Driven by a desire to make city life better for people in the UAE, Meraas is redefining the face of urban planning in the Middle East. By working across real estate, hotels, healthcare, food, technology and entertainment, it has a uniquely holistic approach to development.

In 2017, it was already having a positive impact on Dubai, having created the city’s first modern outdoor, low-rise, pedestrian-friendly areas. The problem was that not many people had heard of the company and fewer still knew what it stood for, making it hard to attract the right investors, partners and talent.

Meraas had always been modest, but with new developments in the pipeline, it was time for a stronger public voice and presence.

From developer to connector
We were invited to help, and engaged senior leadership through a series of workshops exploring possible futures. At the same time, our research revealed people craved a deeper connection to and sense of participation in local culture.  

Together, we agreed that Meraas’s purpose is to encourage an active urban life. It  invites people to take part, to shape the spaces in which they live, work and play.

With this in place, the organization could begin the shift from silent developer to consumer-facing ‘connector’, that would speak directly to its audiences.

New story, new experience
From here, we crafted the story and grounded the strategy in experience principles. We used these to design the services, internal experiences and touch points that would bring the brand to life for staff and public alike. 

We realigned the portfolio, creating a system that organised and simplified a vast number of urban developments, products and services around the needs of customers. 

The Meraas symbol, constructed from an open square frame, forms the basis of an ‘urban language’. This functional, active language aids navigation and connects Meraas developments together. Bold, simple elements are used across a range of assets from icons, patterns, and typography, to tone of voice, photography, sonic elements and physical spaces. 

Each of Meraas’s large scale ‘Neighbourhoods’ is represented by a unique symbol, providing the base for individual character within the broader family.

With ‘active urban life’ in mind, we took an unconventional approach to the launch of the brand. It began with a cryptic campaign that sparked intrigue and got people talking. Using the symbols, we formed a set of equations that all equalled Meraas, and initially gave no indication as to their meaning.

After the reveal we invited mass participation across the city, celebrating culture, creativity and community over several weeks through a set of activations and events.

More awareness, more impact
Overall, the brand has brought together disparate business units, given the company a clear, united voice, and allowed it room to grow in new sectors. It now has the confidence to talk with its stakeholders, and with the world beyond.

Weeks after launch awareness of the brand shot up by 19%, and the work attracted more visitors to the company’s destinations, with a reported 21% increase in visitor footfall. In addition to this, the work won in 5 categories at the Transform MENA Awards in Dubai, and landed the overall grand prix prize.

This is just the beginning of a multi-year strategy, and we’re thrilled to be partners on the journey.