Months have passed since amalgamation was wiped from the floor as the best option for getting our five Hawke's Bay councils together.

Following the overwhelming decision, we were promised by our leaders that they would work more closely and identify initiatives that are regional. One example used was the regional economic development strategy (REDS), a plan that commenced in 2014 but it is still yet to surface.

Last week HB Today reported on an email from Napier's mayor Bill Dalton to Hastings mayor Lawrence Yule, accusing Hastings of not working with the other councils. Many wouldn't be surprised by the email, nor that it could quite easily have been an email from Yule accusing Dalton of the same.

It's the nature of what has been a deep wound between the twin cities for decades. I believe both men have many valid examples of each council not acting collaboratively.

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The example reported in Sophie Price's story in regards to branding is close to my "heart", a word used to position Hastings in the region, to New Zealand and the world.

Mayor Dalton is correct that there is a clutter when it comes to branding the cities and the region. He is also correct that Hastings never consulted with Napier when it came to the Great Things Grow Here brand. It didn't really consult with anyone. Launched at a lavish event at a Hastings cinema back in 2014, it flopped because Hastings decided to surprise everyone with it, rather than to develop it collaboratively.

So, now we have Hastings: Heart of Hawke's Bay, Napier Now, Great Things Grow Here and Lift the Bay among others; and along the way we've ditched Hastings: the Fruitbowl of New Zealand and Hawke's Bay Wine Country.

As a marketer, I shake my head at many of these decisions. However I am also part of the problem. In 2008, Hastings was looking to drop the fruitbowl branding and they hired an Auckland firm which recommended Hastings: Salt of the Earth, based on a tractor driving down Heretaunga St.

I was furious that council had decided to spend truckloads ($40,000) with an out-of-town firm and get presented with a lame alternative to the status quo, which had established a unique point of difference.

In a back-turn, the council decided to request designs from local firms and the outcome was the branding you see as you arrive into Hastings district. This was the brand our firm developed. For inspiration, I didn't head to the bright lights of Auckland. I simply biked to the top of Te Mata Peak, sat there and took in our awe-inspiring region from Mahia in the north to central Hawke's Bay. What I saw was a diverse region, one that is founded on fertile land, an abundant sea and a multitude of rivers.

What came from this was a Maori kete basket with a multitude of colours depicting everything we produce. Hawke's Bay is now the most diverse primary sector region in New Zealand. We breed success in agriculture, viticulture, horticulture and aquaculture.

We are also a hub for science and technology development in food.

However, to get council support for the kete, we compromised and used Hastings: Heart of Hawke's Bay, as it was already favoured within council.

Since 2009, Hastings has sparingly used the kete brand and instead has put significant marketing resources behind Great Things Grow Here. I squirm at the Great Things Grow Here brand, not because it's a bad idea but because it was developed by one council and therefore isn't being fully adopted by the region, as well as meaning little to those that don't live in our region.

I also struggle with the word "things" as it's non-specific word. I also find it odd that we have chosen a tagline as a brand, rather than promoting Hawke's Bay first and foremost.

In my view, it should be Hawke's Bay - Where Great Things Grow. Why? Because I think Hawke's Bay should be the most prominent "thing" and the GTGH message second. You don't say "let's do it, Nike". I'm also unsure that when the REDS plan is finalised, will the plan recommend using the GTGH brand?

I'm sure if we went to the people again, got them involved, asked them the questions about what we are, how we want to look to the world, we would get greater buy in and therefore more success.

We need to get over the pettiness, accept that we all play a role, and ask our leaders to show leadership and a real desire to work together.

- Damon Harvey is director of Attn! Marketing PR and is chairman of Sport Hawke's Bay.

- Views expressed here are the writer's opinion and not the newspaper's. Email: editor@hbtoday.co.nz