University of Iowa

Branding Mason City's North End Business District

Academic Year 
2017-2018
Project Partners 
Led by 
Project Topics

Juniors in the Tippie College of Business Marketing Institute developed brand alternatives for Mason City’s North End Commercial District, with a goal of uniting the area’s current and future small business owners under a common effort to attract customers and revitalize the neighborhood. 

Elected officials, business leaders, and community advocates have recognized the essential role of the Mason City’s North End neighborhood in the overall development and sustainability of the broader community.  New restaurants, services, and improvements in streets and public spaces present an opportunity to capitalize on recent positive momentum in the neighborhood, which has suffered in recent decades from a series of setbacks- the loss of large employers in the neighborhood, housing instability, and big box retail development in other areas of town have all contributed to economic decline, as well as generally negative perceptions (sometimes misperceptions) of the neighborhood.  While some see blight and instability, many advocates and neighborhood residents feel a strong sense of social cohesiveness and opportunity.  To coincide with concurrent development and planning activities (including North End neighborhood plan being developed by graduate students in the UI School of Urban & Regional Planning), Mason City community partners sought to generate new excitement and commercial activity with a strong brand and identity.  A successful brand will serve both to attract customers to the district, as well as new businesses.  Marketing Institute student teams worked independently (and secretively) to develop four distinct branding concepts for the North End neighborhood.  Each group "pitched" their idea to a panel of judges, and one was selected as the winner.  The winning brand was selected primarily for its visually appealing logo and tagline "Built by History, Grown by Community".  However, the Mason City community partners see opportunities to pull ideas from each of the marketing approaches to develop a robust and effective marketing campaign in the neighborhood.