The identity or brand of an area is a sum of many aspects; it’s not simply a case of inventing a logo and a snappy strap line.
Goods and products have brand reputations and so do places, but the identity of a place is far more complex. Places compete with other places for people, resources, and business but a single place can belong to a wide spectrum of stakeholders, who have different objectives, assets and resources. So while branding and strengthening the identity of a place helps that area compete by applying business, social and cultural values, the lack of a consensus can prevent this happening at all.
London Bridge today
London Bridge has evolved over several centuries but the area has probably never seen the pace of development and change as in the last decade. Since 2006, when the local business community decided to form Team London Bridge, this pace has increased even more dramatically. While The Shard added a compelling addition to the area when it opened in Feb 2013, as the redevelopment of London Bridge Station gathers momentum, the most striking changes are yet to come.
In 2013, Team London Bridge appointed an internationally experienced team of place branding experts consisting of Placematters, Zulver & Co. and Ideado Consulting to help us and the entire London Bridge community establish a compelling Place Brand for the area.
Collaboration and consultation
To direct the project, a representative Steering Group consisting of Network Rail, More London Estates, London Bridge City, Sellar Property, Bermondsey Street Area Partnership, The Bridge Lounge, Team London Bridge, Imperial War Museums, Shangri-La Hotels and Southwark Council was established.
Well over 500 people contributed to a four week consultation during June 2013. 50 of these were in depth face to face interviews. 61% of participants came from local business, 34% were local residents, and the rest were leisure or business visitors to the area.
What is London Bridge?
The results of this consultation showed what we already new – that London Bridge is a special and complex place with no one over-riding identity, also that there are large parts of the offer that people remain unaware of.
However the consultees were able to identify and prioritise the key elements that make the area what it is. They concluded that the essence of the place brand can be summarised as:
A globally significant, historic and vibrant place of modern commerce, enterprise and creativity.
This positioning is supported by the area being seen as:
1. A vibrant place for pioneering and creative commerce and enterprise.
2. London’s best connected and accessible place for commerce and enterprise.
3. An historic place at the heart of central London and London’s history with a unique and substantial commercial and cultural heritage.
4. A very vibrant liveable place in central London.
5. A vibrant place to entertain and to be entertained in central London.
These opinions are reinforced by a robust body of evidence, ensuring that the Brand Proposition stands up to scrutiny and reflects true values of the place and its many assets.
A mainstay of respondents showed that they considered their ‘experiences’ of the London Bridge area to include anything they encountered from Bermondsey Tube in the east, to Tate Modern in the west, with the Thames and Long Lane forming north/southern limits. This is not to say that London Bridge as an entity is as vast as this, but that people consider a visit to ‘London Bridge’ could include any of the locations within this wider London Bridge zone.
A Brand for London Bridge
The research shows that the area is unexpected and surprising; it’s constantly evolving, extraordinary, pioneering, welcoming, and vibrant. It encourages creativity, aids connectivity and has a strong sense of community.
The London Bridge Revealed place identity brand has been developed to help convey all of this. Team London Bridge is the brand custodian and all stakeholders and affiliates are encouraged to use the identity to promote the area.