thinkingplace was established in 2005 by
John Till who for the last 20 years has pioneered new thinking and approaches to help places marketing, making and leadership.
Under his guidance the company has become the leading player in this field respected for its insight, innovation and inspiration.
Our ability to help places realise their potential comes from our experience. We have worked regionally, nationally and internationally and as a collective, can bring a wealth of expertise to your place.
Despite our varying backgrounds every project we deliver is a team effort which means you get more than one perspective and view. We debate, we come up with ideas, we try new things and together… we deliver.
For 18 years John who has a BA (Hons) in Geography and History from the University of Hull has been at the forefront of UK place branding and marketing as a practitioner and specialist adviser. As Chief Executive of Hull Cityimage (1999-2006), he established and led a ground-breaking partnership which transformed the image and reputation of the city of Hull. He used the insight and experience from this role to form thinkingplace in 2006 which for 12 years has been recognised as the leading place specialist company in the UK.
The success of creating a place led approach for the promotion, development and leadership of Hull highlighted the benefits that other places could gain and hence thinkingplace was born. Over 60 places have now been on this journey with amazing results including all three UK Cities of Culture something of which we are very proud.
John has been the Project Director for a vast range of place branding and place marketing projects across Great Britain and Island of Ireland working with locations to maximise their potential. These range from re-positioning places where the image lags behind a change in reality, transforming the investment climate, creating wider place ownership for marketing often with business and HE/FE, introducing sustainability into place marketing via new mechanisms and funding streams, transforming place relationships encouraging collaboration, raising the profile of places and their assets, enhancing competitiveness via asset led branding, making the place the hero for place not organisation led activity, and building local pride and confidence encouraging business and talent retention.
His business background combines with a real understanding of government policy and attitudes towards place. He understands the different agendas that exist in places and can find shared ground on which to base the brand. He is particularly adept at encouraging and inspiring business people and other non-public sector leaders to take on place leadership roles often outside their initial comfort zone.
John is Project Director for the vast majority of thinkingplace projects and delivers all the main presentations to place clients. He not only leads the development of the brand story but alongside the Creative Director plays a pivotal role in determining the visual expression of that story. However, in every client scenario he spends time engaging with stakeholders and immersing in the place to ensure he has a strong ‘feel’ for that location. Despite thoroughly enjoying strategy development he has an equal love of helping places ‘bring their brand to life’ via innovative campaigns, events, collateral and even public realm.
Peter has been a Director and Creative Director for place branding and expression development projects with thinkingplace for the over ten years. He has successfully worked with the country of Northern Ireland, Counties, including Cornwall, Kent, Northumberland, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, Cities including Coventry and Warwickshire, Derry~Londonderry, Nottingham, Carlisle, Armagh, towns including: Blackburn, Maldon, Doncaster, Harrow, Leamington Spa, Rochdale, Burnley, Chesterfield, Rhyl, Holy Island, Holyhead and Downpatrick and major Developments including: Slough, Aldershot, Kettering and Hanwood Park.
Within place branding work Peter brings exceptional thinking to the ideas and new approaches developed for locations from minute one of a project – he is an integral part of the strategic process. Hence, he has been able to deliver some highly innovative, creative solutions for places that challenge conventional thinking and move the place forward.
His innovative ‘expression’ development projects have recently seen his work for South Downs National Park, was awarded “ Best Destination Visual Identity ” in the 2016 International Visual Identity Awards, Coventry and Derry City being awarded City of Culture, Burnley winning the most enterprising area in the UK and North Nottinghamshire winning the Business Improvement District. As part of his strategic thinking he has creatively directed all aspects of implementation from creative workshops, photography, marketing and advertising campaigns, public realm work, wraps & hoardings, visitor interpretation, signage, brochures, video/animation showreels, websites and give aways.
