A cross-cultural approach to branding

As a French cultural organisation established in Hong Kong for over 60 years, adopting a cross-cultural approach to communication and branding is paramount : throwback to our collaboration with Poly U Design School students back in September 2020. 

Last autumn 2020 marked the beginning of an exciting collaboration with final year design students of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University School of Design who took on the challenge of revisiting The Alliance Francaise brand and visual identity by applying a  ‘local lensibility’ and conceptualising new meaningful aesthetics for our organisation.

With a global footprint across all continents and in 137 countries, Alliance Francaise is, around the world, the institution of choice when it comes to learning French and deepening one’s knowledge of French culture. 

Each Alliance Francaise strives to weave French philosophy into the dominant cultural context in which it operates to nurture meaningful connections with Francophile  communities while striving to reach  different demographics.

The richness of engaging with our community 

Community engagement for research purposes is a subtle art that combines various areas of human knowledge and technical skill. The support  of our partner IPSOS Research Agency was indispensable in kickstarting this brand revitalization project and in helping to run a series of focus groups with our community members.

Throughout September 2020, IPSOS conducted a series of group discussions with our members as well as our staff both in French and in Chinese in order to investigate their relationship with AFHK as well as with French culture. 

In total, 24 participants engaged in 3 different working groups and 21 design students attended these discussions behind the scenes. These groups were especially insightful for Poly U students who then spent another 2.5 months, studying our brand and analysing qualitative research materials gathered during the focus groups to produce a new set of innovative design guidelines.

“This project was a great opportunity to spark engagement with our community and eventually contributed to revitalising the brand together. Stella KO, Communication and Community Manager at Alliance Francaise 

“Our multidisciplinary group worked closely together to create a new AFHK identity that would appeal to teenagers and other target audiences; blending local culture and the original French style innovatively.“ says Michelle, Poly U Communication Design School Student

Creating value for our members and thinking of our brand as a community outpost

Communities are nurtured around passions, lifestyles, causes, and the meaningful things that people choose to spend their time doing. For the few thousand people who make up the French lovers community in Hong Kong as well as our students, this is what being part of the AFHK community is all about: curiosity, passion and lifestyle.  
With this in mind, it is of the utmost importance for our team to learn from our audience and outline the core values we aspire to convey when promoting our language centre and our cultural initiatives.

During the second phase of this project, students skillfully applied their creative and critical thinking skills with what they had learnt about AFHK and its community to come up with new designs and engagement proposals that align with our global organisation and speak to the Hong Kong community. 

"Our objective was to help people understand French culture by connecting it with our own cultures and to drive interest and engagement." says Polly, Poly U Communication Design School Student

Their work was then presented to our team as well as the IPSOS team in November when we eventually got to engage constructively with their design proposals and talk over the best ideas in order to apply and implement them adequately to our marketing and communication channels. 
Our ultimate mission is to inspire our community to learn and expand their knowledge of the French language and culture. 
Doing so humbly and to the highest standards is what we strive for and we look forward to engaging further with our community and partners to sustain this vision in 2021.

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