Case study: Using an animation to reposition your brand
As the British Parking Association approached its 50th year, Head of Communications and Marketing Dave Smith and his team began to think about how the organisation wanted to be perceived, and how it could remain relevant over the next 50 years.
These deliberations led to a decision to reposition the brand, not only to members, but also to the wider public, and to transform the British Parking Association into the BPA. Dave came up with the brand concept ‘Beyond Parking,’ after testing a few ideas with colleagues. It encompasses the idea that the organisation looks after much more than what is most people’s perception of some tarmac and a few painted white lines. “It’s everything that happens after we park that matters. Our membership community get people safely and hassle free to their onward destination – beyond parking,” explains Dave.
The next step was to pitch the concept to the board, who loved it, and authorised funds of up to £30k to take it forward. When it came to choosing a creative partner to help communicate this concept, Dave immediately thought of Liquona, “because I’d seen examples they’d created, and I knew they had a very innovative approach.”
Liquona’s creatives set to work with a scoping process to explore what BPA wanted to achieve. From there they came up with seven initial visual concepts for the animation, spanning a wide range of creative treatments. For example, in the ‘Off the Walls’ concept, living illustrations are projected onto the streets and walls of a cityscape to tell the BPA story. In the ‘Just the Ticket’ concept, a paper parking permit is brought alive through origami to morph through the different areas of the BPA’s work, from apps and government lobbying to electric vehicles and congestion management.
Dave and his team came up with a shortlist, and together with Liquona, presented it to the Association’s Public Affairs and Comms board, allowing members to choose which concept to take forward. “It was all about bringing the members with us and making sure that they had real input into the process.”
In the chosen concept, ‘From A to B’, the viewer follows an animated car’s journey along a tessellated landscape with spaces that visualise the BPA’s areas of activity. As the car drives forward, it moves on from the simple issues of parking management which people might most readily associate with BPA, to ways in which the organisation’s work aids integrated transport planning and continues into the future of vehicle use ‘beyond parking’.
The next step was writing the script. “With [Liquona Creative Director] Matt Day’s team, we looked at what we wanted to say, and really it was about demonstrating who we are, what we do, the value that we add to society, the value that our members bring to communities in terms of effective parking management and managing congestion. If people can find a parking space, then the roads aren’t clogged up. That reduces pollution, which means cleaner air for everyone, and people can get to work, to school, the hospital, wherever they want to go.”
“The sector is evolving so fast with things like electric vehicles, data, how you pay for parking, clean air zones and active travel, we also wanted the video to capture a bit of what might happen over the next 10 – 20 years’ time.”
The project was highly collaborative. “We really trusted Liquona through the process. We explained why this was important at various stages in the video, or why that wouldn’t work, and they were very receptive to any changes that we put forward. Likewise, they suggested tweaks that could be made. It was fun, it was really exciting, and it felt like we were pushing some boundaries with some of the technology.”
Dave is delighted with the finished product, [watch it here] which was delivered in late 2019. “Members talk about Beyond Parking all the time – they love the concept, they love how that encapsulates what we are as a sector, why we exist, what our members do, and that’s important. It’s a bit like an elevator pitch for us. It really has embedded itself into the conversation, and we reference the video all the time.”
“We wanted something that would have longevity, and the video is still pride of place on our website. We use it in a lot of our comms, and even in emails, to give others an initial idea of who we are.”
The BPA team has also entered the video for awards and competitions to boost exposure. Dave’s initial aspiration was that the animation would reach 1 million views fairly swiftly.
“I just wanted as many people to see it as possible. At the moment, it’s had about 750,000 views across various channels.” The organisation had not achieved anywhere near that kind of reach with previous videos.
Dave involved as many of the BPA team as possible in the script development process and sought their feedback at various points along the way. He also felt that inviting Matt to present the initial concepts at the BPA board meeting helped secure stakeholder buy-in from the very start of the process. “I wanted the board to feel that they were getting value for money. This is a significant investment, and as a not-for-profit, that’s a big question that comes up all the time.
“As a leader in his sector, Matt gave the board the confidence that he understood the concept and what we were looking to achieve and had the skills to deliver it. It was useful having Matt there to present some of the more ‘out there’ concepts and how they tied in with our need to move the brand forward.
The meeting gave board members the opportunity to input, feedback and comment, and to feel like they owned a little bit of the project as well.”
Advice for project leaders
“Even though you’ve got a strong vision yourself, don’t be afraid to involve the rest of your team. And not just the communications team - ask finance, ask HR. Not everyone will feed back, but you might get a few nuggets from someone, something you’ve not thought about, and that can be transformational,” concludes Dave.
“Choosing the right creative [treatment] requires careful interrogation of the project’s remit and the ideas. Working in true partnership with BPA on scoping enabled us to explore multiple creative options together. We avoided a rush to produce the first good idea on the table. Stakeholder alignment was achieved whilst ambitious creative was protected throughout the production process. That in itself is quite something to celebrate!” adds Matt.