In our previous blog we talked about a place brand being the tool you need to successfully tell the story of your place. Place brands are often complex unlike your favourite fashion brand for example, people care so deeply about their place whether they live, work, play, move away and then hopefully one day come back again! A strong place brand should be simple and successfully convey the message of your place including its location, history, strengths, future growth aspirations and community expectations. It is important to understand that a place brand is not simply a brand (logo) but an understanding of your place, a shared narrative or goal. This position should be supported by a written and visual narrative with delivery and ownership key to its success. We’re going to talk about stakeholders and how to go about creating your place brand (unique story), these are both areas that demonstrate the importance of understanding how and why you are doing this.
Within the decision process should be your council leader, chief executive, cabinet members responsible for regeneration/economic development, officers for regeneration/economic development and any other bodies such as town teams and town stakeholders all with a varied perspective and experience. With the right people you should be able to quickly establish a clear goal and define the strategy and identity. In our experience this work will be driven by other regeneration projects currently being delivered as a place brand will promote the innovation and project delivery on a wider scale. Ensure all decisions are strategic and you should be creating a strategy that can evolve over a period of three to five years. Your unique story is the most important factor to consider, and it is from this vision/strategy (usually a few paragraphs) that everything you deliver will join up. Once you have your strategy agreed and in place you can then think about moving on to the creative concepts and how you are going to promote the story of your place.
Creating a Brand
Every place is unique and this is worth remembering when writing your place brand strategy and conveying the agreed message. What are your strengths? What are the transport links like? How about your retail offer, is this a strength or do you need to use your place branding to attract new businesses to your place? What about your open spaces, do you attract visitors to these spaces currently? is there an interesting history? Consider where you are now and where you want to be in five years. Always revisit these points when promoting the brand as you will inevitably receive some negativity and misunderstanding from the public in the beginning; and the current reputation should not be ignored either, so use this knowledge to get the language right from the beginning of the process.
The creative side of the place brand should reflect the strategy, so use the document as you would a business plan creating the brand identity through the visuals. It is important to consider that you will be producing complete brand guidelines so these can be followed by whoever you have working on the brand.
Once your strategy and branding guidelines have been agreed and signed off by stakeholders you can now move on and think about how you would like to proceed with your brand and the wider awareness and projecting the brand. This is the tricky part of the process as you will need to take action to create the brand experience and live up to the created vision. At this stage revisit your narrative again as this will assist you when creating the products around promoting your place.
In our next blog we will take you through how to project your new place brand’s image to the people you want to visit and enjoy your place for years to come, and the steps to take to measure its success.
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