West Beat: the heartbeat of New-West

How do you brand a place when it’s still a building site?

Creating a meaningful place for an upcoming urban hub

The challenge

Not too long ago, many Amsterdammers thought New-West was miles away. But the capital’s ongoing expansion spurred the municipality to tag this part of the city as one of Amsterdam’s development zones. A strip of land near the Lelylaan is to become the gateway to New-West. Lingotto and Studioninedots won the tender with an ambitious design and a stunning concept. West Beat would be the heartbeat of New-West, a hub connecting current and new residents.

Our challenge was to work with them to create a new place, with its very own identity, and to get future residents and entrepreneurs on board as early as the construction phase. But how do you inspire them, and the community, to get excited about a place that’s not even been built and all you’ve got to work with is a huge construction site and few possibilities for physical activities? In late 2018, we started to create a place brand for West Beat, plus a marketing and content strategy.

Our approach

Working with key stakeholders, our first step was to refine and expand the aspirations, vision and concept of West Beat, as described in broad strokes in the winning project plan. We invited the entire team to get on their bikes with us to go on an exploration of the neighbourhood to discover the different faces of New-West.

We positioned West Beat as a catalyst for the entire development of New-West; open, dynamic, connective, global, and a real magnet. Our strategy focused on the image of New-West as a busy, upcoming neighbourhood where people come and go around the clock, where locals meet for coffee and entrepreneurs build thriving businesses. The kind of place that makes you want to stop and see what’s going on, and a must-see for international visitors. An iconic structure that integrates living, enterprise, hospitality and culture in one building.

Next, we spoke with local residents and entrepreneurs and gathered New-West’s unique stories. These form the core of our marketing and content strategy. We also invited local enterprises to figure in our campaign and contribute to brand-strengthening events.

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The result

We mapped the DNA of West Beat on a single sheet of A3—the Urban Canvas—which will guide our strategy as it unfurls. To create a visual identity, we teamed up with Das Buro to develop an eye-catching concept inspired by the landmark architecture and the planned public programming. As the site offered limited physical opportunities, we developed a strong online presence for West Beat with a website and social campaign, where we share West Beat’s story and also feature local enterprises. A video version of the story is online too, produced in collaboration with Hein Verhees. And this spring, we celebrated an amazing moment—the appearance of West Beat’s first sculptural arches—with Arch Cocktails, in the company of our neighbours Urban Resort and all the stakeholders.

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Photo: Absent Matter
Video: Soulmademovies