Peter is also driven by the desire to pass on this thinking and new approach to places and as such has worked with local photographers, agencies, designers, printers etc. to transfer knowledge and properly embed the brand. His collaborative approach ensures that each destination owns their unique brand and is fully supported at all stages. The process of engagement, workshops, brand tools and guidelines ensure that each place is able to communicate their story successfully with confidence. His enthusiasm and attention to detail, has enabled him to take many on what is a new and exciting journey in rediscovering and communicating their place with amazing results. As such he has creatively directed and the studio have produced over 40 brand toolkits/guidelines and held workshops to guide users of the guidelines/toolkits so the brand can continue successfully beyond his involvement with the place.
George is both a highly experienced marketer, director and project manager, having led both strategic and implementation projects for several organisations over his 35-plus year career in marketing and communications.
With a long history of working in the public and private sectors in various senior marketing roles including over 25 years in the energy sector, the Director of Marketing and Communications for a Higher Education institution, Head of Marketing in a Business Link and a senior marketing role in the largest independent printing company in the UK, George joined thinkingplace in 2008 as an Associate Director.
An experienced project manager, having led both strategic and implementation projects for several organisations over his 35-year career in marketing and communications since joining thinkingplace, George has had dual roles of project director/manager and place consultant for multiple place projects where he has used his organisational and relationship building skills to deliver key place programmes including Aldershot, Bath & Bristol, Burnley, Coventry, Derbyshire, Dorset, Ellesmere Port, East Fife, Hull, Pennine Lancashire, Rochdale and Tamworth.
As place consultant he is regularly involved in the evidence gathering and story development phase of projects. He has developed a specialism in stakeholder engagement particularly with senior Directors and elected Members of local authorities, young people, communities and business.
George brings a pragmatic, organised and methodical approach to projects. He has tremendous attention for detail and is always looking for more effective and efficient ways to deliver project aims.
Challenging thinking and innovation work most successfully when allied to a client ethic that is engaging, informed, team based and delivery focussed which is at the heart of what George brings to all our work. George has developed a specialism in the engagement of Elected Members and his ability to enthuse, explain, involve and add value is why he is so highly regarded by the clients he works with.
Since joining thinkingplace Sarah has been the lead contact, place consultant for multiple places in multiple locations and has ensured that all projects are well serviced and project milestones are achieved. Sarah has used her experience as the Place Manager for Coventry and Warwickshire to provide support and direction for local authorities and stakeholders as she has ‘real’ experience of developing and implementing a place brand in Coventry and Warwickshire.
Sarah also plays a leading role working with the client to develop and implement their delivery plan, this has included launching place approaches in Blackburn, Ashford, Rotherham and Swindon. Developing ambassador programmes in Doncaster, Skelmersdale and St Helens. Place collateral, including photography, investment prospectus, websites and show reels for Nottingham and Nottinghamshire, St Austell and North Lincolnshire. The recruitment and mentoring of place managers in St Helens, Doncaster and Redcar.
Sarah joined the thinkingplace team after a very successful four years as Coventry and Warwickshire Place Manager implementing the place story approach developed by thinkingplace. As Place Manager she brought together and reported to an influential Place Board who provided leadership for the work, and set up a highly successful place ambassador programme called the Coventry and Warwickshire Champions Scheme which created a buzz and confidence across the region and over £200k income per annum re-invested into place development activities. Sarah built a powerful network of relationships in both the private and public sector and harnessed their knowledge and enthusiasm to tell, sell and demonstrate the Coventry and Warwickshire story. She developed and managed various events that enabled the region to get its message across including an investor and developer showcase in the Shard and impactful presences at MIPIM and MIPIM UK.
Sarah managed the PR and marketing strategy that was focussed on communicating the Coventry and Warwickshire story to target audiences. This ranged from developing relationships with the media, identifying stories that achieved international, national and regional media, both printed and digital. Some of the successes were highlighting stories such as the gaming industry and changes in Coventry’s role within the automotive sector to being research leaders, and events such as RISING and Motofest gaining national and international coverage.
Angharad is a communications and marketing specialist with over 20 years’ experience in the field, working both within Wales, across the UK, Europe, the USA and Middle East.
