Born in Andorra la Vella 37 years ago, Calvet has held the post of Deputy Mayor of Escaldes-Engordany since 2012. He studied architecture at the School of Architecture of Toulouse before setting up his own architecture studio in 2005 (Calvet Arquitectos). In 2008, he joined the local government of Escaldes-Engordany as Minister for Town Planning.
Andorra receives 8 million tourists a year and tourism is one of the country’s most important industries. To strengthen the sector, SUMMA has developed a new place brand: Vivand—an open-air shopping hub featuring a distinctive and important retail offering in one of the country’s main avenues.
What is the purpose of the Vivand project?
The objective is to boost business for retailers and restaurateurs, especially by enhancing the experience for the pedestrian, who now has more space and tranquillity. Ninety-six per cent of the 8 million tourists who visit Andorra every year take advantage of their stay to go shopping, and customers prefer shopping areas where there is no traffic.
Why did you feel it was necessary to create a brand for this new initiative based on a town planning change?
From the very outset of the Carlemany Avenue remodelling project, one of Andorra’s largest shopping districts, the local government of Escaldes-Engordany was very adamant that a brand needed to be built. The idea was that the new shopping district would take the form of an open-air shopping centre. The aim is that the pedestrian will see the space as an identifiable whole and enjoy the experience through the use of an imaginative set of graphic, physical, audiovisual and interactive resources.
Escaldes-Engordany had its sights set on creating an Andorran shopping hub identified through place branding.
What planning changes did you have to make in order to rearrange the vehicle traffic and space for pedestrians?
The project to pedestrianize Carlemany Avenue was possible on account of the urban layout of the parish centre, which enabled us to redirect the flow of traffic towards alternative routes. It was also possible because of the more than 2,000 parking spaces in the area. Organising the loading and unloading of vehicles, and addressing the issues affecting residents, hotels and emergency vehicles and services was not difficult.
Changes to traffic circulation have been rolled out gradually since last May and have not disrupted traffic for the residents of the area or the citizens and tourists who visit us every day. In this respect, we would also like to point out that all the changes made to the circulation of traffic, vehicle loading and unloading and residents’ access to their homes were accompanied with a series of communications (advertisements, the media, website, letters, permanent contact with associations, creation of a working committee, contact with the owners of the buildings, hotels and retailers, etc.) so that the persons concerned were informed of what was happening at all times.
The Vivand project affords more attention and space to pedestrians, thus enhancing the shopping experience.
Signage is a key element to the district being seen as a pedestrian area. What steps have you taken in this regard?
All the signage in the parish has been replaced, as has that of the main entry points to the country, i.e., from France and Spain. The hotels and restaurants in the area concerned have been given new signage for the benefit of pedestrians, as have the roads surrounding the area.
The main reason the local government of Escaldes-Engordany decided to entrust the SUMMA + Bag Disseny joint venture with the project was because the work methodology they proposed was very complete, comprehensive and detailed. It took all the preliminary factors into consideration before presenting the brand and positioning Carlemany Avenue as a unique urban space. As a starting point, they analysed the main target audiences for the district and carried out a preliminary benchmark study.
The local government of Escaldes-Engordany was also very impressed with their assessment of the project objectives: content, positioning, attributes, personality and communication concept, as well as the work programme they presented to us. The programme was based on four pillars: brand strategy, brand and basic applications, expression of the place brand and brand book. It was interesting to see how they took the main stakeholders in the project into consideration at every stage of the process, carried out fieldwork in advance and held a final workshop on completion of the project.
Their experience was also a decisive factor, given that the SUMMA + Bag Disseny joint venture includes one of the very few companies in Spain specialised in place branding, that is to say, the association of a brand with a place. Without a doubt, their experience in this field has been amply demonstrated, considering that they were the creators of place brands such as Port Vell, 22@, La Maquinista, Barcelona Televisió and Ars, and their customer base includes leading, locally-based businesses like Som, Caldea and Andbanc, etc.
