Know Your Place: Seven things great placemakers do


Why are some places better than others? Here DNCO founder Joy Nazzari and strategy director Simon Yewdall introduce seven chapters from their original book as short clips outlining the key things enlightened place creators do.

Chapter 1: Customer Research

Some of our favourite projects at DNCO have involved customer research, and so Chapter 1 of Know Your Place starts there. How well do you know the audience you're creating a place for?

Speaking to customers and finding out how their world is changing can unlock surprising results. From ad hoc community workshops to more sophisticated quantitative and qualitative research, we've enjoyed getting really close to the customer on projects, providing client and wider collaborative teams unique insights for creating a great future place.

Chapter 2: Do Good

How can the places we create do good? Helping clients answer this big topic with plenty of challenges has become a top priority for us at DNCO. In Chapter 2 of Know Your Place we identify some of the key opportunities to make a meaningful difference, and show why doing good is good for business.

Chapter 3: Place Purpose

While profit may well be a desired outcome of a successful project, it makes for a less inspiring lens for building great places, and even risks creating unsustainable communities.

Instead, what if we create a meaningful Place Purpose that is human-centric, even before the place is designed? How will that direct everyone’s energies and what could the result be — for people and profit?

In Chapter 3, we talk about how drawing teams together around a central Place Purpose has had powerful lasting outcomes. And how the earlier this is defined in a project, the more impact it can have.

Chapter 4: Authentic Action

Chapter 4 is about the importance of walking the walk because places perform best when they deliver on promises, consistently and over time. It’s not only critical for credibility, it’s also the best way to reach and connect with your customers.

After a decade observing what does and doesn't connect, we at DNCO encourage the built environment industry to use purpose to decide what is or isn't right to actually do for a place and community — because communities can sniff out inauthenticity. We also look at the future of the landlord as we see a shift from straight up asset management to a longer term operational model more commonly seen in hotels and co-working spaces.

Chapter 5: Collaboration

Chapter 5 on collaboration looks at the power of uniting different businesses around purpose, and how working together can deliver resilience for place brands.

For years, we've been talking about how collaboration in the built environment is key — but how many of us genuinely invite it into our work, especially between disciplines or companies when budgets are scarce? Having a central and inspirational purpose is a way of bridging our natural specialisms. It’s a way of asking: what could we create here — together?

Chapter 6: Leadership

In a time of great challenges, the difference between good leadership and no leadership can have big consequences for brands. Chapter 6 of Know Your Place looks at why places in particular need brave leaders.

We know one of the biggest challenges facing the place creation industry is trust — customers and communities are easily cynical about the approved messaging on everything from exhibition boards to ads. Leaders are a huge opportunity to embody the values of a future place and represent the passion of the whole team behind it. We suggest it’s not just establishing the right brand mission, or Place Purpose: it’s also about putting your face and name to it.

Chapter 7: Commitment

Many brands are making big commitments to net zero carbon, how fantastic for customers and the planet. For our final chapter from Know Your Place we pose a question: what if we went beyond one-off targets and used commitment as a lens for creating better long-term thinking brands and places, beyond our personal lifetimes? Imagine what we’d create.

This chapter also ends with a round up of the complete Know Your Place process from market research to identifying your purpose to maximising collaboration and leadership.

Get in touch with our team