Listening is key to place branding in Laguna | Planet Smart City - Places that matter
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10/07/2019 Listening is key to place branding in Laguna

We recently travelled to five cities surrounding Smart City Laguna – Croatá, Pentecoste, Paracuru, São Gonçalo e Paraipaba – and talked to more than 1,000 residents to hear their hopes, concerns, ideas and discover what the cities of their dreams are.

Creating communities that are smart, sustainable and socially inclusive is at the heart of our mission here at Planet Smart City. We endeavour to create places that have heart and soul and can host vibrant and diverse communities, meet the changing needs of their residents and support their surrounding environments.

To meet these goals, we approach our project through the lens of place branding, putting the community right at the heart of the space in which it resides, from conception all the way through to completion. The aim of placemaking is to strengthen the connection between people and the places they share, to maximise shared value. 

This includes focusing in particular on the physical, cultural and social identities and values that define a place and inform its ongoing development. This aligns perfectly with the way we envisaged the creation of Smart City Laguna – we wanted to make sure the homes, shared places and public spaces would serve the needs and desires of each and every person who lived there.

To do this, we recently travelled to five cities surrounding Smart City Laguna – Croatá, Pentecoste, Paracuru, São Gonçalo e Paraipaba – and talked to local residents. In total, we spoke to more than 1,000 people to hear their hopes, concerns, ideas and discover what the cities of their dreams are. We gained insight into typical professions, working habits, recreational pursuits and every day concerns to ensure we build the right infrastructure and tailor social innovation programs to meet their needs. 

Among the key findings that came out of this research, there was a clear desire for every person to feel that they have a voice and are represented regardless of colour, income or social class. It led us to value even more how we can create an environment which is inclusive, collaborative and friendly. Somewhere which reflects the rich diversity of the people who call it home.

Conducted by Place for Us, a consultancy in Brazil, the work, which also involves placemaking, is guiding us in a number of ways reinforcing our community building approach which is taking shape as we receive the first citizens in Laguna. Our community manager has been fundamental welcoming each family as they arrive ensuring a positive relationship is built from the outset. We are also creating a set of communication tools so they can have a voice and speak about their needs. 

Our Innovation Hub, an area where our residents and the surrounding community can come together has been redesigned into a more informal, welcoming style where each and every one can feel at home and foster relationships as well as enjoy the functional space.

Going forward, we will continue to look forward to learning more about the communities where we build our cities and using this knowledge to inform our method every step of the way. We’re confident that this will enable us to create places that truly matter not only now, but well into the future.

Susanna Marchionni is CEO of Planet Smart City Brazil.