How Has COVID-19 Made ‘Brand WA’ Stronger?
Thankfully, here in Western Australia we’ve been spared rising COVID-19 infection rates and the social unrest that has been felt in many other destinations.
But how has our response to the pandemic strengthened our State’s reputation?
Last week, some of Perth’s best communication specialists battled it out at IABC’s event, The Great Debate. We took the opportunity to hear what they thought.
WA’s Major Industries Continue to Make a Considerable Contribution
Chamber of Minerals and Energy’s Director, Policy and Advocacy, Rob Carruthers said he believed COVID-19 has made WA’s brand stronger on the national stage.
“As we’ve seen over the last few months, and how tough other states have done it, we really have come out much stronger on the other side,” he said.
“The fact that our major industries have been able to keep chugging along, making a considerable contribution to the State and to the Nation – I think that’s been seen all over the world, much like it was post-GFC when the rest of the world was really doing it tough and WA was a real leading line.”
The Safest Place In The World
Premier Mark McGowan has continuously stated that WA is the safest place in the world – it is a bold claim that continues to resonate with locals. Last month, the Premier was crowned most popular Premier in Australia, confirming that support for brand WA is strong at home.
Newly elected Perth City Councillor Di Bain, a seasoned marketer and journalist with more than 20 years’ experience in the communications industry, said that WA’s leaders had ensured health and safety came first, in turn, lessening the economic impact of the pandemic.
“When people feel unsafe, they’re filled with anxiety and stress, causing huge social and economic impact which have detrimental effects on our economy, livelihoods and our wellbeing,” Ms Bain said.
Western Australia’s response to the pandemic has positioned the economy to rebound faster than first expected, with the recent State Budget revealing the local economy is expected to grow by 1.25 per cent in 2020-21.
In 2019-20, WA was the only State to record positive growth in the domestic economy, despite the significant impact of the pandemic.
Western Power’s Executive Manager of Growth, Peter Kerr told us that he believed brand WA was stronger than ever, with celebrities like Greys Anatomy star, Kate Walsh, living in Perth.
“Even Hollywood royalty like Kate Walsh is here in Perth because of brand WA…I think that says it all,” he said.
Earlier this year, Kate Walsh sat down with WA’s Governor, the Honourable Kim Beazley AC to advocate for Perth to have a world-class film and TV studio to capitalise on our local talent and diverse natural landscape.
“As things started to open up here in Perth and WA I started to look around – it’s so beautiful, it’s so pristine, and there’s such a civic love and beautiful architecture. The more I explored, the more I got out and about after the quarantine lifted, I really realised that this is an incredible city and a beautiful State”, Kate Walsh told Governor Beazley.
The Wild West
Because Perth is the most isolated capital city in the world, Western Australia has always had a unique place in the Australian space.
Experienced Health Journalist, Cathy O’Leary said that WA’s hard border closure is just another example of the State’s long-standing reputation of being an outlier.
“I think that this has actually played into our image as the ‘Wild West’, ” said Ms O’Leary.
But could WA’s image as the ‘Wild West’ be impacting our brand in a negative way?
Screenwest CEO, Willie Rowe told us that he was worried that WA’s strong brand could be suffering as a result.
“I think that WA is in a totally isolationist mode, and that plays to the perception outside of Western Australia that we’re remote; we’re not engaged, and it could look as though we don’t want to be part of Australia.”
There is no doubt the pandemic has had an enormous impact on every aspect of our lives. While WA is certainly faring better than other states and countries, our State’s economic recovery is very much a work in progress. But if confidence counts for anything, the future of WA looks bright and so does its brand.