Our heart is in Rotterdam

Our heart is in Rotterdam

Written by Lise PERNIN, Design: Monika Monko 

In this article, we will apply the concept of city branding to our dear city: Rotterdam! According to Michalis Kavaratzis, city branding is linked to the implementation of the city’s marketing. This depends on 3 factors: construction, communication, and management of the city’s image. 

Construction-wise, Rotterdam is renowned for its skyline comprised of contemporary skyscrapers, granting the city a very modern atmosphere. The city is a survivor, it rose from its ashes after World War Two’s bombardment, and it fascinates by its amazing reconstruction. Innovative forms such as De Rotterdam’s one (building finalized in 2013), create a feeling of dynamism. Famous architects from all around Europe, such as the British Norman Foster or the Portuguese Alvaro Siza, have contributed to Wilhelminapier’s skyline with different towers. This is also a reflection of Rotterdam’s superb multiculturalism. We cannot evoke constructions in the city without a mention of the iconic Erasmus bridge. This 139-metre high cable bridge, nicknamed “the Swan”, is emblematic of Rotterdam. It is interesting that a bridge is directly associated with the city, as it represents a link. Is it a hint towards Rotterdam openness to the world? 

Every Rotterdammer has heard the famous anthem: “de mooiste rotstad die er” (translated as “the best there is”) by the Hermes House Band. Its lively beat inspires the listeners and gives them energy. Even non-Dutch speakers try to sing along, often with great difficulty, but always able to chant the “Rotterdam, de mooiste rotstad die er is” with great enthusiasm. The love for Rotterdam, from Dutch residents and International ones, is universal. Just like a sportive chant or a rallying cry, the anthem unites the inhabitants in a positive manner. The lyrics describe memorable parts of the city, such as Blaak or Oostzeedijk. We are able to travel through Rotterdam with our ears, and closing our eyes we can picture everything very clearly. Nevertheless, the song does not only evoke tangible aspects of the city, it also refers to its personality. It is the “no-nonsense city” (“geen flauwekulstad”). Rotterdammers like getting straight to the point in order to get things done. Directness is a quality highly valued. As the singer claims, his heart (and ours as well) lies in Rotterdam! The same idea of the city living inside us, just as much as we live in it, is also used in Guus Bok’s “Rotterdam Leeft In Mij” (“Rotterdam lives in me”). This chant was created for the 75th anniversary of the bombardment on May 14th, 1940 that destroyed the city center. Buildings might have collapsed in the past, but the soul of the city never died and now is as blazing as ever!

Edgar Allan Poe once said that Rotterdam was “in a high state of philosophical excitement.” After all, is it not always the case? The city is constantly full of life with exciting projects taking place for the well-being of its inhabitants. On Rotterdam tourist information’s web page, we can read the slogan: “Rotterdam. Make it happen.” This tells it all! Passivity is rejected, as there is constant renewal to strive for better. For instance, there is a strong focus on sustainability in the port and the industry, but also in the city itself. Rotterdam wishes to establish itself as a green town. News on that matter is numerous. One of the latest ones was reported in February 2017. Netherlands, as well as Japan and UN, reached an agreement to establish a Global Center of Excellence on Climate Adaptation. The latter will aim to address problems faced when dealing with climate change adaptation issue and it will be headquartered in the Netherlands. The Municipality of Rotterdam took part in the negotiations and in that way displayed its strong interest in sustainability. Rotterdam is also centered around art. For instance, the Art & Poetry route combines sculptures with poems, creating a unique experience.

Every city promotes itself in a different manner and assumes its own unique image. Rotterdam does an amazing job in branding itself as a dynamic and modern city. For its inhabitants, we all know that a part of our heart will forever remain there!