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Flow Creative reveal process of new European SmartImpact initiative


Manchester City Council was elected to lead a group of ten European cities to become ‘smarter’ together. The aim of the forward thinking project was and still is to help cities use technology and data better and convert to being more environmentally friendly. They realised there was a gap that could be bridged by collaborating with each other in order to create more efficient places for the people that live and work there. Each city brought with it knowledge of either core technologies, innovation or data that required joined up thinking to enable it to reach its potential. The group came together to share best practice in how to successfully plan, finance, develop and manage smart cities and so SmartImpact was born.


Flow was brought onboard to bring SmartImpact to life. In order to launch the project to the ten cities (and beyond) it had to have an appealing look and feel, so Flow set about doing just that. The design had to succinctly explain this complicated project and simplify it if it was to generate worldwide pick up, as planned, so Flow pinned animation and video at the heart of its strategy. Furthermore, it developed a website where all the materials could live so they would be accessible by all at their convenience irrespective of time or day.


Creating the branding and a huge amount of content for such a complex and wide-reaching project posed a really interesting challenge. The team worked closely with Manchester City Council to develop a branding concept that would work well in a variety of formats, including website, video, print and event signage. It needed to convey SmartImpact’s aims of educating the audience - comprising the European Commission, national governments, European financial institutions and market sector organisations - to encourage project uptake across the continent.

It quickly realised that in order to do this, the designs had to be bold, bright and fresh, so set about developing a unique and attention grabbing style that leant itself to print materials, a website and animation.

Flow’s creative director and photographer were invited to present the design concepts and capture the event on film at a conference hosted in Eindhoven, attended by senior representatives from all ten cities. Here, the team worked with each of the partners to create a series of filmed interviews detailing their involvement and hopes for the project, which would be used on the website. The agency also created an animation to explain the project goals in simple terms and a bespoke illustration for each partner city as well as developing an overarching ‘theme’ for the project.

Flow successfully undertook its inaugural fully-integrated project here, notwithstanding the various challenges that presented themselves due to the sheer volume and breadth of the scope of work. Over 20 case study videos were filmed, over 15 bespoke illustrations, a set of print documents, a range of event and wayfinding signage, promotional products, an animated video plus a website to house all of the content. Creating all of this in a limited timeframe meant that the team had to pull together and go above and beyond to deliver it to the desired standard.


The website, although newly launched, is now a hub for cities worldwide who share SmartImpact’s aims. Resources are available to download that assist the widespread usage of the knowledge gained and learned during the three year lifespan of this project while it was in creation. The toolkit Flow produced is now being used by all ten partner cities to communicate SmartImpact within their own territories and it is expected that more will do so this year and beyond.

The SmartImpact website can be found here

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