every aspect of the island’s offer – inward investment, trade and export, tourism and citizenship – and has been successfully used in communications.

This positioning focused on the concept of ‘freedom to flourish’. This encapsulates the scope offered by the Isle of Man to people in all walks of life where no matter what you want to do in business of life you have the opportunity to explore and develop your talents in a safe yet stimulating way. We brought the brand to life through a bi-lingual brand book and a range of initiatives to ensure that the newly repositioned Isle of Man brand resonated with all stakeholders.

Research for Insights

We started with an initial broad perception study consisting of interviews, focus groups, workshops and surveys across the island.  We ensured that the research included broad representation from all the major segments: 4 main segments.

Trade and industry

1-1 interviews with heads of government departments and businesses of varying sizes from all sectors – fishing, hospitality, manufacturing, finance, film etc.

Citizens

Group interviews with residents including doctors, teachers, small business owners, taxi drivers etc. We also researched the history and culture of those who live on the island, looking into the herring industry, smuggling, wildlife and the local industry etc.

Inward investment

1-1 interviews with business people who had relocated their business to the island for varying reasons e.g. skills/tax etc. We also discovered what they felt the island offered and why they were there.

Tourism

1-1 interviews with tourism providers. This included tourist sites, Laxey wheel, historic sites, museums, train ferry, airplane etc. Hotels with groups of tourists were also consulted.

As well as these interviews, we also conducted 1-1 interviews with the Executive board running the project.

The Results

The findings of the research enabled us to draw up a picture of the island including its strengths, weaknesses, and hidden depths. From this we were able to create a range of brand concepts focusing on different potential positioning options. 

Following and initial review of these concepts we finetuned them and conducted a round of qualitative research to explore the options amongst the target audiences. The output allowed us to hone the positioning to work across all segments.  

The Next Steps

As a result of the research findings, we developed the brand positioning Freedom to Flourishan idea that worked across every aspect of island life.  The concept represents the idea that businesses can flourish but also highlights the safety and security of the island, meaning your children can have a great childhood with the freedom to roam and explore safely, which also applies to tourists. It shows that it is both a great place to live and have a successful career – a land of opportunity to make of it what you will, even though there were still things that needed to be implemented.

The next stage was to verify the proposed final concept – Freedom to Flourish – in quantitative research.

Once we were certain that the concept was a winner, we then needed to work with the different stakeholders to make sure that they lived the brand. To do this we ran a series of workshops with different stakeholder group, working with each one to see what living up to the new brand positioning mean for them – what they had already and what initiatives they needed to introduce. These workshops covered areas such as culture, design, food and drink, a film festival, a fish festival, and an office in the city of London to demonstrate the seriousness of island finance. It was also suggested that taxi drivers and hotel staff be provided with training to help them offer an IoM welcome and provide tourists with informed information.

With the insights gathered from this second research phase, we were able to demonstrate with a high degree of clarity what would be needed to bring the promise of Freedom to Flourish to life.


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