When an area has a rich history, past and present don’t always reconcile. Yerba Buena needed to embrace its heritage in order to define its future.
Located in the heart of downtown San Francisco, Yerba Buena is an historic neighborhood that had lost its identity. The Yerba Buena Community Benefit District (YBCBD) was charged with invigorating the area for the good of the people who live, work and visit there.
What’s in a name? In the case of a neighborhood, everything. If people can’t agree on what to call it, no one knows when they’re in it. The first step in our naming process was to ask around. We set about knocking on doors and pounding the pavement to engage a broad range of residents, business owners and visitors.
Between one-on-one conversations, online surveys, and man-on-the-street interviews, we connected with over 350 businesses, 200 residents and 100 visitors. We also facilitated charrettes to align the opinions and objectives of key stakeholders, giving them a chance to share their ideas for unifying the neighborhood. This incredible depth of immersive research—and the insights it revealed—was distributed as a living document to strategically ground the future of the Yerba Buena brand.
This chorus of voices helped us land our first creative deliverable: the name. Based on our survey, it made sense to keep the historical moniker of Yerba Buena, but give the neighborhood a new conceptual frame. “Intersections” became the metaphor for Yerba Buena’s multiple and overlapping personalities, experiences and opportunities—the defining feature that brings the community together and invites visitors to explore.
When people understand and celebrate their sense of place, they ensure it’s here to stay for yesterday, today and tomorrow.