Branding consultant nails it for Alpharetta

The inspiration for my blog’s name came from a 2005 New York Times article on Alpharetta called The Five-Bedroom, Six-Figure Rootless Life. Author Peter Kilborn later turned the idea into a book called Next Stop, Reloville.

The focus of Kilborn’s stores were these nomadic suburban gypsies who would follow jobs around the country, never sinking deep roots in any community. Kilborn also talked about the affluence here in Alpharetta. They are topics I’ve not written about recently. Maybe the economic downturn put the breaks on corporate relocation. Or perhaps I got distracted with other things to write about.

But this topic came crashing back on me recently. Tonight Alpharetta’s Council will receive an update on the city’s branding effort. Their consultant has finished an exhaustive interview process in an attempt to understand this area. And in my opinion, they’ve pretty much nailed it. If you have some time, read their report here (opens to pdf).

The report talks a lot about issues like downtown redevelopment, Avalon, and potential controversial topics like bars and nightlife. It also touches on that topic of reloville. One respondent spoke of Alpharetta’s transient population saying, “You move here to become the boss somewhere else.”

Another spoke of the affluence here, saying “life is not real” in Alpharetta. It was a blast from blogging past for me.

I don’t have time to get into it all today. But there are potentially dozens of tasty blogging morsels in this report. I don’t know where to begin. So I’ll put it to my readers. What in this report stood out to you? Where did they get Alpharetta right, or what did they miss? Do you think this consultant will create a brand that truly captures Alpharetta?

15 Responses to “Branding consultant nails it for Alpharetta”

  1. Josh April 22, 2014 at 11:28 am #

    Hey Lee,

    Let me start by saying I love your site and it really is awesome to be kept abreast of a lot of what is going in in Alpharetta.

    I am not sure how I feel about this. It seems like something I, with no branding experience, could have created. I shudder to think of how much that PowerPoint cost the city of Alpharetta and wonder what a high school / college marketing class could come up with.

    “The best ‘darn’ place in Georgia”? Wow…

  2. Greg April 23, 2014 at 2:47 pm #

    I think a good report. Two things I wish they’d mentioned are: 1) Alpharetta’s commitment to preserving its natural beauty (best evidenced by its restrictive tree ordinance), and 2) the intelligence, education, and civic responsibility of its citizens. I think the latter is a big reason for Alpharetta’s success. We are not a collection of country bumpkins trying to stumble on the correct way to run a community (or trying to hold on to the way Grampa always did it).

  3. Mala April 23, 2014 at 8:45 pm #

    I found it hilarious (and ridiculous) that they dedicated a slide to Avalon. Avalon is not going to be destination. The plans show a big strip mall with apartment rentals and a hotel and some retail….blah blah. It’s not going to be a game changer. I do think that the downtown plans look fantastic and hope that it will be special with more local businesses, a park, library etc. I drive by Avalon everyday and yawn. When I drive by the new downtown I smile and can’t wait.

    Alpharetta is a great little city. We probably will relocate because of job advancement, but our preference would be to stay. I think a lot of executives are sitting longer in their positions than they should because of the quality of life here, so opportunities are becoming stagnant.

  4. Mala April 23, 2014 at 8:49 pm #

    Josh: I agree win your assessment and can’t believe they were so desperate for ideas that they felt the need to publish “best darn place in Georgia”. Golly gee.

  5. Cool Papa Bell April 24, 2014 at 12:15 pm #

    Ford Fry, Antico, Bacado, and the Charleston import are proven “destination” restaurants.

    As a businessperson myself, I became quite intrigued at the “Google headquarters” Internet speed. Having gone from 12.5 mbps to 120 in a short time, that has been an absolute “game changer” for me.

    The fantasy of 100 times that speed makes my wallet salivate. Having literally the world’s fastest Internet speed is beyond game changing. I’d pay pretty good money to rent a cubby there.

    Successful business people absolutely will chose Avalon based on that fact alone. There was a very recent article that said Alpharetta and Johns Creek were BOTH top 5 in the country as far as percentage of residents working from home. Avalon is a dream come true for such people.

