By Joan Wojcik
What is branding?
Downtown San Diego consists of six communities referred to as districts. Each district is defined not only by its geographical location, but also by the unique charactertistics of its architecture, types of businesses, and diversity of residents. Branding is an advertising technique used in creating a unique name and image that distinguishes the identification of each district.
As you travel throughout Downtown, glance upwards at the numerous street lampposts flying banners along several specific corridors. The banners are an announcement welcoming one’s entrance into well-defined Downtown neighborhoods, which serve as a gateway into the vistas of our beautiful city.
The banners are the branding idea of the Downtown San Diego Partnership (DSDP) under its Clean & Safe beautification efforts for Downtown. Banners have been installed in Cortez District, City Center District, and the Marina District along corridors selected for the biggest exposure for these three districts.
“In an effort to highlight the distinctness of our neighborhoods, Clean & Safe is implementing branding technics,” Alonso Vivas, executive director of Clean & Safe, said. “Branding techniques will be used for the purpose of highlighting a neighborhood, mapping the neighborhood blocks for visitors, and to use for marketing purposes.”
Although the color palate was selected by the partnership, each district provided final approval for their specific color and theme for the banner branding. The banner color for the Marina District is blue. Mari Katherine Urtasun, senior vice president of marketing and branding for the partnership, described the Marina branding as follows, “We created a visual system that ensures each neighborhood can own its unique style while still contributing to the overall Downtown brand. The vibrant blue color for the Marina District was chosen to signify its proximity to the water and highlight its sophisticated lifestyle.”
The tranquil blue background featuring an abstract depiction of seagulls and a sailboat are very familiar scenic views experienced along the Marina bay area. As a most welcoming doorway into Downtown, the Marina District’s blue-themed banners are highly visible for all to see along Market Street from Columbia to Third streets.
Barbara Daly, a longtime Marina resident and a Clean & Safe Board member, who was deeply involved in the final design on Marina’s banner, commented on the process in selecting the final banner design, “Our community was identified as the Marina District and the designated color was blue. So how could a banner depict both a signpost for our neighborhood location and a highlight that would distinguish Marina from the other five Downtown districts? Final design came down to a whimsical impression of a sailboat and seagulls on a palette of blues.”
The banners are only the first phase in the branding of our city. Other branding ideas have started with additional ideas being under consideration. Working with local artists, Clean & Safe has begun painting utility boxes themed for each community. Neighborhood swags (tote bags), coffee mugs and shirts are also in the works. Marina residents will soon enjoy viewing the beautifully, themed, painted utility boxes and new planter boxes throughout the neighborhood as part of the branding of Marina.