Brand Strategy, Community Engagement, Campaign Development
Leicester City Council
After the success of our Heritage Action Zone campaign for Leicester City Council, we were asked to support them in putting together a bid for some additional funding from Historic England. The criteria was simple: the money had to contribute to engaging Leicester’s communities and animating the high street. The rest was up to us.
In the wake of 2021’s COP26 summit, the need for fundamental change was more apparent than ever – change in the way we live, work and manufacture. The funding meant an opportunity to utilise our high street in the mission to create a more sustainable city.
“We do want to look at net zero, we do want to look at how we can invite people to consider and question ways of working in creative and design disciplines, but also make something that is sustainable within the city.”
Professor Christine White, DMU
It was important for us to create meaningful conversation about our impact on the environment, but in order for it to really get people talking it needed to fulfil the appetite of the city. We carried out community engagement insight through discussions, interviews and surveys with various communities, business owners and residents. Equipped with a picture of the wants and needs of the people of Leicester, we went about creating a plan. Our bid was successful and the funding was secured. The result was BETA X.
The idea behind BETA X was to create a community hub to celebrate experimentation, cross-fertilisation of ideas and specialisms. The focus was on circular design thinking and using creativity to protect people, places and biodiversity. A physical space could house events, workshops and conversation. Somewhere to learn from each other and share ideas.
Through lots of brand discovery and strategy work, we developed a visual identity, website and full campaign that encapsulated BETA X and the audience we wanted to connect with.
An empty shop unit was renovated to house a six-week programme of exciting events and workshops to educate, entertain and inspire. In joining forces with LCB Depot and Professor Christine White at De Montfort University, we were able to tap into a diverse community of artists, makers, designers, researchers, thinkers and innovators.
Here’s a snapshot of a couple of events we held as part of the programme:
ARtv 18 Aliens
Our favourite exhibition was ARtv 18 Aliens, a collaboration with Loughborough’s Institute Research Lab. The immersive experience gave visitors their own alien, brought to life through augmented reality on their iPhone – which they could then share with friends. The exhibition aimed to create conversation around virtual ownership, and experimentation of the use technology for good.
Fashion as a Social Cause
A collaboration with De Montfort University gave their students an opportunity to create discussion around social and ethical values as well as sustainability. The displayed work was created with repurposed materials and sustainable methods – this next generation of creatives embrace a new way of thinking.
“We’ve got some really creative things happening in Leicester and some really creative people doing it. To provide them with a hub like this where they can come together – where they can showcase what they’ve got, where they can talk, where they can meet and where they can be creative together – is amazing.”
Sir Peter Souslby, City Mayor
Those six-weeks saw events, podcasts and community radio that brought together a creative collective. BETA X quickly gained traction within Leicester, bringing well over 2000 people to the high street and participating in the events – and was extended by another four weeks. We hope to see it grow and develop into an ongoing part of our city’s cultural framework. The project has huge potential for collaboration with communities, businesses and educational institutions. This could be the start of a movement with our city, inspiring change for the rest of the UK.