The Ghost Town. A Brand.

clujAnyone who has wandered around in Cluj knows that in the summer the city is as quiet (or dead) as Bistrița or Zalău. The explanation is simple, the students leave. Without them, the life, the hustle and bustle, the colour, the crowds and the money in Cluj are considerably reduced. Which leads me to think of a rather dire conclusion, namely that without its students the city doesn’t really mean anything. However, it means that, although it is said to be the second (or third) city in the country, to be the capital of Transylvania, to have an overflowing and effervescent economy, we don’t actually pride ourselves with that much.

However, it seems that there are not enough living people with good money, and, consequently, companies and businesses, to keep the city alive, in the absence of students. If we look at the disappearance of Ursus, Napolact (relocated to Bucharest), the clinical death of Clujana, the retirement of most productive companies (Libertatea, for example) from the economic and social landscape, we easily realise that software and financial services companies who are somewhat productive fail to animate the city through local taxes, through their employees and their spending of money enough. Otherwise, peace and joy, my word, I do not hear much about investments and productive companies, as, for example, I hear about these sorts of things in Alba and Sebeș, which are filled with companies that produce goods of all kinds.

A city that is alive 6 months per year due to its temporary visitors – its students – is actually dead or, at best, clinically dead.

As an individual and as a company pragmatically and directly interested in the smooth running and economic development of the city due to our specific profile of activity, I can only state, time and again, that statistically the vast majority of our customers are either from Bucharest or Alba, Satu Mare, Baia Mare, Bistrița, Iași, Brașov and so on. For us, this means that the city has been dead for the past 18 years, when we fought to introduce and build brands. Of course, our reach was and is national, but any first-year student in marketing or economics knows that brands are built in profitable and competitive economic environments. Preferably environments that produce something, those are the real engine of the economy. Or, when nothing is produced, there is no competition and you don’t have many brands to build, is my logic wrong!?

In fact, if we are to be fair to the end, the only city that is really alive and moving is Bucharest. What would happen if Bucharest suddenly had no more students? Nothing really, a few bars and cafés would go a little “rusty”, a few apartment owners would no longer have tenants and that’s about it. The products and services, the money circulating in Bucharest would remain at the same level and would ensure that there is enough blood to keep the city moving. The motivation behind this is simple, after all, and stems from the way of structuring and functioning of the administration in Romania, but this is a story for another time. Likewise, there’s no point in discussing local administrations, since, one by one, everything that was productive in the city came to a halt, and the last local companies or brands with national impact either relocated, closed down, or reduced their production.

However, Cluj is a nice city, but because of other reasons. Although it could be a lot nicer. City brand? For what!? Eventually, maybe, who knows, for a future development strategy. But not for today or tomorrow.