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Innovation tools Essex

Digital toolkit for SMEs 

Maritime and coastal visitor destination identity study (DNA) in the Southend pilot area has been conducted and involve

1.  Desk research & visiting the destination
Stakeholder engagement through interviews and workshops

As a result, the study set out a new Southend story which is based on the ‘pillars’ of a small number of themes that have emerged from ‘funnelling’ the evidence and applying insight. These are at the heart of why the place is distinct, special and reflective of its assets and character. They are the priorities for what is communicated and how the place is developed; they may not be fully in place within Southend currently but they are vital for its future positioning and growing the visitor economy.

Importantly, Southend needs to be viewed as the centre of a much wider experience that stretches up and down the coast and inland, so its story is led by its assets not artificial boundaries.

The study recommends greater focus in communications on the following three themes:

  • Wet ‘n Wild
    Southend has such a wide range of activities available for visitors, from adrenaline pumping sports such as mounting biking at Hadleigh, various watersports and open water swimming to more leisurely coastal and marshland walks. With such a huge choice there is so much in Southend to appeal to many audiences.

  • Culturing creativity
    Southend has always been a hotbed of music, art and culture with this seaside town attracting artists and creatives from London and elsewhere because of its vibe, quality of life and great value. Southend can champion its fantastic attractions such as Focal Point, Twenty One and Metal to build on this very different aspect of Southend.

  • Buzzing beaches
    With 7 gorgeous beaches, 3 of which are Blue Flag, the longest pleasure pier in the world and an array of fantastic seafront experiences, Southend can delight and appeal to people of all ages and interests.

Alongside these themes is the ‘big idea’ developed to be the ‘strategic signature’ of the place and the compelling summation of Southend’s distinctiveness.

Over time this shared sense of purpose and ambition will help to develop a unique ‘sense of place’ for Southend as the story becomes the framework for the development of the place experience. There will not only influence the communications and promotion but also the development and delivery of products and services, the environment and public realm within which these exist, and the behaviour of those involved in the welcome.

                            The Big Idea - ‘Southend: London’s seaside culture’

There’s no denying that Southend has always been the seaside resort for London with city and town enjoying a special relationship. However, the growth of the airport, the Thames Estuary Experience Museum, music and cultural events, development of a varied activity offer and greater awareness of what the wider coastline can provide is ensuring that Southend is London’s seaside culture.

The evidence, 3 themes and big idea were presented to Visit Essex, Southend stakeholders and target SMEs in late 2017 early 2018. Below you will find by means of background information, a range of summary document that have emerged from the step by step process with businesses and tourists in Southend that provide the key points to make up this toolkit.

Step 1 - Approach
Step 2 – Messages, Themes and a Big Idea
Step 3 – Towards best practices for storytelling & animation in Southend

The intention is to provide businesses and other stakeholders with the stories to ‘tell and sell’ Southend, to enhance and extend the visit experience, link attractions and experiences together to increase dwell time and optimise the memorability of each place.

3. A Digital Toolkit for Southend SMEs in the tourism sector

The Digital Toolkit seeks to enable and empower tourism SMEs in Southend and inspire others across the coastal Essex to do something similar. Download a quick guide on how to use the Digital toolkit now.

The Digital Toolkit seeks to enable and empower tourism SMEs in Southend and inspire others across coastal Essex to do something similar.

Through a 3 step process we have assembled a series interesting information, tools and resources to help your business create an emotional and practical connection online with Southend as a destination. The themes and big idea, highlight the main assets of the place that emerged through a DNA study. The tools translate these findings into high impact and design led infographics and animations to help you communicate the Southend destination.

The digital toolkit is made up of the following elements;

Southend story
Southend photobank

These elements will each be an inspirational tool for stakeholders demonstrating this shared and forward looking view of Southend. With a quick read, people and organisations will be able to see what makes the place special, distinct, what their communication priorities are, why people should consider them and really ‘feel’ the DNA of Southend.

The Southend story

We want to make sure you can make the most of the place you are in and communicate the many special things that make up Southend.

To do this we’ve created a story of the place based on a ‘big idea’ which is an overarching view of what the place can be and a small number of themes which are things that Southend need to talk about and develop. You can see these in the presentation; they’re not marketing messages but areas of focus. These have then been used as the basis for the narrative you also have which is a forward looking view of how Southend is different and stand out. This narrative is the driving force behind the photography, infographics and animation that are all there to help you sell the place.

 Southend photobank

The photobank provides vibrant imagery for you to use in your communications and helps to bring to life the Southend story.  The photography goes beyond simply taking pictures of buildings and landscapes but instead aims to tell a more layered story which connect with the visitor experiences in Southend. With new imagery think about clever use of foreground and background to tell more than one story, animate the images with people and experiences, for examples take photos of people taking photos of key Southend attractions and people enjoying cocktails by the beach. 

The photography can be used in a number of ways alongside other elements of the toolkit, especially the infographics and could perhaps be used as imagery on websites, on posters, advertising leaflets and on pop-up banners.

 View and access images under theme 1 - Southend general images

1Southend general

Download HiRes zip here


View and access images under theme 1 - Southend – Wet ‘n Wild


Download HiRes zip here


View and access images under theme 2 - Southend culturing creativity

3Culturing Creativity

Download HiRes zip here


View and access images theme 3 – Buzzing beaches 

4Buzzing beaches

Download HiRes zip here


Southend infographics

Infographics are preferable and keep people’s interest for longer by lending a storytelling and visual element to key information rather than lengthy text containing the same content. The visuals help the reader to process the content more efficiently, making them a fantastic and relatively easy way to ensure key elements of the Southend story are committed to the audience’s memory.

With the infographics included within the toolkits as JPEGS, stakeholders can utilise these key snippets of information and key messages to relevant audiences within their own communications.  For example, they could be used alongside photography within advertising print and be used on websites. 

Probably of even more importance, these infographics can be shared very easily among different social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and allow businesses the opportunity to utilise these as a way to increase their profile, and focus communications around the key messages relevant to Southend.

In addition to the JPEGS, the icons have also been supplied in an .AI format alongside the designed textures and fonts, which allows organisations to design their own infographics more relevant to their own business operations yet still have the same brand feel for Southend.

View and access Southend infographics


Download HiRes zip here (JPEGS)

Download Designer files (.AI, texture, font)


Southend animation

The animation sequence for Southend has been developed to act as a quick yet effective way to give a flavour of Southend, not a pin point of every attraction and point interest from a visitor perspective, and join up the assets to create an experience which a potential visitor would find appealing.  The intention is to create interest and intrigue in an impactful, vibrant and fun way with the viewer that would then encourage them to explore further information about the area, with the ultimate aim that they would wish to visit Southend and see it for themselves. 

Watch & embed the INTERREG PROFIT animation in your website


 An easy to use guide to the toolkit can be downloaded here (PDF)