8th Street Design District branding its way to a new future

As Cincinnati begins a formal effort to define its brand and overall image, there seems to be a clear direction in which the conversation should head. Cincinnati is already known as a cradle of brands and building upon those existing creative assets would seem beneficial.

Home to consumer product giants like Procter & Gamble, Kroger, Macy’s and Chiquita, Cincinnati has been able to grow a robust support economy of branding and design firms looking to help sell their products to the world. Over time, many industries tend to self congest and maximize on economies of agglomeration. In Cincinnati this has occurred downtown roughly along the 8th Street corridor.

Within what is now being called the 8th Street Design District is a diverse collection of design professionals and businesses. In all, there are approximately 336 people working professionally in the fields of architecture, photography, graphic design, advertising, branding, urban and sustainable building design, and interior design in this small sub-section of downtown. There are also estimated to be approximately 175 people living in the immediate area in warehouses that have been converted into creative living spaces.

The numbers come to us from Ken Neiheisel, Principal of New Business Development for Marsh, who is helping lead the new organization that is attempting to brand the area with just the kind of image city leaders appear to want to do on a larger scale.

In early 2011, Neiheisel says, the 8th Street Design District hopes to begin incorporating some type of signage and designations up around the district to help make people more aware. He also says that the group is working on developing an overall brand strategy.

  • Robert Croswell

    The concept of the “8th Street Design District”is powerful and exciting! If Cincinnati could become widely known (using words from The Enquirer, 1-30-11) as a hub of advertising, marketing, and design, wouldn’t we, in turn, lure “creative types” and “knowledge workers” by the score? Isn’t one of the challenges of such a “district” to capture much more of the $$ that the P&G, Kroger, and Macy’s powerhouses spend elsewhere — namely Chicago and NYC?

  • Zack

    I think its just a coincidence at this point. There are other design and architecture firms on 4th whose employee counts rival the total of the 8th st. district.

  • B. W.

    In the past and present Cincinnati has defined itself by its diverse neighborhoods. But as our downtown area gathers momentum it will be beneficial to divide the area into districts. Indianapolis is a great example of how districting is a great marketing tool. I would like to see downtown divided into four districts and OTR divided into five. In OTR we could have a brewery district and do a better job of promoting the Findlay Market district, Pendleton Arts District, etc. Downtown already has the Banks District, and 4th Street is sort of a self promoting District already. Then assign each district a manager who performs like a “mall” manager. I could go on, but I won’t for now.

  • Sam


    Employee counts don’t matter as much as employee engagement does. These people have an energy and a vision for their area.