29 July 2005

Branding ambiguity.

Gandell Properties has launched “The Entertainment Quarter” along with a snazzy logo as the new name for the Fox Entertainment Precinct out at Moore Park, Sydney. The question is was it ever formally identified as this or was it just called Fox Studios or the Sydney Showground? We think the latter. The ad (SMH July 19, 2005) and the need for any type of promotion of this is even more interesting. If there was ever a need for a more formal strategic brand planning, this project needed it. The naming is a mess. The website (www.entertainmentprecinct.com.au) describes the suburb of Moore Park as a “precinct” and the Fox Studios as a “creative campus”. In addition, the area also plays host to a number of other venues including the so badly named Aussie Stadium, the Sydney Cricket Ground, the Royal Hall of Industries and the Hordern Pavillion. So the problem is exacerbated by trying to overlay what is really quite a generic name over what is rightly indentified as a precinct in it’s own right. Within this precinct there are distinct destinations and so the name is meant to provide some point of unity, some way of providing a natural self identification for the area.

When DIFFUSION worked with Lee Wharf Developments, Honeysuckle Development Corporation and Crone in Newcastle we benchmarked numerous world projects that had attempted to define and name specific work and play precincts. The problem is that names are resonant things and they are generally accorded status and recognisability through usage. One of the problems faced by Lee Wharf Developments was what was to call a large site which had already been embedded with multiple associations and uses. We came to the conclusion that like most place brands, the recognition, use and common association of a name by the stakeholders of a place needed to be acknowledged. So we worked back to the original name for the site and developed a brand strategy that gave the whole place ONE name with internal alphanumeric naming for individual buildings and recommended historical or geographic names. We called it Lee Wharf Newcastle because that’s what it was called and where it was. Interestingly the word "Newcastle" was an important addition as Lee Wharf did not, just as the word "the entertainment quarter" does not mean anything without a place holder.

We also invoked the work of Richard Florida, who has made significant contributions to latest thinking on the value of creative culture in recognising, identifying and valuing place. We took Florida’s term “the quality of place” and built a evolutionary and dynamic brand strategy around this that enabled all stakeholders to participate at Lee Wharf.

While the idea of naming this Moore Park entertainment precinct is excellent, the name and logo itself is so generic it lacks specificity and association. The visual articulation of the name, while strong and vibrant, is in itself generic. The use of the sectional quadrant while suggesting part of a whole, never really comes to grips visually with what whole it is describing. It’s merely an amorphic image.

And it’s a shame. A great opportunity to create an evocative new place that will largely go ignored except by the people who did the work because of this lack of meaning and association. Merely another poorly strategised branding exercise.

1 comment:

grundnorm said...

The point about place brands is an interesting one. The ACT Government has recently been attempting to "rebrand" the central are of Canberra City as "Canberra Central". The area is the subject of some current development proposals, and there have been a number of planning initiatives developed by the ACT Governmnet. Additionally, some street rejuvenation in the area has included the development of a new "Canberra Central" logo. There are two principle issues with this attempt at rebranding the central zone of the city (aside from the fact it is such a bland term):
- it is unnecessary. The area already has a perfectly functional name. Although it doesn't appear on any maps, the area is known as Civic to all Canberrans. Civic is a word that has some heritage value and significance for Canberrans, as opposed to the bland sounding "Canberra Central". The ery fact it is a commonly known, yet unofficial, name gives it some value.
- the name is remarkably similar to "Canberra Centre" which is the name of the major shopping mall in Civic. It is so similar as to be indistinguishable.

This is an example of a bureaucracy-driven "rebrand" that obviously had little thought about whether a brand was even necessary or appropriate, the values required in the brand, and the suitability of the brand name.

'East Darling Harbour' in Sydney is another example - this place had a perfectly good name (Millers Point), and instead in the promotion of the competition has been rebranded to associate it with the touristy and rather unsuccessful zone of Darling Harbour. The merit of this renaming has to be questioned.