Are council identities communicating service provision or the area itself?

We read with interest Changing perceptions (News Analysis, DW 15 December 2000). While the organisations obviously benefit from the careful implementation of corporate identity practice, unfortunately, so does the visual appearance. Surely an organisation is different from a place.

In the case of London’s Lambeth, where the original council descriptor has been removed we are left in some confusion. Is this communicating the council or the place? In our experience, in terms of creating a catalyst for lasting change and growth they are two entirely different types of project, with different audiences.

The local authority and its identity demonstrate the presence and delivery of local government and some services. This is not always suitable for commercial requirements. In London’s Greenwich, for example, we helped the local authority client clearly define that the marketing requirements for a regenerative historic town centre were very different to the logo on its refuse vehicles.

Lambeth the “place” is a unique fusion of commerce, culture, history, people, space and form. Creating a meaningful and thoughtful visual identity out of this requires a more expansive design approach which looks for clues in other design disciplines, such as urban design and architecture. These disciplines have built into them a way of looking at and understanding places in order to bring to life new possibilities and change within the tolerances of what already exists.

Mick Timpson

Architect and urban designer

Timpson Manley

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