  6. Greg April 25, 2014 at 8:00 am #

    Time will tell on Avalon. Many people will incorrectly declare victory months after it opens, but the real test is a year or two after that. Atlantic Station was the place to go in its first year (even for people up here), but now not so much. On the other hand, whatever they’re calling the Avenues in Forsyth these days is still going strong. We’ll see.

  7. Greg April 25, 2014 at 8:06 am #

    The real question is how many destination places can North Fulton support? Canton Street, Downtown Alpharetta, Avalon, even North Point. Once the initial novelty is gone, it’s pretty much a zero sum game.

  8. John April 25, 2014 at 9:04 am #

    Avalon is going to be a home run. The only issue it will have will be traffic. It is going to be impossible to get in and out. I believe the North Point, Avalon and Windward markets are destination and job-centric. The sustainability of Crabapple, Canton Street and Downtown Alpharetta depend upon a critical mass of roof tops. Downtown Alpharetta will have another 250 townhouses with families in them in the next 24-36 months, as well as several hundred houses out Mayfield, Mid-broadwell and Rucker on the way to Crabapple. These are approved, entitled and being built right now. I hope we like our new neighbors!

  9. Cool Papa Bell April 25, 2014 at 9:50 am #

    “The real question is how many destination places can North Fulton support?” So far all of them. What’s the best restaurant that’s gone out out business in said areas? I can’t think of one.

    Yes, the “pizza wars” with three excellent wood fire and several very good NY style in close proximity will be interesting to watch. So far the areas venture into higher end has been an overwhelming success.

  10. GA Peach April 25, 2014 at 1:35 pm #

    Cool Papa Bell….which NY style pizza places do you like? My husband is from Syracuse and that is the one thing he misses the most.

  11. S Lee Guy April 25, 2014 at 1:42 pm #

    Oh no. Get ready for a dissertation from CPB.

  12. Cool Papa Bell April 25, 2014 at 2:33 pm #

    SLG, if I’m going to disagree with somebody, I owe them an explanation as to why. I don’t do the drive by snark of JP or whatever her name is. So if specifics = dissertation, that’s just how I roll.

    Peach, Joe’s NY on Mansell and Alpine in Crabapple are the two best. While I do not encourage foodie infidelity, I also believe 850 and Campania prove one need not to stay married to NY style, but Joe’s and Alpine do NY style best.

  13. Mala April 25, 2014 at 5:23 pm #

    CPB: I’m skeptical about Avalon because these are the same people that built Atlantic station. And other than ikea, that area isn’t a destination. The apartments and architecture of Atlantic station reminds me of the Eastern European apartments that my relatives grew up in during the Cold War. We make an annual ikea run once a year to get some fun kids stuff and then we are outta there. It’s not an attractive place. I’m sure Avalon will be nice, but it’s let’s face it, it’s just a mall with apartments and a hotel. It’s not going to be unique in anyway or different from perimeter or Atlantic station. I’m glad they are building it, but i don’t see people from downtown or buckhead making the trek to Avalon. I think this presentation was a little skewed in its support of Avalon. Like Marietta square and historic roswell , i do think downtown Alpharetta could be a potential draw as it will hopefully have a less of a commercial vibe and more of a civic/local feel.

  14. Mala April 25, 2014 at 5:31 pm #

    One more thought: the Avalon sculpture that brands the development near 400 is sooo boring. The windward sculpture (as plain as it is) is more exciting. It’s too bad there is no passion or love being put into art and architecture these days.

  15. Cool Papa Bell April 25, 2014 at 10:29 pm #

    Mala, I was under the impression Charley Brown built Atlantic Station and tried to duplicate the concept at HBR and Old Alabama, but was shot down. I thought Mark Toro is building Avalon, but maybe they are partners.

    To the best of my knowledge Atlantic Station has Rosa’s, a high-end chain. Toro is bringing some serious heavyweights. Not only the ones I named above, but I forgot that Shaun Doty is bringing a place to Avalon.

    Yes most of the heavyweights have ITP locations, which takes from the appeal to the city folk. How about Cumming to Dahlonega? Toro (and Brown?) knew what they were doing when they built it at 400.

    And if I’m in Sandy Springs, I’d choose Alpharetta over their city counterparts.

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