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Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Rebranding a landmark

By Lydia Ellis (Birmingham)

It all started with a website.

A website that really needed upgrading.

The problem was, there was always a bigger issue. Getting the estate ready for sale. Being on sale. Being sold …

When Birmingham’s Brindleyplace was sold in 2017 and Hines (the former owner) was retained as asset manager, the time was finally right to address the website, much to the delight of Avison Young’s destination-marketing team, who are retained by Hines for leisure marketing on the estate. This situation, however, opened up a much wider conversation: What about the brand? What do the occupiers think? What else is going on in Birmingham, and where does Brindleyplace need to be?

For a marketing team, this was an opportunity like no other – to be part of rebranding a major landmark. Something of a celebrity in the world of mixed-use, Brindleyplace is the textbook example of city-centre regeneration that is used as a case study for thousands of students the world over. The assignment wasn’t just about a single building or the office market. This estate is a key part of Birmingham’s ongoing regeneration story, but now it faced new challenges. With an ever increasing amount of new developments on its doorstep. It needed to retain its stature and appeal.

As asset manager, Hines took the brave decision to really get under the skin of the issues, and through Avison Young engaged Real Service to undertake research with existing occupiers, prospective clients and neighbours. The results told an interesting story. A story of an estate held in affection by many, appreciated for its high standards and safe atmosphere. On the other hand, criticisms were levied, such as the estate being …wait for it … too clean! Whilst these criticisms were explored much deeper than we can cover here, in summary it was recognised that Brindleyplace needed to become more accessible, but with an edge, an edge that would continue to cement its position as Birmingham’s premier mixed-use estate.

The results of Real Service opened up a set of work streams which Hines has pursued with a real commitment and passion in partnership with Avison Young to ensure the research findings are addressed. One of the work streams was branding. There was recognition that the brand needed improvement – both visually and in terms of acting as a guide for the whole ethos of the estate moving forward.

Several workshops were held, facilitated by creative agency Core to discuss the research findings and where key stakeholders felt Brindleyplace needed to be. Much debate was had around the name. Brindleyplace is often referred to locally as Brindley, and it was a strong contender for a name change. In the end, the decision was to continue as Brindleyplace officially, but at a campaign level to be able to use Brindley with a new strapline: “The Place.” Thus, the new creative features a play on the words “The place.” For example: “Brindley The place for business/events/meeting friends/eating out/etc.,” certainly provides a flexible, yet strong approach for all communication. The accompanying creative is bold, fresh and a significant move forward.

Alongside this, a set of values was identified. We know Brindleyplace is unique. There is nowhere else like it in Birmingham (or, indeed, many other places!) in terms of the daily demographic, the managed estate environment and the range of special events for occupiers. We now need to focus on keeping it just so … Where else can you get a National Sea Life Centre next to a big-four accountants office? Where else do you get a range of pop-up events throughout the year that are refreshed continually by a dedicated on-site team? Where else offers one of the safest places in Birmingham alongside some of the city’s best nightlife? Finally, the value that will continue to be worked on the most is community.

From an estate that was an original pioneer of work-life balance back in the ’90s, much has been done to provide facilities and events for occupiers – but not necessarily to bring together a joined-up community. This last aspect is being addressed through a range of communication improvements, including a partnership with Workwell to introduce a new tenant portal, Hines’ first one globally. This portal will include the opportunity for occupiers to create their own groups and to network online as well as in person. The community aspect will continue as a work stream for the long term and a range of wider initiatives and partnerships across the city, including work streams to address graduate retention and wellness on the estate, are being worked on by Avison Young’s destination-marketing team.

The new creative is unveiled today with the new website finally going live amongst a number of other initiatives. Creative will also be unveiled across the estate, and more than 300 pieces of signage have been replaced, but this project is about so much more than a logo. Every touchpoint has been looked at. All staff have been briefed; from the senior directors to the electricians and everyone in between. The events programme has been completely reviewed and refreshed in order to keep the element of surprise.

Whilst a huge amount of work has gone on in the last 18 months to get to this point, this isn’t the end – it’s just the beginning of Brindleyplace’s new chapter. This work combined with the £7 million in investments being made into refurbishing three buildings, a new partnership with a leading university to be announced shortly and a major new event in September mean Brindley is the place that never stands still.

To discuss Brindleyplace further, contact Lydia Ellis by e-mail lydia.ellis@avisonyoung.com or by phone 07770934185.

(Lydia Ellis is an Associate based in Avison Young’s Birmingham office and interim Head of the company’s U.K. destination-marketing team. She is based in the company’s Birmingham office.)

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