Place Branding


Many small communities struggle with how to differentiate themselves to attract visitors. Learn how two downtowns took inspiration from their history to look toward the future and create interactive storytelling programs and a roadmap for the future.

Flatiron NoMad Rebrand & Website Initiative

With the BID boundary expansion and the continued challenges presented by the pandemic, district stakeholders and audiences need the Parntership’s focus and resources more than ever. Through a clear, compelling and distinct brand positioning strategy and graphic identity, the organization is poised to tap into the expertise and energy of stakeholders.

Not Magic – Realistic Steps to Excellent Event Branding

Learn a step-by-step process for event branding that you can apply to your own projects right away. Learn how to dive into design thinking from a place manager’s perspective, offering support and consideration of details like incorporating sponsors, creating cohesive looks across several events and place branding vs. event branding. 

Bringing People Back Downtown Through Marketing and Events

People are eating out, going to events, and traveling again… so why do some districts feel as alive as ever while other districts struggle to bring people back? In this presentation, leaders from districts of all sizes will share the placemaking, events and marketing strategies that have brought visitors, tourists, and even office workers back downtown. Learn why some audiences are reluctant to return, and the role districts can play in persuading them to fall in love with our districts again.

Changing Cultures, Brands and Names

As communities and districts evolve, place management organizations must follow suit. This panel will explore initiating and managing change from the inside/out on both the organizational and district level. The panelists will share the positives and challenges of renaming and expanding districts, rebranding efforts, expanding programmatic focus, measuring impact and building an inclusive organization culture.

Crystal City to National Landing BID Rebrand

In 2019, the Crystal City BID expanded its boundaries by 70% and began the process of selecting a new name and brand for the organization. The brand needed to provide a cohesive sense of place that unified the downtown while still highlighting the existing neighborhoods of Pentagon City, Crystal City and Potomac Yard that the BID now encompassed. The BID began a rebrand effort with the design firm Pentagram, but misconceptions around the new name necessitated extensive community engagement.

P.U.M.A.’s Global Trends Report: Pandemic July 2020 Update

In late 2019, P.U.M.A. and IDA jointly released the 2020 Global Trends Report highlighting opportunities arising from converging shifts in demographics, lifestyles and a new category, “disruptive forces,” that are shaping our cities. Little did we know that months later we’d be in the midst of the disruptive events of our lifetimes – the pandemic that has wreaked havoc on public health and economies, and the American protests for racial justice that could accelerate dramatic social change.

Placemaking Summit 2019 Opening Master Talk Presentations

Campus No. 805 is an award-winning adaptive re-use project that converted a former middle school campus into a mixed-use entertainment experience with multiple local breweries, restaurants, entertainment options and a public green space. Join us as we kick-off the inaugural Place Branding & Placemaking Summit with a multi-stop reception where attendees will get to experience why “school’s out forever” and full-time fun is the new curriculum at Campus No. 805.

Placemaking Summit 2019 Closing Master Talk Presentations

Closing Master Talk with Rob Robinson, Managing Principal, Urban Design Associates (Pittsburgh, PA), Anna Lowder, Co-Founder, Matter Design Co. (Montgomery, AL), Nick Lasater, Co-Owner & CEO, Rocket City Digital (Huntsville, AL), and Josh Yeager, Co-Founder, Bright Brothers Strategy Group (Philadelphia, PA).

Strengthen Your BID Through Branding

How do you brand something as complex as a city? Two BIDs talk through how their successful rebrands not only modernized and unified their identities, amplified the effectiveness of all of the organization’s endeavors, increased the recognition the BIDs got from stakeholders, and saved time and money – but also accomplished something larger. Rebranding positioned both BIDs to move from identifying their communities as a “place” to representing a “destination” – answering the questions “Why visit here?” “Why live here?” and “Why invest here?” No matter the size of your BID, these branding insights will make your work more effective.

Standout Place Branding

Change is constant in our line of work, and when change continually occurs in urban places and spaces, the stories that we tell about them must hold true. But how do you change the narrative of place and what does that entail? For urban place managers, branding a district / place conjures more questions than answers: how much will it cost? How many stakeholder groups do we need to involve and who? How long will it take? What are we actually branding? What is our brand? Will this even make a difference? In this panel, practitioners will detail the process of refreshing or enhancing a brand, including insights into the somewhat complicated and contentious process of deciding when to take action, how to set budgets, who to work with and how a brand refresh impacts more than just marketing collateral – it also affects the entire built environment and visitor experience.    

Strategic Re-branding & Communication Effort

With archaic branding that only focused on one main street, the Downtown Tempe Authority (DTA) desperately needed to create a brand that encompassed their entire downtown, including residents, businesses, and other stakeholders. In addition, the brand elements needed to communicate to various audiences how they could interact, engage, and experience the place. The results of re-branding brought back many groups that were once alienated from downtown Tempe.

