Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Branding places, loving spaces

Creative Concern is busy working with Peter Saville on a new brand for Pennine Lancashire. The process has involved discussion ‘place brands’ afresh with a whole host of local stakeholders, agencies and politicians. The launch of the brand is on 17 September and we hope it will be a fitting tribute to Anthony Wilson, a good friend whose vision we are working to in this project.

For us, branding spaces and places is a creative activity that stands well apart from the creation of logotypes and graphic banners for consumer goods, service companies or fashion labels. The first and most obvious distinction is that the brand has to be true to the experience of the place itself, both for the indigenous population and for the visitor.

As Peter Saville says: “Your brand is what you’re known for.”

A place brand has to represent the truth of environmental and social connections that the
individual will make when there. Put most simply, your brand is ‘what you are known for’ and to
overlay that knowledge with anything other than a faithful creative response is misguided and ultimately flawed. If you promise sylvan wonderlands, polished palaces of alabaster or streets paved with gold then the reality had better meet that promise, or visitors and residents alike will lose faith in the brand immediately.

Another vital distinction is that its brand is not simply a slogan or a strapline with a colourful badge attached to it, designed to attract and secure a notional horde of peripatetic tourists or international investors who may, or may not exist. Too often when towns or cities create a new logo or strapline it is more of a civic cry for help than a call for the partners to rally around a shared vision of the future.

This latter mission, a rallying call, is the intention of the Pennine Lancashire brand. It is much better to describe this brand for Pennine Lancashire as a banner under which partnerships come together to achieve great things.

And if that banner attracts visitors, too, then all  the better.

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