East Gainesville is Getting a Brand Reboot

By Chad Paris on October 4, 2016
Community Redevelopment Discovery Branding

The East Side of town is designated as one of the Gainesville Community Redevelopment Authority’s priority redevelopment areas. Recently Parisleaf was asked to reboot the community’s brand, which essentially means to redefine the way citizens see that part of the city.

As a branding agency, as storytellers, as designers, and as Gainesville citizens, we wanted to respectfully explore and reimagine the public’s feelings about the area. When tasked with rebranding, we ask ourselves, what’s the story here? Why tell it? What is its importance to others? To find the answers, we went searching for the original narrative and lore of East Gainesville.

We began by conducting interviews with residents, community leaders, pastors, teachers, and local merchants who could give us a good perspective on the past, present and future of the Eastside. We wanted to understand the community through the eyes of its citizens. The story that emerged was about the culture, neighbors, natural beauty, and the fact that the people who live there now never want to live anywhere else.

That story provided context for us to look at the things that had shaped the area thus far. It was only then that we could speak to the community honestly. Story helped us frame the conversation around the history, but also allowed us to talk about the future from a perspective of neighbors and friends.

After spending time on discovery and storytelling, we wanted to be sure the greater Gainesville community would adopt the new brand. They would do so by supporting the ventures and business opportunities created by this reimagining of the Eastside. After all, a brand is nothing without the life imbued in it by the people who use it.

The first project we tackled was a new subdivision of homes to be built on the former 15-acre site of a public housing complex. We chose the name Heartwood for the housing development, and we developed a logo. A reference to the center growth of a tree, the name invokes the sense of old growth and new “rings” of opportunity. We created a branded microsite for Heartwood featuring home designs, floor plans and amenities.

The second venture was a 14-acre site which already featured a 30,000-square-foot small business incubator. The new plans called for the construction of ten additional office, retail and mixed-use buildings to be built on the site over the next couple of years. Cornerstone was the name we picked for the business site. With the redevelopment expected to bring much-needed retail and commercial services, the name solidified that this was just the beginning, and that there are more good things to come for the community.

Despite the two projects being very different, they were also very connected. While both projects shared a geographic proximity and held a promise of possibility for the future of the Eastside, they were also saddled with the emotional baggage of a community that was weary and skeptical of promises.

Within months of the rebranding, there was a commitment from a French conglomerate to take 70,000 square feet of office and lab space in Cornerstone. The Heartwood development launched a new website, and interest in the new neighborhood has been overwhelmingly positive.

For the community brand reboot to work, we needed to discover and tell the stories of East Gainesville in a way to which everyone can relate. We had to develop branding, imagery and design that speaks to the area’s heritage. We then had to encourage buy-in from citizens by showing how the new overall brand is not only relevant but lucrative and attractive to the community.

For the details on the Look East Gainesville rebranding project, see our case study page.


About Chad Paris

Chad desires to own one of the healthiest agencies in the world, and that goal fuels everything he does. Chad’s role is all about relationships and communication with clients and with the Parisleaf team. Chad’s passion lies in giving back to the community – some may call this networking.

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