Harbour Grounds: How reimagining a brand identity connects Place with People

Apr 19 2023

Auckland’s waterfront has a fresh face to work, indulge and play thanks to 151 Property’s newest neighbourhood transformation – Harbour Grounds.

Located between Viaduct Harbour, Wynyard Quarter, and Victoria Park and comprising seven office buildings, Harbour Grounds is a new hive of activity (with rooftop beehives to boot), boasting the latest in workplace, community and sustainability on the doorstep of Auckland’s waterfront.

So how did we transform this tired, traditional working precinct into the vibrant and community-centred neighbourhood it is today?

Enter Studio White Noise.

The new Melbourne based brand strategy and design collective, and specialists in the property and lifestyle sector, were engaged by 151 Property to transform the existing brand identity and re-inject energy and life into the community alongside new repositioning works.

We caught up with Co-Founder & Director, Ross Karabelas, to find out how he and his team came up with the brand concept and the unique story behind it.


What was the brief for the new brand identity?

Ross Karabelas: The first question 151 Property came to us with was “How can we create a space that accommodates the changing nature of work – one that prioritises agile working, encourages engagement and promotes a sense of community?”

With the existing retail offering under re-development, they also wanted to appeal to the broader community to attract visitors and make it more than just a place to work.


How did you get started on the brand name and concept?

Ross Karabelas: Before starting the process of naming and branding, we brought together all stakeholders to establish where we were, where we needed to be, how we could create a point of reference for the precinct.

Once we had the groundwork covered, we started on the brand development by looking at various ‘naming territories.’ Essentially, these are the different anchors that we could tie the brand to such as location, heritage, or site significance. We chose a location-based naming territory because of the enviable waterfront location, which is how we landed on ‘Harbour.’

We then pressure-tested this with a companion word and chose ‘Grounds’ to reflect youth, energy, and transition.

With ‘Harbour Grounds’ we had created a short, simple, and evocative name, giving us a strong basis for the overall campaign.


How did the design concept come about?

Ross Karabelas: With the name established, the visuals flowed.

Working with bright, clean colours helped to emphasise a feeling of freshness, and we then chose nautical flags to reflect Auckland’s sailing pedigree. We also used images of food, locations, and all the things that people look forward to when they come back to work.

We applied this across a suite of branding assets to tell an engaging, efficient, and fun story. In developing the brand assets, we committed to creating a branded house, a place where we could easily consolidate all commercial assets, retail offerings, and greenways that interconnect the neighbourhood.


How does the brand incorporate sustainability?

Ross Karabelas: It’s an ongoing priority for 151 Property, but the story wasn’t being told to end users. So, we built a narrative that the community would value by highlighting the visible, tangible elements. For example, the site makes its own honey from rooftop hives, operates worm farms, houses local birdlife, and actively recycles.


Who is Harbour Grounds for?

Ross Karabelas: It’s a place for everyone – occupiers and the local community alike. We didn’t want to focus on a certain demographic, and the location-based name is a deliberately inclusive way of saying that.


How has the rebrand helped to engage the community?

Ross Karabelas: It’s no longer simply the case of having the lowest price per square metre, or beautiful offices. Workplaces and landlords need to engage their employees and occupiers respectively with experiences outside of the office walls.

People returning to the office want something to look forward to, not just a desk. They want engagement, collaboration, and connection. It’s now an essential part of the employee value proposition, as it helps tenants to attract the right people, and retain them.

The rebrand has given the Harbour Grounds community managers a whole new platform to promote  these sorts of experiences. When we handed over the branding, they really took on the essence of what the brand is: community. As a result, the neighbourhood has the kind of warmth and happiness that you don’t normally find in a workplace.

They’re running a full range of events that align with the brand, such as paint and chill, Matariki poi workshops, even puppy cuddling sessions – and they’re regularly at capacity which is great to see.


What’s next for Studio White Noise?

Ross Karabelas: All our projects are about building connections. We’re  determined to push boundaries on what is acceptable within property, and champion end users to be part of the brand and story. The story behind Harbour Grounds was developed for longevity, and we’ll continue to work on the brand as it evolves. We’re excited to see what happens next.

To find out more about Harbour Grounds, visit: www.harbourgrounds.co.nz