The Harlow story
The launch of the Harlow story was a move that organisations and business leaders across Harlow had been waiting for.
The story emerged from concerns that Harlow’s voice wasn’t being heard above those of other places across the South East and that Harlow did not have a simple story explaining what it is trying to achieve as a place. The approach to develop the story was to understand what makes Harlow special, competitive and different to other places and bring this all together in a new narrative that every organisation and individual across the area can tell and be part of. Most importantly this was a story based on the perceptions and views of stakeholders, so it reflects what they see as important for the place and the opportunities it can exploit.
Harlow is fortunate to benefit from a prime location, with great rail links to London, excellent road connections including the nearby M11 and Stansted Airport just to the north. A long-standing reputation as a hub for science and innovation, it was the birthplace of fibre optics. The town is growing with major housing schemes, the relocation of Public Health England and is also well known for its fabulous sculpture collection. With London on the doorstep Harlow is poised for exciting growth and development.
The story is based around three themes which represent the distinctiveness of Harlow and will set it apart in the future.
colour, culture, sculpture
Harlow is a mecca for those who enjoy public art, especially sculpture. The town is a living gallery of important works of art by Barbara Hepworth, Auguste Rodin, Henry Moore and Elizabeth Frink. It is also home to a vibrant creative and cultural scene using popular venues such as the Gibberd Gallery, Parndon Mill and Harlow Playhouse. There is an ambition to build on this creative gene, to animate space and attract more people to live in and visit Harlow.
the science of change
Harlow was the birthplace of fibre optic communications which laid the groundwork for the evolution of the internet. Science research and life sciences have always been important for Harlow and the phased relocation of Public Health England to the town highlights that this knowledge-led activity will shape the future of the place supported by other supply chain businesses and the Enterprise Zone. Harlow will become ‘science central’.
lifestyle: local and London
Harlow is set to benefit from the ‘overheating’ of a crowded and less affordable London. Thousands of new homes will transform the town centre and the local economy. There is a great range of places to live including the forthcoming Harlow and Gilston Garden Town and the whole area is astonishingly green with fantastic facilities from Town Park to Lee Valley Country Park. Harlow is a great value, brilliantly connected location under 30 minutes from the greatest city on earth!
The Harlow story was launched in June at The Playhouse with a number of high profile organisations and businesses pledging their support. John Keddie (Chair of Harlow Place Board), Chris Snow (Harlow Arts Trust), Michael Beard (Public Health England), Rob Wilkinson (Countryside Properties) and Eugenie Harvey (Harlow Council) took to the stage to describe why the story was important for their organisation and for the economic prosperity of Harlow.
The story was enthusiastically received but this is just the start of the journey!
Putting Harlow on the map and communicating what a great place it is to live and work, as well as the fantastic opportunities it has, is not a one-off job. As a place we have to stand up and be counted and that means working alongside the council and other key organisations to get the message out. To help do this a Place Board has been created who will be the ultimate guardians and champions of the Harlow story and our new place marketing approach.
This is led by Dr John Keddie who was previously Vice President Global Operations for GlaxoSmithKline in Harlow and who also chairs the Enterprise Zone Board. He and a small group of key players who are enthusiastic about the town have come together to provide leadership for this initiative and ensure that the Harlow voice is heard at county level, within the Local Enterprise Partnership and as a vital element of the UK’s Innovation Corridor.
They will create a different, ‘place led’ perspective to the promotion of Harlow bringing the views of business, education, arts and community to the table in an independent way. Their only agenda is helping to attract investment, jobs, visitors and talent into the area whilst enhancing the pride many have of their town.
For Harlow to succeed as a place we need to get as many people and organisations as possible believing in it and telling and selling its story. The Harlow Ambassadors are literally a salesforce for the place and everyone can get involved!
Every two months there will be an Ambassadors Meeting where you can learn about what’s happening in Harlow and the wider area from those that are making it happen. All we want the Ambassadors to do is to relay these messages to their networks and contacts when they ask what’s going on in Harlow? This is the most powerful and impactful way of marketing the place.
We had our first meeting on the 27th September at the Rugby Club where the audience heard from Allies and Morrison about the action plan for the town centre and Kimberlee Perry, an international entrepreneur who has formed and developed her business in Harlow. The event was very well attended and the feedback has been very positive.
Another key part of the Ambassadors programme is holding the meetings in different venues around the Harlow area so those attending can get to see organisations they may know nothing about and learn how they are putting the place on the map. If you’re interested in attending let one of the Place Managers have your details so you can be included on the invite list.
Tools to help tell and sell the Harlow story
Whilst word of mouth is brilliant at getting our stories out there are various things you can access that will help your organisation and help Harlow. We have a new forward-looking story for Harlow which has been developed into a storybook. You can perhaps use some of the words and ideas in how you describe your organisation and the Harlow it is based within.
The place website www.discoverharlow.co.uk is a developing tool whose job is to act as a reference point for anyone promoting the place – why not add it to your email footer? Within this you can access the stunning photography that has been specially taken to illustrate our new story, you can download it and it’s free!
You can also use the fantastic Harlow showreel as part of your promotional activity which visually tells our story in 90 seconds, it’s informative and inspiring!
To help communicate the Harlow story we have also created a visual identity that represents the place in a very contemporary way, you can see this being used on the website, in the storybook and on the showreel. It celebrates our scientific past and future, our businesses and our art and creativity.
How to get involved
Sharon Summerfield and Carole Hudson have been appointed as Harlow Place Brand Managers and will work with businesses, organisations and the community in telling and selling the Harlow story and developing activity that supports this. If you’d like to find out more about the Harlow story, the Ambassadors scheme, get involved and join the growing number of organisations who are contributing to this important work to help put Harlow on the map, please contact DiscoverHarlow@harlow.gov.uk and follow @discoverharlow