St Ali's Laneway Project – An Awesome Brand Experience

As a brand strategy and design agency we spend much of our lives working in the front line of brands, defining strategic positioning and designing new visual language to launch them afresh in the market place. But often it seems though much energy and importance is placed on the initial brand positioning, the task of actively maintaining the brand’s position is given less attention. To achieve the long term promise of the initial brand work there needs to be an ongoing commitment to engaging in brand activities that bring to life your brand’s essence and values. To keep your brand vibrant and relevant the question you need to continually ask yourself is; ‘what do we do next?’


St Ali’s Laneway Project in South Melbourne is a rich example of this ongoing commitment to brand development. St Ali’s has a strong brand position and has a large and loyal following who love them for their hip attitude and seriously good coffee. Staging their Laneway Project event featuring local street artists, DJ’s and fixie races has reinforced St Ali’s credibility as one of Melbourne’s coolest cafes, not an easy feat in a city that claims the best coffee and cafe culture in country.

The Laneway Project took place at Yarra Place in South Melbourne an unlikely place for such happenings, but this only added to the success. Throughout the day Street Art great like Benzo, Gimiks, Itch, Kid Zoom, Meggs, Monkey, Otis Chamberlain, Phibs, Reka, Sync and Drewfunk painted walls of the laneway. There was also ally cat races, fixie polo and DJ’s. Over the day there was an estimated 5000 people came to check it out.

What made it so right was not only activities that where on offer but also the people who where involved. The event was curated by the much respected Drewfunk, a hero among the street art scene. I caught up with him in his studio and asked him a few questions on the event. When I met Drewfunk his passion for painting was simply infectious. He told me that it was his first time curating an event like this and had an absolute blast. He felt that the success of the event was getting the right artists and DJ’s. The artists where a collection of well known street artists whom he had involved with before. This helped to keep the vibe nice and relaxed. He has already started planing next years event, it’s going to be even bigger. The event may have started a little art community in South Melbourne, St Ali’s is opening a studio for practicing artists in the adjacent building, which Drewfunk will take up residence after he returns from Sydney.

What was especially good was the event that St Ali’s created was completely on-brand. The Laneway project was a great way for them to further strengthen their connection with the local community and with creators of our city’s laneway culture.

I have come up with 6 Golden rules to great brand experience events.

  • Get the right people involved. All brand events should be about authenticity and buzz – having the right people on-board will give your event a head start in both those areas.
  • Make the event for and about your audience. The event should not have to appeal to everyone, the more it does not appeal to those who are not your target audience – the greater the appeal to those who are.
  • Use the event to express how you want your brand to perceived.
  • Contribute to your customers experiences. The event should be about a great experience for you customers and their friends first and foremost. Brand events are about building brand equity, not short term sales.
  • Make sure you promote the event. Firstly, there’s nothing like a crowd to create a buzz, but secondly, with targeted promotion you also get to talk brand with those who can’t make it to your event.
  • Have fun. If bringing your brand to life through amazing brand experiences doesn’t excite you, you’re the wrong person for the job. Like all things in life, when you’re truly passionate about your brand and the brand experiences you create, you’re all-but guaranteed success.

If you would like to have a chat about creating extraordinary experiences for your brand, get in touch.

Lachlan McDougall
Design Creative

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