To Brand or Rebrand? That is the Question for Rat City…er, White Center

by Margaret Ryan

White Center or Rat City – which will it be?

No one knows for sure yet, but if the majority of those attending the White Center Chamber of Commerce meeting Tuesday afternoon (June 12) could have had a straw vote right then and there, it’s likely ‘Rat City’ would have won out.

From the moment Chamber president Mark Ufkes opened the discussion, everyone in the room wanted to have their say. One participant based his opinion on an informal survey he did with business owners and employees, who came out against the ‘Rat City’ symbolism.

That speaker was opposed by another one who cited the poll on The White Center Blog that was running about eight to one in favor of the controversial symbol.

When the term ‘branding’ came up, it was apparent that White Center has long been branded by the Rat, but that perhaps now is the time to reinvent that same brand in a more favorable light. After all, it’s not the words that count, it’s how you say them, right? For example, in Fremont, another quirky Seattle neighborhood, it’s the statue of Lenin that they’re known for…and the troll…and the Solstice Day Parade of nude bicyclists. None of these are considered exactly positive symbols, but they have put Fremont on the map in this region.

As you may know, the Chamber is working on a new website (see a screenshot here) to bring more attention and excitement to our fair neighborhood. One speaker at the meeting wanted to call White Center a ‘destination neighborhood’ – a place that Seattlites seek out for its unique flavor. The discussion was actually about how to brand us on the website, and, as Mr. Ufkes stated:

“This is just the beginning of the discussion.”

He urged people to volunteer to work on the committee, which will ultimately make the decision.

And the decision will not likely be an ‘either/or’ decision, but a combination of the two identities.

If you’d like to voice your opinion, please take our Poll below (if you haven’t already):

Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.


4 Responses to “To Brand or Rebrand? That is the Question for Rat City…er, White Center”
  1. Alan Homestead says:

    The informal poll of 57 White Center business owners, managers, and employees was 22:1 opposed to the Rat City name. Two supported it, 44 had a negative reaction. Eleven were neutral.

    Which is more reflective of the White Center community, a blog poll or an in-person poll? Don’t know.

  2. Margaret Ryan says:

    Thanks for your comment, Alan. Both can be reflective, but in the in-person poll, the personal aura of the poll taker might be a factor that could sway votes. By that I mean, the way the question is presented, the words chosen, and the inflection in the voice can all be influential on the decision maker. An online poll can be more neutral in these areas.

  3. Sherrie says:

    You know the word RAT is probably an acronym for Restricted Alcohol Territory, which Seattle was designated as during WWII. Unincorporated areas such as White Center were a draw for servicemen in part because of less stringent liquor regulations. A military Relocation and Training (RAT) Center was located in White Center during that period.

    Folks need to not be so stuffy, and embrace our history…not to mention the Rat City Roller Girls!

  4. Verde says:

    Rat City rules!

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