We Are Bedford marketing consultancy and event campaign

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A stunning brand launch event that attracted double the expected attendance.

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Original expectations of 2,500 people was surpassed with over 4000 attending over the weekends events.

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We Are Bedford was a community project, formed in 2011 following a call-to-arms by Kayte Judge in response to the growing local empty shops situation. We Are Bedford aims to utilise, and hence promote, the diversity and range of creative and artistic talent in Bedford to regenerate interest in unused or underused commercial areas within the town. It needed to generate a brand identity and proposition to create a buzz around its inaugural event, The Castle Quay Weekender.

Castle Quay was developed as a mixed residential and commercial area in Bedford town centre, but for four years the majority of the retail and commercial units had remained vacant. For one weekend only, We Are Bedford would take over seven vacant units in the development and, with limited funding of £1,000 secured from the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA), hold an arts and cultural event to promote not just the area, but the creative talents of local people, makers and businesses.

Bonfire was given an open brief to create a fresh, welcoming and natural identity for the We Are Bedford brand, and to translate this into promotional and communications materials for The Castle Quay Weekender. 

As the festival was very much part of the growing ‘pop-up culture’ (using vacant retail and business premises), our creative concepts centred around creating a brand that had a hand-me-down look, charming appeal and a quirky ‘craft punk’ twist.

We Are Bedford also benefitted from the development of a unique font and various templates to empower the growing network in generating the plethora of material and promotional collateral that was used in the run up to, during, and after the event.

The brand identity and promotional marketing materials communicated precisely what We Are Bedford and The Castle Quay Weekender were all about; relaxed, inviting and unpretentious. 

Around 2,000-2,500 people were expected to attend, but over the course of the weekend over 4,000 visited this otherwise ‘dead’ area of the town centre. This was achieved without large scale collaborative promotion and with only one advert in the local press. 

The brand identity and positioning in its funky, creative and fresh way struck a chord with many local people who empathised with the We Are Bedford’s purpose and who wanted to show support by taking part, helping run and/or attend the event. As a result of the success of The Castle Quay Weekender, the RSA awarded Kayte Judge a further £5,000 from its Catalyst Fund to continue to work on pop-up shop initiatives.

The branding has also received national recognition amongst the empty shop community and is used as an example of excellence in the book “Pop Up Business for Dummies” by Dan Thompson, Founder of the Empty Shops Network.

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Branding received national recognition and was used as an example of excellence in a book on pop-up culture.

Through the high quality of the design we were able to demonstrate value to those local businesses who had invested in advertising space within the programme and add value to the artists and crafters who exhibited their work. The brand has been so strong that we have used it for further events and will continue to do so. We are certain that the strong and appropriate identity added weight to our community efforts. We would like to thank Bonfire for the huge effort they put in to supporting this community venture – it really made a difference to our town.    

Director, We Are Bedford
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Almost all shop units taken within 1 year of event, having stood empty for over 4 years.

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