Yesterday, Housing Complex writer Lydia DePillis published a thoughtful piece on the ongoing effort of the BID to “rebrand” Georgetown. What she’s talking about is that earlier this year, the BID hired the Roan Group, a professional brand consultant, to advise the BID on the state of brand Georgetown.
While a lot goes into how people throughout the area (and nation) think about Georgetown, there’s only so much that the BID can control. They can’t change the type of stores we have here, for instance, but they can change how those stores are presented, and, more importantly, how they’re perceived.
DePillis essentially comes to much of the same conclusions that GM has arrived at. Namely that Georgetowners have long had a knack for being overly pessimistic about the state of their neighborhood. DePillis notes that although Georgetown no longer attracts “hip” restaurants, it could be because there’s no vacancies for them to move into. In other words, the reports of Georgetown’s death are greatly exaggerated. (Although she also correctly notes that the significant exception to that is the Georgetown Park mall, which is really a separate issue onto itself).
At the heart of the rebranding study was a series of interviews with Georgetown residents. GM was one of those that the consultant interviewed. As reported by people like DePillis and Carol Joynt, part of the interview included odd questions like “what colors do you associate with Georgetown?” (GM said green and blue, for some reason) But the bulk of the interview focused on bread and butter issues of why or why not people choose to visit Georgetown. Honestly, it was quite a pleasure to sit and chat about Georgetown for two hours. Getting a gift certificate for Baked and Wired was just gravy to GM.
Presumably the consultant is still working on recommendations, but here’s some of what GM would do if it were up to him:
- Get a website as beautiful and informative as Alexandria’s.
- Parking reform: encourage visitors who arrive by car to go straight to a garage. The garages south of M St. are very underused. By implementing performance parking, we will eliminate the financial incentive to troll the neighborhood for parking. Once people realize that it’s just simpler to go straight to a garage, the perception that parking is an impediment to visiting should decrease.
- Transit: Do a much better job demonstrating how easy it is to get to Georgetown with transit. The new Circulator should raise the profile of the bus option, but more marketing is needed.
- People know there are chains here already. The BID needs to do more to highlight the incredible diversity of stores we have here that you can’t find in a mall. Events like the French Market are great, but they’re by nature fleeting. A sustained advertising campaign is necessary.