What’s in a name?

According to the Central Northside Neighborhood Council, quite a lot, which is why they’re proposing a remarketing of their neighborhood that would include changing its name from Central Northside to Allegheny City Central.

While the name change wouldn’t be official to the City, the CNNC hopes that by remarketing their neighborhood they will bring in new residents and businesses and dispense negative connotations with the name Central Northside.

“Sometimes communities grow faster than perceptions about the community,” said Greg Spicer,one of the CNNC member working on the branding initiative. “This isn’t about a name change of the neighborhood, but a marketing strategy.”

In a presentation on Wednesday night, Spicer and the CNNC rebranding committee presented their proposed plan for remarketing the Central Northside to community members in attendance.

The remarketing plan, developed in collaboration with North Star, a firm that specializes in community brands andthe marketing firm Karen Bryant and Associates, includes a new logo, slogan, website and neighborhood name that could be promoted using billboards, bumper stickers, advertisements and street pole signs.

After researching residents’ perceptions of the neighborhood, the CNNC found that residents didn’t know how to define the Central Northside. Some residents said they lived in the Mexican War Streets, while others described their area as simply The Northside or the Upper North Shore.

They noted that media often called the neighborhood the Central Northside when reporting bad news and simply the Northside when reporting positive news.

A vision survey reported that 80 percent of Central Northsiders had a negative connotation with the name Central Northside, confirming their belief that the name Central Northside was a bad brand.  

Additionally, they found that media and real estate agents had begun describing the Garden Theater Block and the Federal Hill homes as being a part of the “Upper North Shore,” an identity that the CNNC felt put them in an uncomfortable position.

“If we don’t do something, the market will do it for us,” explained Spicer.

The committee decided on the name Allegheny City Central to unify the micro neighborhoods within the Central Northside and the rebuff the imposition of the North Shore name on prime real estate in the Central Northside.

Spicer explained that Allegheny was used in the name because it was familiar and used by local businesses and key Northside institutions.

In keeping with the idea of familiarity, Pittsburgh colors’, black and gold, were used for the proposed Allegheny City Central logo.

The name, combined with the tagline “All together. Different,” was meant to acknowledge the diversity and micro communities within the Central Northside, while promoting a sense of unity in the neighborhood.

After the presentation, some residents questioned the cost and timeline for the project, but the committee said that they would wait for the vote to move forward with the budget, fundraising or time frame for the rebranding.

Others questioned and expressed confusion as to what the borders that Allegheny City Central would contain, which Spicer observed was a symptom of the ambiguities of the Central Northside brand.

Residents can vote on the brand direction at the CNNC meeting on September 10. Once the project is approved, the CNNC will begin fundraising.

“The thing I really like is being in the center,” said CNNC member Jan Meyer, who was impressed with the plan. “Allegheny City Central, that’s a great idea!”