Leisure Centre Branding – More Active, More Often

We were tasked with creating a new identity and complete visual language for sport and leisure services provided by Barking and Dagenham council. The ‘Active’ name existed in some marketing material but it was underused and inconsistently applied.

In addition we had one large and looming deadline to contend with – the opening of a brand new leisure centre…

‘Becontree Leisure Centre – Opening in 16 Weeks’
The building of a new leisure centre was an ideal opportunity to review the use of ‘Active’ and ensure the new branding was applied consistently throughout. We are never afraid of deadlines, finding them to be a vital motivator in the project process, focussing everyone into making decisions and progress.

Challenging the traditional perception of council-run leisure
A large percentage of a clients residents are in-active and as a result suffer from obesity, heart conditions and poor health. The aim of the new centre is to offer an alternative – to encourage a fit and healthy lifestyle. At the same time the leisure centre needed to challenge the traditional stigma attached to typical council-run leisure centre offerings. They would always retain the core mission of ‘providing sport and physical activities for all the community’ but could now stress the provision of the highest level of quality, normally associated with commercially run fitness centres.

Active – Our Approach

Concept – Hansell were involved right from the very beginning. From multiple site visits to advising on colour choices and finishes. We visited the site when it was still being cleared and prepared for main works. We studied the architects plans, walked the routes from changing rooms to sports halls, questioned key stakeholders and even suggested flooring colours along the way!

A deep understanding of the brands application was essential to ensure a successful and importantly appropriate brand identity.

Once we fully understood all the ways in which the new brand would be used, we then began to look at the actual mark, explore design concepts and refine the visual approach.

Design – Brand & Wayfinding. Overall brand design and application as well as branding of internal clubs and facilities. We conducted a thorough audit of all the ways in which the branding would be used. The brand works on touchpoints including livery, signage, gifts, printed marketing collateral, and also the website.

A ‘launch list’ of items was created – items that must be in place prior to the Becontree Leisure Centre opening. First off we designed the promotional material which was used by the sales team at council locations. Work then focussed on the physical signage and ‘sense of place’ branding for the new leisure centre. The priority being to ensure the public could easily locate key facilities whilst avoiding signage clutter. Use of a colour key and careful consideration of signage content and positioned ensure easy navigation throughout the centre.

Internal clubs and facilities: Sub-brands were created for the children’s play area ‘Jolly Jungle’ and the Café area ‘Street Café’. The Street Café brand sits comfortably within the Active brand, whilst the Jolly Jungle has a distinctive brand to appeal to children.

Reality – Install & Support. Application of the brand across the councils leisure scheme starting at the new Becontree Centre including a full wayfinding survey and installation. Work for us doesn’t finish when we’ve artworked everything – our signage team manufactured and installed every single sign, wall graphic, window vinyl and laser cut aluminium reception graphic. Tactile signage was used at key areas to ensure the leisure centre met accessibility guidelines. Meanwhile our print management team oversaw the production of a vast range of marketing material.

Ongoing support – the needs of a leisure centre is constant, from a changing timetable through to new promotions. The Olympics has developed further interest in sport so we’ve branded a gazebo and marketing material that the ‘Active team’ takes to council events to encourage an active lifestyle.

The dramatic increase in new member sign-up is a fantastic illustration of how rebranding, when effectively applied, can have a tangible impact on the perception and performance of council leisure services.

Matthew Eamer – Director at Hansell