Monday, May 21, 2012

neighborhood branding : determining what to change + how

This is the second article in a series about neighborhood branding. In the first article we explored outsiders’ perceptions of your neighborhood and began to think about how we can change misperceptions. We will now continue to dig deeper into the process of changing the perception of your neighborhood.

Potentially dubbed the "Independent Republic of St. Johns" or the "Best Little Town in Portland," the St. Johns Main Street Coalition is currently working to brand its community.

“Branding is more than a logo,” the coalition states. “It’s a long-term journey of discovery that unleashes who your community is, what your community does, and how it communicates to potential consumers.”

But branding is not simply about communicating to customers. It’s also about creating a shared identity in your community between neighborhood associations and business districts. Your brand is something the whole neighborhood can stand behind and share with outsiders saying: “This is what it means to live, work and play in St. Johns.”

Why Would It Be In Your Best Interest To Rebrand Your Neighborhood?

“Some neighborhoods in the city are not as well known as others, [some] have kind of gotten lost over the years, [some] are victims of sometimes negative reputations or are simply not clearly defined,” explains Jeff Fisher of LogoMotives. “Branding one’s neighborhood offers an opportunity to create a verbal and visual identity, reintroduce a community, instill pride in the residents, and make the place known to others in the city.

“Such branding does increase the public awareness and positive perceptions of specific neighborhoods and business districts throughout the City of Portland,” Fisher continues. “Many individuals have never even heard of some neighborhoods in which residents have enormous personal pride. Logos, banners, bumper stickers, T-shirts, signage, neighborhood business or walking maps, and other graphic elements may be very effective in introducing and informing the public about the location, history and attributes of a neighborhood. At the same time, resident pride in their own neighborhood may be enhanced.”

But don’t think you can simply put banners on your light poles and logo decals in storefront windows to make people view your neighborhood differently. Branding is a huge undertaking that requires the input of your neighbors, the local business community, and even outsiders.

But where do you start? Learn how to begin the process of changing your neighborhood’s perceptions as well as how to work with your community and business district on Neighborhood Notes.

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