Establishing a distinctive narrative and trusted place brand identity for a flagship regeneration project

Burgess Hill – Mid Sussex District Council

We were appointed to establish a distinctive narrative and trusted brand identity for Mid Sussex Council’s flagship regeneration project at Burgess Hill. We identified and engaged with all key stakeholders and more than 1,000 local residents to develop an authentic and recognisable brand for the town.

Burgess Hill had a range of development and investment projects planned spanning the residential, retail and commercial sectors. The local council wanted to create a town-wide ‘umbrella brand’ which would tie the different projects together, with a narrative that clearly demonstrated how the different schemes complemented and supported each other.

The town had a complex patchwork of different political, business and community stakeholders, all of whom needed to be engaged during the brand development process. The community was sceptical, having seen several false dawns for the area’s regeneration. Stakeholders included a wide range of political parties and tiers of local authority governance, as well as property developers promoting schemes and businesses and groups that would be impacted by them.

What we did

Our priority was to immerse ourselves in the area to understand Burgess Hill’s community and its people. It was critical that we identified common ground and formulated a set of messages which related to all our stakeholders.

We devised a programme of engagement which ensured trust in the brand development process. This included developing and revising brand concepts in workshops with council members, sharing them and refining them following input from developers and the local community.  We held joint workshops with councillors from parish councils, town and district councils, at which they set the terms of reference for any branding, taking ownership of the process.

We validated this using a range of techniques, including street surveys with the public, to verify key themes and held further workshops with councillors to shortlist brand options. Finally, we held a ‘mock election’ so the public could choose a winning design, providing regular updates on social media, reporting which design was in the lead, to maintain interest and momentum.

Our messaging and approach accommodated the aspirations and responded to the concerns of disparate stakeholders.

We developed and launched a website to showcase the benefits and timescales of the regeneration.

The results

We were able to develop a set of key messages and a brand identity for the town that was supported and owned across the stakeholders groups. Nearly 1,000 residents took part in our ballot over the two-week voting period, ensuring community were right at the heart of the project.