Bicycles as an export product
The Netherlands is a nation with cycling in its blood. There is almost no other country in the world where the bicycle has become a national cultural icon. Cycling is also one of the Netherlands’ most famous export products. Our expertise on all aspects of cycling from bike use to bike facilities and cycling policy, is renowned world-wide. The Dutch Cycling Embassy (DCE) is convinced that there are far more effective ways to market Dutch expertise internationally. Who do you call for help? But of course, the agency that covered the most cycling kilometres.
The DCE consists of a small core team and dozens of affiliated organizations. An enormous network, but one that also presents a sizeable communication challenge. How do you make sure these partner organizations tell the same story? In other words: what’s the clearest, most consistent way to promote the Netherlands as the world’s premier cycling nation?
Our first step was to develop the ‘Dutch Cycling’ brand with the core team, the affiliated organizations and several key stakeholders and clients. We looked at what makes Dutch cycling culture stand out from cycling cultures in other countries, and why they should turn to the DCE for advice. By working closely together and refining this brand, the participants have more fully taken ‘ownership’ of Dutch Cycling.
Next, we developed the brand story into a marketing communication game plan and social media strategy. Working with the affiliated organizations proved essential here, too. They are now actively involved in social media communications. To support their efforts, they are using what we refer to as the ‘Dutch Cycling Toolkit’, a collection of stunning visuals we developed that matches the brand values, useful infographics, PowerPoint slides and a brief handout about Dutch Cycling in different languages. With the help of the DCE, we identified a major partner, in addition to the affiliated organizations: people on the staff of Dutch embassies. They possess insider knowledge of the country in which they’re based, and are excellently placed to share all they know of Dutch cycling culture with the locals. Especially in countries where the DCE doesn’t yet have a developed network. Embassy staff are also finding the brief handout a useful tool in communicating with governments and the business community.
With the developed brand, the delivered strategies and multiple means of communication, the DCE has the ideal tools for promoting the Netherlands as a cycling nation, and to support the affiliated organizations. The partners are now crystal clear on what the Dutch Cycling brand stands for, and the story they have to tell about Dutch cycling culture.
‘Working with BRAND Urban Agency was both a privilege and a pleasure. We really appreciated their experienced and energetic approach, and the fresh perspective their team brought to every step of the process. Their ideas and suggestions perfectly complemented our existing efforts and initiatives. They provided valuable insights and guidance for our task of telling the Dutch cycling story to the world. Even with the final document completed, we continue to converse on a regular basis, and we foresee our relationship enduring long into the future.’
Chris Bruntlett, Marketing & Communication Manager Dutch Cycling Embassy
Photo: Bas de Meijer