Still continuing with our Beirut Design Week events, we gathered on Thursday for a City Branding Workshop, in order to figure out solutions to make Beirut a more livable city.
Soon after Blue Hat’s offices started filling up in the morning, Blue Hat’s co-founders Judy Maàmari and Sami Hmaidan gave a small word and introduced our Partner from Istanbul, Elif Taş. The participants, along with Blue Hat’s team, were then asked to introduce themselves, state two or three of their lovemarks, then state a city they love.
The participants were then asked to jot down some ideas while enjoying breakfast. Two blank posters titled “In my dream city there is…” and “What are my expectations from today’s workshop?” were stuck on the wall where participants were asked to add their ideas on sticky notes.
Soon after, all participants took a seat to listen to Taş explain the workshop’s aim and introduce warm-up exercises. Taş, Hmaidan, and Maàmari first handed out papers on which participants had to link cities with famous festivals or events, as well as their respective slogans.
When this exercise was done, the co-founders handed out papers with questions about Beirut based on the ‘round robin’ naming exercise. Each paper had one question, totalling in 15 questions. Participants were asked to write down a quick answer, taking no longer than 30 seconds, then pass the paper to the person to their left to write another answer.
After warming up, all participant joined forces to rank the city based on the international scales of The Saffron City Brand Barometer, divided into two categories: asset strength and buzz strength. These categories had subcategories in them like ‘cuisine & restaurants’, ‘good weather’, ‘ease of getting around on foot or by public transport’, and ‘media recognition’. Each was rated over 10, and their averages were rendered over 10 in order to place Beirut on two axes.
This exercise helped participants pinpoint the problems the city suffers from in order to decide on which one to focus on solving for the rest of the workshop.
Participants were then divided into three groups which made sure to incorporate as many of the various fields present as possible: a designer, a researcher, a copywriter…
Each group was handed a map of Greater Beirut in order to perform a zoning method called the ‘love/hate map’ and were asked to point out the streets or areas they love and/or hate using colored round stickers.
Some groups even decided to mention why they love or hate those areas by adding icons to the round stickers like a car for traffic and trees for green spaces.
Afterwards, they were introduced to the concept of personas and brand archetypes, in order to build their own persona with needs that require solutions. They were also introduced to Wally Olins’ Brand Tangibility Model, found in his book ‘The Brand Handbook’. They had to figure out a core idea behind the plan that solves the problem they chose to focus on.
Group 1 - BEIRUT: ALIVE AND KICKING
Group 1 decided to focus on Beirut’s historical attractions, especially on the seaside. They aimed to create a reconciliation after the Civil War as well as reintroduce the tramway. They chose the "EGG-shaped building" as a town hall for Beirut city that hosts events, get-togethers, and is a space for citizens to discuss the city's issues. They also focused on providing public spaces such as the corniche, with separated zones for Shisha smokers, public gym, and sports / promenade areas.
Group 2 - BEIRUT: YOUR BRIDGE (بيروت جسرك)
Group 2 focused on zoning, adding attractive zones to the city’s intersections using installations shaped as bridges. bridges, as well as focusing on the ‘good shopping’ subcategory from the Saffron’s Barometer. Their concept revolved around empowering Beirut's neighborhoods through high-streets that include facilities and shopping destinations for convenience and specialty / artisanal stores.
Group 3 - BEIRUT: TOTAL-LY MY WAY
Group 3 focused on improving the ‘ease of getting around on foot or by public transport’ through revamping the already existing busses, introducing proper bus stops, and a carpooling app for those who don’t wish to ride in busses.
The workshop was concluded with an evaluation of the different outcomes based on 3 criteria: desirability, feasibility and creativity.
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