Many Foster-area neighborhoods have boosted their identities through branding and the use of logos. But what about Foster Road as a whole?
Branding is, no doubt, a key component to a thriving commercial district. A recent article by Neighborhood Notes, part of a series on changing perceptions of your neighborhood and/or business district, discusses how neighborhood groups can go about launching their brand while also engaging the community and creating identity.
In past articles, the series has covered how to address negative perceptions of your neighborhood, as well as ways to overcome and change those perceptions through branding. As we’ve seen in the Lents Town Center, logos can go a long way in creating a brand, and the LTC logo has a strong ability to connect a visual cue to the area it represents. Other neighborhoods along Foster have had varying degrees of success with their branding, while others continue to strive for a stronger identity.
And rightfully so.
Many of the neighborhoods south of Powell and east of 52nd have suffered from negative stereotypes and perceptions for a long time. It is no surprise that folks are working hard to buck those stereotypes and create positive and engaging images to help brand and cast their neighborhoods in a new light. And while these efforts remain strong, the question must be asked: Are we missing an opportunity to brand Foster as one united corridor?
There’s no question that every neighborhood has an identity and character unto itself. And to an extent, that character should be preserved and fostered. So while Foster-Powell and Mt. Scott-Arleta share many similarities, they do have differences, too. Ditto for Lents and Powellhurst-Gilbert. But we do share one common and undeniable link — and it’s a big one. Foster Road forms part of the commercial heart of all these neighborhoods, yet there’s no clear identity or brand for the area.
Lents Town Center launched its brand long ago. The Mt. Scott-Arleta Neighborhood Association uses imagery in its logo that is fun and inviting. And Foster-Powell? They’ve gone the way of abbreviated street names for their moniker: FoPo. But again, this only demonstrates the identities or brands of individual neighborhoods, not Foster as a whole.
So how and when will Foster get branded?
The closest Foster Road gets to having an identifying brand (well, at least intentionally) is near the intersection of Foster and Powell, where SE 50th disappears. Ironically, that image is a lone neighborhood banner that promotes a neighboring district that often gets left out of the conversation when discussing Foster Road: Creston-Kenilworth. And while their effort to brand themselves and create an associated image on Foster is noteworthy, it leaves much to be desired in the larger view of Foster as it runs eastward.
So do other neighborhoods follow suit, join forces, or go on as is with separate neighborhood brands? Posed differently, could we benefit from a stronger Foster-wide identity/brand that trumps, to some extent, the already existing branding efforts in individual neighborhoods? Can we do both?
In addition to promoting a more united Foster, such a branding effort could create a more welcoming image for the corridor; an image that draws people to it, not through it; an image that promotes shopping, investment, and enjoyment through multiple modes of transportation. And in drawing people to Foster, whether residents from within the neighborhood or otherwise, we don’t want them just in the “heart of Foster” or in the Lents Town Center. We want them to enjoy the Leach Botanical Gardens and the food cart pod, too. And for that reason, Foster as a whole should be promoted, along with all the things that make it so rich with diversity and potential.
In theory, such a campaign would be spearheaded by the Foster Area Business Association (FABA), whose stated goals are twofold:
- to promote the general business welfare of the businesses of all members of this Association and generally of all businesses within two blocks of Foster Road between SE 50th and SE 122nd
- to promote a cooperative, helpful, and safe environment that will help make the SE Portland business community a continually improving place to work, live and conduct business.
FABA, unfortunately, has yet to capitalize off of the great potential that Foster Road has to offer. And furthermore, any branding efforts by FABA that would result in business recruitment, retention, or additional promotion of the business district, has gone unnoticed outside of the yearly Fun on Foster event.
So what do you think: Is it time Foster as a whole launches a brand? If so, how would you brand the corridor? Do we look to the business community, the neighborhood associations, or each other?
To get your creative juices flowing, we offer this branding suggestion from a commenter on the FosterPowellPdx blog:
“Foster Road – See Portland from Our Angle”
Now we want to hear from you…