me&dave has created an innovative language-led brand identity for Anco&co, a build-to-rent (BTR) development that has just launched in the heart of Manchester with the bold goal of shaking up the rental sector.
Located in a popular up-and-coming neighbourhood – Ancoats – me&dave’s urban fly-poster campaign is inspired by protest placards. It also references Manchester’s world-famous music scene – the iconic bands, and gig posters by artists like Peter Saville of Factory Records fame.
The campaign shuns imagery and dull property vernacular in favour of a new, straight-talking language of protest and revolt. It empowers renters to take a stand against the status quo and aspire to a better lifestyle, getting the message across that Anco&co is changing things for the better with a new, upscale approach to the rental market.
Real estate investor DTZ Investors asked me&dave to come up with a strategy that would demonstrate how Anco&co is moving renting into a new era. It also wanted me&dave to put some real distance between Anco&co’s BTR proposition and the rental sector as most people know it today. To achieve this, the brand takes a cheeky dig at some of the problems that old-school tenants face, highlighting the benefits of this new ‘hotel style’ living.
Anco&co tenants, who will be able to move in next summer, will enjoy ready-to-live, fully furnished one- and two-bedroom apartments with en-suite bathrooms, private kitchens and living rooms. They’ll also have access to communal bars, cafés, co-work spaces, a common room, cinema, rooftop terrace and concierge service. Everything has been conceived to strike the perfect balance between the need for privacy and hanging out with neighbours.
Mark Davis, co-founder and creative director of me&dave, says: “There’s a big gap between Anco&co and what many people regard as ‘typical’ renting. Our challenge was to make it clear that the two are poles apart. Build-to-rent is a bit misunderstood. Our bold campaign reframes renting as being more like belonging to a members’ club and, along the way, hopefully we crush a few stereotypes and make people smile. Real estate can take itself far too seriously sometimes.”
The campaign has been deliberately designed to pique interest and get people talking. Hoardings surrounding the whole site have been covered in fly posters and a dedicated website has been set up so that people can register interest.
Much of the messaging is explicit – ‘There’s a new landlord in town’, ‘Renting just got good’ – but some is implicit. Signs with slogans like ‘Sorry Billy, we’re over’ are intentionally abstract, but will appeal to renters sick of dragging Billy bookshelves from flat to flat (it also nods to the fact Anco&co apartments are fully furnished). As well as being humorous and aesthetically striking, the campaign is standing for a cause.
“It’s saying, ‘We’ve had enough of being fobbed off with old mattresses, exploitative landlords and damp, substandard accommodation,” says Davis. “Anco&co is moving the goalposts and things are going to change.’”
me&dave came up with the name Anco&co to reference the scheme’s location and to inspire a sense of community. Ensuring the brand has longevity, it can also be used if the developer chooses to expand into new regions. For maximum stand-out, and to contrast with the bold, gritty messaging and edgy urban environment, a soft, friendly and welcoming pastel colour palette has been chosen.
Christian Birrell of DTZ Investors says: “There aren’t many schemes like Anco&co out there, so when it came to branding and marketing there was no blueprint. We knew that me&dave was the right agency as it nails what’s right for a brand, even if that means breaking the ‘rules’. This project needed a creative team to think outside the box and disrupt the rental sector, and me&dave delivered.”