New Development Meets a Neglected Neighborhood

Congress Heights Community Training and Development Corporation developed a framework for investing in a place-based inclusive economic and social development strategy centered around Congress Heights. It was built on extensive community engagement with a broad variety of stakeholders, from large developers to local youth, to city economic development officials, to local civic association members and more.

Creating a Physical Sense of Place by Enhancing Infrastructure

By seeking improvements to landscaping, pedestrian lighting, wayfinding, visual identity, and event infrastructure, the Cherry Creek North BID leveraged a massive infrastructure project to quite literally build a new sense of place for the area. Countless hours of stakeholder and community outreach were undertaken in addition to hiring the foremost experts in design, architecture, and planning.

Making the Switch: Branding the Organization

In 2011, the Downtown Denver Partnership acknowledged the need for a cohesive brand for downtown Denver and embarked on a branding campaign that encouraged residents, visitors, and employees to enjoy all that downtown Denver had to offer. The downtown Denver brand was already beginning to surface organically as the city emerged from an economic downturn, and the Partnership embarked on creating a strategic marketing strategy to more intentionally encapsulate the place brand.

Alley Events & Activation

Downtown alleys—traditionally characterized as dirty and dark—present a unique opportunity for transforming unusual spaces into memorable public experiences. The Chicago Loop Alliance (CLA) pursued a broad placemaking program to activate underutilized public spaces (such as alleys). Termed “ACTIVATE,” the initiative transforms iconic Loop alleys into pop-up urban experiences. The events feature art, music, and more in unique urban settings.

Historic Preservation Basics for Downtown Districts

Confused about the historic preservation lingo and tax credits? Don’t know the difference between the National Register and a locally designated landmark? Wondering why design guidelines for matching grants for storefront rehab matter, and why the Secretary of the Interior has standards that should be followed when rehabbing historic properties? This panel will clear it all up for you in a snappy presentation with a host of handouts.

Global Trends 2020: What’s Next for Downtown

P.U.M.A.’s award-winning Global Trends Report has been a go-to resource for downtowns for more than a decade. This debut of the 2020 edition will provide insight on what’s next for downtowns given shifts in demographics, lifestyles and competition. The panel will also provide provocative recommendations on how downtown managers can adapt to and get ahead of trends shaping our cities.

City of Arcades

FOR Cardiff has struggled to identify its USP and wanted to address this by using one of the city’s best assets to attract new and old visitors, the beautiful arcades. They utilized FC Ambassadors to gather feedback from businesses, researched other independent shopping campaigns, and identified a need to first win-back Cardiff shoppers who were already aware of the arcades and encourage new visitors and customers.

Downtown Block Party

The Downtown Block Party was developed as a celebration of Downtown Iowa City’s night economy as a unique differentiator from other commercial nodes in the region that could be an attractor to those of all ages looking for something different. The event relied on key partnerships to entertain attendees with activities including a sand volleyball court in the street, silent disco, dueling pianos, video game tournament, barn dancing by senior citizens, a drag show and main stage with music acts.

Dupont Circle BID Brand Launch & Implementation

The Dupont Circle BID catalyzed renewal of the area’s public infrastructure through $25 million in streetscape upgrades and an innovative plaza deck over an avenue dividing the retail core. Flowing from Dupont Circle, it will be an exciting, programmable gathering space for the entire city. Its marketing roll-out includes a content-rich website, social media platforms, colorful street light banners, monthly newsletters, transit advertising, a neighborhood guide, and materials for retail brokers.

50th Annual Fall Tempe Festival of the Arts

This 3-day art festival takes place in the streets of Downtown a.k.a. the heart of Tempe. A .42-mile radius that spans from one of few Arizona reservoirs, Tempe Town Lake, to University Drive bordering the Arizona State University campus. One of our organization’s goal is to curate diverse and impactful experiences that cultivate community engagement, which is a major factor in why the Downtown Tempe BID produces the Tempe Festival of the Arts in-house.

Homemade In Downtown

Downtown Sioux Falls, Inc. (DTSF) and local advertising agency, Fresh Produce, collaborated to create a comprehensive marketing campaign that featured co-op advertising opportunities for DTSF business members. Strong communication between DTSF, Fresh Produce, and members – as well as support from key stakeholders – made it possible to develop creative that pleased the large majority of members, and led to high satisfaction among participating businesses.

Old Town Scottsdale Rebrand

The Old Town Scottsdale Rebrand started as a straightforward marketing and communications assignment to promote the Old Town area to in-state residents for the purpose of increasing local foot traffic. The perception was that Old Town was too touristy and didn’t offer much for our local residents. What began as a simple marketing strategy of how to best present Old Town’s best offerings turned into a much deeper brand exploration that would redefine a city.

Stuart Mangrum Master Talk

A member of the Burning Man community since 1993, Stuart was one of the organization’s first year-round volunteers. In his current role he focuses on cultural development programs including public education, staff and volunteer training, and historical documentation. He is also deeply involved in the event’s creative direction, as co-author of the last three event themes and a collaborator in designing the Black Rock City experience.

