Darwen Market

Brand Strategy & Implementation


Brand Strategy & Implementation


Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council were initially looking for a new website for Darwen Town Centre and Darwen Market. It quickly became clear that an update to the branding was needed as well as a brand guide for the town which had never had a cohesive image. The success of the hoarding boards and focus on people and community became the creative starting point for this project.

Creating a clear brand strategy for the market enabled us to develop an online marketing plan that would see the quality of produce reflected in their promotional activities. Working with a local design company and photographer we created a timeless brand that both respected the heritage of the market whilst bringing it up to date with modern design trends. The big challenge was creating something that complimented and worked with the town centre brand without becoming lost within it.

At the Heart of the Town

Darwen Market is home to a great range of products rivalling any of the best farmers market but in recent years has seen challenging times like any local market. The high street is a competitive place and markets in particular have been challenged by a reduction in organic footfall. Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council wanted to help people remember and see what fantastic products were on offer and create a new wave of loyal market shoppers.

There needed to be a balance between retaining heritage and keeping the loyalty of existing customers whilst modernising the brand to meet new consumer trends and attitudes. The brand strategy involved reclaiming the market tagline 'At the heart of the town' and giving it new life through trader stories and behind the scenes insights into the produce and goods on sale.

Raising awareness in a noisy marketplace

In order to raise awareness of the quality and variety on offer at the market we needed to tempt people to take a closer look, to see past the busyness of a market full of traders to the individual items. One of the first campaigns we did focused on the heading 'You've looked, but have you seen...' and showcased some of the highest quality items. For this we embarked on a project to create new photography for the very best products available and let these specific items grab the attention of those who might not have otherwise thought to visit the market. This was particularly successful on social media where individual food items brought new customers to the market who had never before entered the building.

Working with Source, a Blackburn based design company and local photographers we created a new visual brand identity to enable the brand strategy and marketing campaigns to be implemented. Marketing activity included a heavy focus on Facebook and direct mail alongside the council's annual programme of events. A new online hub of market information was created on the Darwen Town Centre website with new profiles created for each trader. A market magazine was produced showcasing the latest products and interviews with new traders alongside regular blog content and recipe cards on the website.

Balancing digital with traditional marketing

From event promotion to product awareness and brand building the strategy for the market had to include a range of traditional and digital channels. We conducted a number of seasonal campaigns that included a different marketing mix depending on their objective, target audience and resources available. However there was a continuous brand awareness effort through the year across all channels to launch. Social media advertising and content marketing was a new activity for the market and had fantastic results with engagement increasing month on month. This was particularly successful in the Christmas promotional period.

A market shopping magazine was produced with supporting website and social content to match. With a specific need to drive footfall and sales during the festive period we created an advent campaign with boosted and paid ad support on social media. This saw daily competitions drawing a high level of engagement and record numbers for the channel. We also know that the winners went on to purchase other goods and that many of them were first time shoppers to the market. The social media data and statistics also helped inform a geographical targeting strategy as it indicated where interest was coming from.

The Branding

Working with Gemma at Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council and Stephen from Source, a blackburn based designer, we created a new brand identity for the market that combined tradition and modern design. The visual identity was created alongside that of the town centre so that the two would sit independently but compliment each other. A strategy day alongside customer and trader research helped to create the brand strategy and marketing plan for the year ahead.

Iconography gave the branding flexibility before photography was in place as due to budget constraints the photography was gathered over an 18 month period. The colour palette was created compliment and extend the heritage blue used on the retail units at the front of the market building. The logo itself created using the famous clock tower outline.

The Website

The council wanted the market website to be migrated over to the new Darwen Town Centre website which is why from the outset the two brands had to work together. We created new content for the site including trader profiles, blog content, shopping guides, recipes and new photography throughout.

The website also enabled live event information, additional pages for the festive period and updates on the market square redevelopment. The content from the website then fed the social media channels and helped pass traffic between the two.

The Photography

Working with local photographers over an 18 month period we created new imagery for both the traders, market square and products. The photography was key to the new visual brand style helping to bring the design up to date and showcase the quality available at the market whilst making the people the heart of the brand.

The quality photography led the marketing campaign style in both print and digital helping to communicate the quality available at the market and dramatically shifting the image from what had previously been seen from the market.

Client Feedback

I was impressed with the way Katherine and her team listened and responded to our brief and worked with us to ensure that we were happy with the design concept, colour palette and consequently the final design. Katherine worked to a tight deadline which did not compromise the work, which was of an exceptional quality. I would not hesitate in recommending Katherine and the team at The Marketing Knot due to the quality of their work and the ease of working together. I look forward to working with them again in the future.”

Gemma Johnson, Project Manager, Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council

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