Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
Phipps Conservatory and Gardens transitioned from a municipally-run attraction to a privately managed business in 1993 when the board signed a 100-year lease with City of Pittsburgh officials. Nearly two decades later, Phipps continues to evolve as one of America’s most sustainably minded and innovative public gardens.
Phipps, like most museums, zoos and public gardens, keeps close watch on its operational bottom line. Most of the organization's marketing effort and spend goes to high profile events that keep the public turnstiles clicking. Phipps broke through to a larger, crossover audience by merging fine and performing arts such as Dale Chihuly's glass installation with traditional garden shows. Flush with record-setting attendance, the organization fixed its aim on future arts-infused programming and more regional marketing.
As we came to understand the persistent revenue challenges faced by Phipps, the more Elliance ventured a more wide-angle view of the opportunities. Prior marketing relied heavily on a “flower as hero” approach, underscoring the seasonal flower show calendar and the attraction's regional appeal.
Elliance pulled back to consider the untapped potential within a series of LEED-certified expansion and greenhouse improvement projects – part of a 10-year master plan to become one of America’s “greenest gardens.”
Phipps acted with amazing foresight in rethinking its physical plant and educational content with an eye toward sustainable greenhouse design and gardening. But the brand and marketing potential within these changes remained largely dormant.
Our task: to fuse the passive appeal of an 18th-century plant house with the energy of an assertive, 21st century advocate.
While the desire to be seen and heard as a global thought leader was real and within reach, Elliance did not overlook immediate concerns–paying the bills. User experience and information design stressed the need to boost those renewable sources of revenue (rentals, classes, and donor support).
the new site launched Phipps 2.0
More than a simple web redesign, the new site launched Phipps 2.0 – a historic plant conservatory positioned to address the world's most pressing environmental issues related to water, soil, air and biological diversity.
In the new Phipps 2.0, class enrollments have soared, along with gains in facility rentals and donations. Phipps originally set the example of how to “be more than one thing” with its record-breaking world-class art exhibits: Dale Chihuly and Hans Godo Frabel. Elliance picked up from there and showed that audiences can grasp complexity if you tell your story with clarity and passion.
The Phipps 2.0 brand and website do not shortchange Phipps' traditional appeal, but do add layers of new interest in sustainable living. This successful use of design, photography, information architecture and content have earned the Phipps redesign a Best in Class award from Interactive Media Awards and other national design honors.
Phipps is now turning to Elliance for its expertise in Search Engine Marketing to transform them from a regional to a national and global institution of renown.