I first looked to secondary research to get a basis of where I wanted to go. The area I was working with was barely a two-mile strip but the city is so small, I started my research looking at all of Andover. This is because Andover’s identity would play a big part in Andover Road’s identity. The first place I looked was the city of Andover’s website. This gave me an idea of how the city perceived itself and the type of image it wanted to project. In the article 5 Place Branding Principles for Successful Brand Development and Management, it states that “[c]ooperation is about finding common ground between stakeholders, private and public sector and civil society, in order to determine what makes a place unique and attractive” (The Editorial Team, 2015). When I develop the brand for Andover Road, I want to make sure that is does not clash with Andover’s brand. This area needs to be part of the community, not fighting it. I looked to other sources that talked about the area and had information about events and statistics. I even looked at reviews for businesses in the area. Once I had a good understanding of the place and the people, I started on the primary research. This involved taking pictures of the area and asking people questions.
The main problem I had to work with was the fact that it was a small in area in a small town very close to a larger city. Andover Road’s identity could easily be swallowed by the identity of Andover itself. On top of that I had to find what features to accentuate that would make it more appealing than Wichita. Having a theme of big city feel, small town flare is all well and good but why go to a place that feels like a big city, when you can actually go to the big city. In his article, Di Somma (2016) writes “brand differentiation today is really about what a brand does for ‘me’ not how it revolutionizes whole swathes of a sector”. So during interviews I added questions to find out what about the area brought people in and why they might go to Wichita instead. I tried to aim some of the questions at what Andover Road did for that person.
In regards to innovative thinking, I tried to find out what areas in Wichita built their identities on. From there I tried to think how Andover Road was different or what amenities were similar and how being offered by a small town elevated them. I tried to incorporate how a small area might be a benefit rather than a hinderance.
The main compentency I learned was how to deal with interviews. I found interviewees were more comfortable if they knew what types of questions they were going to be asked. I also found doing a short run through before hand warmed them up and made them more talkative when the recording started. With some trail and error I also found how to position my mic so I get the best sound from the conversation and not the background noise.
When I first went into this project I thought a good theme would be to make the area a nerve center or a bussling hive. I also considered using its proximity to Wichita as a pull. While going through the secondary research I came across the area’s farming origins and it’s reinvention in 1991. Part of the issues they had in the nineties was their dependence on Wichita so I knew the relationship between the two had to be thrown out. During interviews though, I found people mostly liked the area for its convenience and how easy it was to get around. So moving forward I will play with the idea of the area being a fast track or play with designs that use movement.
One commonality that people kept bringing up was variety. Most agreed that Andover Road had a good variety in food although one said that they had a good variety in shops. They all also brought up that one of the area’s appeal was convenience. It was easy to get what they needed and is much easier to get to now that most of Wichita is under construction. Good prices were another pull. They brought up that while Andover Road was appealing for its size, they each wanted something added to the area. Two wanted a bigger variety of sit-down restaurants. They say the area is good for fast food or for a nice lunch but there are not a lot of options for a sit-down dinner. Another wanted some more entertainment options. Since the Blockbuster closed there is not a lot to do for fun aside from the nearby park. In another interview, the person mentioned that he would want food places to stay open later. The interviews all seem to touch on the fact that Andover Road offers a lot of amenities for day to day living. And while the small size doesn’t offer everything, the close proximity does make getting all these day to day amenities easy and quick, especially for those that work in the area. Another concept that came up was the social aspect. In one interview she mentioned that the area felt safer and that the people were nicer. It made the area good for raising kids. In another interview he said that the few owners he knew were good people and they were the reason he went to them rather than into Wichita. When housing was brought up, most said that is was decently priced to live in the area. One person brought up that they loved when they lived in the apartments because there was a ton of kids around and the people were super friendly.
Think & Feel What are the community’s internal thoughts and emotions?
The area is safe and beautiful. Kids can walk to their favourite shops without worry. It has a lot of variety despite its small size. It is convenient for shopping and cheaper. The people are more responsible.
Hear & See What are the community’s surroundings?
The apartments are reasonably priced but sometimes small.
Wichita has more dinner and night life options.
Costco is the biggest competitor since it is not far away and offers similar items but in bulk.
Say & Do What are the community’s behaviors?
People are friendly.
The small business owners are willing to get to know and work with customers.
It’s small but offers a lot.
There are lots of kids and families.
Pains What frustrations does the community experience?
Not enough entertainment
Not enough sit-down dinner restaurants.
Not enough late-night options.
Gains What makes the community happy?
The people are friendly.
The business owners look out for their customers’ best interest.
The essential businesses for living are easy to get to.
