Bringing vision to greenfield developments

Rather than thinking about place brand, place makers should focus on place experience, according to placemaking, branding and property marketing thought leader Andy Hoyne.

Hoyne spoke about the challenges and opportunities of place branding for greenfield developments at Place Branding Australia 2024.

It might seem like a contradiction for a place branding expert, but Hoyne is the first to throw place branding orthodoxy out the window.

In fact, he hates logos and admits his personal opinion is that brands suck.

Andy Hoyne addresses Place Branding Australia in Sydney on June 12, 2024.

“I really dislike being marketed to. It really pisses me off,” he told attendees last week. “I don’t wear brands, I don’t wear logos, I don’t like them.

“Forget about place brands, think of place experiences that we can use brand as a lever to pull people together and help connect them.”

“For me its about what can I do to engage people? How can I take people on a journey and how do I help people build or grow a sense of pride in a place when maybe it doesn’t already exist, yet it should.”

Forget about place brands, think of place experiences that we can use brand as a lever to pull people together and help connect them.

Andy Hoyne

Brands, Hoyne says, are much more than logos. Rather, they are living, breathing things.

“They need to move. They need to come alive. They need to have a personality.

“So how do you make sure you’re building something that moves, evolves, engages and talks to a multitude of audiences?

“How do you make sure that people who are actually thinking about whether this could be right for them find a hook, a meaning, that touches the way they see their future. “

Don’t even start with authenticity

Another of Hoyn’e pet hates is authenticity.

“You are never, ever allowed to say that you’re authentic, because it instantly means that you’re not. Someone else can say you are, but you can’t say it,” he says.

Place branding is something Greenfield developments do a really bad job of, Hoyne told the conference.

 Hoyne’s place economy consultancy is currently working on around 10 master plans that he says will see empty paddocks become thriving residential centres in the next ten to 15 years.

These include New Epping on the fringes of Melbourne, which will transform a former 51-hectare quarry and landfill site into a $2 billion mini city and home to 30,000 people.

The generic trap

One of the biggest pitfalls for greensite developments is being  too generic, he says.

“To brand a place, you need to understand, how does a community want to see itself, how does it see itself? How can you reflect that back?

“A greenfield place brand, or a greenfield place opportunity, is often literally just a big damn paddock, and it could be a paddock as far as the eye can see.

“So people sort of hang on to these sort of cliches, this idea of happy families. And what does every logo look like? It’s a tree or a leaf. Government does it, and developers do it. We see it everywhere we go.

“But does it really depict what we want the future to be? It might be what it is today, but our job is not always to display what is there today.

“Our job is to inspire what is to come tomorrow, how we will create a future economy, how we would create a point of difference, how we will create desire to choose one option over the other.”

Clear vision essential

 Hoyne’s view is that it’s important that any branding initiative starts with a clear vision – and that doesn’t mean a bunch of words on a page. It also doesn’t mean a housing affordability race to the bottom.

“It’s not just a narrative, but digging deep to figure out what is the strategy that will actually make this place compelling,” he told attendees.

“What’s the DNA, what are the ingredients, what are the experiences, what are the types of schools, what are the typologies of housing? Who are going to be the employers? What sort of economy will we create? Will there be public transport? What unique geography or assets can we draw on?”

In this way, vision precedes branding.

“Rather than thinking about the place brand, we always need to think about the place experience. Because once we resolve that, the place brand becomes easy, it’s just an execution. We’ve actually done all the heavy lifting. We just need to figure out what goes next.”

Central to this model of marketability is the notion of creating future ideas about a place that haven’t existed before, Hoyne says, and activating early.

“Don’t wait to let things build in five years and three years. Do little things today. Do little proof points and actually show what’s coming. Get people excited with a little piece of the action. Get them to see what the future looks like.”

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