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Contact Info

Carl Wohlt
Founder and Principal
200 East 5th Avenue, No 318
Naperville, Illinois 60563
630 300 4211 tel

Brand Drive, Market Supported “Pre-planning” Development Strategies

Identifying the core “brand promise” of a downtown or a commercial corridor—based on a thorough understanding of its strengths, challenges and marketplace opportunities—saves significant amounts of time and money that might otherwise be lost pursuing development strategies that conflict or do not relate. A clearly expressed brand promise can also enhance investor confidence and expand market share.

Places as Products in a Market

URBRAND services lie at the intersection of placemaking aspirations and marketplace realities.

Downtowns and commercial corridors function like products in a marketplace. Consciously or not, they project a collective brand “promise” to a variety of audiences, including prospective shoppers, visitors, and investors. Commercial district success is tied directly to its overall product appeal and degree to which customer experiences match those that are promised.

Market Place Making

Conventional Approaches Yield Conventional Results

Recommended development strategies produced by conventional planning and economic development approaches are often remarkably similar from place to place. Development and redevelopment initiatives become more robust when they include placemaking strategies that align with a well defined, market supported brand promise that clearly differentiates a commercial district’s “product” from those of its competitors.

Conventional Results


Identifying the core “brand promise” of a downtown or a commercial corridor—based on a thorough understanding of its strengths, challenges and marketplace opportunities—provides a number of key benefits:

Saves Money

Creating a distinctive brand helps focus and prioritize the application of precious resources. For example, the placemaking strategies that support the development of an arts and culture district will be much different from those focused on establishing a premier office address for businesses.

Saves Money
Saves Time

Creating a distinctive brand can help reduce or even eliminate the time that might be spent on strategies that conflict or do not align with marketplace objectives.

Saves Time
Enhances Investor Confidence

Commercial district investors are reassured when they see that leaders and stakeholders have a game plan that includes a clearly defined brand position and supporting placemaking strategies.

Enhance Investor Confidence
Expands Market Share

A commercial district with a distinctive, well regarded brand identity more easily attracts the attention and interest of prospective investors and customers than those that do not.

Expands Market Share


Our combined expertise in branding and urban planning provide a fresh and unique perspective that transcends conventional marketing and placemaking approaches. It also enables placebranding and placemaking processes that are remarkably efficient and cost effective. Most importantly, we have a firmly grounded understanding of how placebranding strategies affect public policy, private sector development, commercial district organization, public improvements, marketing, and financing.


Our placebranding services help commercial districts leaders define a distinctive, market supported brand promise—a promise that is grounded in a thorough understanding of the district’s unique character, stakeholder aspirations, and available resources. Once established, the brand promise can help to focus and prioritize all subsequent development strategies and placemaking investments. We also provide branding services for commercial district development organizations, events, programs, and marketing campaigns.


Our unique combination of expertise in both branding and urban planning helps commercial district leaders and stakeholders identify the placemaking strategies that most effectively support and enhance a market supported brand position. For example, a commercial district that positions itself to become the region’s premier romantic weekend getaway for couples may choose to focus on streetscaping and landscaping improvements to enhance appearances rather than create new activities and destinations that appeal to families and children.

Other Services

Visual identity systems—including logos and supporting graphic elements such as nomenclature, color, and typography—are the backbone of all effective branding programs. Our design services have been tailored to accommodate the unique needs of commercial districts and the organizations that support their marketing and development initiatives. We understand the aesthetic qualities that define and differentiate brands. Equally as important, we also understand the functional demands that all effective visual identity systems must accommodate. For example, a logo must not only convey the essence of the organization it represents, it must also be capable of reproducing in a variety of environments that range in scale from a water tower to a lapel pin.

Other services