CONFIDENT. BOLD. READY?

By Jamie Wilson
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Why Confident. Bold. Ready is Canberra

Confident. Bold. Ready – Three powerful words or just marketing jargon? Canberra’s new brand identity caused much debate at the time of release – and rightly so. Any piece of work that represents something people are passionate about or have ownership towards will entice emotion and attract discussion.

I’ll be the first to admit that the use of advertising language and positioning statements can be overdone. But in the case of Brand Canberra, the words Confident, Bold and Ready felt right from the very beginning.

Very few people would have had the opportunity to see the brand develop or have an inside appreciation for the thinking and context behind its evolution. Most people just see the final mark come the day of revelation and its progress there after. The argument that a brand should be straight – forward and shouldn’t need explanation is a sound one and I’ll accept that position. However, a logo in its own right can’t summarise the current and future direction of a city alone, especially after one day – a brand and its meaning needs to be developed in time. A good brand though, will be developed with strong foundations to grow from.

Branding a city is no small task. A city brand is established through a combination of techniques that enable a place to build on its strengths, make sense out of its current identity and build a future identity – the balance between representing the current position and reflecting the city’s future pathway is fine.

This brand project has many layers. It’s a brand of many stories and needed to not only reflect a current position, but a future – this project is a pillar for transformation and progression and CBR is the vehicle for that.

So why CBR? Why Confident. Bold. Ready?

When I founded Coordinate at the age of twenty, Canberra was a young city with unfashionably old values – there were not the opportunities that exist now. Retaining young talent in this city was difficult, as young aspiring professionals were attracted to the bright lights of Sydney and Melbourne. But Canberra has come along way in the last decade. It’s a noticeably different place – bigger, brighter and more daring.

The city has a newfound sense of confidence, embarking on ambitious projects like City to the Lake, Australia’s largest transformational infrastructure program. You only need to look at the emergence of pockets and precincts like NewActon and the Nishi building, the Realm development or the vibrancy surfacing at Kingston Foreshore to get an appreciation of how far Canberra has come.

And there is a clear changing of the guard. Our forefathers have created strong platforms for new entrepreneurs to construct a new direction.

Young people are now choosing to stay in Canberra and make their mark. There are new pop up shops, lane way eateries, innovation hubs, art galleries, market stalls, creative collectives and fashion parades.

Our leading educational institutions are rivaling the best in the world. The University of Canberra are making big strides in developing their sports hub and the ANU continue to break new ground, making leading discoveries in science and research.

And, our airport is a tangible example of a regional city moving into a metropolitan mindset as we embark on, and prepare for, international flights.

mindset. As an abbreviation, it has made strong ground in modern social applications like Twitter and Facebook and has been used for airline travel in booking websites and boarding passes. The concept is not foreign. As a device, it gives the identity vibrancy, flexibility and scope – allowing the brand to frame key messages and content or be used as a window into the city.

Confident, bold and ready as a narrative aligns with the abbreviation, but it also makes sense out of the city’s current identity and builds a future one. It sets the tone for a city to embark on the future with confidence and in a bold way, ready to lead with actions, not just words. Ready to be unequivocally known as Australia’s National Capital and proud of our political influence and position. Ready to celebrate our successes in business, research, science, education and policy. Ready to own our messaging and take control of our identity. Ready to tell our story as a great place to live, work, invest and study. And, Ready to be proactive and attacking instead of reactive and defensive.

Some argue you shouldn’t need to say you’re confident if you are – but Canberra is clearly expressing a new found confidence and vibrancy that didn’t exist before and now its time to share that with the world.

While there is still work to do, the brand project was the final pillar in bringing the framework of the city’s personality together, and we are boldly moving towards the future unapologetically.