Darwen Town Centre

Brand Identity & Marketing


Brand Identity and Marketing


Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council were initially looking for a new website for Darwen Town Centre but it quickly became clear that a brand was needed to give the town’s marketing consistency. The success of the Belgrave hoarding boards became the starting point for developing the brand strategy taking inspiration also from the townscape colour palette developed by Crown Paints.

The website was to work as a town centre guide showcasing shopping, events, restaurants and bars plus highlighting the beautiful countryside surrounding the town and the community organisations doing such amazing work. As such a large part of this project involved content creation, interviewing business owners, creating a catalogue of product and service information plus video and images.

The Insider’s Guide to Darwen Town Centre

The creative concept for the website was to create a content hub that would help people discover more places to shop, eat and visit in Darwen Town Centre. We found that individual businesses had loyal customers but those customers rarely shopped elsewhere and lack a general awareness of what was available in town. Our goal therefore was to bring together in one place a high quality guide based on community recommendations encouraging people to discover new places. It was key that the website featured favourites as recommended by the public as we wanted to show off the very best of the town and in essence create an 'insider's guide'. Like a word of mouth recommendation we wanted to showcase not just the products but the stories of people that made them special.

Visiting each business with a photographer we worked to get the background stories of each business as well as some high quality product images to showcase their goods. With a thriving food scene there were an abundance of recommendations and we went on to join local chefs together with market suppliers for community recipes and a food event in the town centre.

Raising Awareness of Independent Retailers

We wanted to raise awareness of the town's thriving independent retailers, cafes and bars that rivalled any city centre. From organic, vegan food to cocktail bars, craft workshops and gift stores to clothing and every day essentials, Darwen has some hidden gems that we wanted to make less 'hidden'. Tapping into Darwen's sense of town pride and community spirit the stories behind the businesses took centre stage as did the people. The content was shared alongside hand picked products that highlighted the quality and variety available. The objective was to create a sense of nostalgia and pride in those already shopping in the town and change perceptions of those who had not visited in perhaps years or ever before.

The content was rolled out across the new website, social media and in print and direct mail campaigns. The response and engagement on social media was highest for the 'people stories' confirming our strategy that people buy from people and the community was interested in supporting those in the town. Shopping local was fundamental to all the marketing campaigns throughout the year.

The Branding

The brand identity was created in partnership with Source, a blackburn based design company. As with the Belgrave hoarding boards we followed the Crown Paints Townscape Colour Palette for inspiration. The colour palette was developed by Crown after studying the natural colours of the townscape - the buildings and countryside surrounding it.

The logo for Darwen Town Centre uses the town's most iconic landmark - Darwen Tower - to create something simple and recognisable. The branding was developed alongside the new Darwen Market identity ensuring the two complemented each other in style for use together in marketing campaigns and on the new website.

Content Creation

Once the creative concept had been developed and agreed a large portion of the work focused on creating the high quality 'insider's guide' content that would be valuable to the community and encourage engagement. Photography, videography, storytelling alongside a comprehensive events directory and product information meant the brand was extremely content rich.

Content such as the magazine guide always had a mix of food, shopping, charity and countryside information to help raise awareness of the full offer of Darwen. Grabbing people's attention with the piece of content they were interested in and then showing them what else was on offer. The countryside images were not the obvious landmark pictures you'd expect instead focusing on natural beauty but absolutely recognisable to the people in the community feeding the 'insiders' ethos of the brand.

The Website

The website was to be a content hub for the town centre and 'guide' to help people discover all that the town had to offer. The challenge with this project was delivering the level of content and flexibility required for the budget. Categories on the site included shopping, food and drink, countryside, community as well as an events section, blog and information relating to the market square redevelopment.

There was a constant balancing act between speed (which is critical to any website user experience) and creating something visually appealing and content rich. The volume of photography and videography surpassed what we anticipated and so a number of redesigns in the creation process helped to find the right the right balance. The end result is a website with a lot of information, that looks good and performs.

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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