LAST September, the Corpo (aka Cork City Council) announced a campaign to promote the Real Capital, trigger the shekels, intensify tourism and ‘with Brexit around the corner, prepare the city for the challenges and opportunities that would inevitably follow.’
Falling over themselves with curiosity, Leesiders waited for the details; and they were not disappointed. Coming down the tracks, said the Corpo, was a landmark logo that would put ‘the city and county on the map as the fastest growing region in Ireland.’ Also planned was a marketing campaign that would, ‘nationally and internationally, enhance Cork as a great place to live, work, invest, study, and visit.’
Our Simon, the Foreign Affairs man, described the proposed action as ‘brilliant,’ claiming ‘it would bring together under one banner everything that makes Cork great.’
Oh, the enthusiastic cheering! Magnificent! But how was the Corpo going to carry out its plan? Answer: by means of an iconic logo, a brand-name that proclaimed to all and sundry, the whole world in fact, that .... wait for it … ‘We are Cork.’ Yep, that was the key to future prosperity.The logo would put city and county on the map and, in the process, enable tycoons, speculators, politicos, editors, artists, piss-artists, sponsors, etc, to become as authentically ‘Cork’ as the Bould Thady Quill.
What’s more, heavy hitters such as Cork City Council, Cork County Council, Cork Airport, Port of Cork, UCC, CIT, Cork Chamber, Cork Business Association, IBEC, Enterprise Ireland Fáilte Ireland and ‘Visit Cork’ backed the project. They also considered the ‘We are Cork’ logo to be terrifically catchy and epigrammatic, although we’ve yet to be told how these paramount bodies will integrate the logo into their own ‘place-brand strategy.’
Cleared for use
We also were informed (courtesy of De Paper) that the cost to the Corpo and County Council was a mere €139,497.34 and €115,897.78, respectively. Interesting too that a hefty proportion of that money went into the coffers of a Belfast-based design studio and economic development services firm, ‘OCO Global’, which is linked to a company called, ‘Collaborate’.
And since such a project can run perilously close to the whirlpools of copyright protection, Cork Corpo officials made sure that all relevant trademark searches were carried out and that ‘the new logo was cleared for use as a placename brand’ with the European Union Intellectual Property Office.
Then when everything was hunky-dory, the local meeja was duly informed that city and county soon would be able to ‘sell Cork as a single brand at home and abroad.’
But, needless to say, Corpo councillors who had no input into the project were not happy. One chap, quizzically scratching his head, admitted to this scribe in a confused and mocking way that City Hall officials were ‘balmpots’ for having spent so much money on a logo that does nothing more than tell Cork people they’re from Cork.
Another complained that councillors had been ‘circumnavigated’ – which suggested the avoidance of a rather difficult obstacle, such as a roomful of braying politicos seeking answers. Meanwhile, the councillors were loudly heehawing their complaint of having been ‘overlooked,’ despite their function as guardians of the city’s financial operations.
Indeed, Cllr O’Flynn declared he wanted a refund of the moolah already paid out, arguing that he was not at all sure the city had got a good deal.
He also claimed that the ‘We are Cork’ logo bore an uncanny similarity to a British foodie logo, that of the Great British Chefs’ website logo. The latter is made up of 27 knives forming a large letter C, whereas the Leeside effort consists of 27 straight lines, also forming a large C.
And there’s the Museum of World Cultures in Barcelona. Its logo is also in the shape of a large C.
All a complete coincidence, of course! Certainly, the fact that Cork, Catalan and British brainboxes invented logos each with a resemblance to the other was remarkable, but it meant little more than that great minds were thinking alike. The logos had some characteristics in common, that’s true, but even identical twins are not really genetically identical! Right?
And, listen to this, by a totally amazing fluke, Cork’s 96FM has been using a slogan since 1989, which says ‘We are Cork’!
Unique brand name
Again a remarkable occurrence without causal connection; and again a case of great minds thinking alike or, as they used say years ago in the Marsh area of Cork city: ‘great minds run in the same gutters’ – an expression no longer in common parlance. (Perhaps, the Corpo might like to resurrect it, assuming that the European Union Intellectual Property Office has no objections?)
PR spin doctors probably would describe the commonality of slogans as ‘influenza-marketing gone viral’ but, let’s face it, many brands, logos and slogans have a similarity about them without ever being identical.
Making Cork’s new pictorial logo stand out from the rest will be tricky, but the fact of the matter is that it consists of just two things: the letter C and the slogan ‘We are Cork.’ Who would want to make a fuss about that when the intention was to communicate a unique brand name … well, hardly unique, but … em … you get our drift.
Besides ‘We are Cork’ has a touch of eco-friendliness (very important nowadays), suggesting that Corkonians resemble the outer bark of the oak Quercus suber. Nor is there any doubt that the snappy tagline forever will keep the brand alive in our little minds.
In fact in a burst of enthusiasm we have invented a slogan that the Corpo might like to use at no cost. It’s this: ‘Brexit May Sink Ireland but Cork is Sure to Stay Afloat!’ (You’re fired – Ed).
So, instead of Cork (the city) being associated with a stopper for a wine bottle, perhaps the Belfast company ‘Collaborate’ (weird moniker!) should promote the word as a verbal substitute. For example, instead of saying ‘shut your trap,’ our charming young people might be encouraged to use this phrase, ‘Put a Cork in it, ya dickhead’; or as an alternative for the word ‘sex’ (Being a family newspaper, we won’t go down that particular route).
Of course neither the Corpo, nor ‘Collaborate’, need to be lectured on the best way to get across an original message.
But, that aside, we humbly suggest that visitors to the city would be pleased to see this message emblazoned on the walls of City Hall: ‘Keep calm, you’re in Cork now.’
‘Collaborate’ might bear in mind also that Leeside denizens are the strangest of people – a fact discovered by a British couple who stopped a Corkonian to ask if the indicators of their car were working.
His reply: ‘Yes, no, yes, no, yes, no, yes, no, yes, no.’
They fled, never to return!