Having gained a degree in English Literature (sub Anglo Saxon and Archaeology) from the University of Wales Cardiff, and an MA in International Marketing from the University of the West of England, she began her career in media marketing and communications with S4C, Boomerang Television and Nant (now Rondo).
She has worked on some of the UK’s most exciting cultural projects including the foundation of the National Botanic Garden of Wales and as the head of Business Development and Communication for London Tourist Board during the Millennium Celebrations.
For the past ten years, Angharad has specialised in consultancy to the tourism and cultural sectors, offering advice and support to a number private and public sector organisations and individuals across the UK, Ireland, continental Europe, the USA and even India.
She is also a published poet and author, a school governor and is a proud board director of Literature Wales and Beyond the Border Storytelling Festival.
Alison Burgh is a Partner and Director of Acorn Tourism and has 25 years knowledge of the leisure industry and specialises in managing and developing sustainable tourism destinations. Alison’s career spans continents and disciplines, encompassing consumer research, the holiday property market, event tourism, production management, sales, marketing and destination branding amongst many other disciplines.
As a skilled tourism market analyst, Alison manages international market research projects to underpin strategic planning, branding and marketing for destinations, protected landscapes and tourism businesses. She is also the author of numerous reports tracking trends in the travel industry.
Alison, through Acorn Tourism has worked for clients including the UNWTO, the World Bank, Ministries of Tourism and regional tourism bodies in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, the Americas and Europe. In the UK she has worked for clients that include Destination Management Organisations, National Parks and AONBs, London Boroughs, County and District Councils.
Working with thinkingplace, Alison has been involved in several projects most recently including to create a destination management partnership and destination strategy for Horsham; and another to create maritime and coastal visitor destination identities for both Medway and Southend as part of a wider INTERREG Coastal project. Her vast experience of stakeholder engagement, alongside developing visitor strategies and marketing plans which align with the place story mean she is a real asset to the thinkingplace family.
Harriet is a creative communications professional with a 22 year career history with the BBC, experienced in public relations, multi-platform campaigns, large scale event management, social media, stakeholder engagement and creative content creation for print, digital and broadcast media.
As Blackburn BID Manager 2013-2018, she was responsible for driving footfall to the newly regenerated town centre following £105 million investment work. A key part of the role was visioning, branding, promotion and delivery of high profile events and multi-platform campaigns within a £1.5 million business plan budget. She led the town’s entry to a double win in the national Great British High Street competition in 2016, beating 900 other entries to achieve best Town Centre and taking away the trophy and £10k prize as overall Winner of Winners.
Harriet has also worked as Media Manager with the National Trust for Heritage Open Days and as Communications Manager for NABMA (National Association of British Market Authorities).
She was also finalist in Marketing Lancashire’s Lancashire Tourism Awards as Superstar of the Year 2017.
Widely recognised as one of Northern Ireland’s leading business consultants and foremost authority on brand, Grainne has many years’ experience across a diverse range of business sectors and a multitude of areas of expertise; business fixer, commercial director, brand and marketing expert and business champion. She is financially intuitive with a strong business nous.
In 2005 Grainne launched her own company Vision Brand Consultancy made its mark in the brand and marketing landscape in Northern Ireland, developing challenger brands such as the hugely successful Rankin Selection with celebrity chef Paul Rankin and championing brand development for a broad range of businesses.
As Vision Business Consultancy, Grainne has improved business performance and delivers real business impact with numerous projects for a broad range of businesses (private and public sector) including, Mercedes-Benz, Vodafone, Bank of Ireland, Phoenix Natural Gas, Rankin Group, Almac Group, Ulster of University, Tourism Northern Ireland, Derry City Council, Strabane District Council, Belfast City Council, and Bavarian BMW.
As an Associate Director with thinkingplace, Grainne is involved with work projects which have previously been carried out in Northern Ireland and over the last 10 years she has contributed through project activity and as strategic advisor projects including Belfast City Council, Northern Ireland Tourist Board, Derry~Londonderry, and Greystones.
