The Meaning of The Community

We live in an increasingly connected world, so why does society feel like it’s growing further apart?

Andy Lipscombe

Director of Brand Strategy FreshBritain


We live in an increasingly connected world, so why does society feel like it’s growing further apart?  

It’s a sad fact that over 9 million people in the UK, almost a fifth of the population, say they are always or often lonely, while almost two thirds feel uncomfortable admitting to it (British Red Cross and Co-Op, 2016).  

Whether political, social or familial, we know that the conventional frameworks that have provided reassurance and belonging are being broken down. As these traditional structures fragment, new frameworks and communal systems need to emerge to keep us connected.

How do brands fit within this changing landscape and what part can they play in bringing people together?   

A more honest approach would be a good start as brands have been guiltier than most of fabricating a sense of ‘community’. It’s not for brands to build communities, but rather to support them.

Understanding how communities are originally formed and forged is critical to discerning their meaning.  Exploring what they collectively stand against can often help to calibrate what they stand for. Only then can brands be genuinely aligned to the needs and dreams of a community and be clear about how they can deliver positive social outcomes for them beyond a transaction.

In this context, the route to navigating the future is often to study the context of the past. After all, enduring communities evolve over time through shared circumstance and shared experience. Newly emerging communities connect to those of the past through a shared understanding of history and storytelling. It may be a moment in time, a place or person that is significant in bringing people together.

For Waterloo.London the aim of the project was to unearth the true meaning of the local community, to be faithful to that community, and then to celebrate and perpetuate the values they have always stood for. 


Offering 125,000 square feet of premium retail space and housed in one of Waterloo’s most architecturally iconic spaces, Waterloo.London brings both tangible benefits and potential challenges to the local residential and business communities.

Such a high-profile development also presents an opportunity to re-define what the area of Waterloo means in the wider context of an ever-changing London. 

Therefore, our starting point was to explore how the meaning of place could inform the meaning of Waterloo.London. In the case of Waterloo, it soon became apparent that the meaning of the place is fundamentally the meaning of the community.

Juxtaposed against the Establishment, a liminal space locked in by geography, the community of Waterloo has been formed and forged by its very proximity to the West End.

Just from being the ‘other side of the river’ Waterloo has historically been perceived as being a place of ‘the disreputable’ and ‘certainly the most dreadful place in our metropolis’. Historian Peter Ackroyd explained in The Autobiography of London that “the Establishment has always formed an urban discrimination” against Waterloo.

However, this community found strength in adversity. A community of outliers was formed.  A community of women, a community of protest, a community of equality, a community of alternative cultural thinking. This is a community that has always been defiant against the establishment; and has informed the strategic positioning of Waterloo.London. 

Waterloo.London will be the new beacon for the old meaning of Waterloo. A place of diversity, equality and inclusivity that defies the conventions of travel retail destinations.

The brand identity was informed from the idea of deconstructing the iconic Grimshaw Arch that sits above the site itself, referencing the build of the structure but with a more natural, approachable form.

An algorithm was created using accumulated data from architectural references in the Waterloo area. This was then the basis of the actual logo generation which, like the community, can remain unfixed and continually evolve, withstanding all external pressures.

Coupled with that, we produced an extensive filmic and photographic library shot over several weeks featuring local residents, tourists, places-of-interest and cultural highlights. This has helped us produce materials that are completely rooted in the local community and equally reflect our client’s aspirations for creating something truly distinct within the retail sector. 

FreshBritain, London
Waterloo.London headshot.jpg
Guest Author

Andy Lipscombe

Director of Brand Strategy FreshBritain


With over 20 years’ experience in marketing and brand strategy, Andy Lipscombe has delivered strategic platforms for brands such as Waterloo.London, Ben Sherman, Bacardi-Martini, The Scouts Association, Volvo Group, GoreWear, Head, Team Sky, Mountain Equipment and L Catterton.

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