The world’s most “liveable” city, Vienna, has been given a makeover by the Austrian outpost of global creative agency Saffron.
Vienna topped the Global Liveability Index in 2018, pinching the crown from Melbourne. The index, which uses qualitative and quantitative data measured using a range of factors which take things like stability, healthcare, and education into account, is generated by the (wonderfully named) Intelligence Unit at The Economist.
Over the past year or so, Saffron – who have also produced impressive projects for a pleasingly offbeat array of clients which includes Asda, Gulf Air, and KPMG – has been working on a “new place brand” for Vienna. Not entirely sure what a “place brand” consists of? Wonder no more, because it turns out that is is just a slimline way of saying that it was involved in overseeing brand strategy, visual identity and engagement.
The challenge, set by the city officials, was to develop a “brand strategy that could better serve residents, city employees, businesses and students.” With over 70 departments operating under the umbrella of the City of Vienna, a visually-led slim-lining was imperative.
Lucia Aguado, a designer at Saffron who worked on the rebrand, and her strategist colleague Michéle Richner tell It’s Nice That: “Vienna offers a unique blend of tradition and modernity that you feel the moment you arrive. It’s a city that functions like clockwork and is highly efficient, but at the same time maintains its peculiar charm and warmth.”
She points to the fact that Vienna is known for its cultural heritage as much as its infrastructural smartness as proof of this. With this in mind, the team at Saffron knew that a “highly efficient identity and design system that served as a guide to anyone coming into contact with the city,” was essential, but never lost sight of the fact that “warmth, charm and artistic tradition” were of vital importance.
“From the start it was clear to us and the client that the development of a city brand for Vienna could only succeed if it was developed in a collaborative way, involving as many stakeholders as possible in the strategic process,” Lucia and Michéle say when asked how working with a bureaucratic body impacted on the nuts and bolts of the project. “Working closely together also ensured we advanced at a steady pace and could address any issues quickly as they arose.”
With a collaborative workshop process in place, Saffron tackled the actual design process. In the end, they decided to funnel the “Viennese spirit” into a “bespoke typeface that expresses the human character of the city,” as well as an illustrated “speaking shield”, which combines to produce an identity that attempts to bring the city’s being to life.
“Vienna truly puts its people at the heart of everything they do,” the pair say, “creating a city designed for the many, not just the few, with fantastic living standards.”
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