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Our Blog

#InspiredBy Independent Bookstore Day

Posted by Andrea Garcia

Apr 27, 2018 5:45:30 PM

Last April I spent a very rainy and cold Saturday traveling around Chicago with some friends, running in and out bookstores, collecting punchcards. It was the last Saturday of the month—Independent Bookstore Day—and we were participating in the first My Chicago Bookstore Challenge: if you visited 10 of the participating independent bookstores throughout the city and suburbs, you received a 10% discount from all participating stores for the next year; if you visited 15, you got 15%. We succeeded in visiting 11 participating bookstores and several more that weren't on the list, just for fun.

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Topics: Neighborhood Marketing, Social Media, Marketing, Advertising, Business Lessons

Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council Annual Report Brochure // Behind the Spark

Posted by Sparkfactor

Apr 26, 2018 8:30:00 AM

The Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council selected Sparkfactor to create an informational brochure and annual report for the Special Service Area #13, the Stockyards Industrial Park, which is under purview of the BYNC.

The content provided from BYNC detailed the services the SSA provides to the area, surrounding community, and business climate. They made it easy to inform their audience about what a Special Service Area is and what SSA #13 has accomplished. We used Adobe to create the tri-fold brochure. Each section has a different background color to distinguish itself from surrounding sections, and the brochure also includes relevant images.

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Topics: Neighborhood Marketing, Behind the Spark, Direct

Brighton Park and Archer Heights SSA #39 Brand Identity and Ad Campaign // Behind the Spark

Posted by Sparkfactor

Apr 19, 2018 8:30:00 AM

In Chicago, there are Special Service Areas (SSAs) throughout the city, streets that are economic thoroughfares in the neighborhood. SSAs are under local neighborhood organizations and provide services to business owners, like facade and building improvements and marketing and advertising of the area.

The Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council has several SSAs under its care, one of which is SSA #39 Brighton Park and Archer Heights, which was established in 2007. These two lesser known neighborhoods on the Southwest Side of the city are connected through the SSA, which runs southwest down a portion of Archer Ave from California in Brighton Park to Pulaski in Archer Heights. The SSA commission wanted to create a brand identity and an ad campaign to increase the awareness of the area, not only to bring in more visitors from around the city and tourists that happen to pass through the transportation in the area, but also to encourage locals to see their neighborhood as a place to invest in with their time and money.

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Topics: Neighborhood Marketing, Behind the Spark, WordPress, Photography, Advertising, Web Design

OnDevon Brand Identity and Ad Campaign // Behind the Spark

Posted by Sparkfactor

Apr 12, 2018 8:30:00 AM

The Rogers Park Business Alliance has a few different City of Chicago Special Service Areas (SSAs) under its purview, including SSA #43. SSA #43 includes a good portion of Devon Avenue (a busy east/west street in Chicago) and a part of Western Avenue (the city's longest continuous street). SSA #43 wanted to develop a brand identity for the area and an ad campaign to draw people—city residents and tourists alike—to the businesses to boost the local economy and show off what Devon has to offer.

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Topics: Neighborhood Marketing, Advertising, Marketing, Photography, Web Design, Behind the Spark, Identity

9 Essentials Every Neighborhood Organization Website Must Have

Posted by Andrea Garcia

Apr 3, 2018 11:00:00 AM


Neighborhoods rely on local businesses to bring in visitors and revenue to the area. Some businesses can do a great job of marketing and advertising their own company, but often it's up to various neighborhood organizations to bring area businesses together to draw participation from local residents, city-wide visitors, and tourists.

The foundation for these organizations should be their website. It can be the first touchpoint for new visitors to the area and should show off a good first impression. The following website essentials should be considered when discussing a new or redesigned website.

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Topics: Web Design, Neighborhood Marketing

Hello Howard: A Case Study in Neighborhood Marketing // Behind the Spark

Posted by Kate Alpert

May 25, 2017 9:00:00 AM

Originally published on the Women Belong blog.

Even if you're not from Chicago, you've probably heard of the city's elevated public train line, the El. Howard Street is the last stop on the northern end of the El's Red Line. The Howard stop is a transportation hub that bridges the city with the northern suburbs. Historically, the area had been a thriving business district but over the years had declined into an area of storefront vacancies.

In the early 2010s, the Rogers Park Business Alliance worked hard to fill vacancies, develop businesses, and push back against the common negative impression of the area. Two of the goals of the revitalization project were to serve the diverse residents of Rogers Park and for the neighborhood to become a destination for city-dwellers and out-of-towners alike.

In 2012, the Rogers Park Business Alliance released an RFP for the Howard Street SSA #19. The project was to create a neighborhood marketing and branding campaign for Howard Street, the northernmost boundary of the city. Sparkfactor won the project and created a campaign that had immediate results when the campaign launched and also has a lasting legacy that stands today.

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Topics: Behind the Spark, Advertising, Marketing, Neighborhood Marketing

Rogers Park Business Alliance Website // Behind the Spark

Posted by Kate Alpert

Oct 27, 2016 11:00:00 AM

Sparkfactor has worked closely with the Rogers Park Business Alliance in the past, so when we saw the RFP for a redesign of their website, we knew we wanted to help. After winning the bid and discussing with decision-makers about what they were looking for in a new site, we developed a site that's more image-centered to showcase the neighborhood, from restaurants to beach fronts, from stores to parks. We used the colors in the RPBA logo as highlight colors throughout the site for calls-to-action buttons, the header, the footer, and elsewhere.

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Topics: Web Design, Photography, Behind the Spark, Neighborhood Marketing

Edgewater Neighborhood Annual Report

Posted by Sparkfactor

May 20, 2015 9:00:00 AM

The Edgewater Chamber of Commerce produces an annual neighborhood report to create awareness of its activities benefiting area businesses and residents.

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Topics: Neighborhood Marketing, Direct, Marketing

Rogers Park Harvest

Posted by Sparkfactor

Oct 28, 2014 9:00:00 AM

In the fall of 2013, the Rogers Park Business Alliance requested the design of a unique brand for their annual Harvest event. The brand identity we created communicates a family-oriented neighborhood festival with energy and diversity. A range of tactics were delivered, including banners, posters, flyers, and highly targeted direct mail.

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Topics: Neighborhood Marketing, Direct, Identity, Marketing

Hello Howard Garden Gateway

Posted by Sparkfactor

May 20, 2014 9:00:00 AM

Rogers Park Business Alliance partnered with the Peterson Garden Project in the fall of 2013 to turn the empty lot at the corner of Ashland and Howard into a community garden. Sparkfactor designed an outdoor gateway treatment consisting of three large graphic panels for the garden gate. Brightly colored vintage etchings of flora bring the Peterson Garden Project and the Howard Street branding together in a universally accessible, welcoming design. The resulting installation enlivens the surrounding public space, creating interest in the community and beautifying the streetscape.

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Topics: Neighborhood Marketing, Advertising