If Books are to Hay on Wye

What ???? is to Barry?

If Barry is simply a commuter town for Cardiff, I think that's pretty glum!

Previously, we could have said;

Coal Exporting Dockyards or Pleasure Park/Butlins.... but not anymore.



Andy Green Jan 2, 2015

Your question of ‘what is Barry?’ gets to the very heart of what is the 'Barry Brand'?

Two years ago, I did a study visit to Austin, Texas, home of the internationally renowned SXSW Festival and also famous for its ‘Keep Austin Weird’ campaign - where it actively chose to position itself and define itself by ‘being weird’.

In my research I asked the question: ‘Could Barry, like Austin, define and promote itself as ‘weird’?’

My conclusion was no; Austin, a blue Democrat, non-conformist university town genuinely did stand out distinctly from its neighbouring sea of red Republican Texas, and was by comparison, ‘weird’.

The exercise did bring home to me that the essential quality Barry does possess is not ‘weirdness’ but is its ‘irreverence’ - it doesn’t take itself too seriously.

Think about two recent successes of the ‘Brand Barry’ - ‘Gavin & Stacey’ and ‘Barrybados’.

Both have been taken on board with enthusiasm by many who celebrate their Barry pride. Why? Because they both possess the touchstone of irreverence: Barry’s essential quality is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously - which is at the heart of both the Gavin & Stacey and the Barry Island brands.

In professional Brand marketing we use a tool called ‘Archetypes’ - using the 12 key character profiles drawn from the work of the psychologist Jung. Using these Archetype profiles helps to quickly establish your distinct character and provides a way of easily capturing very complex personalities.

One of the 12 profiles is the character of ‘Jester’ - which has the qualities of living for the moment seeking to get full enjoyment out of life, with the goals of having a great time and lightening up the world.

Sounds like a place you know?

I believe the ‘Jester’ Archetype is the profile best suited for Barry.

The ‘Jester’ Archetype is characterized by bringing the gift of joy. (Wherever I travel I invariably find people with their own Barry story of happy memories.)

A ‘Jester’ Archetype

  • Helps people belong or feel that they belong
  • Functions to help people have a good time
  • Offers pricing that is moderate to low
  • Sold with a fun-loving, freewheeling organization/culture
  • Needs to be differentiated from other nearby self-important, over-confident, established brands.

So, we have a characteristic of being the ‘Jester’. Going back to the original question ‘What is Barry for?’ we need to pinpoint how this ‘Jester’ brand can quickly be leveraged into generating economic, social and promotional benefits.

The quick answer is to be the beach and countryside playground next to a capital city: ‘the golden beach playground to Cardiff’.

Before you start throwing your arms up in horror about ‘being part of Cardiff’ (and I must stress I make no political point here about the boundaries of local government administration) we need to consider what key brand, marketing and promotional issues we face - and also what are the available opportunities we can leverage from?

And before you think this is all airy-fairy marketing speak, it does have very profound real-world implications for your wealth and well-being.

Take house prices as an example. House prices in Barry are 20% lower than Cardiff. Why is that? With our seaside location it should be the opposite. If we can make serious headway in nurturing the optimum brand for Barry we can reverse negative issues like lower house prices.

If we can reframe Barry as one of the more desirable locations in the Cardiff-travel-to-work area we have an opportunity to substantially enhance the well-being of many local people.

Cardiff attracts something like over 20 million visitors a year. Does Barry get its fair share of these visitors? (I also do some informal research among the class of 70 students from all parts of the globe I teach at Cardiff University. Every year I survey how many have visited Barry Island during their time in Cardiff - and sadly, it’s just a handful. We need to establish the perception that no visit or stay in Cardiff is complete without a trip to Barry - the golden beach playground.)

Another important branding issue is what is known in marketing as the ‘Halo Effect’ - you gain from the image of a nearby third party who other people have heard of, and like.

Imagine you’re on holiday in Spain and you’re explaining to the people on the next sun lounger where you are from. You say ‘Barry’ and they haven’t heard of it. Your next response will be: ‘It’s near Cardiff’.

So, we face a reality that Barry, like it or not, is defined by its proximity to its better known capital city neighbour. Rather than go into denial about this, we need to confidently assert this asset to our advantage: ‘We are the golden beach playground to Cardiff, South Wales, and the West Midlands (we are the nearest sandy beach resort to Birmingham).

Also, while there are many places with fine beaches - there aren't any within 25 minutes of a capital city; this is our unique quality.

This provides a viable platform for a confident, forward-looking Barry confident of its future success and well-being.

It’s more than being a commuter town. It’s turning the reality of our being a part of the Cardiff travel-to-work region, and positioning as ourselves as one of its best bits, with an unrivalled natural coastal beauty, garden playground of the Vale, with a local culture of having a great attitude for fun, irreverence, and making the most of life

Is this the answer?

Reply 0

Mark Hooper Jan 2, 2015

Thanks Andy,

Great ideas there....., but my arms did fly up :-)

Whilst accepting we're next door to Cardiff (it's a geographical reality at the end of the day) - I do think asserting our own independence needs to be better than just being Cardiff's playground.... This thinking leads to ideas like regenerating the fairground, as a... wait for it...fairground.... The days of candy floss and kiss me kwik (sp) hats are behind us...

Barry does have a vibrancy, an energy, an irreverant cheeky side - but at some point the people of Barry  gave up on it - I sense that the tide may be turning. Allowing those emergent ideas (whatever they might be) to flourish will be the making of Barry. The problem is, those ideas won't come from the usual suspects - and that's likely to be tough for the usual suspects to deal with. But deal with it, they'll have to.....

By the way - I do realise I'm not answering my initial question :-)




Reply 0

Mark Hooper Jan 2, 2015

Btw - Austin is famed for the most coworking spaces per capita in the US ;-)

Reply 0