Nine years before we host the Olympics, is there any rush to establish our ‘brand narrative’

Does Brisbane have an identity problem? Becoming an Olympic host was supposed to put it on the map, but a 2032 Games boss concedes the Queensland capital still doesn’t stand out in Australia, let alone the world.

Jun 30, 2023, updated Jun 30, 2023
President of the Brisbane 2032 Organising Committee Andrew Liveris. (AAP Image/Darren England)

President of the Brisbane 2032 Organising Committee Andrew Liveris. (AAP Image/Darren England)

“I don’t think it’ll surprise anyone in Brisbane to know Brisbane is not particularly well known globally,” the organising committee’s CEO Cindy Hook told international media at an online briefing from Switzerland this week.

Yet Ms Hook said they are excited by the challenge of creating a brand for the River City recognised around the world.

She was addressing media after flying to Lausanne with 2032 organisers including president Andrew Liveris for their first progress meeting with the International Olympic Committee.

She announced the Games were on track with their budget of almost $5 billion, and described the prospect of creating a Brisbane brand ahead of the Olympics was like using a “blank sheet of paper”.

“(Brisbane) doesn’t have a brand and even within Australia its brand is not distinct from the country itself – that creates a tremendous opportunity,” Ms Hook said.

“That also means we have to create a really compelling brand narrative and build that narrative which will take a little bit more time to do.”

Even Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk agreed Brisbane needed a profile boost.

“In some markets they know the Gold Coast, they know Cairns, they know the Barrier Reef so yes we have to do more to make sure the world knows where Brisbane, Queensland is,” she said in Brisbane on Thursday.

Ms Hook said branding was “inextricably linked” to delivering their commercial program as they look to generate corporate sponsorship for the Games.

Brisbane-based marketing agency VMLY&R has been appointed to deliver the 2032 emblem and brand strategy, with plans for young Indigenous leaders and aspiring athletes to provide input.

Organisers are already market-testing some concepts overseas.

Mr Liveris said they are committed to making the Games cost-neutral with about 85 per cent of necessary infrastructure already in place.

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“We have a wonderful part of the world but not as well known as maybe it needs to be so that means we have to find innovative ways to bring sponsors to the table,” he said.

Major projects like the Gabba’s $2.7b revamp and new $2.5b Brisbane Arena in the CBD will be funded separately by the Queensland and federal governments respectively.

“We need a world-class stadium for Brisbane independent of the Olympics,” Mr Liveris said.

IOC co-ordination commission chair Kirsty Coventry said the new-look Gabba was set to be an “incredible venue” that would also leave a legacy for Brisbane.

Under existing IOC rules the Brisbane event program won’t be known until after the 2028 Olympics.

But Ms Coventry suggested said there may be “adaptability, flexibility” for Brisbane’s timelines.

Mr Liveris said they aimed to host “the most inclusive Games ever” with a strong emphasis on First Nations people, celebrating their culture.

There will also be beer.

Quizzed about Paris 2024 organisers announcing the general public would not be allowed to drink alcohol at venues, Mr Liveris said: “We’ll serve a beer because we can.”

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