Episode 9: The Local, The Visitor, The Brand


This conversation is part of an on-going study of the neighborhoods in Washington, DC. Every neighborhood has three identities: one held by the locals, one experienced by the visitors, and one understood by a much larger audience - the brand. Sometimes these identities overlap and reinforce one another. But, other times they diverge considerably, putting strain on the identity of that place.

This podcast recording takes place in the early phases of research for this project. We are currently in the process of writing a paper, along with our guest host Matt Bender, that further explores the complexities of neighborhood brand identity.

If you have an unique insights about subjects relating to this, especially in Washington DC, please reach out! We would love to add more perspective to our growing body of research, which combines on-the-ground intuition with larger data sets.

key definitions:

The Local: a non-transient occupant whose identity is inextricably linked to a place in which they consider to be home. The main qualifier is that their primary residence is within the community bounds for long enough that they are genuinely acquainted to their neighbors and the ritual and everyday living of the neighborhood. These occupants hold the truths, history, and custom of the neighborhood, generating the perception of its innate qualities.

The Visitor: a transient user of a public place, this person engages with public amenity including business, commerce, entertainment or service. Their motivation for interacting with a community is purposeful, and often happens in brief, periodic intervals. They are observers of neighborhood ritual through the lens & personal understanding of their own neighborhood identity that they transport with them. More frequently visitor interactions with place is introduced through technological means.

The Brand: the overarching, most identifiable characteristics of a place, understood by Locals and Visitors alike. Multiple identifiable characteristics can exist in a neighborhood combining to formulate the Brand, but it is the Brand identity which separates neighborhoods from their surrounding counterparts. More frequently Brand interactions occur through technological means.

Anchor: an identifiable characteristics of place whose existence is intertwined with a place’s identity. These elements hold the ceremony of a place, which can shift or be solidified based on how cultural, social, economic and political elements are projected onto these anchors. This creates a direct correlation between perceived innateness of an anchor and its ability to solidify an identity.