Mukul Malhotra Master Talk

Urban Designer Mukul Malhotra develops innovative solutions for the new American city. As a Principal at MIG, Inc. and Director of MIG’s San Antonio office, his award-winning designs have created thriving downtowns and historic districts as well as livable new communities and university campuses. His work has inspired urban revitalization, multimodal connectivity, sustainability, community inclusivity, and preservation of historic and neighborhood character.

Art of the State: Leveraging Local Culture and Creativity

This session will present a snapshot of case studies that engage makers, artists and other creatives in downtown promotions, placemaking and development projects. Great Downtowns of all sizes are identified by their cultural environment. We will explore how both large and small investments in arts and creativity can return dividends that multiply.

Downtown Cleveland Alliance 3-tiered Marketing Campaign

Downtown Cleveland Alliance accomplished the goal of creating economic impact for their community through a strategic and innovative three-tiered marketing campaign involving the development of print and digital advertising, the production of an annual video, and the creation of native advertising content.

Growlifornia Activation

Downtown Fresno was dealt a heavy blow when the San Francisco Giants announced they were pulling their Triple-A team from the city after 17 years. The Fresno Grizzlies and downtown Fresno decided to embrace their core traits and idiosyncrasies, celebrating the elements that made them unique, proclaiming the community a “Growlifornia Republic” – a rally cry for downtown.

Downtown Rideau Mural Boxes Art Exhibit Tour

Downtown Rideau Business Improvement Area (DRBIA), in partnership with the City of Ottawa, expanded an initiative initially designed by the city as a project to reduce graffiti removal maintenance costs on utility boxes by vinyl wrapping them in a transit motif design. The D.R.B.I.A took the initiative to an entirely different level by building on its brand as Ottawa’s Arts, Fashion & Theatre District and turning the utility boxes into original works of art.

Lower Manhattan Restaurant Video Series

Lower Manhattan’s food scene, from the restaurants that perennially grace the pages of a Michelin guide to hole-in-the-wall gems that only locals know of, has quietly been booming. While publications like the Associated Press and Bloomberg News have taken notice, the perception of the neighborhood as an after-hours ghost town lingers. To address that misconception and to increase awareness of the breadth of restaurants that call Lower Manhattan home, the Alliance created a monthly video series.

Inside Downtown Delray Beach Video Series

The Delray Beach Downtown Development Authority (DDA) launched their “Inside Downtown Delray Beach Video Series” to highlight the unique attributes and authenticity of downtown. The business owners, residents and visitors, also known as the “faces behind the spaces,” were given an opportunity to express what they love most about downtown. Conveying vibrancy, activity friendliness, and walkability in the marketing and PR messaging was crucial to sustaining and growing Downtown Delray Beach.

Welcome to Rosslyn Video Strategy

Rosslyn has transformed from a 9-to-5 employment hub to a vibrant, mixed-use urban center. By June 2017, Rosslyn reached a critical point in its evolution, where the momentum of recent growth combined with the activation work of the Rosslyn BID created a fresh, energized vibe in the community. To create a way for stakeholders to feel what it is like to be in Rosslyn, the BID launched a comprehensive video strategy to take their brand story to the next level.

Year of Wisconsin Avenue

Milwaukee’s Wisconsin Avenue has long served as the State’s civic and cultural “Main Street.” In spite of a recent resurgence of private investment within 16 of the Avenue’s most prominent properties, the corridor lacked the pedestrian-level vibrancy that peer-cities exude. That is, until the summer of 2017. Milwaukee Downtown, BID #21 declared 2017 “The Year of Wisconsin Avenue,” with a series of public art and quality-of-life initiatives that reshaped the Avenue as the community living room.

#IgoDowntown Music Video

The Louisville Downtown Partnership (LDP) hosted a launch party featuring the world premiere of the “#IgoDowntown” – a music video to promote the downtown brand, showcasing local musicians Jecorey “1200” Arthur, Laura Ellis, Gayle King, Love, Joy and Faith, Frankie Moody and Ben Sollee. The upbeat video, filmed on locations throughout the Downtown area, also includes special performances by CirqueLouis, Dance 360, The Louisville Leopards and Squallis Puppeteers.

Music in the Park 2017 Marketing Campaign

With a newly created Marketing, Communications and Events Director on staff, San Jose Downtown Association took its four-concert Music in the Park series marketing to a whole new level, focusing on on-site digital photo kiosks, email marketing automation and strategic social media. Not only did Music in the Park achieve record attendance and revenues, marketing for the 2018 season and beyond has gathered momentum and general Downtown San Jose marketing capabilities have improved dramatically.

A Creative Placemaking Guide for Business Districts to Work With Local Artists

This creative placemaking toolkit was created specifically for business districts, offering guidance on engagement with local artists to best enhance the experience and vitality of a place. This guide showcases strategies to integrate the talents and ideas of multiple artists to best address the unique opportunities and challenges in BIDs. The toolkit includes case studies of the six unique placemaking projects funded by IDA, Springboard for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.