According to the director of the promotion department in the Marshall Office of the Łódź Voivodeship, Maciej Łaski, national and regional brands are developing more and more dynamically.
Both the authorities and the society begin to understand that a strong national or regional brand means real benefits for the inhabitants. Apart from a bigger prestige and recognizability, a well-known regional brand attracts tourists and investors. And, there is a new trend that becomes more and more visible – consumers start choosing regional brands instead of foreign ones. We can even say that we are proud of our brands – Łaski told PAP.
The Łódź voivodeship also has aspirations to sign its products with its own regional brand. Since 2013 the voivodeship’s self-government has been implementing the assumptions of the new brand “Łódzkie promuje” and granting certificates to companies, institutions, organizations and people whose innovative and creative activities promote the Łódź region domestically and internationally.
The certificates enable such entities to use the logo “Łódzkie promuje” as a kind of a local quality mark, which strengthens the connection of their products and services with the Łódź voivodeship. Thanks to the certificates, on the other hand, the Łódź voivodeship gains ambassadors of its brand, shapes relationships with respect to regional identity building and strong brand development.
The logo is to be a quality mark that we want to be put on the companies’ promotional materials, labels and packaging. At the moment, some of them are starting to use the logo. Most of them only place it on their websites. It is the very beginning of the process and we do not want to impose the way how it is going to be done – the head of promotion of the Łódź voivodeship’s self-government explained.
A significant part of the Łódź voivodeship brand strategy implementation process is granting the right to use the brand’s elements to third parties. A strong regional brad is also a pass to global trade. In case of granting trademarks to products or companies promoting the region, it is important to remember that an inseparable element of a regional brand is its logo and promotional slogan.
That helps to disseminate it, and as a result – extend its influence in the voivodeship, the region, the country and the world. It also helps to build a close relationship between the voivodeship’s self-government and its inhabitants and entities operating in the region. The entity using the brand elements will identify with it, the brand will become a part of their image – Łaski explained.
The strategic direction of the brand “Łódzkie promuje” is design thinking, which is described as a way of solving problems in various fields and spheres of life through the use of design tools and design methodology. The examples of “products” illustrating the vision of the brand “Łódzkie promuje” and the idea of design thinking include such initiatives as Open Hair Festival, Touring Festival of Łódź Philharmonic “Kolory Polski”, PGE Power Giants multimedia museum exposition, Kamieńsk Mountain, Uniejów Thermal Springs, a Laminaria purchasing application, an innovative protective vest.
Each of these designs and products is building a competitive advantage of the Łódź voivodeship’s brand by referring to the design thinking method. What we are doing is only the beginning of the road. Brand building is a long and costly process, which we have just started. Nevertheless, the Łódź voivodeship has a lot of high quality products at good price. In many areas these products are more and more innovative – Łaski emphasized.
Since 2014 the Łódź voivodeship has been granting certificates “Łódzkie promuje” to companies, institutions, organizations and people whose innovative and creative activities promote the Łódź region domestically and internationally.
A regional brand, an example of design thinking, that has found its place in the consumer’s awareness not only in the Łódź region is the Uniejów Thermal Springs – the first thermal spa in Poland and – as for now - the only spa in the Łódź voivodeship. The Thermal Springs are already attracting tourists from other Polish voivodeships, for example, the Mazovian and Greater Poland ones.
Uniejów is an example of building a brand from scratch. The commune has changed its character from agricultural to tourist. Apart from the famous thermal pools visited by a few hundred people a day and the sauna complex, there are also other tourist spots like the Knight’s Castle to be admired on the way to the pools and the Miller’s Farm providing accommodation services, where you can see five historic buildings moved there from different locations of the voivodeship. The commune boasts of its logotype “Łódzkie promuje” and signs the information materials with it. Also, at the entrance to the town there are boards informing that Uniejów is promoting the Łódź voivodeship.
Another regional brand, but going beyond the region, is the volleyball team PGE Skra Bełchatów; it also promotes the voivodeship internationally. According to the local government, thanks to its activity and achieved results, the club can become a regional driving force of sport-related tourism and education development, which is one of the objectives of the Łódź Voivodeship Development strategy. Thanks to this cooperation, the brand mark “Łódzkie promuje” can be seen on the volleyball players’ shorts and the courts where the competitions are played.
At present, sport has become a powerful “industry” as well as a leading cultural activity. The actions taken by PGE Skra Bełchatów strengthen the image of the Łódź voivodeship as a sport propagator and educator both in the country and abroad.
Not only products can be a regional brand. Not infrequently characters – even legendary – connected with a given place or commune can aspire to be the one. And, the town of Łęczyca has taken a lot of actions aimed at building and developing its regional brand - Devil Boruta. The town wants to reach the awareness of Polish people in this way.
Boruta derives from ancient, pre-Christian forest demons and his name itself originates from the word ‘forest’. He has been the best-known Polish devil so far and his name has always been associated with Łęczyca. His figure has found its place in the history of the Łódź voivodeship and Poland.
Other regional brands, whose activity and recognizability promote the region are, for example: Łowickie Milk or ceramics manufacturers: Ceramika Opoczno and Ceramika Paradyż. Also, such clothing companies as pantyhose manufacturers – Gatta and Adrian – can be included in this group. They are well-established companies known both in the region and in the whole country.
An interesting example of regional brand building is supporting food products coming from the region. For years, the Łódź voivodeship has relied on creating its brand through promoting the traditional flavours of the region. Every year it organizes a competition of traditional products “Tygiel Smaków”, whose aim is to promote the products manufactured with traditional methods in the Łódź voivodeship, being a part of the culinary heritage of the region. Every year the organizers select a group of the best products that stand out on the market due to their quality, technological and use values and can be a good example for other products.
Among the laureates there are manufacturers of cured meats, beers as well as processed fruit and vegetables, who can use the quality mark “Tygiel Smaku” in their information materials or labels to promote their products. The competition’s aim is to strengthen the market position of these products, arouse more interest among potential consumers and, as a result, help to develop the high quality products market. This distinction also gives the right to use the logo “Łódzkie promuje”.
The products having the biggest marketing strength are also used by the Łódź voivodeship in its advertising campaigns. This year, Kamieńsk Mountain, Bełchatów Power Giants, Colours of Poland Festival and Stefan Jaracz Theatre could be seen in the advertising spots of the voivodeship.
One of more interesting ways of implementing the brand is a competition “Łódzkie ma pomysł” (Łódź voivodeship has an idea). Following the innovative and pioneer solutions already existing in the voivodeship, thanks to which life becomes better and more pleasant, every inhabitant can submit their own concepts of creative problem solving based on the design thinking method and show that Łódź voivodeship has an idea.
The winning concept – a board game about the Łódź voivodeship “Łódzkie Odkryj!” (Discover Łódź voivodeship) – won PLN 50 thousand, which will be spent on developing a prototype and specimens of this game.
According to Łaski, after analyzing the actions planned and taken by local governments in order to build their brands, it can be noticed that they are first of all focused on promotional activities and brand building on target markets – mainly external ones.
“However, these activities are only the beginning of the regional brand building process and we hope they will be supplemented by other actions that will allow individual regions to build a sustainable competitive advantage” – Łaski added.