The Rapidian

Introducing SoDiv, a New Brand for the Heartside South Division Business Corridor

This dispatch was added by one of our Nonprofit Neighbors. It does not represent the editorial voice of The Rapidian or Community Media Center.

Community members come together to develop a brand and implementation plan for SoDiv, the commercial corridor on S. Division Avenue between Fulton and Wealthy Street
SoDiv is the new identity for the South Division Commercial Corridor in Heartside

SoDiv is the new identity for the South Division Commercial Corridor in Heartside

Underwriting support from:

Get Involved

If you are a business owner or resident in the SoDiv area, contact [email protected]gr.org about getting vinyl added to your window or storefront. When posting about the area or one of its amenities, use #SoDiv on social media!

Renise Warners, owner of Basic Bee Boutique on SoDiv, worked alongside other entrepreneurs and community orgs to develop SoDiv

Renise Warners, owner of Basic Bee Boutique on SoDiv, worked alongside other entrepreneurs and community orgs to develop SoDiv /@basicbeeboutique

 “People love to know what is new, what is hip, what is coming... this is our corridor and our neighborhood,” says Renise Warners, owner of Basic Bee Boutique, a business located along the South Division commercial corridor in Heartside. The sense of place to which Warners refers can be labeled as a brand; a name and symbol that breathes identity into the imagination of visitors, residents, and entrepreneurs. Stakeholders along this commercial corridor have been strategizing for months, slowly developing a brand for their district. This month, that group of Heartside residents, business owners, and neighborhood leaders delighted in unveiling SoDiv, the new brand identity for South Division in Heartside.  

The name SoDiv is a nod to the well-known landmarks and unique characteristics of Heartside. Not only does the name create a shorthand for the colloquial “South Division” descriptor, it also represents the assets and adjectives that residents use to describe the neighborhood. SoDiverseSoDistictSoDynamic; these are the traits that make SoDiv special.   

The SoDiv brand is the product of years of consensus-building, community data gathering, and collective storytelling. In 2019, established as a response to the 2018 Quality of Life Study, the Heartside Economic Development Workgroup was tasked with encouraging existing and future small business development along South Division Avenue between Fulton and Wealthy streets. One of the strategies this group came up with was introducing a brand for the area. “[A brand is] a tool to use to help market the area, designed to be a succinct summary with more trendy words that will catch people’s eyes and give a sense of place” says Nick Wallis, an architect at TowerPinkster, one of the longtime businesses along SoDiv 

Dwelling Place hosted a three-part Business District Branding workshop series in September and October of 2020. These workshops looked at attributes of a community brand and transformed it into a business district marketing plan with strategies, target audiences, and recommendations to support the brand promise the group created. As a result, a Marketing Steering Committee with design firm Grey Matter Group was implemented in January to create the image and visual elements that would be unveiled this month. Along with Grey Matter Group, staff from Dwelling Place and community members in the neighborhood came together to create a brand implementation plan for South Division. Beth Usadel, owner of the Color Forest, a business on SoDiv, says of the process, “I know I am doing a lot of learning, but it is cool to help design how we get to show off what an awesome place we are; it’s really helpful to talk to others.”  

One of the main goals of the Economic Development Workgroup, along with creating and implementing the brand, was to tie in the existing assets and key features of the neighborhood. One of the members of Grey Matter Group, Client Relations Manager Kevin Buist, says, “Designing this identity is only one piece of the strategy, another step forward. It is more about thinking about how [community members and organizations] fit into a larger effort and play their part in it.  

Creating this brand and unveiling it as a community has allowed organizations and individuals of diverse backgrounds to come together to learn more about what South Division means to one another. This process brings support for businesses and support around getting more businesses to the area,” said Warners. Two brand unveiling presentations were held this month; community members joined and heard about the work that had been done, the new brand elements, and what the next steps are for getting involved. 

 

With a mission to improve the lives of people by creating quality affordable housing, providing essential support services and serving as a catalyst for neighborhood revitalization, Dwelling Place serves families and people in 4 counties across West Michigan. Dwelling Place is powered by volunteers and numerous staff persons, guest writers create our Rapidian content. Thanks to Learning Lab intern Katie James for her contribution of this piece.

The Rapidian, a program of the 501(c)3 nonprofit Community Media Center, relies on the community’s support to help cover the cost of training reporters and publishing content.

We need your help.

If each of our readers and content creators who values this community platform help support its creation and maintenance, The Rapidian can continue to educate and facilitate a conversation around issues for years to come.

Please support The Rapidian and make a contribution today.

Comments, like all content, are held to The Rapidian standards of civility and open identity as outlined in our Terms of Use and Values Statement. We reserve the right to remove any content that does not hold to these standards.

Browse