Urban Rebranding

How successful have urban areas been in rebranding themselves?

I studied London Docklands as a case study for urban rebranding.

How has the Docklands rebranded itself?

  1. The Olympics 2012 has given Eastern London a stimulus of sport for rebranding. Being such a major event it has been organised in an efficient fashion and many developments have come into the area.
  2. Flagship developments have been developing. This includes the Olympic village which has affordable housing in it and many forms of sports stadiums and studios.
  3. Industrial Heritage is also an important aspect. In the 1980s, St Katherine’s Dock in Tower Hamlets, went through the process of rebranding. We saw evidence of industrial heritage there for example, sculptures of elephant, names of buildings e.g. ‘Ivory house’ and even old window designs were kept in some buildings.
  4. Being a sports event many opportunities have come about in the way of sports. For example sports training facilities and many stadiums will be used as leisure spaces after the event.
  5. St Katherine’s Dock which was rebranded in 1980s, has emphasis in allowing people to walk along the River Thames and the docks. Water is keep aspect in the regeneration of St Katherine’s Dock.
  6. The Olympics 2012 has taken on the challenge to be the greenest games ever. This means that developments are not just taking place on greenfield site, but brownfield sites too. Soil in these sites contains cyanide and mercury and rather than replacing the soil, it is been decided to be cleaned and put back on o the land. It is more costly but it more sustainable.

How can we measure the success?

  1. Photographs – they give us a feel for the place and comparing it to the photos from the past we can make judgements whether the change has been successful or not.
  2. Maps – again the give us accurate description of the physical landscape of what a place used to be and comparing it to a map from today we can see the change. We can also monitored how has the access of the city changed. Using figures we can say whether the access has been a success or not in drawing in visitors.
  3. Census is a database which contains a range of information from the employment status to the average number of people living per room. The last one took place in 2001 so when the next one happens in 2011 we can see whether figures such as employment status has improved or not.
  4. Www.upmystreet.com’ is similar to the census but this gives us profiles of a place as well as photographs and statistics. Looking at how a place is doing on this website we can decide if they are doing well or not.
  5. Blogs and forums are also good places to see what peoples opinions are of places and looking at different time intervals might show us whether people are getting a more positive image after rebranding.

Understanding and monitoring weather conditions

Techniques and Fieldwork

Firstly it is important to understand the different weather instruments and their purpose. 

Primary and secondary methods of monitoring and understanding weather conditions


  • Making observations and recording it in a weather diary 
  • Weather instruments – for more detail see post ‘using weather instruments – fieldwork’
  • Weather stations now use computer systems to record weather and keep organisations such as the Met Office involved through wireless and satellite connections.


  • Met Office website. This has synoptic charts to monitoring different weather conditions passing us e.g. fronts. It also keeps an archive of the weather so we can see weather patterns over a long course of time.
  • BBC website has some radar, satellite and surface pressure maps too which can help when trying to understand different weather conditions
  • People may write about the weather in blogs, websites and posts which allow us to measure weather conditions.
  • GIS – google earth, maps etc. This enables patterns of weather to be identified and measured of 4-10 days.
  • Media – watching news, documentaries etc

Fieldwork and Research: Urban Strategies

Fieldwork and research into urban strategies that have been used for rebranding

In the table below I look at Primary and Secondary methods to explore the strategies that have been implemented to rebrand an area. 

Strategies that have been implemented

Primary methods

Secondary methods


Interviews – We could interview developers on what their plans are to construct and what they hope to achieve from it. We could record the conversation on electrical devices such as voice re cords. Then we could transcribe the interview and analyse what they said.

Notes – We could look at the notes of developers and constructers

Retail value survey- Flagship developments including shopping centres and department stores. So in a retail value survey we can examine the amount and types of shops in different areas of the urban area.

Footfalls-  This ties in with Retail value survey but here we look at the amount of people entering a shop. This helps us get some idea of how much money is being created by flagship developments like Selfridges in Manchester.

Building usage – By examining building usage we can explore what kind of flagships are being added and what already exist. 


Both of this helps us get data on the socio-economic parts  of a town which is important when considering regeneration.


Questionnaires – Questioning local residents on this aspect of rebranding is extremely important.

Census – This can tell us data such as average number of person (s) per room, average rooms in a house etc.


Environmental quality –Waterfronts are used to take advantage of natural features to create a better environment. So these survey can help to see whether development of waterfronts are needed.

Goad maps – Through this we can compare natural features of the past to features of today.

Photos – This is another method is which we can see how well environmentally regeneration has done or whether it needs rebranding and what about waterfronts – are they in good condition?

Regional and cultural events

Clone towns- In rebranding it is easy to be temped to create a clone town. So by using cultural and regional events we can prevent this from happening. By just walking around the area we can figure whether it is a clone or original town.

Visitor surveys – Visitors who come for this unique regional / cultural event should complete form to find out whether they are good or need improving.

Websites and Blogs/forums 

Both internet forms of research can help us to find out about any regional or cultural events that are on and what people’s views are on this.

Using sport as a catalyst

Oral histories/interview – They can tell us what in their opinion is the impacts of using sport as a catalyst for rebranding.

Upmystreet.com – Like Census but the profile section can tell us how well a place has come on after using sport as a catalyst

Redevelopment in coastal region

Sphere of influence, Placecheck and

Create land use maps

All three help us to see how redevelopment has changed a coastal town like Blackpool and identify the strengths and weaknesses of the town.

Brochures/ leaflets – We can see what the area offers and see is it sufficient? 

Blogs/forum – This will tell us what people think about the experience the place offers.