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Searching for the city's soul

Friday, 21st January, 2011

Frost Design’s team, account director Ben Barnett and strategic director Cat Burgess. The company will create a brand to promote Broken Hill Frost Design’s team, account director Ben Barnett and strategic director Cat Burgess. The company will create a brand to promote Broken Hill

By Gina Wilson

A creative agency that helped make Kakadu National Park a must-see destination has been tasked with promoting Broken Hill to the world.

Frost, a Sydney agency, has also worked to brand Qantas, the Sydney Opera House, the Northern Territory and the State Library of NSW.

The company's strategic director, Catriona Burgess, is in the city to "get under the skin of the destination" that is Broken Hill.

One of the first things that struck her was how close the city was to Sydney.

"It's just magical ... and it's got so much more than most people realise," Ms Burgess said.

"You can fly here in the same time you can fly to Melbourne yet I don't think many Sydney-siders, when thinking about a weekend away, will say let's just pop out to Broken Hill.

"You think of going down to Melbourne, you think of going up to Noosa or Byron or something like that - you don't have (Broken Hill) on your radar."

Frost won a City Council tender to create a brand for the city as it seeks to reposition itself in a wide range of markets, including tourism, sustainable energy, events, film and education.

It's now on a five-day fact-finding mission to find, in essence, the city's soul.

"How do we get to that real heart, how do we touch on that magic that you all feel when you live here and people feel when they come here?" Ms Burgess said.

"How do you get to that emotional centre for people and that's what you're trying to find?"

While some people were unsure what "brand" meant, Ms Burgess used the sportswear giant Nike as an example of how important it was.

"Nike make shoes. But if you asked what that brand was about you wouldn't say it was about shoes.

"It's about creating a dream for people around athletic performance.

"Nike's brand is all about making the everyday person a hero.

"So they have a real core central idea that helps them then figure out how they should advertise, how they should market themselves, figure out what products they should develop.

"It's a very core thing that you start to develop that helps to focus what you're doing and then you see that in the tag line 'just do it'

"Is it a logo is it a tag line? It's really trying to get that central idea that can help you position and that's when it starts."

While Broken Hill had its obvious assets, Ms Burgess said many people's opinions of the outback city were forged from long-outdated cliches.

"I think people have a very cliched perception of what Broken Hill is - like they think it's a long way away and they think it's red and they think it's about beer," Ms Burgess said.

"I'm not meaning to criticise Broken Hill but (people) have quite a cliched perception.

"When you get here it just seems to be a lot richer and it seems to be it's a place that has a lot more to offer."

She said Council's decision to rebrand Broken Hill was essential in recreating the image of the modern city and attracting more visitors.

"I think it's really about a connection and helping to align what Broken Hill can offer to what people want and need in their lives," Ms Burgess said.

"Some people might think that you're creating a brand for Broken Hill like it's something artificial - it's actually the complete opposite of that.

"It's trying to get to the heart of what's really about and allow people to connect to it and ... in particular to help them forge that emotional bond to the place that maybe isn't there now because they haven't had access to that information or they just haven't had their perceptions updated for a while and have got them from all different places rather than someone setting out to say 'well this is the image we want to create'."

Frost will hold a number of workshops in the coming days to try and find what makes the city tick before returning next month with their ideas.

But, Ms Burgess stressed, it's a joint effort.

"It's going to be something that, in the end, people from broken Hill can own and feel comfortable with."

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