COP26 is just one of many key events the city of Glasgow in Scotland has hosted. Back in 2014, the Commonwealth Games took over the city and now seven years on, remnants of the event remain, from sculptures and graffiti art to stadiums and revived sports centres.

Being based in Glasgow, and as somebody passionate about the world of branding, it was fantastic to see the brand colours of COP26 splashed throughout the city, from the Central train station clock turned green, to animal welfare campaign signs dotted above abandoned buildings. It felt like an iconic moment for the city and something many will remember for several years to come.

However, this sparked discussion amongst the Hey Me team. What does it take to truly brand a city? Are there any secret ingredients to this and what are the similarities to creating a client’s communications strategy? Read our thoughts on this and more, below:

Planning is key 

Large-scale events such as COP26 often take years in the making. Cities present their ballots and are chosen several years in advance of the event taking place, to enable governing bodies to implement the correct level of resource and infrastructure plans to support the event and seamlessly make it happen.

With that in mind, planning is key. In a similar manner to how we work with our clients, the early planning stage is vital to understanding your messaging and how you will harness that to engage with your audience.

Create a strategy that thinks outside of the box and develop something that people won’t have seen before. Take the time to plan your communication tactics and activities long before you start implementing anything, to reap long-term success.

Invest in people who know their stuff

Large-scale events often recruit short-term, temporary teams of experts, to make things happen. Investing in talented experts, be that on a short-term or long-term basis, is an instrumental part of a project or event’s success. Trust the experts and their knowledge and appoint the right people in the right roles, to get things done and to a high standard.

Think outside of the box 

Creative thinking is key to bringing any idea or strategy to life. For example, New York-based artist Mary Ellen Carroll created a monumental neon work on the roof of The Schoolhouse, a Victorian building in the city for COP26, creating a stir across the city. The piece, titled the “Indestructible Language”, consisted of an eight-foot-high illuminated red neon character signage, made of lead-free glass and powered 100% by renewable energy, spelling out the phrase, “It Is Green Thinks Nature Even In the Dark”, backed by the Turtle Conservancy charity in California.

Gleaning out against the city landscape it certainly made an impact and reiterated the effect that thinking out of the box and going beyond traditional marketing avenues, can have on an audience, to get your message across.

Don’t be afraid to test things out 

As communication experts, we like to trial something and measure its success, be that a long-form piece of website content, or a new visual for social media. By thinking bold and creatively, like the above, you can make a real impact on your audience and glean a better understanding of how your audience communicates with your brand.

If something doesn’t work either, don’t be afraid to change it up and try something new. The finest marketing campaigns we have seen have often been ones created on a fleeting idea, so don’t be afraid to try something different with your brand communications.

Planning a large-scale event is in many ways similar to planning a client communications strategy. Whilst it may initially appear daunting, with the right planning, understanding, listening and creative thinking, you can bring stories to life and build brand engagement, in a way that you would attract delegates to an event such as COP26 and make an impact on a city-wide audience. So, take that leap of faith and dive in to create something creatively captivating for your audience today.

If you would be interested in learning more about how Hey Me can support you with developing your communications strategy, then get in touch with us via

Image Sources: Reuters, Unsplash, COP26

Emma Lever

Author Emma Lever

More posts by Emma Lever

Leave a Reply