Tuesday, October 9, 2012

District branding could help Moscow overcome its strategic gap

Like many millions of fellow Muscovites, I love and hate my town, the capital of Russia, in turns. Sometimes, the swings are too frequent to understand my current attitude.

At a roundtable today on Moscow's long-term strategy up to 2025 organized by Russian Managers Association and RIA Novosti, it suddenly became clear. The reason for the attitude swings is Moscow's strategic gap.

“Moscow is a city of disbalance. Where economic development doesn't translate into quality of life,” said Sergey Zuev, Dean, State Policy and Applied Arts Institute.

Zuev added that while Moscow ranks among top 20-30 cities when it comes to economic development, it is in the 60-70 range as per the quality of life.

There are 24-hour supermarkets, dentists and fitnesses clubs. However, if school education and general medical services aren't of high enough quality, "you will feel down no matter how high the income", according to Zuev.

What's worse is that those who earn much don't really want to improve things in the city.

“The rich see Moscow as a place of duty. You can earn your money here, but it's better to live somewhere else,” said Mikhail Blinkin, Director of Research, Moscow Institute of Transport and Road Management.

While there are surely some real issues to tackle, one can see there is also a strong demand for proper PR in Moscow. And this PR doesn't have to be a one voice for the city.

Marat Guelman, Director, Contemporary Art Gallery, said, “Moscow should decentralize and develop strategies at district level, like London or Berlin.” This ties in well with Zuev's description of Moscow's outskirts as “faceless” and “lacking brands”.

“Moscow is going through a geographic collapse,” said Efim Rachevsky, Director, Moscow High School #548. He explained that in the previous years the communities were quite strong to want to fight each other, even if located along the sides of a single road. “Decentralization will be a success when people start [re]uniting into communities.”

Let's just hope the changes for the better in Moscow will be seen much earlier than the strategy's horizon year of 2025.

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