20 June 2017

Designer says he put ‘heart and soul’ in to Invercargill city brand

The Southland Times

The designer of a new Invercargill CBD identity says he doesn’t think he’s ever been “more confident” in a brand.

City councillors were shown the brand for the first time on Monday, after months of discussion with city businesses and stakeholders.

Brand consultant Tim Christie said he had put his “heart and soul” in to the project.

“Coming down here and talking to the locals, we’ve felt very positive about creating something for Invercargill,” he said.

However, he would not provide details of what the brand looked like and the concept had been shared with only a small number of people.

“It’s very much under wraps at the moment.”

His design process started with wide exploration, and was narrowed down to just three concepts, he said.

“Having looked at a number of different options, this is the best. The team have agreed it’s by far the strongest, and the one [they] want to get behind.”

It would be “very campaignable”, he said.

In past projects, Christie has worked on brand identity for the Interislander, Radio New Zealand and the All Blacks.

“It’s been different from any other branding ... in terms of branding for 50,000 people as opposed to products.

“This is a city that’s centuries old ... from the founders of the past to the people about here today.”

Branding was a small part of that puzzle, he said.

“But I feel like it’s a really important part.

“I want to give Invercargill a boost by giving them a brand they’re proud of,” he said.

He said he hoped the brand would last 100 years.

“I’ve come up with something I am quite proud of,” he said.

“I don’t think I have ever felt more confident in a brand.”

The brand would be launched in August.

Christie is also a creative director of Storbie, and was creating a website for Invercargill CBD retailers.

Businesses could create their own profile, and if they wanted to, could treat their page like an online shop, he said.

The website would boost both online identity, online sales and instore sales, he said.

Christie was supported in Invercargill by retail consultants - First Retail Group - and Invercargill City Council centre city co-ordinator Kari Graber.

First Retail Group managing director Chris Wilkinson said he believed Invercargill was one of the few cities in Australasia not to have a brand.

Wilkinson, who had seen the brand, said it was not “popularist” and was designed to appeal not just to locals, but also to visitors and prospective migrants.

There was flexibility in the idea, he said.

“It will tell the whole story of Invercargill.”

There was a need for something to spread a positive aspiration in the city, he said.

“Tim has been able to respect the heritage, and that’s something that I think people will be excited about.”

In February, about 300 businesses took part in workshops held by First Retail Group to discuss the city’s direction, which included the CBD brand.

First Retail Group have been commissioned by the city council to engage a retail strategy for the city, and the brand was the first on the list to improve the city’s retail future.