Key Findings

The interviewees were unanimous in the view that location branding was an important
– if sometimes neglected – element of attracting occupiers and effectively marketing office space. The responses also identified the need to be conscious of brand development
and value.

The importance of brand has never been stronger. I think most people now recognise that you take it very seriously...

Roger Madelin

Argent

You need to look at how each of the brands is trying to fight its corner. They will each move a little bit closer to each other and become a bit more rounded. Occupiers are very focused on how a building sits with their brand. Does the building project their particular brand? They are very concerned about whether it is the right working environment for their staff

Simon Wilkes

Legal & General Investment Management

In any marketplace you have always got to be aware of the threats. The minute you become complacent is the minute that you lose your edge and your position. At the same time, whilst not being complacent, you should be playing on your strengths and not worrying overly about other people’s strengths.

Martin Jepson

Hammerson

Our key target audience is international companies and brands, because without them London will wither. The brand identity has moved on. The central London market is now - more than in the past - a recognised series of hubs or villages, each with their own particular identity.

Robert Noel

Land Securities

The whole of London is a brand. It is a very recognised and successful brand and that’s to the credit of everybody involved in promoting it. You never ever lose a brand overnight. It’s almost a series of little things that just take the polish off that brand. That’s what you have to be careful with.

Tim Roberts

British Land

You are going to see this continued evolution, this continued mix of occupiers. I think that is going to carry on and develop. You are going to see less public sector, you are going to see more interesting and diverse organisations.

Simon Tann

DE & J Levy

The consensus among the interviewees was that in the past decade the City’s identity as an office location has evolved most of the three areas. New retail and leisure amenity – embodied by development at One New Change – and the clutch of current office tower developments are seen as having a major impact on how the City’s brand offer as an office location is evolving.

It’s a City of surprises: you can walk round the corner and you will find a platoon of guards, the cart stamping ceremony or students getting their degrees. Traditions that go back a long way but which enliven the location. You wouldn’t see it in Canary Wharf and you wouldn’t see it in the West End or New York.”

Stuart Fraser

City of London Corporation

The City is working hard to break the traditional mould of how it has been perceived.

Robert Noel

Land Securities

Whole new areas that were no-go 10 years ago have opened up. You have got the edginess of the Clerkenwell, Shoreditch, Spitalfields - types of areas which start to encroach on the City. You get this dynamic between those areas and, for example, where the City meets in Shoreditch. You start to get that diversity of brands. I suppose the question is where does the City start and end?

Martin Jepson

Hammerson

In a few years time most of the new supply will be in tower buildings and the small floor plates that come with them. The brand for the City could then become Skyscraper City.

James Gillett

Capita Symonds

The City is a much more engineered product. It’s much more contemporary. It’s a Porsche if you like. It’s a very highly technical, streamlined, a very contemporary modern product and that’s what the demand is for in the City.

Peter Ferrari

Heron International

I think probably the City has done more than any one else to try and reinvent itself.

Simon Wilkes

Legal & General Investment Management

The City is now offering buildings that are more comparable with Canary Wharf and that wasn’t really happening 10 years ago. So I think Canary Wharf has become more mainstream in perception and the offering that we pioneered has become more widespread in the City - and the skyline of the City is reflecting that.

John Garwood

Canary Wharf Group

The migration of hedge funds to the West End has invigorated and re-orientated the location’s office brand. The cachet of the location has been further reinforced by this influx. The core of the West End around Mayfair and St James’s has retained its identity as new development has spread out to more peripheral locations such as Paddington, north of Oxford Street and Euston Road.

The brand of Mayfair has definitely changed: 25 years ago, it meant Berkeley Square - period buildings and corporate headquarters. Now Mayfair’s brand stretches from Berkeley Square to Regent Street and it is about quality of product. Its market characteristics have gone from corporate HQ self-contained period buildings to brand spanking new, high quality, single floor financial lettings.

Paul Smith

H2SO

I suppose West End offices have evolved, over the last 10 years, in the same way that cars have in the same time. They’re still luxurious but the technologies are more important now than ever.

Peter Ferrari

Heron International

The West End’s image did change with the ‘hedge fund effect’: we saw a change in the whole feel of the market. Suddenly it really was the place to work, the place to be and where it was all happening. And so the image became a lot more modern as a result of that: the whole “tanned, successful guys in open neck pink shirts” sort of thing - which was quite a change for Mayfair compared to what it had been historically.

Simon Tann

DE & J Levy

The Canary Wharf brand has matured as the office location has become established. It no longer retains its identity as the “newcomer” in the market but has developed strong brand perceptions which – of the three locations – were those most commonly shared by the interviewees.

Canary Wharf has come of age. It has got the critical mass of offices but also amenities around it so it is its own destination. If it was a car what would it be? Maybe an Audi: does the job, efficient, does what it says on the tin. Well engineered, very efficient, and not extravagant. It’s not making a statement about being expensive. It’s value for money and it’s efficient.

Peter Ferrari

Heron International

They have got a great model down there at Canary Wharf. They had a blank canvas and therefore had an opportunity that isn’t created anywhere else. I suppose you could say Canary Wharf were the Manchester City of the pack weren’t they? Threw lots of money at it.

Martin Jepson

Hammerson

Canary Wharf is Canary Wharf. There is nothing wrong with the Canary brand. The Canary brand is good: what Canary is about is the success or otherwise of London.

Mike Ingall

Allied London

When asked to identify the competitive brand edge of each location, the interviewees cited a range of various attributes. However, the broad consensus was that the West End’s strength was its diversity and range of amenity; the City leverages off its world position and the resultant ‘clustering’ of businesses while Canary Wharf is seen as an efficient, value-for-money proposition with improved amenity.

