Behind the strategy: The Grand Press.

Building on an industrial history to inspire an ambitious future for a London landmark. 

British Land has been transforming Canada Water into one of London's most vibrant neighbourhoods. At the heart of this transformation lies The Grand Press, a monumental structure with a rich history. Once Europe's largest printing press and later a legendary club, the building is a living part of London’s history, and it’s continuing to evolve. British Land are transforming The Grand Press into a unique space that’s set to be both a workplace and cultural hub (subject to planning), a mix as unexpected as the story that lives within its walls. They needed a brand that would weave the building’s history with its future, creating an enduring story for this iconic space.

Bringing creativity, innovation and community together.

Our challenge was to create a brand for The Grand Press that honoured the legacy of the building while forging its future as a pioneering space that inspires and empowers the surrounding community. The brand had to live beyond the building; we wanted to develop a destination where creativity, innovation and community can converge, using each chapter of the building’s history to create an emotive and evolving narrative for the space.

“The Grand Press is not a building, it’s a statement.”

- Client

The context of this project was like no other. There were many creative tensions at play between the past and future purposes of the space, and it was our job to balance these facets of the building in a way that did justice to them all. To do that, we held a series of strategic workshops with the British Land team and spent time touring both the building and the surrounding area to get a firm understanding of its architecture and history.

Principles that balance the past, present and future of The Grand Press.

We worked closely with British Land to create a timeless brand that positions the building in a way that’s right for the people who will use it, from businesses to residents and visitors. There were three key insights that influenced the strategy behind the new identity:

1. The Grand Press could not simply be a reiteration of its history; we had to distil its enduring maverick spirit into the brand to empower change.

From a printing press to a club and now an office space, the building has had many lives that don’t match up at first glance. Our job was to find the thread that weaves its history together. To do that, we asked ourselves what it is that has always defined the spirit of the space, and the bold attitude embedded in the walls of the building that makes the architecture come to life. It’s easy to rebrand a building based solely on its physical attributes, so we had to find an angle that would set the building apart from its competitors and its previous owners.

When it comes to building a brand, tapping into the rich heritage of a historical landmark can be both a challenge and an opportunity. Through research, we discovered the spirit of nonconformity that has always driven the space forward. Our brand couldn’t be a mere evolution of the past: it needed to be a celebration of the daring attitude that defines The Grand Press.

“We have a philosophy of not asking why, but why not?”

- Client

2. The Grand Press is a modular space, where the versatility of the venue itself mirrors the collaborative nature of the space as a junction for different communities. The brand needed to embody a similar kind of functionality.

The Grand Press is designed to represent this modular narrative by being a place of human synergy between work, innovation, retail and culture. By leveraging this flexibility in the brand, we could embrace the building's versatile spirit and empower both occupants and surrounding communities to not only use The Grand Press, but shape its future.

Traces of a shared narrative marked the original structure, from ink stains to weathered concrete and forgotten graffiti. The space is a celebration of everyone who has left their mark on the building, creating a layered story that we would incorporate into the brand.

“[The building is] a home that combines the character of what is there today with the space and flexibility you need to meet your aspirations for tomorrow.”

- Client

3. The Grand Press will become a lighthouse for Canada Water’s transformation and can help lead that evolution as part of its ecosystem of experiences.

The Grand Press plays a crucial role in Canada Water’s evolution as a vibrant neighbourhood. We recognised that this transformation would take time, potentially affecting how Canada Water is perceived. The Grand Press needed to act as a beacon, a representation of the rebel spirit of Canada Water, standing apart as its own entity without overshadowing the rest of the portfolio. Getting that balance right would mean the building would benefit from the pull that Canada Water has as a business, retail and leisure destination, while Canada Water would benefit from the addition of The Grand Press.

A collaboration between the past and future, for the present.

Our insights led us to position the brand as a daring destination that challenges the conventions around what an office space can be, using the collaborative nature of the building as our distinctive hook. We blended work with culture, past with present and future, and the audiences’ stories with the building’s, funnelling all these ideas into a brand that would herald the transformation of The Grand Press and the community around it.

The principles also helped us define the building as a place where the lines between mechanical and organic worlds are blurred, connecting the city to Canada Water’s surrounding nature. We wanted the brand to feel human, inviting you to The Grand Press to be fuelled by the energy of the place.

By weaving all these principles together, we were able to capture the eclectic yet enduring spirit that represents the building and its purpose. The result is a new identity that acts as a call to make your mark on the walls of The Grand Press and be part of an indelible history.

"The Grand Press presented a one-of-a-kind challenge, but thankfully one that was natural and straightforward. We were aware that we were creating the next evolution of a cultural pillar in London, and we needed to do right by the communities and neighbourhood. At the same time, the building possessed so much energy and attitude, so our main strategic task was to translate that into a narrative that would work for both the present and future. We also saw an opportunity to challenge all conventions around what a building brand could be and to create something truly creative."

- Alice Auxenfans, strategist

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