City-making is a team effort. It is a collaboration between the city government, property owner and developer and, most importantly, the city’s people and businesses. But so far, at least in the Netherlands, big corporations have been slow to get involved in city-making strategies. And they’re missing out, because in numerous Anglo Saxon countries, cities and major brands are deriving amazing gains from brand urbanism. And so are urbanites. We help city governments and businesses to forge lasting fruitful partnerships and harness the power of brand urbanism. Involvement in placemaking projects gives big brands a chance to create visibility in the city’s public spaces while at the same time making the city’s people happy. Who’s bold enough to take the first step?
Why shouldn’t a city and a brand intensify their partnership? What about pairing up in a one-off project: a brand funds a plan designed to revitalise or improve the city. Or working together on a more lasting strategy: a brand makes a long-term commitment to a placemaking project and invests directly in a local community. There are plenty of options to choose from in the Netherlands. But it goes without saying that, as a brand, you must invite people who use the space to help redefine the place they love.
A well-executed brand urbanism project benefits all of the key stakeholders. With a major brand onboard, a city council has the resources to achieve its ambitious city plans. In return, the corporation enjoys lots of free publicity which boosts brand awareness. What’s more, the partnership is a way for your brand to make a social impact and to demonstrate social engagement.
There are plenty of successful examples in the Anglo-Saxon countries. In Portland, Nike supports the ‘shared bike project’, and now the city’s streets flaunt shared bright orange bikes (emblazoned with the Swoosh icon). Akzo Nobel teamed up with locals and artists in Charleroi (dubbed ‘Europe’s ugliest city’) to give it a colour makeover. And in London, a bank didn’t just finance a bike-sharing scheme, it built miles of bike lanes too.
Conditions for success
It’s important that a brand is sincere in its with ambitions to invest in the city. And, as a corporation, you need to be aware of your target demographic: is the city the place where you can engage with your audience in a relevant way? Another thing to bear in mind is the need for a logical connection between your brand and the project, perhaps a link to your core business, core values, or your company’s origins. A poorly executed brand urbanism project will feel more like an advertising campaign than a heartfelt effort to improve the city.
We believe that brand urbanism offers huge potential, also here in the Netherlands. City governments can benefit from the expertise already gained by their foreign counterparts. And by choosing to invest their marketing budget differently, major corporations can, in their turn, have a meaningful impact on a local community. Our ambition is to bring both parties together.
City governments that believe in brand urbanism and big brands with a genuine desire to help build a better city. Curious about our brand urbanism expertise? Contact us, let’s talk! We look forward to partnering with you.