Capitol Riverfront Business Improvement District

 
 

Situation/Challenge

The Capitol Riverfront Business District (BID) supports the development of Washington, D.C.’s Capitol Riverfront neighborhood as a new “downtown” on the banks of the Anacostia River. It provides place management services that help to create a neighborhood that is clean, safe, accessible, unique, friendly and vibrant.

The Capitol Riverfront BID sought an outreach partnership to support several key goals:

  • To broadly establish the neighborhood as the region’s go-to location for working, recruiting, living, visiting and entertaining. This required the BID to create and vigorously promote a compelling message distinct from but additive to those from its member-developers, major league sports franchises with local business presence, and District leadership — with comparatively modest resources.
  • To roughly triple the number of commercial leasing occupants from 20,000 to 60,000. This target required the BID and its members to attract a disproportionate share of potential lessees from competing hubs.
  • To roughly double the number of residential leasing occupants from 4,800 to 10,000. Compared to commercial leasing, this would require making far more outreach touches across far more contacts in far more environments, all of which would involve sustained resource commitments.
  • To build brand ambassadorship from regional visitors as validators for the BID’s message and convert a significant portion of these word-of-mouth endorsements to support residential leasing.

Our Strategic Approach

Sage conducted an in-depth analysis of the Capitol Riverfront Business Improvement District (BID), including its competing property markets, and key residential, commercial, and retail stakeholder groups. Using these insights, we reduced Capitol Riverfront’s major attributes to eight simple terms. We then brought these together in a universal brand message backed by a common tagline — DC Amplified. Life Simplified — and supporting messaging that targets each major neighborhood audience. We created a brand manual to help guide that usage by all of the BID’s members and partners. And we conducted small-group training sessions among BID members so they could rehearse this usage, ask questions about specific applications, and brainstorm answers in a supportive environment.

At the same time, Sage developed and executed a comprehensive outreach plan that included paid media like transit ads, digital news sites, and social networks; event support like sponsorships, signage, and premiums; and collateral support like infographics and an annual neighborhood brochure.

Results

In 2017, the new branding was visible across the entire Capitol Riverfront neighborhood, from light pole standards to recycling stations, on developer signage, and inside every DC Circulator bus. Elements have also made their way into District government messaging, broadcast news coverage, and the community’s music/arts festivals.

A pivotal moment for the neighborhood arrived in July 2018 with the combined opening of Audi Field — a $300M dedicated soccer field for the DC United franchise of Major League Soccer — and the 2018 MLB All-Star Game at Nationals Park. The surrounding two-week roster of events was expected to attract more than 100,000 additional visitors and $66M in consumer spending to the region. To help address the optics of construction delays near key entrances to Nationals Park, and build community buzz among event visitors, Sage designed and produced nearly three blocks' worth of fence banners celebrating the neighborhood's major achievements and amenities.