When the Queensland floods devastated the state and its capital Brisbane in January 2011, Interbrand wanted to help. We contacted Brisbane Marketing’s CEO, John Aitken, to offer our services. Following discussions, Interbrand was asked us to develop a strategy that would help Brisbane recover from the natural disaster.
Interbrand’s strategy was to brand Brisbane out of the disaster. Having recently conducted a client engagement in Brisbane, Interbrand had a strong understanding of its residents, businesses and major infrastructures/institutions. We’d also worked on the proposition of Brisbane as ‘Australia’s New World City.’
As Interbrand watched strangers help each other clear houses and businesses shared facilities and communications capabilities, the world famous cyclist, Lance Armstrong, paid Brisbane an inspiring visit. He noted, “When I heard that there were traffic jams coming into the city because people wanted to volunteer . . . that’s a whole lot of heroes the world needs to pay attention to and copy.” Lance’s statement captured the very essence of what Interbrand had observed upon arriving in the city.
Interbrand’s work set in motion an incredible adoption of brand by a variety of businesses and residents within Brisbane. We had purposefully created a kit that anybody could use. The kit contained templates that could be downloaded by local businesses. Such templates enabled Brisbane businesses to communicate when they would be back up and running. The templates could also be used to explain that a business had temporarily relocated.
A website allowed residents of Brisbane to create their own posters. They could choose their own words and their own photographs to capture what they felt in the wake of the floods. A set of pre-determined templates were also created. TV networks and newspapers used such templates to communicate the Brisbane story and the Queensland Art Gallery used them for a national advertising campaign.
If a campaign had been created that was simply a knee-jerk reaction to the flooding, it would not have resonated with the residents or businesses of Brisbane. Instead, by partnering with Interbrand and by using brand as a response strategy to a natural disaster, the Brisbane brand and the reputation of its people emerged stronger than ever.