Backgrounds | 10.12.2022 |

Why public spaces need to develop their own identities.

With tailor-made communication, public parks position themselves not only as a destination of personal interest, but also as a tangible identity and interaction between brand and consumer.

The park as an experience and brand

Many public space branding systems take a cue from the High Line, the visionary project that snakes through Manhattan’s West Side. The 2.33-kilometer-long former freight train track was converted into a park facility, Highline Park, between 2006 and 2019. This repurposing of now public space marked a turning point in how public space is understood and used in America. Since then, the increasingly experience-oriented user in particular has come to expect these spaces in a different way. In addition to nature experiences, everyday escapes, and isolated entertainment offerings, consumers demand a brand experience that can be seamlessly integrated into their own lifestyle.

Not only publicly repurposed areas but also existing green spaces can benefit from the example and experience of the High Line. Ultimately, these spaces play an important social role in our cities. Design can and should help create systems that make public spaces easier to understand, transparent and attractive for everyone.

These spaces need to attract newer and more diverse audiences, sell concessions and tickets to events, and attract sponsors and partners who want to be associated with what these public spaces offer and represent to people. Appealing, marketable branding is an important tool for achieving these financial goals.

For public projects in the implementation, concept, or development phases, strategic branding is therefore critical to gaining citizen support and investor buy-in. It’s also a way for residents to better envision what these projects might look like one day and what role it might play in their lives and in their city. By applying the same branding principles as businesses, public spaces position themselves as both a destination and a consumable experience.

Design as an identity-forming element

Design as an identity-creating aEvery sign, every color, every single design decision is a signal to people and has the ability to say something about who can find value for themselves in that particular place. Flexible design systems and toolkits are designed to function like a wardrobe for any occasion. Branding must work on signs, maps, and other forms of wayfinding, as well as on marketing materials, murals, merchandise, social media, and digital platforms, and be used in engaging citizens* and stakeholders through high-visibility documents.

Every design touchpoint is an opportunity to make people feel welcome in that place.

The identity of a public space that emerges from the experience not only serves to build trust and sympathy among citizens, but also to gain support from donors and stakeholders and, if the project is successful, to strengthen their positions. In this way, successful identities combine to form a holistic brand story based on the mutual satisfaction of needs and the iterative development of added value.

Projekt zur Story: Der RVR und Florida entwickeln ein einheitliches Erscheinungsbild für die fünf Revierparks der Metropole Ruhr.

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