Innovative planting sees interior landscapers franchise branching out.

Urban Planters, the UK's leading interior landscape provider of live and replica plants displays, have transformed some of the country's most illustrious hotels, shopping centres, offices, car showrooms and leisure clubs. Last week the National Franchise Exhibition held at the NEC, Birmingham, saw Urban Planters capitalise on their business proposition to attract potential franchisees. Making it through to the finals of last year's British Franchise Awards it was particularly important to attend the exhibition, and being their first they wanted to be remembered long after the event for being different and above all, innovative.

As with all franchise businesses, it is the brand that somebody invests in. Therefore it is crucial that it stays fresh and the franchise owners take the lead in developing its' exposure; so franchisees can take benefit from the entire groups success. With over 20 franchise territories in the UK and with product distribution links in The Netherlands, Urban Planters have been proactive in developing equity in their brand to provide tangible value to their network. The show at the NEC this year proved to be a great platform to showcase the strength in the brand and give new and existing franchisees the chance to see why an Urban Planters franchise may be the right one for them.

Planting the seed Joint M.D of the group, Thomas Palfreyman was keen for the exhibition to stand out from the crowd and approached Nottingham design agency Persona Creative for ideas; who Thomas knew previously, having masterminded the award winning planting installation at the agency's offices.

Thomas set Persona Creative a challenge - to come up with an idea for the stand that would be fitting to the brand, attract potential franchisees and showcase the groups innovative thinking.

The response from Persona Creative was a theme that challenged the way people think about urban interiors. Featuring display graphics of faux office environments; one showing a modern 'inspiring' workplace and the other a typical 'uninspiring' office, the theme was designed to provoke reaction and tempt interaction.

Hammad Khan, Creative Director at Persona Creative had this to say about their approach: 'The Urban Planters brand is already very strong, so to be given a challenge by Tom to enhance it was a great compliment to us. We've always had lots of ideas we could use for them and this brief gave us an opportunity to show just how creative we can be.'

Recycled CRT monitors were used as tree planters and a false turf floor used instead of office carpeting. To complete the stand layout, an air quality display was also designed as an area the Urban Planters team could use to discuss the end user benefits to those considering a franchise.

The centre piece of the design was a two metre tall 'Urban Tree', made from scaffolding to simulate branches and glass-fronted flat screen monitors mounted as leaves. This would provide an eye-catching focus point for the stand as well as highlight Urban Planters innovative approach to interior landscaping.

The concept was received with great applause by the Urban Planters board of Directors, who felt the emotions and values of the brand were given strong presentation. With full approval of the theme, Thomas set about project managing the manufacture of the stand and Urban Tree, whilst Persona Creative produced the graphics and animations required. With the concept designs approved in early August and the date of the NEC show fixed to 6 October, the joint team had 10 weeks to complete the project scope, which included:

  • Stand visualisation & designs
  • Urban Tree Manufacture
  • 'Air Quality' Bio-Spheres manufacture
  • Display artwork for the stand theme
  • Screen Animations
  • Large format printing
  • Dry run testing
  • Delivery, installation and logistics

Not wanting to create simply a visual installation, the sales and marketing proposition was also developed further, with two strap-lines created. To compliment the contrasting office environments on the stand, the line 'Same number of trees - just less paper' was created to mark the groups' ethical approach to their business. Another line was produced to appeal to the emotive side of a prospective franchisee - 'Do you want a business that lets you breathe?' Both lines can be used by the franchisees in their marketing and a positive step from head office in supporting the network.