Andover Road has the highest concentration of businesses in the city. Back in 1991 a F5 tornado decimated Andover. This became a turning point in their history because the tornado not only flattened the area but showed how unprepared they were for a disaster. The only tornado siren did not work, there was one ambulance, and much of their disaster relief relied on Wichita sending them whatever they needed. Debris from the storm made it impossible for emergency services to get to Andover quickly and this is when Andover realized they had to rely on themselves but were unprepared to do so. Ben Lawrence, the mayor, was quoted as saying, “[i]t was an opportunity for Andover to reinvent itself, determine its own destiny” (Finger, 2011). Thanks to its economy and people wanting to move out of Wichita, the area went from being a strip of asphalt that led to a small commercial district to a booming metropolis. Due to Andover Road’s proximity to Wichita, this adds to the area’s value for residents. Andover Road offers a variety of businesses and restaurants but if there is anything more needed, residents only have less than a ten-minute drive to get to Wichita. This allows Andover Road to offer a small town, close knit community feeling without stranding residents out in the middle of nowhere. After the tornado the city of Andover built a hospital nearby. Even though this hospital is outside the Andover Road area, the hospital offers hotel vouchers for the Andover Days Inn and the Andover Holiday Inn Express, both of which are in the Andover Road area. Most of the businesses in the area are locally owned, with owners that pride themselves on knowing as many of their customers as possible. The businesses not only offer goods and food but a wonderful atmosphere. Many of the services Andover Road offers can be found in Wichita but it is not just about the services themselves, it’s about how they are served. Everything is within walking distance of each other so residents can walk from their homes and visitors can park and walk to shops up and down Andover Road.
The area is dominated by either small independent business or franchisees. The St. Vincent de Paul
Church has been part of the community since before the 60’s. All of it has been rebuilt after a tornado in 1991. A majority of the businesses are restaurants and bars.
This area revolves around shopping, entertainment, and restaurants. The buildings are mostly brick buildings from the 20’s and 30’s. The businesses either have retained their original purpose from the 30’s or have been repurposed. This area also has two of Wichita’s historical museums.
This area focuses on shopping, dining, and live music and art events. They promote a high-quality image with high end clothing stores and fine dining.
This area is suburban with mainly a combination of married couples and families with children.
This area is urban with mostly young couples or singles. They are social and enjoy night lives.
This is a suburban area with wealthy retirees and wealthy couples.
This area features a small business district with a small-town feel. They promote locally owned and run businesses. Everybody knows each other but they still have the “big city amenities”.
This is the heart of Wichita. This area thrives on its night life with bars, clubs, and restaurants. The museums and shops help keep people occupied during the day.
This area focuses on being high end. The shopping and dining aim at being the high end of moderate to expensive. The nearby residential areas feature the few mansions in the area.
They all use shopping and food as a draw. Shopping is meant to be a distraction for the day. Then people can end their day or take a break at one of the restaurants. They also offer some sort of social event or place to interact with other people. They all offer some form of food and socialization.
Synthesis of Findings
Even though Andover Road is in a small town, it offers as many of the same city experiences as it can. Most of the businesses are within walking distance of each other so that makes for a good day that saves gas. The residential areas are also close by which means, those living in the area have easy access to the businesses. The restaurants offer places to go during a work break or for a night out. The bars offer a place for socializing. The owners are very involved in their businesses and get to know their customers. An angle to explore would be about addressing city needs with a small-town flare.
Based on the case study presented, can you identify the core values of this branded place that make it distinctive? If so, what are they? If not, what more could be done to surface the location’s potential core values?
Based on the case study, the core values are centered around the community’s Latino heritage and a live local sentiment. This can be made clearer, or at least more distinctive. Williams-Glen talks about how distinctive this part of the city is from the rest of Bowling Green but focuses mostly on creating a unifying look. What is described in the design brief though, could easily be applied to El Pueblo (Wichita’s Little Mexico) with just a few names switched out. In the Rebranding Detroit Stories Flemings has a similar goal of making a community more appealing. But Flemings focuses on the narratives of the individual businesses and how they are part of the community’s ecosystem. These stories add both distinctiveness and authenticity to Re-branding Detroit. In 5 Place Branding Principles for Successful Brand Development and Management the article defines authenticity being “about people co-creating things that matter to them” (The Editorial Team, 2015). Adding more recognizable elements from the Little Mexico community will help give those businesses ownership of the moniker.
What is your perception of the location’s key characteristics? How does this location want to be perceived?
The key characteristics of Little Mexico is that it is a bright, lively place where you can have an authentic Mexican meal and go shopping. The imagery uses bright colors and lots of exclamation points to stimulate a feeling of excitement. Almost all of the pictures feature food dishes or candies. And implementing the tote bag would help stimulate shopping.
What considerations were taken to ensure that this location may be memorable to those who visit it? What unique qualities stand to linger in visitors’ minds?
An element that helps to differentiate the neighborhood from the rest of the city and to make its identity more memorable is that the logo is everywhere available. Pole banners help to distinguish the area and to remind visitors of where they are. The tote bags with the logos on them provide a reminder that the visitors can take home. As Williams-Glenn (2015) writes, “bags hold the highest impression rate of any promotional product”. So, the bags have the added benefit of being a reminder to the owner and to anyone else that sees them using the bag. Using the Little Mexico logo in their social media presence also helps create brand recognition by sheer repetition. Having a social media presence at all helps make it easier for visitors to reach out and see Little Mexico’s digital store front. In Flemings (2017) video, John Maeda talks about how this digital storefront can make a business’ presence more known and it helps to tell their story. By creating social media accounts for Little Mexico, individual stores or restaurants can be promoted. And each of their stories can be featured as well.