Atlantic edge, European embrace

Entered by Limerick City and County Council, (Credit: M&C Saatchi), Place Brand of the Year finalist, 2020

Ireland became the largest English-speaking nation in the EU in 2020. Limerick City and County sought to maximise this opportunity, creating a brand position that unifies everything that Limerick does. The mission was threefold. Firstly, to position Limerick as the country’s ‘go-to’ destination for investment, tourism, and study. Secondly, to throw off the outdated domestic reputation as ‘Stab City.’ And most importantly, to include the entire city and county in the rebrand, providing design solutions that could be used widely by individuals, businesses, the tourism and education sectors, and official institutions.

Creating a master brand

For too long Limerick has been defined by those who didn’t belong to it; now it had an opportunity to boldly carve out its own identity. This master brand then set the precedent for all follow up marketing activity. 2020 would see many challenges befall Limerick, but with a clear confident brand in place, ‘Atlantic Edge, European Embrace’ has helped Limerick weather the storm and adapt to harness the potential of the new normal.

It was key that the proposition was a reflection and celebration of Limerick’s DNA. To achieve this, the creative solution needed to speak to four diverse audiences: business investment decision-makers, tourists, students, and the citizens of Limerick themselves. For commerce, it’s the competitive edge Limerick provides as the European city closer to North America than any other, offering cost-effective, unconstrained access to the EU. For tourism, it’s that Limerick is the gateway to Ireland’s most important tourist attraction – the Wild Atlantic Way. Students in Limerick benefit from the advantages of a globally-ranked university and colleges. Underpinning all this is Limerick’s spirit – a balance of steely drive and warmth, asserted in the brand identity ‘Atlantic Edge, European Embrace.’

The design process

Starting with the deep blues of the Atlantic and the iconic verdant landscape of Western Ireland, the team wanted to imbue the icon with a visual mark that was undeniably Limerick. For this, they looked to the county’s print-making heritage and The Treaty Stone, a historic monument and symbol of Limerick’s resilience, grit, and unwavering solidity in the face of international pressure. The physicality of Limerick’s iconic monument was embedded into the design, an imprint of authenticity enhanced by a collaboration with students of Limerick School of Art and Design who worked with the team on this layer of the design story.

The brand also needed to be versatile, with a flexible and customisable asset that could be embraced and enriched by an engaged local community. A contraction of the ‘L’ and ‘K’ of Limerick forms the simple but distinctive Limerick icon. An open source system, it allows everyone in Limerick to craft their own version.

Finding local champions

The ‘embrace’ of the new brand was dependent on a series of crucial factors. It needed to be pushed internally by an engaged local audience, it needed to be clearly articulated and comprehended and it needed to be sustained through consequent bursts of brand activity. In parallel to the creative development of the ‘AA/EE,’ they formed a comprehensive ambassador network, engaging high-profile Limerick representatives to champion the brand who collaborated with the council since the brand’s inception.

With strong partnerships in place, they then developed a multi-market campaign, ‘Percentages,’ which aimed to quantify Limerick’s combination of edginess and friendliness. Each execution reveals what percentage of any Limerick scenario shows ‘edge’ versus how much its welcoming side, its ‘embrace,’ is simultaneously on display.

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