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From placemaking to placekeeping

Think of a place where you have enjoyed living, felt safe and comfortable, connected and rooted…  The chances are that it was a somewhere with

An expert in what?

I am often called upon to wear my expert’s hat. Whether on a design review panel, assessing innovation pitches or as an event speaker, the

collage with colourful shapes, a hand and the word "future" representing "behind the scenes" blog post

Behind the scenes of Futureground’s new branding (and why we don’t have a list of services)

Futureground has had a facelift, in visuals and words – and it was quite the journey. We asked our copywriting partner Rin Hamburgh & Co to give you a peek behind the curtain into the process. You’ll see why it was a challenge and how we solved it together. 

Why were Futureground different? And why should people care?

Attracting a different kind of audience

Futureground already have a great client base and are rarely short of referrals or ongoing work. However, at the start of the branding process, the team were keen for their website to attract further clients who were the right fit for them. 

They had reached a level of success where they could afford to be picky. Frankly they wanted their website to bring in increasingly interesting work. That means fewer pen-to-paper reports and more early stage exploration, where they could address the thinking that lay at the foundation of projects and organisations. 

To do this Futureground needed to communicate what they do in a new way. So we began asking the team questions, getting under the skin of their work, and learning how they think.

How the Futureground team think turned out to be the core of the matter. They are a handpicked network of consultants who pull together both detail and the big picture, and whose experience spans the whole property lifecycle. Their team’s reputation for great thinking was such that partners had sometimes called them polymaths.

As we spoke with Nick and Ellen in a glass panelled room in the heart of Bristol, surrounded by businesses all searching for solutions of their own, one matter became clear. The Futureground team don’t just provide a client with answers, they know how to help clients identify which questions need answering.

Putting Futureground into language

In these early discussions, we realised that it would be helpful to talk about ‘places’ and not just ‘buildings’, since Futureground consider a place’s use and legacy as much as its materials and construction. We settled on ‘sustainable place strategists’ as a wordmark for the logo, so potential clients could understand who Futureground were at a glance.

Their consultants also don’t just deliver a service like stakeholder engagement in isolation; instead they become ’a critical friend’ to those they work with, providing a vital sounding board for entire projects and organisations. 

With all this in mind, we began putting ideas to paper.

The author Flannery O’Conner said that “I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” So as we created words for the Futureground website, we needed back and forth with Nick and the team to uncover, layer by layer, what they wanted to communicate – and how to make that resonate with potential clients. 

A key strapline that emerged early in our drafting process was ‘The journey to a better place begins with a single thought’.The rest of the website’s copy needed to carry the baton further –  to communicate  Futureground’s unique offering in a highly nuanced market. After going through a couple of drafts of a web page mockup, we were able to settle on a style, tone and series of messages that we could etch across the whole Futureground website.

Why we didn’t include a list of services

Futureground’s consultants provide many outputs to clients who work in the built environment, but it would do their offering a disservice to distil it down to a list of services.

After all, it is Futureground’s way of thinking and their working with clients that set them apart. A potential client might be able to find similar services in name from other consultancies, but they would struggle to find similar people.

So we devised alternatives: an ‘approach’ page that detailed the way Futureground work with their clients, along with a series of case studies that showcased that work in context. These would go hand in hand with a series of thought leadership blog posts that would give readers a powerful impression of who Futureground were. 

We didn’t need to communicate everything, we only needed enough information to convince a potential client to pick up the phone. As we had realised from our first conversation with Futureground, once people began speaking with them, they would quickly realise why they needed this team and not another.

To discover more about the way Futureground think, check out Our Approach.

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