Identity Evolution | City of Newcastle, NSW, Australia [1]


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In the world of branding, the fastest and easiest route to changing a look is through a Logo & Corporate Identity Makeover. It’s the expedited method of projecting a new image, and an ongoing journey of constant changes, regardless how subtle.

And rebranding and brand repositioning is not the exclusive domain of products and services, as I’ve mentioned in through a myriad of past blog posts, virtually anything can be branded today. Including places. There’s even a name for it: Place or Destination Branding. Here’s a look at how cities rebrand themselves. And it’s not only to change an image and appeal to more tourists. Destination branding is a bit more complex than branding for products and services. There’s more to it, as external factors and even politics play a role. But one common objective brings all place branding together: at the very core, a better image should promote the place to attract 3 main economic sectors: 1. Tourism, 2. Trade, and 3. Investment.

Which brings us to one good example, the small city of Newcastle, about 100 miles north of the world-famous Sydney. Newcastle is a predominantly blue-collar coal town with a population of just under 300,000 that has gone through hell and back. Suffering the fate of typical mining towns everywhere, enjoying boom years during the industrial revolution – or when steel and machinery were in high demand, and as times evolved and industries moved elsewhere, these cities fell on hard times. Newcastle is attempting to change its image through a rebranding exercise.

Back in 1993, there was 17% unemployment in Newcastle and things were particularly bleak there when a major employer, Melbourne-based mining, oil, and gas giant BHP Billiton, closed its Newcastle steelworks.

But now the city is attempting to get back on track with a colorful rebranding effort.

… it includes a new logo for local businesses to use, with a new tagline (“See Change”) as well as a plan to “promote it through tourism websites, brochures and signage,” the paper reports. …. the logo cost A$88,000 to come up with.

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The Brand Story: The story of Newcastle is a familiar one. A hard working and blue collar city; its roots entrenched in heavy industry, coal and steel. A place blessed with natural beauty and ingrained with a ‘never give up’ and ‘never give in’ spirit.

Newcastle is no longer just steel mills and coal mines. Its beautiful environment offers a vibrant, energetic and interesting place to live and work in. As the city has grown and changed so have the characteristics and attributes that define it. This brand aims to encapsulate the new story of Newcastle, demonstrating the diversity, vibrancy, surprise and world-class the city now possesses. The brandmark uses colour to challenge perceptions of the city. The various hues suggest the different dimensions, activities and influences available in terms of commercial, recreational and lifestyle opportunities that Newcastle has to offer.

The result is a fusion of colour that is surprising, animated and energetic. The City of Newcastle encourages all Newcastle based businesses, groups and events to use the Newcastle Brand on all communication products and materials.

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The rebranding was designed and executed by home-bred Peach Advertising (which has since merged with Enigma Branding).

… This brand will provide an opportunity to consistently promote the city for what it is today – a genuine, ever-changing, vibrant and energetic place that is home to hardworking people and world-class industries,” said Newcastle City Council’s Tourism and Economic Development Manager Simon McArthur.

The new logo will be at the center of the city’s push. McArthur pointed out that when research was done, it was found that “people either had no idea of what Newcastle was or they thought it was still stuck in that BHP era,” he said.

“So when we asked what colors depict Newcastle, they came up with silvers, blacks/grays, maybe red or orange. So the underlying message is we’re really colorful and diverse, we are not what you traditionally thought of us.”

A Logo & Corporate Identity Makeover is, however, by no means what branding is all about, and the potential it can deliver. Customers are already experiencing your company’s products & services in their very own distinctive way. The MEANING of a product & service in any customer’s mind is what SHOULD matter to any organization. It is this MEANING that needs to be thoroughly analyzed, managed, and optimized in the company’s best interest. This the foundation of strong branding and brand positioning strategy.

An Identity Makeover is not without risk. The key is in the hands of Customers, who decide “WHAT’S HOT” and “WHAT’S NOT!” Therefore, if a company changes its logo WITHOUT changing the meaning – ie. properly align and match their brand message with the positive brand experience the company WISHES customers to have – the often sizeable investment in aesthetic touch up is reduced to a futile and expensive exercise. An utter waste!

Companies MUST ensure that the brand experiences they provide remains positive, therefore if your products and/or services still show weaknesses; customer satisfaction is dismal, market share is lagging, your customer service department is drowning in complaint calls, stakeholders are edgy due to weak stock performance, staff morale is in the abyss while staff turnover is high…  a logo makeover WILL NOT bring about improvements like a magic wand!

Inspiration: The Brand Channel

About dianhasan

Brand Storyteller, Travel Writer, Speaker, Creative Writer & Thinker - avid observer of randomness in everyday life - Sustainable Business, Eco Matters, Sustainable Urban Issues, Architecture, Heritage Conservation, Innovation & Brand-Strategy, Cross-Cultural Communications, Travel, Tourism & Lifestyle.
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