Stream | Poplar HARCA
We are a collection of senior consultants with over 20 years’ experience of working together. We offer a blend of broad skills that combine the best of branding, marketing and communications.
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Setting the vision, culture and identity of a Housing Association.

How we helped:
Increase engagement and loyaltyChange market perception
Grow the business

Poplar HARCA is an award-winning UK Housing and Regeneration Community Association that owns and manages around 9,000 homes in Poplar, East London. The organisation sets out a strategy and vision for its growth and development every five years.


2016 saw the end of a five year strategy cycle. The management team recognised the need for not only a new strategic plan, but also to re-align its positioning, brand and culture to support the company’s growth strategy and to meet the challenges caused by changes in government policy.

Setting a five-year vision.

Creating opportunity.

Poplar HARCA is a resident-led organisation that has worked with the local community and partners to make Poplar a better place for 20 years. It was important that any positioning and branding worked to maximise its achievements whilst providing a platform for future activity.


The first stage of activity was to ascertain the current perception of Poplar HARCA and its aspirational future positioning. We used a combination of desktop research, interviews across: residents, board members, community and youth groups, educators, developers, culture and arts partners; and an online survey to all employees. These insights were presented back to a Poplar HARCA working group made up of a cross section of employees, along with our recommendations for positioning and messaging, across a two-day workshop and subsequent development sessions.


In the workshop and development sessions we refined the positioning of the organisation and defined its culture – the brand framework. The focus here highlighted the benefit Poplar HARCA has brought and will continue to bring to the area – this was defined as “creating opportunity” for “You”, “Housing”, “Community” and “Business”. This was supported by three key principles which run through everything that Poplar HARCA does. Using the framework a refreshed visual identity, tone of voice and messaging platform was developed.


The framework was also used to define the structure of the Strategic Plan 2016-2021 to ensure that all brand, culture and organisational development aligned with the future direction of the organisation.


The final stage was to implement the framework in to all internal and external systems and materials. The resulting materials covered stationery, web, social media, digital assets, presentations, brochures, newsletters, exhibition materials, clothing, vehicles, signage, badges and campaign branding.


We worked with an external technology company to overhaul the existing website structure and develop a new website with a focus of creating opportunities for users as well as communicating the personality of the business.

To launch and manage the brand going forward, we created an online “brand space”. This secure website was created to be a one-stop-shop for all things brand, with an overview of the Poplar HARCA story, guidelines on visual and written elements and application and downloadable templates and assets. The brand space is for all employees and partners.


A key element in the ongoing development of Poplar HARCA is its organisational development plan. The brand framework is being used to help define: talent management and recruitment, education and training, performance management, policies and systems. The values and behaviours are also being used to influence decisions made for all ongoing organisational development such as environmental branding and employee engagement.


After the first year, the results have been better than we could have imagined.


In the 2016 Poplar HARCA staff survey, more than 80% of staff said that they felt they understood the brand behaviours and values laid out in the strategic plan.


The improvements made to the website have resulted in a very strong increase in usage with a 78% increase in mobile and tablet users and a 34% increase in use overall.

The Foundation for the Future.

How we helped:

Community, sector and organisation analysis

Brand postioning and framework

Identity implementation across print, web, events, outdoor, traditional & social media

Rollout and organisational development

Identity creation and messaging