Camden Council: Branding Camden

Sponsor: London Borough of Camden IMG_7523
Sponsor Liaison: Suzanne Griffiths
Student Team: William Frick, Jared Kepron, Caroline Mazzola, Alexander Sylvia
Abstract: The Camden London Borough Council has experienced significant budget reductions following a substantial decrease in funding from central government. The goal of this project was to investigate how the Council might capitalize on the unique location and assets of the borough through place branding to generate revenue and reduce the budget gap. Through desk-based research and stakeholder interviews, we found that the best approach would be to highlight the distinct characteristics of each neighborhood in Camden, rather than rebranding the entire borough under a common theme. Based on our findings, we formulated seven succinct recommendations regarding potential future initiatives and proposed a branding strategy for the Council, accordingly.


Branding Camden Presentation

Executive Summary

The London Borough of Camden is considered to be a cultural and intellectual hub with a highly diverse population and globally recognized, iconic establishments, such as the British Museum. Nevertheless, Camden is facing financial struggles due to budgetary cuts made by the central government as a result of the recent economic recession. Since approximately 62 percent of the borough’s funding stems from the central government, the Camden Council is searching for alternative methods to increase revenue. To help address this financial situation, the Camden Council is developing a multi-pronged strategy to create a Camden Brand which will capitalize on the unique assets of the borough.

Project Goal and Objectives

The goal of this project was to undertake an explorative study of the ways in which the Camden Council can develop the brand of Camden, the place, in order to generate revenue from its unique location and assets in both the digital and physical realm. To achieve this goal, we:

  • Identified, through research and interviews, how branding of places has been used to generate revenue for local government in the US, UK, and elsewhere;
  • Identified what revenue-generating opportunities would be best applied to Camden based on stakeholder feedback; and
  • Developed and proposed a plan for creating the Camden Brand.

To accomplish the project goal, we first sought to better understand what the practice of place-based branding entailed. To do this, we determined what strategies and methods had been applied to brand cities and districts in the past. We found this information during preliminary research in Worcester, Massachusetts through close examination of past case studies as well as through comprehensive interviews with relevant members in both Worcester Polytechnic Institute’s Business School and Worcester City’s branding department.

Once in the London Borough of Camden, we began to identify both members of the Council and external stakeholders who would be useful to interview to gain a different perspective on what the Camden Brand should be. The external stakeholders we wished to interview included business districts, local businesses and corporations, and higher education and iconic institutions. Once all important members were identified, we started sending out emails to establish contact and set up a time for an interview.

While conducting interviews, the Camden Council also wished for us to review and assess the structure and usability of the LoveCamden website, which is an informational website showcasing events and attractions in the borough. We made use of an online tool known as WebCHECK to evaluate the website in comparison with similar sites from other London boroughs.

Findings and Conclusions

The team pursued information on a variety of subjects relating to possible courses of action for the Council.

  • Several stakeholders suggested that Camden should try to develop a unified brand emphasizing the diversity of Camden.
  • The consensus among the majority of stakeholders was that the brand should build on and emphasize the distinct and unique qualities of discrete neighborhoods such as Camden Town, Bloomsbury, and Fitzrovia, because areas’ finer details could become lost in too broad a brand.
  • We conducted a systematic assessment of the LoveCamden website using WebCHECK, which revealed the site’s primary weakness to be organization. Poor organization and navigation severely impacted LoveCamden’s standing relative to similar sites, despite relatively high ratings for content.
  • Several stakeholders reinforced the LoveCamden assessment, by emphasizing that while the website serves a valuable purpose and contains useful content, it is poorly organized and difficult to use.
  • The team gave serious consideration to the concept of a Camden-based loyalty/discount card, which was concluded to be promising, but risky. Analysis of similar pre-existing systems provided insight about such a project’s scope and caveats, and the team agreed that more research would be required before making a final decision.
  • We investigated ongoing projects related to the installation of digital advertising screens around the borough, including on waste management vehicles, as well as the borough’s online/social media presence and the promotion of Council-owned facilities. The team found these ventures worthwhile, and researched potential future directions and improvements.
  • Explorations of the concept of “twinning” with another area revealed the topic to be controversial, but potentially lucrative. Many respondents and academic sources agreed that, while previously popular, twinning was often unnecessary in modern times, but could still be effective in certain circumstances.
  • Lastly, we explored potential commercial uses of Council-owned data. The area was found to extremely sensitive and outside the team’s expertise, so it was decided that the subject should be revisited via consultation with an expert. An alternative idea, involving the commercialization of data analysis rather than raw data, gained some support during our interviews.


Based on the findings above and in consort with other local stakeholders, we recommend that the Council:

  • Focus its branding efforts on smaller areas, rather than at the borough-level. Borough-level branding may become possible later if these smaller projects are successful, but at this stage it is likely to be unstable.
  • Continue the development and improvement of the LoveCamden website, possibly through collaboration with students at Central Saint Martins. We believe that the website, while content-rich, is poorly organized and presented, and could be a powerful tool if properly improved.
  • Explore the usage of digital advertising screens throughout the borough, including on waste management vehicles, and the pursuit of an increased presence online and in social media.
  • Better promote Council-owned public spaces, including the Camden Centre, as well as improvement of the accessibility of those facilities to businesses.
  • Continue research on the possibility of a Camden-based loyalty/discount card or app, perhaps as an extension of an existing service.
  • Explore for potentially lucrative opportunities to “twin” with another borough or similarly-sized area, but encourage the Council to carefully consider with which areas it would wish to connect.
  • Consult with an expert to explore the possibility of commercializing its data. In the event that direct selling of data is ruled out, we recommend considering the commercialization of data analysis, also under the supervision of an expert.