Scape: A Social Design Company

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Are brands untapped allies in people-driven urban development? Scape’s social design approach introduces innovative brand strategies for cities.

Traditionally, brands are seen as profit-driven, product-slinging entities; traditionally, brands are not active in urban development; traditionally, major cities were built from master plans. Things change.

Today, cities are evolving more and more to meet peoples’ needs, while people themselves are more prominent actors in shaping their urbanity. Development is more participatory, as interest in how a city can be attractive and bring happiness deepens. Much like brands, cities themselves are seeking more engagement – to attract more people and increase economic competitiveness on the global market.

Beyond city branding schemes like I Amsterdam and iconic urban features like the Eiffel Tower, cities are increasingly launching more innovative action plans that foster urban attractiveness and joy such as repurposing disused spaces for social purpose. For example, Amsterdam turned a piece of land in the center into a pop up beach aimed at kids and welcoming all. It can be recognized that people and communities are at the heart of successful development for both cities and brands.

But where are brands in this mix? For city makers, brands appear to be an underused partner in developing people-driven growth strategies.


Social design has many meanings. To Scape, it means creating mutual benefit for brands and the communities they touch; it means giving rise to both community development and human interaction based on enriching urban experiences. Scape strives to help brands and communities grow together, using tools such as events, digital, mobile, urban spaces and retail.

As brand specialists, at their core Scape is passionate about cities. They seem to focus on finding out what makes individuals tick, working from the city down to its communities and integrating this knowledge into an innovative brand strategy.

In this equation, brands and community development should not conflict, but rather support each other: the more a brand speaks to local context, personality and motivations, the more a community will engage to co-create mutual benefits.


Applying their social design approach, Scape works with both traditional brands and cities. For example, they have worked on people and experience based projects with brands such as Heineken, Nikon and Adidas, while their driving passion and underlying unifying element is cities: the people, places, communities and spaces; relationships, connections and shared experiences and interactions; and how brands can play a meaningful part in advancing engagement, interaction and co-creation processes.

Implementing these processes, Scape appears to be a pioneer in serving as a mediator between brands and cities. At this stage, possibilities for collaborative growth appear undefined. What is clear is that there are opportunities in working with brands when it comes to mutually beneficial, community-centered urban development.

Text: Mehdi Comeau


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