Posted in: News Work

Anything is possible

We’ve recently brought clarity and consistency to Tees Valley Combined Authority’s brand, creating a unifying system that builds recognition across the place we call home.

11th April 2023

Paul Bell

Paul Bell

Paul Bell

Written by Paul Bell,
Client Relationship Director

From international CPGs to nationally significant industrial zones and regional charities, the brands we work with all have their own unique challenges, meanings and stories. Each and every one holds a place in our heart. But those that have a direct impact on where we live and work are particularly pertinent.

Based in one of Tees Valley’s key civic centres, we’re an agency that’s deeply embedded into our community. We’re a passionate local team, full of local talent from across our region. And in many ways, as a brand, our personality is a product of our environment; our attitudes and characteristics are very much defined by the place we call home. So when a project like this comes along, it’s one we approach with an added sense of responsibility and pride.

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A need for unity and clarity

The purpose of the Tees Valley Combined Authority (TVCA) is to drive job creation and economic regeneration across the region. It holds powers over investment, business growth, transport, education and skills and culture and tourism across five boroughs in the North East of England. Covering approximately 700,000 people, Darlington, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland and Stockton-on-Tees make up this diverse region.

Since being established in 2016, TVCA has grown significantly. With a constantly expanding list of sub-brands and an ever-growing roster of campaigns and initiatives, their verbal and visual identity had outgrown its original design. Internally, the lack of a clear brand system coupled with responsive requirements led to questions around which sub-brands were most appropriate for certain content.

This was replicated externally; an overdeveloped brand structure, multitude of brand styles and logos, and different tones of voice speaking to different audiences made it difficult for them to understand what TVCA is and what it does. Put simply, too many brands and too much noise was diluting their core message, their actions and recognition for their success.

Five unique boroughs, one remarkable region

After familiarising ourselves with the current brand assets and exploring multiple initial directions, we decided to turn the brief on its head. Rather than simply re-creating multiple consistent logos for all of the multiple sub-brands, we moved away from siloed thinking and developed an all-encompassing Big Idea that could be translated into a single yet highly flexible brand system. Because TVCA is intrinsically linked to the area and ultimately benefits the Tees Valley with any work it does, we took the opportunity to brand the region, not just the authority.

Like any effective place brand, the underlying message needed to be big enough to excite those inside and outside of Tees Valley. Something that would stir hearts and minds. Something that would inspire, empower and change perceptions.

Tees Valley – Anything is Possible

We created a destination promise that crosses everything from tourism and transport to investment and careers. ‘Anything is Possible’ was born, accompanied with a bold manifesto that paints a picture of where Tees Valley hopes to be in the future, as well as where it’s come from and what’s happening right now.

“Anything is Possible is genuinely ambitious and aspirational. It’s broad enough to encompass both the myriad of experiences Tees Valley has to offer, and the message TVCA needs to communicate audiences inside and outside the region.”

John Taylor
Creative Director, Better

Visualising a bold opportunity

With the verbal foundations set, the next step was to visually express the full potential of Tees Valley. To do this, we needed a font that was big enough, bold enough and unique enough to act as both a distinctive logo and agile container.

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A dynamic valley, created to echo our custom Valley Sans typeface, can be used to hold content or act as a window. The dynamic valley can contain anything from opportunities, life, landscapes and people. As a framing and graphic device, this allows us to genuinely show that Anything is Possible in Tees Valley. It also gives us licence to literally own Tees Valley – a response to the identity crisis that the area has historically faced.

Tees Valley brochure spread.

To support this new brand strategy, we developed a bold, clear and smart tone of voice. While this provided the verbal guide rails for how TVCA should speak and sound, we still needed to find a way to indicate which specific department was communicating. Working with TVCA, we identified four pillars that underpin their work, giving each one its own colour. This way, everyone can tell who’s talking at a glance – eliminating the need for a multitude of logos and sub-brands, while increasing external recognition of the brand.

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An idea that powers progress

As well as bringing logic and consistency to TVCA’s brand architecture, we’ve created a unified, recognisable identity system that’s cohesive, cuts through and builds recognition. Not only does this mean that it’s easier to use internally, it also means that everyone from young people and residents through to business leaders and investors, can understand what TVCA is.

It reflects its important role, as strategic drivers with the vision to empower Tees Valley. An organisation with the oversight and focus to make a meaningful, long-term impact in the area we call home. The refined structure and clear brand hierarchy prevents logos from needlessly being created and the Anything is Possible message allows people to march behind a powerful, all-encompassing banner.

Client Relationship Director at Better, Paul Bell, said: “On the back of forging a future facing place brand for Middlesbrough Council and rebranding the works that built the world, Tees Valley Combined Authority is another project of special significance to us.

“Creating brands that we see everyday – in our town centres, railways stations and online – is always special. But seeing them truly make a difference means even more. That’s when we know our ideas power progress.”

A unified digital hub

We brought the brand strategy and visual identity to life online by merging TVCA’s five considerable websites into one new unified site, built from scratch against a tight deadline of less than six weeks. This Herculean task required the team to migrate and unite a vast amount of highly complex data, then devise a new universal structure allowing all target audiences to easily navigate the site.

The result is a perfect digital expression of our response to the brief, collating the scattered, siloed information and bringing everything into one place, under one clear, bold brand.

Head of Marketing and Communications at Tees Valley Combined Authority, Craig Peacock, added: “TVCA has changed a lot in scope and remit since it first came into being and it was clear a refresh was needed. It was great to work with a local company that is as passionate about the area as we are to simplify the brand.

“In this new-look Tees Valley, we are able to communicate clearly with people about who we are, what we’re doing, and what we’re aiming to achieve, and that Anything is Possible – whether that be for those visiting, investing, working or travelling in our area.”

To see the new brand in action visit Tees Valley Combined Authority. Head to the case study page to see more from the project and how we brought the brand to life.

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