Laura Isaac is the Senior Design Producer and Associate Director for Peter Anderson Studio and has been working with the studio and thinkingplace for four years. Before working for Peter Anderson Studio, Laura worked as a business development manager, project manager and producer for various events companies and architectural firms. In addition she has also worked as a producer, art director and stylist assistant for editorial photography and moving image productions.
Laura produces all of Peter Anderson Studio’s identities and title sequences for television and film such as for Dr Who, Mandela, Hunted, Esio Trot, Indian Summers and Sherlock.
Laura produces and project manages the studio’s visual expression outputs and delivery in conjunction with all thinking place’s place brands and strategies including Carlisle, Coventry, South Downs National Park, Leamington Spa, Knowsley and Stoke.
Ian is a Chartered Surveyor with over 30 years’ experience of advising public and private sectors in the support of place making activity and branding and marketing.
For over 13 years he worked in Liverpool, latterly as Chief Executive of Liverpool Land Development Company where he was responsible for the preparation of four specific strategic area investment plans focusing on key gateways into the city. He was also part of the team focussing on the investment plans for the city centre itself which culminated in the creation of Liverpool Vision, one of the first three urban regeneration companies in the UK. This work culminated in our success in securing European Capital of Culture for 2008 and a multi-million-pound public and private sector investment programme for the city.
Ian has also worked as Director of Land and Property at ReBlackpool, another urban regeneration company and also as Director of Strategic Development at Lancashire County Council which included highlights such as working with Homes England and Lancaster University on a plan for a new Health Innovation Campus (now on site), emerging Garden Village proposals for south Lancaster at Bailrigg, the central Lancashire City Deal project and associated transport investment and the purchase of a 100 acre mixed use development site in central Lancashire. The work also included supporting the establishment of Enterprise Zones in Lancashire, initially associated with the aviation sector.
Over recent years whilst working in Cumbria, Ian was responsible for developing investment plans for South Lakeland and the wider Morecambe Bay Area, in conjunction with the LEP and neighbouring authorities with each having slightly different perspectives on priorities.
Ian has managed the preparation of many Investment Plans which have then formed the basis of project delivery funding applications and new town planning policies. More recently he has worked with thinkingplace to develop Investment Plans and Economic Strategies which work alongside the place narrative for places such as Lowestoft and Gosport
Ian is a creative thinker, politically astute and thrives on devising strategy then translating the vision into delivered projects to re define places and stimulate investment. He has a track record of being an ambassador for places and for facilitating and delivering investment projects.
His various senior level strategic leadership and people & business management roles have helped him to develop successful relationship building, communication and presentation skills which are well regarded by clients.
Alex’s knowledge and experience in place branding extends from initial concept design and development of visual language through to implementation. This includes setting exemplar guides in the form of websites, billboards, pop ups, print and other marketing mediums. Key place brands include Northern Ireland, Burnley, Chesterfield, Leamington Spa, Carlisle, Coventry and Warwickshire, South Downs National Park, Dun Laoghaire and Derry~Londonderry.
Alex joined Peter Anderson Studio in 2008 as Senior designer and has developed a broad range of projects. He specialises in designing and animating moving image creating title sequences and inshow graphics for television broadcasters such as the BBC, Channel 4, and the National Geographic Channel, through to feature films. Alex has also been responsible for designing websites and web apps for clients such as EMI and bands Genesis and Queen, to name a few.
Rose has extensive experience of marketing & administration gained in the agricultural sector and is the person who keeps thinkingplace on the straight and narrow. She’s responsible for developing and operating all of our administrative and finance systems and databases.
Her experience at a multi-agency strategic partnership for East Lancashire means Rose is used to dealing with many different employee groups including Elected Members, Local Authority employees, local businesses and members of the community and voluntary sectors amongst others.
The ‘beating heart’ of the thinkingplace team Rose is at the centre of all our project administration and a key contact for clients. Rose is exceptionally well organised, fun, sharp and dedicated and as with any working mum has the attributes to keep all the thinkingplace balls in the air at once!