Best practices and success stories in place branding
Places are complex realities that have multiple dimensions and aim to attract a wide variety of audiences to visit, work, study and invest in them. Place branding is the discipline that endeavours to provide spaces (cities, tourist destinations and countries, etc.) with added-value through brand management. Indeed, we see more and more areas within cities (districts, neighbourhoods, streets, etc.) use branding strategies to promote their attractions and successfully compete in an ever more saturated environment.
Since Philip Kotler introduced the concept in his book Marketing Places in 1993, place branding has become a common practice for countries and cities (especially based on global rankings). However, we see a growing trend in the use of branding on a smaller scale. Neighbourhoods, districts and even streets are increasingly using branding to highlight and promote their residential, tourism, commercial and business offerings.
As Simon Anholt, a world expert in national identity, explains, brand management is a key tool for nations, cities and regions. Many of the projects undertaken in this regard are based on specific ‘brand stories’ founded on the historic personality of a city (such as the case of Brussels and Barcelona, for example); on promoting flagship projects like the Guggenheim in Bilbao; the renewal of industrial and port districts in northern Europe and the United States; and the organisation of major international events (from Olympic Villages to festivals).
The urban development and cultural revitalisation of an area may be planned or spontaneous
The urban development and cultural revitalisation of an area may be planned or spontaneous. It usually entails informal initiatives in response to common interests. As urban expert Richard Florida has asserted, a certain degree of talent, tolerance and technology must co-exist if place branding is to be effective. Examples of particularly well-known spontaneous projects include Notting Hill and its carnival (London), Le Marais and its commercial outlets (Paris), Moritzplatz and its creative community (Berlin) and the stylish Tribeca and Nolita neighbourhoods (New York). All of these came about as a result of the impetus given to them by some or all of their users, be these residents, visitors, investors or property buyers. Another very different but nevertheless spontaneously developed district would be Silicon Valley. In the above cases, you will rarely find a geographically specific or obvious visual identity in the place in the form of signage or urban identification.
Projects that came about as a result of planning are very different. They are usually the result of joint work on the part of public and private enterprise (the authorities and businesses) and, while they tend to be more common in Anglo-Saxon countries, they are increasingly being embraced by other cultures. In these cases, the space is usually clearly identifiable, has a distinctive visual identity which is expressed in the surroundings and communication media, and the initiative is usually designed to meet a business objective.
The brand acts as a catalyst for joining forces, directing efforts and coordinating initiatives in a distinctive way
In any event, despite the differences in the development process and the elements involved in spontaneous and planned projects, we have noticed that the two types of place branding are actually a constant source of feedback and enrichment for one another. Many projects would never have come to fruition if it were not for organised effort; however, if they are to survive the test of time, they need the constant engagement that characterises spontaneous projects. The brand is very often the key element for joining forces, directing efforts and coordinating initiatives in a distinctive way.
Original vs. reformed
Any treatment of urban space has the challenge of respecting, strengthening, enriching or modernising the physical and human heritage, and the heritage of meanings (see the opinion piece). With this in mind, a street or neighbourhood brand is a multi-faceted reality, as it co-exists with other broader identities (the country brand and city brand) and must therefore safeguard the commercial offering it encompasses.
From this perspective, projects may be original (i.e., they occupy new spaces that have no historical legacy in terms of people, heritage, activity or symbols) or reformed. In the case of the latter, the challenge is to make the right connection with the past, as is the case of New York’s Meatpacking District and Vancouver’s historic site of Gastown. These districts have managed to create consistent perceptions in the minds of their target audiences; they trigger spontaneous and coherent associations. However, if we fail to connect with these meanings, we have a certain trivialisation of the urban space, which is the case of the artifices of The Venetian in Las Vegas.
Newly developed urban areas tend to have a unique personality and a significant real estate component. They tend to be more short term in nature, and the brand identity is created and experienced while the project is being commercially exploited. This type of place branding is particularly common in northern Africa and Asia. An example would be One-North, the 200-hectare hybrid business park that is being developed in Singapore. Asia is the world centre for property developments of this kind. In fact, the largest real estate development in history is currently being undertaken in South Korea: Songdo International Business District, comprising 607 hectares of reclaimed land.
