A PEOPLE-CENTERED APPROACH TO PLACEMAKING AND STORYTELLING.
Blog Post, Posted on April 22, 2016
At Phinney Bischoff, building emotionally engaging brand experiences continues to be alive and well. What is new and different is the nature of that brand work. As the information ecosystem and the way people interact with brands has evolved and grown, so has our approach to brand expression.
A key trend for last year was building brands through placemaking. Mixed-use development has emerged as the new paradigm in cities across the country. Placemaking capitalizes on a local community’s assets and potential with the intention of creating public spaces that promote people’s health, happiness, and well being. Getting it right requires new ways of thinking about how people interact with space, the role of brand, and how brand expression can help build connections and community that yield powerful emotional experiences. As with our past work, discerning what is relevant, authentic and unique to a place has helped us lead clients to successful solutions.
AvalonBay Communities, Wexford Science & Technology and the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership are three recent examples where this came into play. We spent the past nine months helping AvalonBay Communities shape a vibrant new mixed-use community. Even the community’s name, Newcastle Commons, communicates the intersection of urban convenience with the natural beauty and peacefulness of a suburban enclave, creating a place that draws people to and through it. Placemaking has also been a key consideration with Wexford Science & Technology and Central Indiana Corporate Partnership. Both clients are heavily invested in the development of “Innovation Districts,” a new urban model defined by the Brookings Institute as “geographic areas where leading-edge anchor institutions and companies cluster and connect with start-ups, business incubators and accelerators.” Our brand development work has consequently expanded to include the intersection of physical and digital experiences.
Two local non-profit clients, Downtown Seattle Association and Futurewise, have also drawn us into this space. Both organizations serve as catalysts and facilitators for community development and, as such, have given us the opportunity to think about the link between economy shaping, placemaking and social networking. Once again, we have been excited to see how a people-centered approach helps us develop brand experiences that leverage and intermingle the strengths of environmental, social and traditional media to create opportunities for engagement and a sense of loyalty.
This new work in placemaking and multi-dimensional environments has strengthened another tenet of our brand development work: the role of storytelling in building brand preference and value. Three clients yielding especially rich opportunities are Premera, SightConnection and Whitworth University. These organizations, while at first glance appear very different, share a deep commitment to customer care and service. Premera, the largest health insurance provider in the Northwest, is committed to improving customers’ lives by making healthcare work better. SightConnection, formerly Community Services for the Blind, helps individuals with all forms of vision impairment lead active, independent lives. Whitworth University, one of the country’s top ten Christian liberal art institutions, equips graduates for success in the world. By weaving the “why” into their brand stories as well as the “what,” we’ve been able to create rich and engaging stories that extend across a broad variety of platforms. The opportunity: greater brand differentiation and loyalty.
The conversations, research, strategy and creative development for all of these clients has been energizing and inspiring. We look to unveil that great work soon!