The City of Richmond, with HCMA Architecture + Design, is building a $80 million facility to house a new seniors’ centre, aquatic and fitness centre and a new sport field system in the Minoru Precinct. Following the public consultation process, there was a desire to generate excitement and connect with the public via a community engagement campaign. Given the broad public use of the existing facility and sensitivity around the upcoming changes, the City wanted a unique way to keep residents informed and interested from the 2+ year construction phase through to the grand opening and potentially beyond.
Our role represents a unique and emerging trend in public sector infrastructure development. A budget for brand and communications was included in the overall project scope from the outset. Our client, HCMA, then turned to us to work with them and the City of Richmond to develop a strategy and execution with which to engage the public over the duration of the construction. Although we did not have a name for the complex, we were intrigued by the possibility that we could create a campaign and materials that would extend into the completed site and building once construction was completed.
Integrating digital and social media was a given, yet the campaign also had to appeal to all residents of the community, including less tech savvy folks. As this is to be a public amenity, to create a greater sense of ownership, we named the campaign “Your Minoru”.
The Minoru site has a rich history, once being used as an airfield and a horse racing track—facts few in the community might know or remember. However, influenced by the Fraser River, and design elements of the new building picking up on water and wave themes, a campaign concept emerged based on exploiting the flow of time: discovery of the site’s past, experiencing its present and the possibilities for its future.
A bold colour palette was developed to add energy and a playfulness to what would otherwise be a drab and industrial construction site. Brand elements based on these colours and geometric patterns to be applied to various materials formed the basis of a toolkit for the City of Richmond to use on all future applications and initiatives.
The website is the hub for the campaign. The Your Memories section provides an area where the City and the public can independently share their favourite memories of the old Minoru facilities along with images and video. Your Minoru accounts for Instagram and Facebook were leveraged with traditional media and PR to drive participation.
There is also functionality on the website to post practical information, allowing the City to show progress and construction updates for the general public. This ties in directly to the physical site for which eye catching construction hoarding invites passers by to investigate and make discoveries about the past, present and future of the project. Parts of the hoarding have also been allocated to be used as fun art-based initiatives for school and other groups to express themselves.
City of Richmond staff responsible for ongoing marketing have really taken to the new brand and toolkit, utilizing the colours, patterns and energy of the campaign to enhance public interest through a series of collateral materials, events and a healthy ongoing online campaign. In a city rampant with new construction development, it is apparent that the unconventional and unexpected presence of the brand at this site and elsewhere has jarred people from a typical apathetic response. Setting the bar high for excitement and almost pre-branding a civic building has created a new level of anticipation for what is sure to be one of the focal points of the community for a long time to come.
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