Some exciting things have happened in the City and the brand evolution, there has almost been as a result of the buildings that have raised its profile and excitement. New buildings have made the City of a higher quality and have made it more exciting. Canary is almost back to what it was. You know you get big space, cheap. Which is fine: it’s good for London isn’t it?

Roger Madelin

Argent

The West End is massively diverse. You won’t lose any staff by bringing them to the West End. It has amenity value there is everything for staff to do in terms of shopping, culture, lifestyle it’s all here in the West End. The West End is about life and having great access to everything.

Paul Smith

H2SO

Clustering of occupier types and sizes: you’ve got the insurance clustering, you’ve got the re-insurance clustering, you’ve got the banking clustering and then you have got the support services clustering. The City brings together related businesses of all sorts of scale whereas Canary is more about large scale occupiers. This clustering provides tremendous immediate access to businesses: there are more Japanese banks in the City of London than there are in Tokyo.

Tony Joyce

GVA Grimley

In terms of perceived brand weaknesses, the interviewees variously identified the expense of locating in the West End and the “uniformity” of the environments in the City and Canary Wharf as possibly being deterrents to occupiers.

  • The West End is clogged with tourists and shoppers”
  • The West End is very, very expensive for occupiers.
  • The City is uniform and Canary Wharf is more uniform still.
  • The City needs increased diversity. It’s almost a case of what they haven’t got; they are missing the bits that the other locations have got.
  • I think the City’s greatest weakness is that it’s dominated by the big banking sector which at the moment is ‘persona non grata’ across the world. If there is a weakness, that’s the problem.”
  • Canary Wharf knows its deficiencies and I don’t think they are particularly worried about changing themselves. They know what they are: they are for the big occupiers who can’t find a building anywhere else and they want to make life as painless as possible for people who have to work there.
  • I have genuinely not met anyone who says to me they love working in Canary Wharf. They say: ‘we are there, it has got some good bits’

The developing identities of each location have not translated into occupiers being greatly more mobile when they consider where they want to be – although there is some greater flexibility in places and particularly in the sub-markets of the West End

Our view is that the bigger organisations now are more flexible. There are still preferred locations often because of where staff live. Generally now there is more open-mindedness about where people will locate in London. When we are carrying out our marketing campaigns it’s interesting that we have people who will shortlist Broadgate and Regents Place.

Tim Roberts

British Land

I think they are no more mobile than they were - apart from some movement within West End submarkets.

Robert Noel

Land Securities

When you talk to people out there who have got enquiries - and this certainly applies to the big finance houses and banks that have been core City occupiers - they still want to be very much core City. It is when you move a little bit, as you get round the edges that it starts to blur it a little bit. There is not a lot of blurring around the edges in the core City.

Martin Jepson

Hammerson

The study asked the interviewees to suggest ways in which the brand in each location could be further invigorated. In addition to improving transport, encouraging more activity at street level and pedestrianisation were mooted for both the City and West End. Making improvements to the level of customer service provided to occupiers was cited as was taking a robust approach to regulation and taxation.

Cut taxes and reduce regulation. These are the biggest - if not only - threats to London's position as the pre-eminent global city.

Robert Noel

Land Securities

There are two simple things that I think people ask for. Firstly, they would like the communications and transport to get better which is the reason why Crossrail has had so much general support from the business community. Secondly, and even more importantly, London very much wants a level playing field with its competitors in terms of regulation, taxation, legislation and law. If it can have a level playing field in those areas it is not dealt a competitive disadvantage and it will perform very strongly.

Tim Roberts

British Land

We are making the City much more pedestrian friendly and looking at ways of encouraging street trading. We’ve got a street pattern that doesn’t lend itself easily to pavement activity but we are just putting something through which we have got to go through Parliament with, to allow us actually to be much more flexible on street trading. We have got another project which is looking at a fairly extensive re-working of the entire street scene in the area towards Tower Bridge area and that side of the City.

Stuart Fraser

City of London Corporation

Customer service - which I think is missing in most office buildings in the City…If you have got 500,000 sq ft space with 20 tenants in the best space in London then we believe you have to provide a ‘six-star service’ and there is a demand for that.

Peter Ferrari

Heron International

To widen the offer, increase the quality, strive for the best, understand office occupier requirements better. We actively go and speak to new occupiers who have just moved in to ask if there is anything we could have done better in the building. And then meet with our occupiers regularly to find out how they’re doing and if we can help.

Claudia Johnson

Grosvenor

The ability of the property industry to track and promote the evolving brands of locations and translate this into the marketing process was not highly rated.

A good developer is a marketeer – you have got to know your location, you’ve got to know what you have got to do in that location and you have got to actually use your brand to get in to occupiers. Don’t expect agents to do that, they know their bit and they do their bit well but at the end of the day it’s the owners’ job.

Mike Ingall

Allied London

Like most things in life I think we all over-estimate our value as individuals and organisations too much of the time. Keep going, keep trying, it’s better than we were I think.

Roger Madelin

Argent

There aren’t many trendsetters. There are lots and lots of sheep in this industry. Marketing is pretty staid and pretty predictable and pretty bland

Richard Banks

European Land

There is quite often a lot of room for improvement. When it comes to the way in which buildings are marketed, there is a lot of room for improvement.

Peter Ferrari

Heron International

The interviewees were asked which single word they would most closely associate with each location. Interestingly, there was no coincidence of the same word being used by different respondents to describe any of the locations.

They were also asked what marque of car or other brand association they would most closely associate with each location. This produced a wide variety of comparisons with some cross-over but the most common car comparison for each location
was as follows:

  • West End
  • =
  • Aston Martin
  • City
  • =
  • Mercedes
  • Canary Wharf
  • =
  • Chrysler

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