Branding a Neighborhood

I moved Kazoo Branding to our current location on East Hennepin in Northeast Minneapolis 13 years ago. I joined the Northeast Business Association (NEBA) to get involved in the neighborhood. Here’s what happened. 

NEBA covers a very specific area from the Mississippi riverfront between the Hennepin Ave and Third Ave Bridges up to point where Central Ave and E. Hennepin come together. It is one of Minneapolis’ oldest neighborhoods, and really quite different from several other northeast spots. It has several significant high-rise residential developments either completed or scheduled to open in 2019.


It has become an area that is a mix of a well-established European walking neighborhood and the new residential developments. 

Our task was to unify this mix through a one-voice, one-source brand that would be the base for all communications. Part of our strategic process was to treat it like a shopping center that has a mix of businesses. Our solution was to brand it The Heart of Northeast℠, “Where it began, and where it’s going”.


The brand gathers all the fabrics of the neighborhood, the established and the new, and sews them into a dressed up platform to promote events that help the businesses draw traffic to the neighborhood. 

Our first priority was to promote the Police Sub Station, established 17 years ago with our own beat officer. Every year, in conjunction with the local neighborhood association, The Heart of Northeast hosts a fundraiser, “Keep The Beat” to raise funds for the substation and provide extra beat patrols during busy retail times and bar closings.


There are several retail events to draw people to the neighborhood. In 2018 we had a spring fashion event, “Ladies Night Out,” in which 21 northeast retailers participated with offers that ranged from discount coupons to drink specials.


In July we helped stage the Northeast Dog Parade, an annual event the draws hundreds of pooches and their owners to the Riverfront area, followed by a parade past the northeast businesses, escorted by the police. After the parade there are doggie booths and fun animal tricks with prizes.


One of our most unusual events for any neighborhood is the Northeast Beer Mile, now in its third year. People drink a beer, run quarter of a mile, drink another beer, run another quarter of a mile, and well you get the idea. It is actually a sanctioned race with an official time-keeper. 120 runners competed along with hundreds of friends and spectators who cheered and groaned.

Ellen Puls