Bee in the City

Brand Strategy 
Brand Identity
Print Design
Moving Image

Client: Wild in Art


Photography: David Oates, Karen Wright, Sebastian Matthes


Best Event, Manchester Culture Awards 2019

App of the Year, Prolific North Awards 2019

Event of the Year, PRCA Dare Awards 2019

Best Art Event / Exhibition, CityLife Awards 2018

Leading Live Event, This is Manchester Awards 2018

In 2017, creative producers Wild in Art began working with Manchester City Council to create a large scale public art trail of artist-designed bee sculptures in to run through summer 2018 all over the city and surrounding suburbs. Over 12 months, we worked with Wild in Art to develop the name, messaging, brand and creative campaign for the event.

After developing the name Bee in the City, we wanted to avoid the traditional Manchester worker bee iconography and create a point of difference for the event. We developed a simple logo that was both a bee and a B, building upon the wordplay in the name and the campaign (bee inspired, bee active, bee creative), giving the event its own clear look and feel to carry through a year of communications.

The campaign had to be flexible enough to work on a B2B level, engaging corporate sponsors and the creative community to take part, but also be fun, inclusive and family-friendly to appeal to the wider audience of Manchester residents. We developed an illustration system that could be adapted for different audiences and would be flexible enough to engage the city for a full 12 months.

Bee in the City 62
Bee in the City 58
Bee in the City 15
Bee in the City 14
Bee in the City 6
Bee in the City 12
Bee in the City 11
“It made me proud to live here. Seeing lots of families and groups of people on the trail was really lovely, and it created a sense of community. We kept meeting the same people along the trail and everyone was helping each other find the Bees, take photos, giving directions...”
– Bee in the City visitor
Bee in the City 8
“We enjoyed following a map and spending time as a family. Having a 9-year-old boy we loved the fact he couldn’t wait to go Bee hunting instead of sat in front of a computer screen. It also gave us the chance to visit places we hadn’t been to and loved seeing the wonderful designs of the Bees.”
– Bee in the City visitor
Bee in the City 65
“It thrilled everyone – old and young.It made me feel proud of Manchester. It was fantastic to see how happy they made people – the best and most engaging public art project I’ve seen.”
– Bee in the City visitor
Bee in the City 49

Alongside the printed maps we designed, a Bee in the City app was released to help people find and ‘collect’ the Bees. We developed a set of UI icons and adapted the campaign for digital use by Mediaworks who designed and built the app. 

The app was incredibly popular, with over 1.2 million Bees unlocked and over 8 million interactions on the app overall. The app’s pedometer, backed by one of the trail’s headline sponsors Well Pharmacy, tracked more than 10,000 miles and 20 million steps walked by Bee seekers over the art trail.

Bee in the City 60
Bee in the City 59
Bee in the City 43

Alongside our work on the campaign, we designed our own Instruct Bee. Our sculpture, named The Maker Bee, was inspired by the industrial and creative spirit of Manchester. We sketched out symbols of fun, making and the endless opportunities you have with materials, tools and a bit of imagination – everything that makes Manchester.

We reached out to artist Tasha Whittle who manages the famous Outhouse graffiti spot on Stevenson Square to turn our design into a beautiful hand painted Bee. 

Bee in the City 36
Bee in the City 34
Bee in the City 38

At the end of the trail, the entire colony of bee sculptures were displayed at the HSBC UK Cycling Centre to give Bee-seekers a final chance to see them all before the charity auction. 

To bring the campaign to a close and communicate the Farewell Weekend as its own important event, we developed the artwork to reflect the sun setting on Bee in the City. We updated the colours to create a series of sunset skylines and added the Bees themselves to the illustration. Tickets to the event sold out and over 15,000 people attended over two days. 

To bring the event to a close, the large Bees were auctioned off with all proceeds going to The Lord Mayor of Manchester’s We Love MCR Charity. We developed a distinct look and feel for the event using the gold and brown from the brand palette monochromatically, utilising metallic inks to create a high end feel which carried through to the staging of the event. 

The 77 Bees auctioned raised £1,128,250 raised for charity with the most popular Bee (Bee United painted by Joseph Venning, sponsored by Manchester United Football Club) raising £31,000 at auction plus an extra £5,000 donated by the club.

Bee in the City 57