Strategy is only effective if it is understood and encourages organisations and
individuals to behave differently. In a place context, it is important not just to inform but inspire. This is why we recommend delivering place strategy in the form of a story.
The story is the written narrative of the place’s themes, identified by the knowledge we have acquired and the insight we have applied. Combined with a visual language and place photography, the story of place can be brought together in a Storybook – a digital, or most often, printed record of your place, its values, qualities and purpose.
Rather than being a marketing tool, the Storybook is designed to be a timeless and inspirational reference point to underpin activity and support and develop the understanding of your place.
thinkingplace have pioneered the approach of creating a visual identity for a place that can act like a logo but is actually a flexible and dynamic ‘visual language’. It is the graphical interpretation of the story and just like words can be adapted to reflect audiences, context and media.
More than simply a ’rigid’ logo, visual language systems are as flexible and animated as the places they represent. They can also be as dominant or subtle as required which means that partners and stakeholders can use the language of place without compromising their own brand identity.
Place photography has the ability to convey your story in an instant. It quite literally brings a place to life and lets its personality shine. Our approach isn’t to take that perfect shot of a building or landscape but to show the place at its vibrant best with people who make the place what it is.
We have specially selected place photographers who under the guidance of our Creative and Project Directors ensure that we get the right shots to capture the essence of your story and your themes. These images can be used across a range of mediums and be made freely available to stakeholders to spread the message even further.
A website has the potential to be your gateway to the world. In the age of everything digital it is more than likely that potential visitors, residents, investors and businesses will let the internet do the research before they even (or ever) set foot in your place.
There might be lots of websites referencing your place – they might be about organisations, developments or even historic and long forgotten projects. Are you happy with them making your first impression on the world?
We use your story, visual language and photography to create a website that will ensure any online contact gets the right message delivered in the right way. We provide just the right amount and type of information to draw people in and capture attention (and hopefully their imagination too). The website will also work hard for your place by acting as an online signposting tool, reference point and hub for your social media activity.
Just like photography, film can instantly animate your place and its personality. It also has the potential to evoke emotions and help people to make those unconscious connections that are so important when it comes to thinking about and considering places.
In no more than two minutes a showreel will powerfully communicate the place strategy to any audience. We bring together carefully selected photography, video footage and music to develop showreels that instantly engage people in your place. Our showreels are directed and produced by Peter Anderson Studio – widely recognised as leading exponents of branding for TV and film with the likes of Sherlock, The Fall, Eastenders, Dr Who and The Missing in their portfolio. When you apply this creative and consumer focussed application to a place, the results can be amazing.
With a focus on collaboration and delivery, part of our work always involves inspiring and equipping stakeholders and partners with the tools to tell and sell your place’s story. There would be little point in having a visual language and story if other people can’t use it. And we want to make sure that using it is as easy as possible.
We produce simple but detailed toolkits that give your stakeholders the information and importantly the ability to use your visual language and tell your story. This includes templates, instructions of do’s and don’ts, colour palettes, tone of voice recommendations, guidance for photography and a design class from our Creative Director in its application. This is an important part of our knowledge transfer process so the place can develop consistency in how the story is communicated and create delivery across partners to a very high standard.
Whilst telling the story of a place more often than not begins with marketing, it can also lead to projects and activity that have a direct impact on the actual place ‘experience’. Gateway, tourist or pedestrian signage can set a quality benchmark, create the first ‘right’ impression, increase dwell time and in a very functional sense, direct people where you want them to go to best enjoy your place.
We develop strategies that move people around a place – this could mean a trail for driving, walking or cycling, city or town centre navigation or iconic gateway or attraction signage. Whilst respecting the functional purpose of the signage, we can integrate your visual language and elements of your story and even select an appropriate palette of materials and colours to be used. We create signage that actually becomes part of and enhances your place ‘experience’.
Past experience shows that one key factor to developing a successful place is by encouraging business to engage in developing and promoting it by acting as Ambassadors for it.
The generation of a pooled resource of key business people and representatives from other organisations in the area not only creates a ‘place sales force’ to consolidate place promotion but the development of a scheme that also generates an income stream which can be used for further place promotion. This also ensures that the drive to develop and promote the place comes from all sectors and not just the local authority. thinkingplace’s private sector background and track record in developing similar approaches in Hull, Coventry and Warwickshire, Burnley and others provides the model for success.
As the UK’s leading place brand specialists we have worked with developers and property professionals such as Land Securities, Grainger, Skanska, John Laing, Midtown Capital, CBRE, GVA and DTZ.
We bring a unique set of skills to add value to development activity. From initial concept, through public consultation and research, planning, bidding for and promoting new developments.
We can help to contextualise development and masterplans in the wider place and demonstrate their contribution to the local economy and ‘fit’ with the place. We engage local stakeholders to ease the planning process and can develop a ‘place narrative’ for new developments in the context of their wider geography – helping ensure synergy between place and development.
Many of the developers we have worked with use an assortment of our services to brand and further promote their developments especially finding the use of visual language, photography, and signage development highly beneficial.
Our knowledge of the place and the key themes it wants to communicate puts us in an ideal position to develop the thinking, concepts and creative for any type of place campaign. From multi- site billboard advertising campaigns to one off adverts in a brochure or on a digital platform we have experience of content and design development, media buying and advice relating to measurement and customer response.
For many places the ultimate aim is to attract investment or more visitors – or both! This is where the power of the story comes into force and can work as the ‘engine’ that drives the design and production of different types of collateral. Understanding how to turn the themes into engaging content and link this with the visual language and photography for a brochure, map, website or an event stand is what we are experienced and skilled at doing.
Getting your story ‘out there’ is the most important thing you can do to change your place for the better and once you have that story the trick is in finding the right places and right events to use to your benefit. More often than not these won’t be in your area or even your region.
We are great believers in ‘whoever holds the pen holds the power’ and translating your story into great copy for your website, brochure, advert, event or stakeholders is vitally important. The message needs to be consistent, convincing and powerful. We can find the right words to make sure your place stands out for all the right reasons.
For some of our clients this has meant taking their story to their target audience which can mean producing a bespoke place event in London, Manchester, Birmingham etc. We can develop the event concept, content, script, visuals, staging and manage the production including rehearsals all ensuring that you get your message absolutely right, down to the last detail of your place which might be the food that is served!
Our ability to establish a clear sense of direction and create distinct narratives comes from knowledge and understanding of what makes that particular place tick. This means combining factual and quantitative data with perceptions and qualitative information.
We have developed a suite of different approaches to help us do this which recognises that every place is different. Understanding the place allows us to apply our insight and experience to develop a compelling story.
We also have techniques to measure the effectiveness and impact of our work. If you want to see if the perception of your place is changing in the minds of those that matter
we can help.