The three Ps driving the Yorkshire brand forward (that's pride, passion and persistence)
Yorkshire folk are notorious for their suspicion of owt ostentatious. Which is why the way God’s Own Country embraced the Tour de France back in 2014 came as a bit of a surprise.
The whole region turned yellow for weeks before and after, and so many by-standers lined the main routes that the cyclists sometimes struggled to squeeze through. Le Tour brought in an extra £102m to the Yorkshire economy, and half a million more visitors crossed the border in the three months after the race.
And the legacy didn’t end there; the event was such a success, it spawned the Tour de Yorkshire, a 520 km, three-day event that’s now in its second year – starting today. This year, more than 1.5 million spectators are expected to line the route, with more than six million viewers tuning in to TV coverage of elite athletes racing round Yorkshire’s picturesque roads.
Of course, the TDY is a shining example of a major sporting event done well, but it’s also a powerful lesson in brand building. Because not only has it brought investment to Yorkshire in the short-term, it’s built the county’s profile around the world and changed long-held perceptions here in the UK. Thanks to a few blokes on bikes, the whole world knows that it’s not so ‘grim up north’.
Welcome to Yorkshire (the county’s marketing body) has done a sterling job championing the event, tied in to a wider strategy that’s seen the region’s charms showcased across the globe. But it’s the effect this one event has had on the people of Yorkshire that’s been the most powerful weapon in their marketing arsenal.
They hit the sweet spot so many brand owners spend their lives searching for; finding a cause to fly the flag for, drawing out your audience’s passion and creating a sense of pride in something people feel they can truly ‘own’.
Couple that with unwavering persistence (a bit of Yorkshire grit), and you’ve got a brand that will continue to pull in the people and the pennies.
OK, so interest in the TDY may dwindle over time, and Welcome to Yorkshire will no doubt have to find new ways to keep the incomers coming back. But there’s no denying that the sense of pride the TDY has created will continue to echo up hill and down t’dale for many years to come.
And as for the slightly out of shape middle-aged men it’s inspired to don Lycra and hit Yorkshire’s roads in their droves? Well, there had to be a downside…