Artlantic is a series of art installations designed to activate vacant spaces in the heart of Atlantic City. International artists and architects, working in conjunction with emerging and local talent, will re-interpret these unique environments, transforming empty lots into vibrant art playground displays that welcome residents and visitors alike.
SoPhi, an acronym for South Philadelphia, envisages the transformation of Washington Avenue, and includes an ambitious streetscape redesign coordinated by a community development organisation with the support of public and private funding. The plan aims to promote a more competitive environment for area residents in a post-industrial city with a high rate of abandoned factories.
NoMa, an acronym for the area North of Massachusetts Avenue, is a public-private partnership responsible for the maintenance, development and promotion of this business district. NoMa is primarily a newly developed area with no personality shaped by a history. The plan aims to weave together a mixture of business and residential spaces under the slogan ‘Connected’.
The city centre of Bologna is comprised of three streets: Rizzoli, Ugo Bassi and Indipendenza. The municipality has developed a visual code and a unique identity for the area in order to encourage its use (it is closed to vehicle traffic several days a year). The logo, in the shape of a ‘T’, is reminiscent of the urban fabric that serves as a container for cultural, leisure, mobility, and local commercial and business initiatives. The project enjoys a strong presence in social media with the tag #TDays.
EThe historical centre of Helsinki has a new visual identity in keeping with its designation as the 2012 World Design Capital. The idea behind the initiative was that design should be present in the different areas of daily life. Therefore, bright colours, simple geometric patterns and a daring typeface were used to give the urban space a more stimulating and attractive appearance.
London’s Carnaby district is one of the world’s best-known shopping destinations. The street is home to a large number and variety of retail outlets, particularly fashion and accessories stores. London is one of the world’s most active cities in terms of place branding, and the objective of Carnaby is to strengthen its reputation as a strong, colourful and diverse district in order to boost trade.
The visual identity of one of Lisbon’s main streets in the historical city centre. This project is promoted by the Associação Passeio Público, comprised of retailers in Avenida da Liberdade. The aim of the project is to recapture the glamour that characterised the district in the early 20th century, particularly in the area of traffic policy. The district’s visual identity is based on its past and the most distinctive elements of the area have been recovered: the mosaics of blue and white stones that decorate the pavements.
Barrio cultural de San Francisco
The Civic Center Community Benefit District is a district conceived and organised by a group of cultural institutions in the city of San Francisco. Its visual identity is based on the actual shape of the urban fabric, which creates a sort of an arrow and is the indisputable central theme in graphics applications. The aim is to promote events held in the district by attracting visitors and to improve the organisation of cleaning, safety and other basic municipal services.
This is a coastal district in the city of Oslo which is currently under development. Once complete, the port area will present a sharp contrast between the past and the future and will connect with a very obvious nautical reality. The visuals connect with this legacy, but modernise it in order to lend a distinctive identity to one of Scandinavia’s most up-and-coming areas.
This art district is located in the northwest of Peking and houses most of the city’s art galleries. Up to 1957 it was a factory complex; however, in 2002 it began to be used to house contemporary art galleries, studios, design firms, bars and restaurants.
Governed by a board of directors which is elected by more than 1,000 members, its mission is to preserve the essence of the city while adapting it to the times and boosting economic activity. The logo of the district boasts chic and modern lettering in an endeavour to attract visitors and residents.
This former industrial district of Milan is today a centre of fashion, art, design and culture (independent films, theatres, etc.), complemented with an eclectic leisure offering. It takes its name from the main street, and is now the up-and-coming area for Italian glamour: it hosts Milan Fashion Week and it is not uncommon to see celebrities out walking in the Via Tortona.
The government of Escaldes d’Engordany decided to give a boost to leisure and shopping activity, and its enjoyment by the public, in one of Andorra’s landmark areas: the top of Avenida Carlemany. The aim of the project was to revitalise the area and promote synergies between the different retail outlets in order to create a space with a personality of its own.
SUMMA Branding had already undertaken several regional and city branding projects, such as the comprehensive identification of Port Vell, the 22@ technology district and Espai Maragall. Indeed, the agency’s track record was a decisive factor in Comú d’Escaldes d’Engordany’s decision to entrust SUMMA with the development of this pioneering initiative in Andorra.
