Serendipitous, continuous, entrancing. Bringing place brand to life at the Convent.

Learn more about this project


Abbotsford Convent is a living place for curiosity and collaboration, meeting and meaning. The heart of a community and a precinct of creativity, culture and learning. Four kilometres from Melbourne’s CBD and spread over 16 acres, it is Australia’s largest multi-arts precinct.

Ellis Jones’ invitation into the world and brand of the Convent was through the renewal of their digital presence in 2019. That process began a conversation with the executive and board about what made the precinct unique, and how that essence might be expressed more fully to tenants, visitors, volunteers, donors and funders.

Ellis Jones identified an opportunity for the Abbotsford Convent Foundation (ACF) to secure grant funding through the Victorian Government’s ‘Boost Your Business’ programme to deliver a place brand strategy.


Our process began from the considerable insights and foundation built through the digital project, and remained aligned with the broader ACF strategic priorities:

  • The Abbotsford Convent will be a catalyst for cultural development, animated by creative and entrepreneurial people. It will be a place that encourages cultural engagement in a broad civic and social sense, as well as fostering excellence in the fine and applied arts.
  • The Convent will be a place that inspires, supports and reflects a vibrant mix of cultural and community activities while conserving and enhancing the heritage assets of the Convent and ensuring maximum access and amenity for all visitors.
  • The ACF will achieve financial independence through uses that generate income and extend the scope and quality of outcomes relating to the place and its activation.
  • The ACF will make decisions and perform our role in a manner that reflects our core values and that encourages accountability, operational efficiency and responsiveness to needs as they arise.

Drawing on the agency’s diverse experience working in place branding for arts companies, cultural institutions, property developers and impact investors, we undertook the following process:

  • Sensing and benchmarking: seeking insights from arts and cultural institutions of similar relevance and structure, nationally and internationally. Placing the Convent in context.
  • Place identity: using Ellis Jones’ place identity model to map the current and future state of place identity for the Convent, through executive, staff and stakeholder workshops.
  • Audience personas and experience: elevating existing visitor and stakeholder research to build and interrogate visitor personas, mapping visitor and tenant journeys, defining place activation premises and populating the roadmap.
  • Strategic brand identity: articulating place brand and organisational brand identities for the Convent and ACF, as related, and distinct.


The project has equipped the ACF with all the assets needed to begin activating place brand across the Convent precinct and beyond into the digital realm. Blurring boundaries between physical and digital experiences of place. Ellis Jones produced:

  • A place brand strategy, with activation roadmap (URL/IRL).
  • A connection to the ongoing site  master planning process.
  • A consolidated brand architecture (ACF/Abbotsford Convent + sub brands and programme brands).
  • A refreshed visual identity suite, from top level branded livery, through to multi-channel content templates and design guides.
  • Ongoing guidance on campaign and brand activation.


An arch-shaped lightbox sign, pictured at dusk on the Abbotsford Convent grounds.