Brand Urbanists

With many municipalities struggling with a diminished tax base despite a growing desire from their citizenry for vibrant public spaces, smart brands are stepping in to help. This year, expect to see more brands identify creative ways they can partner with communities to spur meaningful improvements via urban-development projects such as parks, infrastructure, and expanded means of transportation.​

Manifestations

One of the year’s most buzzworthy campaigns had pizza purveyor Domino’s repairing potholes with their Paving for Pizza program whereby over the course of last year, Domino’s dispensed grants of $5,000 across the U.S. to help fill potholes and repair cracked roads. Initially limited to 20 states, the PR and goodwill-garnering effort has been expanded to include the entire U.S.​

Last summer, outdoor retailer REI announced a grant program to “re-wild” five American cities. The initiative, perfectly aligned with the brand’s core equities, is meant to help Chicago, LA, San Francisco, Seattle and D.C. develop or improve environments for water paddling, hiking and cycling in parks, forests and trails in or near these cities’ urban and suburban areas.​

In 2017, Nike transformed a vacant plot in the middle of one of Manila’s residential districts into a state-of-the-art running track shaped like a running shoe and equipped with cutting-edge LED technology. Though only a temporary installation, the Cannes award-winning initiative is an example of how to make a large-scale brand-reinforcing statement via a public installation.​

Southwest Airlines’ Heart of the Community grant program has been instrumental in revitalizing public spaces in underserved areas around the U.S. since 2014. To execute at scale, the airline works with Project for Public Spaces, a nonprofit with 40 years of experience specializing in urban renewal and placemaking. ​

One of the year’s most buzzworthy campaigns had pizza purveyor Domino’s repairing potholes with their Paving for Pizza program whereby over the course of last year, Domino’s dispensed grants of $5,000 across the U.S. to help fill potholes and repair cracked roads. Initially limited to 20 states, the PR and goodwill-garnering effort has been expanded to include the entire U.S.​

Last summer, outdoor retailer REI announced a grant program to “re-wild” five American cities. The initiative, perfectly aligned with the brand’s core equities, is meant to help Chicago, LA, San Francisco, Seattle and D.C. develop or improve environments for water paddling, hiking and cycling in parks, forests and trails in or near these cities’ urban and suburban areas.​

In 2017, Nike transformed a vacant plot in the middle of one of Manila’s residential districts into a state-of-the-art running track shaped like a running shoe and equipped with cutting-edge LED technology. Though only a temporary installation, the Cannes award-winning initiative is an example of how to make a large-scale brand-reinforcing statement via a public installation.​

Southwest Airlines’ Heart of the Community grant program has been instrumental in revitalizing public spaces in underserved areas around the U.S. since 2014. To execute at scale, the airline works with Project for Public Spaces, a nonprofit with 40 years of experience specializing in urban renewal and placemaking. ​

implications

Consider how your brand can contribute to the revival of community-building public spaces. Can your brand address unmet needs in public environments? The most important step is to be sincere in your ambition to benefit the city. Before you start splashing logos around, first assess the community’s needs and then identify how specific measures align with your brand’s core equities and values. ​