Blackburn and Darwen

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the brief

Blackburn and Darwen are market towns located on the edge of Lancashire’s Ribble Valley, at the heart of the North West region; with a population of 146,700, of which 28.7% is aged between 0-19 and the proportion of Asian heritage population is 26.5%.
Only 20 miles from Manchester and an hour’s drive from Liverpool, the M65 directly links to the M6, M61 and M66 motorways providing easy access to the region’s two international airports and towns and cities across the North of England.
As two former mill towns the traditional narrative has been one of post-industrial social issues, deprivation challenge and decline. In the past this approach has been successful in attracting government and grant funding; but it was recognised that to attract inward investment and be seen as a desirable place to visit, live, do business it is vital that the area is more positively positioned and promotes itself better.
With increasing competition from other locations locally, regionally and nationally, and the need to be strongly positioned to make the most of the Northern Powerhouse, thinkingplace was commissioned to develop a forward looking narrative and brand for Blackburn and Darwen.

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what was delivered

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Our work is still ongoing but to date includes:

  • a brand and positioning for Blackburn and Darwen that is forward facing, robust and shows the place building on past successes
  • synergy with the Lancashire narrative and brand that thinkingplace have recently developed
  • a brand visual language, and identity for Blackburn, Darwen and Blackburn and Darwen that is adaptable in its treatment for use by external partners
  • a suite of place led photography, available to all stakeholders for use in promoting the Blackburn and Darwen story
  • a website that functions as a place portal, as the first port of call for leisure and investment information relating to Blackburn and Darwen
  • a high-profile event to launch to Blackburn and Darwen story to those involved in creating it, other key stakeholders and key external stakeholders.
  • a new hoarding design that showcased opportunities and events in Blackburn and Darwen
  • the Blackburn and Darwen HIVE Ambassadors programme, building on the success of a pre-existing network, a new and fresh way for the public and private sectors to work together on place-led activity.
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What they say
“Their approach was refreshing, bespoke to our needs and challenged how we all thought about the place and their emphasis in creating place not organisational ownership for promoting Blackburn and Darwen struck a note with all the stakeholders. They really got ‘under the skin’ of the place and prioritised aspects of the area that hadn’t received sufficient prominence such as the extremely young population. We always received ‘straight talking’, constructive and very good value support and advice. Throughout the process it felt like Blackburn and Darwen was their home or workplace as their insight, passion and enthusiasm was infectious and inspiring.”

Mo Isap

Chair, Blackburn with Darwen Local Strategic Partnership

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