Client:
Eldon Square

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From parent-company bankruptcy to new brand model, identity, and launch campaign in just four weeks.

Following the bankruptcy of its parent company Intu in 2020, Eldon Square, Newcastle’s premier shopping and dining destination, found itself in need of new branding and an urgent communications campaign. The centre appointed us to engage with stakeholders, develop a brand model and deliver a new brand identity, logo and guidelines in just four weeks, to hit the deadline required for the relaunch by its new ownership consortium and to communicate to the public that Eldon Square was very much still open for business.

To inform the new brand strategy we engaged with a range of stakeholders including the centre management team, property management company MAPP, APAM financiers and Newcastle City Council (40% shareholders). We then tailored a fast-track version of our ‘think, create, deliver’ brand development process to define and design a new brand identity at speed.

This first stage was delivered through:

  • A series of online stakeholder workshops, which also included tenants’ association representatives
  • Brand workshops to gain insight from stakeholders about the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats facing the centre

Analysing the findings, we concluded that:

  • The changing nature of retail and the impact of online shopper behaviour actually posed an opportunity to be safely integrated and connected better with the wider city – for Eldon Square to be part of something bigger – within the Council’s city transformation plan.
  • The possibility existed for Eldon Square to become a community hub with social impact and social value.
  • Being part of a large corporation had previously led to a lack of identity, due to a centrally directed strategy that served the corporation, not the community.
  • There was a need to disassociate from the Intu brand and build a distinctive identity – a focus for the ‘support local’ agenda, with community spirit and pride at its core.
  • There was a desire among all audiences for a sense of place at the very centre of Newcastle, which could be achieved by evolving the scheme long-term, factoring in retail, leisure, office and residential opportunities, and offering a premium experience from a wide variety of local independents alongside flagship brands.

That all added up to one big opportunity for change, and it inspired an equally big vision, personality, and story:

Brand vision

To be the most-loved mixed-use scheme in the North East, for Eldon Square’s customers, communities, partners and employees.

Brand personality

Brand story

Eldon Square. Heart and soul of Newcastle

Email database grown +146% since campaign launch

Design

A new brand identity was born of the feeling of breaking free from the chains of a corporate mould and moving towards something fun and engaging, with heart and soul. A brand that allowed freedom in every sense.

The simplicity of the logo ensures clarity and standout. Abbreviating the name to Eldon Sq. demonstrates confidence and symbolises the centre’s standing in hearts and minds as shorthand for the city-centre shopping experience.

The logo was designed to be flexible and future-ready. In the event of further expansions, Eldon Square will be able to communicate updates in a segmented way, with a clear identity for each element of the centre.

The playful brand personality is supported by a range of graphic elements which can be used throughout the marketing materials. Deliberate flexibility is built in to facilitate healthy growth and evolution, keeping the brand fresh.

Four weeks later, we had a launch-ready suite of assets as requested, including:

  • Brand guidelines
  • Marketing campaign templates and assets
  • Look and feel for wayfinding and signage
  • A website

The brand relaunched in October 2020, just weeks before the second lockdown. Our client/agency team made the joint decision to slow down the roll-out due to the lockdown measures, to ensure that the activity had the biggest impact at the right time. As measures eased, activity continued and a new TV and radio campaign aired in November 2021, reinforcing the new brand story and connecting Eldon Square’s past role in the region with its future vision for recovery of the city in the post-pandemic world.

Results

  • A massive increase in social media engagement and database sign-ups reflected audiences’ approval of the new brand and what it represented: Eldon Square being reclaimed for its people, emerging from a sea of corporate sameness as a relatable, and socially focused brand, unique to its city
  • Lapsed users re-engaged too as the new identity was embedded digitally, even while the physical roll-out of the new signage and centre assets was delayed under lockdown restrictions
    • Email database grown +146% since November 2020
    • New website launched 11 November 2021 – traffic increase of +80% vs December 2020
    • Over £300k worth of PR coverage earned
  • Footfall returned at a faster rate than the national average after the easing of restrictions on non-essential retail
  • Interest and conversion in commercial lettings both increased post-launch
  • Invaluable boost to staff pride

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