Mersea Barns

Bringing the East Mersea community together

With wild natural beaches and large open spaces, Mersea Island has always been the place to go for a peaceful, scenic day out. The local community is close-knit, and the produce on the island is renowned for its quality, from oysters to wine. In 2016, the time was right to provide a new hub for the village of East Mersea, with a space that could be used and treasured by everyone.

However, starting a business from scratch is a challenge, and Mackman was approached to provide a roadmap towards a new brand that appealed to both locals and visitors from miles around. We identified that our work with Mersea Barns needed to be underpinned by the concept of ‘Destination Familiar’ – a place that feels like you’ve been there before.

Mackman have been amazing, helping us make very rapid changes to our website and strategy. I can’t fault them for their helpfulness, creativity and support during some pretty interesting times. Thanks guys – you are total stars.

Mersea Barns

Mackman worked with Essex based shop and café destination Mersea Barns on their brand development, photography and website design project. As a destination East Mersea lacked a key landmark for families, outdoor enthusiasts and the local community to share. Our aim was to build a desirable space that would entice visitors and celebrate the quality of its offering.

We created an image that sought to evoke the memories of the island and its people. Initial progress had been started on an exciting new development on the east of the island, however, no branding or marketing had been considered at this point. We were approached with a blank canvas, and an exciting challenge.

The Challenge

Because we were starting the project with a blank canvas, Mersea Barns needed to feel rooted in the community from the day it opened. The insight and segmentation phases of the project were more important than ever to establish how to communicate with the potential audiences.

Our Process

Creating an authentic brand

A branding programme was put in place which included the following items:

  • An insight into their vision and mission for the organisation.
  • A deep dive into their target audiences.
  • A brand strategy to maintain focus and consistency.
  • A launch campaign for new staff and the local community.
  • A brand identity including a brand story, tone of voice and strapline.
  • A launch website allowing for announcements.
  • A social media strategy and training.
  • A marketing 2019 activities plan for both the opening and day to day communications of Mersea Barns.

Phase 1: initial positioning and brand building

We collaborated with Mersea Barns to understand their audiences, build their brand, and produce a ‘brochure’ style website that presented them as a new destination built on honesty, authenticity, and the local area. This served as crucial groundwork due to the project stemming from a blank canvas. The strategy had to be ready for the completion of Mersea Barns’ physical premises.

  • What is Mersea Barns’ key messaging?
  • What does their audience need and expect?
  • How can the venue establish itself in the community?

Phase 2: Building on a matured brand

Once the brand had launched and Mersea Barns had found their feet, they recognised that their website needed to work harder for them. We therefore added functions relating to ecommerce and events to allow the site to serve as a community pinboard.

  • What additional features would users need?
  • How can Mersea Barns enhance their online offering?
  • What have people come to expect from them?

What does this mean for MERSEA BARNS?

Encouraging visitors to snap and share their own photographs and memories of Mersea using #MerseaBarns allowed the brand to tie in with people’s emotions and experiences and build trust.

Brand Facts

  • Mersea Barns is a shop and café destination in East Mersea, Essex.
  • In 2016, they obtained planning permission to construct a custom-built barn on a site that once housed the much-loved Jarman’s Nursery and Pick-Your-Own.

Project Facts

  • They needed to tap into the fondness for Mersea among locals and visitors alike to establish themselves as a community hub and visitor attraction.
  • Mersea Barns approached Mackman to build their brand from the ground up, and provide them with the marketing tools they needed to maintain and promote their new brand.
  • The project enabled Mersea Barns to produce on-brand marketing and gain visibility online, while being able to rely on Mackman’s expertise for mentoring and technical support when required.

The Results

With their fully stocked brand identity toolkit built on thorough insight of their target audiences, Mersea Barns had all the ingredients that they needed for a successful launch. The shop and café have become a hub for the local community and a destination for visitors from further afield, showcasing local artists and craftspeople, and the best local produce. Since the launch of the new brand and website, we have remained close to Mersea Barns. We continue to support Mersea Barns on an ongoing basis for marketing, mentoring and photography. In 2020, we helped them to implement a click and collect system in response to the COVID-19 lockdown.