Last Thursday, the public charette on the renaming of the White Flint sector was hosted by Friends of White Flint and Streetsense, and sponsored by various developers in the White Flint sector.
Dan Hoffman, Montgomery County’s chief innovation officer and a community activist who has been involved in the White Flint sector plan for the past 8 years, was asked to introduce the charette for the attendees which included community residents, concerned citizens, property owners, and developers.
The White Flint Sector Plan was developed by residents, local business owners, property owners, the county, and developers in 2010 to create a shared vision of what the White Flint sector will become. This shared vision is why it is so important for this rebranding to take place, to create a unique and concise identity for this area.
As Dan mentioned, now is the time to figure out the future of the region and how the region will attract individuals to the area over the next 30 years. One way is to figure out a name that creates a sense of vibrancy, uniqueness, and timelessness. This charette provided an opportunity for the community to give their input on the naming of the place they live, play, and work in.
Streetsense began the charette by defining what a brand is. A brand comes down to the gut feeling one gets as a result of their sense of place and their buy-in or understanding of area. The branding process of a area or district begins with creating a new name. From there, awareness of the new name will be raised, hopefully creating unity among the area’s residents and distinguishing the area from other districts.
Participants in the charette were presented with signs of 10 possible names for the region: The Quartz District, Metropolitan White Flint, Rockline, Rocksy, The Summit, Pike District, Slate District, The Stem, Uptown, and Market District. These were chosen by Streetsense and the developers, such as The JBG Companies, Federal Realty Investment Trust, and Lerner Enterprises, as the remaining choices. These 10 names were selected based on a criteria including but not limited to sticking power of the name, placing a location, a sense of energy/vibrancy, authencity, and large scale-ness. Attendees were asked to go around to every sign and give their ranking from -5 to +5 and any additional comments they had on the name to Streetsense employees standing next to each sign.
It is important to acknowledge that the branding “is for marketing purposes only; the new name will not be used for nearby residential neighborhoods or for postage or tax purposes,” as Bethesda Beat’s Andrew Metcalf mentioned. The branding process for this new campaign is six-fold. Streetsense began the process by conducting case studies of other districts faced with the same branding issues. Following that step, they conducted in-person interviews, held “re-focus” groups, and had a namestorming session. All these steps then led to the charette. After the charette, Streetsense and the developers will take the rankings and comments left by the attendees and will complete more market research in hopes of making the decision on the final name.