This story revolves around the idea of the age. It begins in 1868. Britain’s epoch-making railway system has a new landmark – St Pancras station. Its 74 metre span of glass roof makes it the largest enclosed space in the world.
Throughout the next century, the station declines, along with the nation’s railways, and at one point is slated for demolition. Until the decision is made to restore St Pancras to its former glory. 1 billion euro later, on 14 November 2007, it is re-opened fully as the new home for Eurostar and culmination of the 7.3 billion euro Channel Tunnel Rail Link, now known as High Speed 1. (En passant, its Javelin service promises a highly advantageous connection for the 2012 Olympics.)
London & Continental Railways, the force behind St Pancras International and High Speed 1, sees the opportunity to break with the dismal standards of last century’s railway stations and create a new model station for a new age of rail travel. It asks brandstory to articulate its vision, as it moves from an engineering project to a place for people.
So is born “Europe’s Destination Station” and a brand story titled “Meet me at St Pancras”: a place where the high point of Victorian enterprise meets a new apogee for London; where the heart of England meets the heart of Europe; and, quite simply, where people choose to meet.
The forward-looking client knows that “Europe’s Destination Station” has to be more than a claim and brandstory presses for the highest standards in brand content; it proposes, famously, “the longest Champagne bar in Europe” (more), a world class station brasserie and gastro-pub, all on the mezzanine where Eurostars glide to a halt, which it calls Rendezvous; on the ground floor the Market for fresh produce, the Circle for shoppers’ needs, and the Arcade for specialist boutiques and escape from High Street homogeneity. brandstory also proposes top talent in research, identity design, advertising and hospitality to help deliver the shared vision.
Eventually, all marketing communications – website, hoardings, events, merchandising, literature, advertising – all are linked to the common brand story and its original theme “Meet me at St Pancras”. To complete the story, London & Continental Railways commissions a vast sculpture for the Rendezvous floor, under the great station clock, called “The Meeting Place”.
Now, as the Queen declares at its launch, Europe has its destination station. St Pancras is the idea of the age once more.
As a result of its St Pancras work, brandstory advises on the renaming of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link and the brand story for a new international station at Ebbsfleet. Most important, in the first half year of operations after switching to St Pancras, Eurostar passenger revenues increase by 25% versus the previous year. And two years on (a year after the fall of Lehman Brothers), St Pancras’ bars, restaurants and shops report a 20% increase in profits, in the teeth of recession.