Case Study: Branding Downtown Berkeley Creating one brand that connects the community

downtown berkeley: taste, create, experience


How do you create one downtown brand THAT APPEALS TO EVERYONE?

What makes Downtown Berkeley unique? There are lot of perspectives on this question held by those who live in, work in and visit the area, from University of California campus members, including staff, administration and its 30,000 students, to the patrons of the world-renowned Berkeley Repertory Theatre, not to mention merchants and Berkeley residents. What could possibly become a unifying brand theme that emphasizes the core assets of this place and resonates with all audiences?

Radiant was brought in to identify the factors that give Downtown Berkeley its unique positive qualities, define the brand, and create a branded campaign to attract more visitors, businesses and residents. We worked closely with the staff and board of the Downtown Berkeley Association (DBA), a paid business improvement district which represents merchants, property owners, the University and the City. The DBA board is comprised of over 30 stakeholders reflecting various perspectives.

Extensive interviews with key interest groups helped us obtain everyone’s perspective and develop a real sense of what matters to them. To understand the opinions and attitudes about Downtown and demographics of who goes there (or doesn’t), we conducted an online survey, garnering over 2,200 responses. We also performed research into how Downtown Berkeley fits within the regional market. Radiant presented analyses and brand strategy recommendations in a series of comprehensive presentations.

Creating a brand that authentically represents all of Berkeley’s stakeholders was essential; that’s why we surveyed over 2,000 people.

Radiant created a new brand built around the common thread of the Downtown and its perceived value as a place of cultural and intellectual innovation in “It Starts Here”. To support this new brand, three key pillars were created to support the message platform – “taste, create, experience”. This phrase and the core branding became the essence of the new brand identity. The brand story references the assets of the Downtown arts and theater district, as well as the innovative energy of new startups, the University, Berkeley culture and restaurants in the area.

What’s amazing is Berkeley—the campus, the businesses and the City government—all felt that the tagline, “it starts here,” was reflected in their own organizations.

Radiant used this as the foundation of an extensive marketing and promotional campaign to be co-marketed with multiple venues in Downtown Berkeley.  Branding includes a contemporary logo with the tagline “It starts here”; the supporting message “taste, create, experience” which reflect the assets in the Downtown. From this branded communications where created that brought the brand to life—on the website, a short multimedia show, Downtown Banners.

Radiant created an integrated marketing strategy that allows restaurants, theaters and other Downtown businesses, as well as the University, to extend the brand message into their own marketing and advertising. The brand is inclusive: all the stakeholders can use the tagline with their messaging. “It Starts Here” expresses a common vision of the University, cultural venues and restaurants and their unique contributions to Berkeley’s Downtown mix.

What we’ve all learned here is that when you bring in stakeholders, include what matters to them, their organizations you can build a place brand that’s genuine, authentic and reflects the aspirations and heart of a place.

The result has been a major increase in Downtown development including new restaurants, retail, over 1,000 units of housing under construction and an overall increase in Downtown visitors — everyone benefits!