Marking territory in the Heights
While I’m not as fanatical as some, I admit I’m a fan of “Harry Potter” movies. It seems I can always find some way to relate a situation from one of Harry’s adventures to a contemporary circumstance.
What does “Harry Potter” have to do with life in the Heights? Not much, really . . . except I’m reminded of the four houses that the students at Hogwarts are assigned to upon their arrival. Take the Gryffindor and Slytherin houses, for example. Members were easily identified by the maroon and gold, or green and white, neck scarves they wore.
The students may have belonged to different houses—even may have competed mightily in an occasional high-stakes Quidditch match. Still, they all belonged to Hogwarts and they knew it.
Here in Cleveland Heights, we all “belong” to one city, but we live in our distinctive “houses” or, bringing the metaphor to the real world, our respective neighborhoods or commercial districts.
The city has 11 commercial districts at last count: Cain Park Village, Cedar Lee, Cedar Fairmount, Cedar Taylor, Center Mayfield, Coventry Village, Fairmount Taylor, Heights Rockefeller, Noble Monticello, Noble Nela and Severance. Each has unique characteristics and qualities. I suggest the city could be made that much stronger if each district claimed what makes it unique—whether it’s an attitude, history, landmark or reputation.
Why not identify those qualities and values that make a district or neighborhood unique, own them, and communicate those qualities and values to locals and potential visitors? As a district is telling it, it can show it—by delivering the district’s unique “brand” experience. Each business is its neighborhood’s unique selling point, the first thing that visitors see or feel when in a district.
Speaking of what the eye sees, there’s nothing wrong with “marking your territory” with physical identifiers: colors, flags or banners, a symbol or logo, etc. And while the district is showing, it can appoint a neighborhood spokesperson or ambassador to tell others—internal and external—what the district is, what it stands for, and what makes it a great place in which to live or visit.
As I think more on this idea, it could actually be kind of fun for the various Cleveland Heights districts or neighborhoods to engage in a friendly contest to see which one can come up with the most compelling brand identity. Of course, we’ll never see anything close to the members of the Cedar Lee “house” and the Coventry Village “house” soaring and flipping through the air on flying broomsticks, trying to capture the elusive winged Golden Snitch in a Quidditch match.
Still, the idea of claiming and communicating a neighborhood’s unique brand identity and values has merit. While each is unique, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. After all, we may dwell in different houses, but we are all Cleveland Heights.
Jinida Doba is an Associate with Cleveland Heights-based Dorsey & Company Strategic Consultants to Management. Doba has called Cleveland Heights home since 2010.