As part of a regional review of the UK, The Drum spoke with three of the most loved Yorkshire-based brands to assess whether it is possible to stay true to regional roots whilst growing a brand nationally, or in some cases internationally. What is the appeal of staying regional? In speaking to these brands it was clear that all three were proud of their Yorkshire heritage, and despite pressures in the regions, were keen to retain roots in Yorkshire.
Nick Rawlings, commercial & marketing director, Plusnet
Before our TV campaigns, Plusnet had largely grown as a phone and broadband provider through customer recommendation alone. Our strengths were our technical knowledge and our open and honest dialogue with customers. And while we have always been available nationwide, we emphasised our Yorkshire roots, promoting our belief in straightforward conversation, and our 24/7, Sheffield-based customer service was very popular amongst customers. So, when we took the decision to market nationwide in 2010, it felt obvious to illustrate both the brand beliefs and Yorkshire heritage through associated imagery.
We created Joe, a straight-talking and friendly chap to talk about the benefits of Plusnet. Joe has a Yorkshire terrier and has encountered a number of weird and wonderful characters on his journey, including Sheffield synth-legends, Heaven 17. Meanwhile we’ve endured many cold days on set on the Yorkshire Moors and chaotic weeks in the Dales to film our ads – Yorkshire definitely delivers the breathtaking scenery to use as a backdrop to sell your story!
This year we were keen to build awareness of our growing product portfolio, our nationwide availability and award winning customer services, so changed filming locations and our end line from “Good, honest broadband from Yorkshire” to “Plusnet, we’ll do you proud!”
Our Sheffield-based call centre is still, in-part, reason to our popularity and why we continue to pick up awards, including consecutive Which? recommendations. All our operations continue to be based in the city and even as we look to multi-site locations, we will remain a Yorkshire-based company. Cities in the county offer a wealth of agency and individual talent in digital and marketing arenas and we will continue to take advantage of this.
Herwig Vennekens, managing director, Haribo
Yorkshire is home for the UK arm of our business and as our plans for the future unfold we hope to set even stronger foundations within the area. When Haribo launched in the UK in 1994, following the purchase of Dunhills of Pontefract, we were able to combine Haribo’s vision with over 240 years of sweet history and confectionery production; which definitely shapes the way we work today.
We employ over 500 people, primarily from the local area. Whilst we look to continually attract new talent to the business, many of our employees have been working at our site for decades and we have seen different generations of the same family pass through our doors, helping to make us the UK’s number one gums and jellies brand.
Over recent years we have extended our internal marketing and design capabilities at the same time as requiring the services of local agencies. We have found that the region offers a pool of talented creatives; this allows us to manage these crucial functions.
Whilst many will say that Yorkshire’s history is steeped in liquorice we know that its future is also in producing the UK’s much loved Haribo treats.
Sam Ward, brand PR manager, Bettys and Taylors of Harrogate
Taylors of Harrogate is incredibly proud of its Yorkshire heritage, and all our products are designed and developed at our head office here in Harrogate. We are a global business and at the core of this is our relationships with suppliers all over the world, but we are keen to stay true to our roots and as such take great care to nurture and manage third party relationships to ensure there is real synergy in business practice and values.
Being based in Yorkshire has defined our brand spirit – we are hardworking, grounded and exceptionally proud of everything we produce. Our Yorkshire base allows us to remain connected to our neighbours, and the beauty of the landscape is hugely inspiring; we have recently refreshed our Yorkshire Tea packaging with a landscape painted by local artist, Andrew Hutchinson – it features lots of Yorkshire landmarks and even a Yorkshire breed sheep.
The idea of ‘properness’ also stems from our Yorkshire roots – Yorkshire folk have great values and truly embody the phrase ‘if a job’s worth doing’. We apply that principle to every area of our business, especially our ethical and CSR policies, and the warmth it generates is incredible.
Yorkshire has an amazing knack of nurturing talent. The region is lucky to house some fantastic colleges and universities, all of which produce graduates with incredible creative talent. Many of these graduates stay within the region, moving to one of the great agencies that are housed here, or look to creative hubs such as Munro House or the Round Foundry in Leeds to start their own business.