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VOL. 128 | NO. 134 | Thursday, July 11, 2013

Branding Highlights South Main’s Mosaic

By Bill Dries

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With a website launch this week and a year’s worth of preparation, the Downtown Memphis Commission is taking the next step in a developing awareness effort and branding campaign for the South Main Historic Arts District.

The still-forming branding and awareness campaign for the South Main Historic Arts District includes numerous logos within an armature developed by Creative Brands. It allows merchants to put their own brand within the brand.

A group of around 50 members of the South Main Association got a look Tuesday, July 9, at some of the ideas including a brand that is like a South Main postmark with interchangeable logos within the circle.

The logo, designed by North Star Strategies and unveiled at the meeting by Downtown Memphis Commission vice president of marketing Leslie Gower, is one that merchants and businesses are encouraged to put their own brands or logos within to play on the theme of “a mosaic of originals.”

The concept is an “armature,” or framework, and the best-known example in advertising is the Absolut vodka print ads in which the shape of a bottle of the vodka remains but is adorned with different themes.

The logos can be seen on the website at www.gosouthmain.com.

“A lot of people don’t know they are in South Main when they are in South Main,” Gower told the group as she described coming efforts to improve signage and better define the area as a district.

That includes a general definition of the area as between The Orpheum Theatre Memphis and Memphis Central Station – the most identifiable landmarks that Gower conceded is simple and doesn’t include all of South Main.

“Everybody knows those landmarks,” she added as she gave a quick overview of an area that has 25 restaurants, 30 independently owned shops, several museums both public and private as well as an abundance of local history and a wealth of significant architecture.

“A lot of people don’t know they are in South Main when they are in South Main.”

–Leslie Gower
Downtown Memphis Commission vice president of marketing, in describing coming efforts to improve signage and better define the area as a district

During the next Friday Art Trolley Tour in the district, the Downtown Memphis Commission will record 10 webisodes highlighting what the area has to offer. Print ads and a billboard are on the way as well as a run of 40,000 South Main visitors guides and maps.

Gower said the $30 million Main Street to Main Street project will also bring some changes to the South Main streetscape, like new street lighting closer to the ground with clear instead of yellow light.

“This makes such a difference about safety,” she said. “It’s not going to look that different, but the sidewalks will be fixed.”

Despite all the recent activity in the area, including the ongoing renovation of the Chisca Hotel, Gower said visitors still cite empty storefronts as a deterrent to walking the area. The awareness campaign could include window treatments used along other parts of Main Street as a response to that.

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