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Creating Community that Connects: Downtown Berkeley Branding

How do you create one downtown brand that appeals to visitors, students, and residents?

Downtown Berkeley has many assets and stakeholders, but what makes it unique? There are a wide range of opinions, from the University of California, including that of its staff, administration, and 30,000 students who visit the Downtown, to the patrons of the world renowned Berkeley Rep, not to mention the merchants and residents of Berkeley. What could possibly be a unifying brand theme that focuses on the core assets of the place and resonates with all audiences? Radiant was brought in to identify the factors that give the Downtown its unique positive qualities, define the brand, and create a branded campaign to attract more visitors, businesses, and residents.


To create a new brand for Downtown Berkeley, RadiantBrands worked closely with the staff and board of the Downtown Berkeley Association, a paid business improvement district, which represents property owners, the University, the City, and business owners. The board of the DBA is comprised of over 30 stakeholders reflecting varying perspectives.

After extensive interviews, an online survey which garnered over 2,500 responses, research into the regional markets, and a demographic analysis of who goes to downtown (or does not), Radiant presented analysis and brand strategy recommendations in a series of comprehensive presentations that guided the branding effort to a successful conclusion.

Radiant created a new brand built around the common thread of the Downtown and its perceived value as a place of cultural and intellectual innovation – "it starts here". To support this new brand, three key pillars were created as part of a broader message platform – "taste, create, experience". These phases and the core branding became the essence of the new brand identity. The brand story references the current assets of the Downtown arts and theater district, as well as the innovation and creativity of new startups, the University, Berkeley culture, and of restaurants in the area.


Radiant used this as the foundation of an extensive marketing and promotional campaign to be co-marketed with multiple venues in the Downtown. Branding includes a contemporary logo with the tagline “it starts here”; supporting messaging “taste, create, experience”; branded communications, website, multimedia show, and advertising for the Downtown; and an integrated marketing strategy that allows restaurants, theaters, and other Downtown businesses, as well as the University, to extend the brand message into their marketing and advertising.

Scope of Work

• Individual Interviews

• Online surveys
• Market Research
• Messaging and naming
• Brand design and creative
• Brand style guide
• Two year marketing plan
• Website and social media elements
• Multimedia show
• Advertising
• Uniforms and signage

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