Rebranding comes with certain risks such as losing brand loyalty, confusing the market, diluting brand equity and, not least, wasting precious resources and time executing it. However, in 2019 we, at Ethical Property Australia, were developing and executing a new social impact and investment strategy that became more relevant and urgent coming out of the pandemic and, like many organisations responding to the crisis, our value proposition has pivoted to leverage core strengths to serve a broader stakeholder group.
Ethical Property Australia is a brand that has a history that can be traced back 30 years, but due to new ownership and new plans we are rebranding our organisation. Ethical Property was founded in the UK in 1996, as a provider of commercial space for social change-makers that needed cost effective and accessible office space, from which to create a better future. The Ethical Property network quickly grew internationally and now extends to over 30 sites in Europe, the US and Australia.
Initially, our business model evolved from being a “Rental” model, with a focus on revenue and operational efficiency, to a “Community” model, with a focus on relationships and growing membership to a community of like-minded tenants. This has worked well for our tenants and now we have evolved our strategy to a “Network” model to leverage innovation, that sets up collaborative place-based projects to create a value flow across an impact network of stakeholders seeking shared economic, political, and social value that benefits a wider local community.
Our new value proposition seeks to increase economic and community resilience at a neighbourhood level and requires us to synchronise a cross-sectoral group of stakeholders who we identify and recruit from our impact network to support the funding, co-design and facilitation of a local development project. A neighbourhood initiative needs systemic change to drive a broader benefit to a whole community and designing a strategy that employs network and social science, as well as complex system theory, allows us to determine how we can affect impact at a neighbourhood level.
Guiding our approach are the principles of innovation, experimentation, and continuous learning. These pillars provide the foundation for our refreshed brand, Impact Neighbourhoods International. It’s ambitious and unambiguous in its intent to declare to our target audience the type of change we want to be accountable for, with our partners. Accompanying this name is a statement that articulates the brand essence, “Thriving neighbourhoods that are easy to live, work and play in…where every story has a place”. Intelligent urban design and community development is a dynamic discipline that is both bottom-up and emergent. This statement expresses our vision to support the quality of life and well-being of a diverse group of people in a participatory, adaptive, sustainable, and inclusive way.
The new logo embodies the essence of our fresh perspective, while the practical implementation of this innovative thinking sets our value proposition apart from competitors. In light of this, our chosen logo draws inspiration from the Sierpinski Triangle - a symmetrical pattern of smaller equilateral triangles, formed through the application of the rules of the Chaos Game. Plotting randomly chosen points halfway between any of the three vertexes of the triangle will gradually form fractals within the triangle of smaller equilateral triangles. This random process can be repeated anywhere within the triangle and in due course the seemingly chaotic sequence can produce complex patterns or fractals that can be classified and identified in both shape and features.
The Chaos Game and the Sierpinski Triangle are a useful metaphor for change within a complex environment, such as a neighbourhood that has many actors, influencers, and environmental factors that, due to the lack of coordination across many urban and infrastructure development projects, can make systemic change at this level seem chaotic. However, network science allows you to define a data point as random, but also predictable because it can be classified as belonging to a pattern of behaviour. Once you establish a pattern you can act and plan accordingly and so what was once complex and chaotic, begins to take on a new shape. System change requires actors on the edges of the system to begin changing the rules and reshaping an existing paradigm. Our aim is to facilitate that through relationships, connection and learning to remove obstacles to change.
To reiterate, an Impact Neighbourhood strategy stands apart from conventional neighbourhood improvement efforts due to its steadfast focus on creating a flow of shared value across a sustainable systemic change, as opposed to standalone or short-term projects with a primary focus on creating financial value for one key stakeholder. It emphasises the importance of resident and local business participation and empowerment, as well as cross-sector collaboration and alignment of goals and resources. The stakeholders need to make a long-term commitment and have a shared vision. Our new brand, Impact Neighbourhoods International, is an opportunity to influence or transform how people perceive our company and also serves as a platform for communicating a novel methodology to the market—one that propels genuine transformation and sustainable impact.