IN CONVERSATION WITH… Culture Mile, Quartier des Spectacles, Poblenou Urban District Association – A Special Roundtable on Branding Cultural Districts

Jan 2019

In this special edition of our IN CONVERSATION WITH… series, we listen in on a conversation between GCDN members about how they manage the priorities of multiple brands. Read a foreword written by Tim Jones, Manager, Culture Mile, below and follow this link to the complete transcript.


The City of London’s cultural cluster features several internationally recognised arts organisations – including the Barbican Centre, the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, the London Symphony Orchestra and the Museum of London. When the Culture Mile brand launched in 2017, it did so with the full support and active, creative involvement from each of these cultural partners.

However it would be naïve to assume that the path to full, uncluttered visibility for a cultural district identity that is developed ‘on top’ of pre-existing brands is straightforward. Each partner has an existing brand which predates Culture Mile and, of course, a vested ongoing interest in their own brand continuing to be bold and highly visible. In addition, the City of London Corporation, as the sole funder and coordinator of Culture Mile in this early phase, rightly wants its patronage to be centrally and fully recognised.

Up to the mid ‘00s, a new arts brand brought with it a blizzard of logos – of partners, funders and supporters. It felt acceptable, and even necessary, to provide each individual brand with its own “space”, even if it created visual clutter and drew focus away from the central creative proposition. That approach no longer works; ‘cut through’ and quick, clean, memorable messaging is paramount for success.

How then can Culture Mile respect and accommodate the complex branding dynamics of its context, while building a bold identity that contemporary audiences will want to engage with? How can we chart a path forward that reassures our valued partners while achieving the impact we need?

We asked new friends from within the GCDN for advice – and are really grateful for their time and generosity in sharing their insights.

Tim Jones, Manager, Culture Mile