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There was tentative optimism in the air at the property industry’s recent Mipim conference, which could lead to branding opportunities in the property world – including some more innovative UK developments, says Angus Montgomery

Marketing image for Mann Island, Liverpool by On Fire
Marketing image for Mann Island, Liverpool by On Fire

The British property world indulged in its annual South of France shindig earlier this month at the Mipim real estate conference in Cannes.

With the UK as the country of honour at the international conference, which ran from 6-9 March, a good deal of focus fell on developments in this country – of which there were many. Delegates also reported a feeling at the conference that the property industry – which has been decimated in the economic crisis of the past couple of years – is in a slightly more buoyant state than at recent times. Mipim’s organisers say there was a 7 per cent increase in the number of delegates this year on last year, with 18 400 professionals travelling for the three-day event, alongside 4100 investors.

The upturn in Mipim could be indicative of a growing sense of confidence in the property market in general – admittedly starting from a very low point. A number of UK developments are coming on stream at the moment. Alongside those with secured investments there are others – including the Meanwhile London Docklands project, with branding by Dare – that take a more innovative approach.

One of the projects unveiled at Mipim was The Co-operative Group’s 8ha central Manchester development Noma. The Co-operative Group is currently initiating talks with possible joint-venture partners to take part in the £800m development over the next ten to 15 years.

Landor created the name and identity for Noma, along with the ’53-degree’ tagline, which references the site’s latitude. The WPP consultancy was appointed to the work by The Co-operative Group’s property division around 14 months ago following a pitch involving UK and international groups, according to Peter Knapp, Landor executive creative director for Europe and the Middle East.

Knapp says Landor’s aim has been to develop the branding as part of the ’fabric’ of the site, looking at its ’past, present and future’. He adds, ’The idea of celebrating diversity is important – both the diverse history of the site and the mixed use of the development.’

Knapp says the ’Noma’ name was developed as ’we were looking to create the same sort of resonance as other well-known districts, such as Soho and Tribeca’. He adds, ’[The brand] had to resonate with both business and the man on the street. Hopefully, it will take its place in history and become a well-recognised part of Manchester.’

Mann Island logo

Meanwhile, along the M62 in Liverpool, the finishing touches are being put to the Mann Island buildings, designed by architect Broadway Malyan for developers Countryside Properties and Nepture Developments. The buildings are situated on Liverpool’s waterfront, next to the iconic Three Graces buildings.

Branding for the mixed-use development has been designed by Leeds-based consultancy On Fire Creative, which has branded previous property developments including Potato Wharf in Manchester, for Crosby Lend Lease, and The Heart at Media City UK in Salford for Peel Holdings.

On Fire was appointed by Countryside Properties to work on the Mann Island branding in November 2010 following a three-way pitch, according to consultancy co-founder Karl Lakin.

Hopefully [the brand] will take its place in history and become a well-recognised part of Manchester

As the consultancy was creating the branding following the development of building designs for the site, it was able to use the building itself as inspiration. Lakin says, ’The thing about the building is that it is very bold – there’s no point in making out that it’s something it isn’t.’

The consultancy says the identity uses ’angular corners and a mix of vertical and angled ascenders on “Mann” executed to mimic the buildings’. It adds, ’All this sits on top of the word “Island” to reflect the architect’s vision of installing the lighting to make it look as though the building is floating on the water.’

On Fire also developed the strapline ’Life to a greater degree’, as well as the names ’Latitude’ and ’Longitude’ for the two residential buildings and ’Equator House’ for the public area that connects the other two buildings.

Also unveiled at Mipim this year was a more unusual development project, with Dare appointed to create the branding for the Meanwhile London redevelopment project in London Docklands.

The Noma Identity by Landor

Dare was appointed as part of the Industrius consortium, which also includes urban designer Fluid, property firm Colliers International and production company David Barrie & Associates. Industrius had taken part in a tender organised by the Mayor of London, the London Development Agency and the London Borough of Newham, to develop projects to find temporary uses for development sites in London Docklands that had stalled during the recession.

Dare creative director Brian Cooper says £22bn had been set aside for the development of the area, and the Meanwhile initiative was set up ’to keep the area at the front of the minds of potential users and investors’.

Industrius was selected as one of four winners, to develop designs for one of the docklands sites, as well as to create an overall brand for the initiative. Cooper says, ’They liked our overall philosophy and our branding proposal.’ He adds, ’You can’t create all this stuff without having a brand that tells the story of the place.’

Cooper says, ’Our whole idea was of the area as a gigantic supply chain, where waste can come in and be upcycled. We proposed Canning Town for smaller items, Excel for larger items, artists’ installations in Albert Docks and branded installations across the whole area.’

A date for the branding launch is yet to be defined, but it is likely to be in place by the time of the London 2012 Olympics, when the Excel Centre will host the medal award ceremonies. Dare is in a similar position to Landor in that it is developing a brand for a site while designs for the site are yet to be worked up. Cooper says, ’What will happen is that the brand and the development will feed each other.’ He adds, ’We hope it will become self-fulfilling – if developers see people talking about the area they will want to develop on it.’

The four winning Meanwhile London proposals

  • Industrius by Fluid with Colliers International, Dare and others
  • Caravanserai by EXYT, Space Makers Agency, Ash Sakula and others at Canning Town
  • 21st Century Pleasure Gardens by Strong and Co at Pontoon Dock
  • Royal Docks Bath by Studio Egret West at Pontoon Dock

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