‘The heart and showcase of Andorra’ conveys the strategic concept developed by SUMMA to provide the space with an identity and personality and to highlight the festive, dynamic and revitalising character of an initiative that aims to create positive synergies between shops, provide a dynamic offering and, therefore, make for a memorable experience. The strategy also aims to promote the organisation of events, activities and initiatives that enrich and revitalise the area.
The name Carlemany was ruled out for the district because it is difficult to pronounce in other languages, does not fit with the strategic concept behind the project and restricts the scope of the initiative to the avenue itself. Through a naming process, SUMMA came up with the name ‘Vivand’, which exudes vitality and optimism and perfectly embodies the project’s strategic concept: to make the area the heart and showcase of Andorra.
The name is accompanied by the tagline ‘LET ME SHOP’ in order to describe the unique selling points of the pedestrian area, be comprehensible to international visitors and enhance the character of the space.
SUMMA did not so much create a logo as a visual identity that can be applied to the entire urban space in a flexible and consistent manner. This creates a high visual impact and appears to move and adapt to the morphology of the space and media, like paper wrapping a gift. The visual system is based on a sequence of stripes in colours that enabled the development of a common line of identity. The stripes help to create versatile surfaces in response to specific needs.
Implementation of the brand will be a gradual process. The first stage will encompass all retail and advertising elements, before being rolled out to the spatial elements (footwear and the street furniture). Coprínceps Square will be remodelled in subsequent stages in order to establish it as the nerve centre of the shopping area, and a mobile application will be developed as an information and shopping support.
A multidimensional approach
Place brands target audiences with different interests and often exist before an identity is created. Aligning all these elements, agents and perspectives is essential to the construction of a place brand. During the Vivand project, we organised workshops with project managers, representatives of the retail, hotel and restaurant sectors, and the Comercio de Andorra organisation to ensure the commitment of all project stakeholders.
Escrito por: Josep Maria Mir
Place branding began at the city and country level, later branching out to encompass regions and provinces. In its most mature phase, branding can be created for crisscrossing territorial realities (interregional ones, for example) as well as for districts, streets or areas within cities.
Urban design and its scope, the main milestones involved, the traffic produced and interaction with other spaces are the first variables to consider. This was one of the key aspects when we did the branding for the 22@ technology district, a Barcelona City Council initiative.iniciativa del Ayuntamiento de Barcelona, éste fue uno de los aspectos clave.
On a second tier, the social and economic fabric of the place, its culture, history and future path, as well as the degree of public and private collaboration and the administrative structure in charge of its management, are all factors to consider. This part of the process was very relevant to the development of the branding for Port Vell de Barcelona, in Barcelona, as it dealt with a new place, unknown to the public, which was to be used as a venue for very important and diverse events, activities, services and spaces.
The third tier comprises the experience that individuals will have in their overall interaction with the place, its offer and the people that make it possible. It is an experience confined to a specific place and moment in time, which cannot really be preserved or experienced outside of that place or time. That is why the memorable moments, emotions and experiences associated with the brand are so essential, and why clear and consistent management of the points of contact is key: from the look of the logo to the typefaces, pictograms and colours used, as well as the media and materials chosen. In the case of Vivand (Andorra), we came up with a visual code that impregnated the space, which could be expressed through the already existing media (mainly the street furniture) and gradually applied to newly created ones, both tangible and virtual, linking an intense and impacting experience to the identity as a whole.
Josep Maria Mir
This past September, RTVE launched a new service which uses innovative technology to merge the Internet with the TV signal. The result: viewers with TVs connected to the Net can enjoy RTVE’s content by simply navigating with their remote.
SUMMA collaborated with RTVE in deciding on the name, ‘RTVE Botón Rojo’, in designing its visual identity, the calls to the connection from the TV environment and the visual layout of the interactive environment.
RTVE Botón Rojo is accessible to all connected TVs, and is one of the main attractions of the à la carte service, which allows more than 90,000 hours of broadcasting to be viewed on TV.