The agency behind the City of Culture branding

Last night we had the great opportunity to hear from Ben at Jaywing Design, the team behind the City of Culture 2017 branding project.

It was brilliant to see how the team from Sheffield were so passionate about representing the people of Hull. Quite often if an out of city agency picks up a project like this, their focus is not on designing who it is for/representing. Jaywing did a great job at collecting data first hand by interviewing over 400 people from Hull. Ben explains “without this, no brand would be able to develop properly, we wanted to re-write the concept people have about Hull by giving them a reason to be proud, but also making it relatable to the people of Hull.” The team managed to build brand pillars to follow thanks to this hands on approach to researching, so everything they did going forward had to marry up to these. Down to earth, celebratory, mischievous, proactive, Northern, open arms (also the fact the people of Hull can smell b*llshit a mile off).

The design of the brand was a leap of faith into what was not the norm for previous City of Cultures, by creating something that stands out and makes for the correct representation of a city and region's culture. Ben explained that during the beginning stages of the final brand, there were a lot of mixed reactions, but “whether you love it or hate it, you can’t miss it” and “if your nan can see it at speed, it’ll work.” Their thought process of how to apply this brand was fantastic. Ben spoke through how the city would need to undergo a lot of infrastructural change, which would affect a lot of businesses. To combat this, they turned the negatives into positives and assured the public there was more to come, with messages like “we are paving the way” and “we are setting the stage.” The fact they had tested this brand all the way down to the tiny stickers you saw on orange barriers shows the amount of stress testing this brand underwent during development.

Thankfully the more of this brand and tone of voice the public consume, the more proud they are becoming of what it represents. There is no fluffy filler in this, only ways of being relatable and getting “everyone back to ours”. Appealing to the people of Hull is why the brand has been successful, even when under huge amounts of pressure. Ben finished off by summing up the project and brand as a Punk Swan: something beautiful to look at and admire, but there is more than meets the eye, something that makes this different to all the others.

We loved the talk, thanks for your time and efforts guys!

Check out what's going on this year in our City of Culture