What's in a brand?
Camden's select board recently agreed branding is a top priority.
Currently the slogan for Camden is “Where the mountains meet the sea.”
Examples of other Maine towns' branding include:
Madison — "A great place to live, work and play!"
Biddeford — "A proud city rising where the water falls."
Kennebunk — "The only village in the world so named."
Maine, of course, has “Vacationland” and "The way life should be."
In considering the brand for Camden, we encourage public participation and input. Sometimes input can backfire, but we think officials should be sure to approve branding the community will support, so the town doesn't end up with a new slogan like "Camden, Maine, it's not New Jersey."
Should a new slogan along the lines of the following be chosen, we're not sure the community would agree with the direction:
Havre, Mont. — “Get ‘er done.”
Prairie du Chien, Wis. — “Where the bald eagle soars and the carp drops.”
Here's a doozy from Hooker, Okla. — “It’s a location, not a vocation.”
Food references seem to be common:
Omaha, Neb. — “Rare. Well done.”
Hershey, Pa. — “The sweetest place on Earth.”
Algona, Iowa — “Home of the world’s largest Cheeto.”
We could go on with examples of branding we hope never to see in Camden but will end with just two more:
Walla Walla, Wash. — “The city was so nice they named it twice."
and Las Vegas — “Whatever happens here, stays here,” as an example of branding gone awry.
It's not a good thing when people can change the meaning of a slogan or make it applicable in a generic way to everything.
To create an effective and appropriate brand for Camden will take time and we encourage careful deliberation and research before settling on a new slogan.
Love thy neighbor
Regardless of how close the nearest structure might be, everyone has neighbors. Some are residences, some are businesses and sometimes residences and businesses are neighbors.
There are cases of neighbor pitted against neighbor, business against business and resident against business and vice versa. We think much strife could be avoided by simply being a good neighbor and considering a project from the abutter's point of view. And the road goes both ways: a business would not want to overlook a residential swimming pool or into living quarters, nor would a homeowner enjoy the view of an endless parking lot or windowless warehouse.
A phone call or letter stating intentions to neighbors as well as potential impacts of changes on abutting properties generally is not out of line. When projects go before local planning boards, it's often a neighbor speaking up and hoping to have concerns addressed. Parties that disagree could make an attempt to iron out differences in a civil manner among themselves but if that doesn't work, town officials with an understanding of existing ordinances may be able to help. Will both parties come away completely happy? Unlikely, but negotiations have to start somewhere.
Potential issues could be lessened with thoughtful zoning as well. While we understand it isn't possible to plan a town where businesses and residences are strictly separated (nor would we encourage the idea), ordinances can be put in place to help ease transitions between business and residential zones.
We think most homeowners would prefer to not feel as though they are living in a parking lot. Perhaps a solution is to require visual screening when a home is located near a parking lot. Green spaces can do wonders as well, when there isn't an option for trees or appropriate fencing.
Each town sets its own design standards, with feedback from residents, but those standards should be reviewed on a regular basis. What is “in” now may drastically change in 10 years.
Consider the ongoing revitalization of downtowns in Maine — once the epicenter of town with residents and business side-by-side and little need for travel, then relegated to a business-only zone residents only visited and now, coming full circle back to many downtowns, the mixed-use mentality.