By Andrea Botham

Luxury brand names like Louis Vuitton, Cartier and Mercedes-Benz are well known the world over. But can a branding initiative make Buckhead a household name while at the same time helping the area grow as an upscale hot spot of the South?

Finding a balance that will drive people to Buckhead while maintaining its life, work and play style is part of the brand-positioning plan business and civic groups are searching for in Buckhead.

But members of the Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods are worried that in doing so they will instead push away the very people they are trying to attract to the area.

The plan, maintaining that Buckhead is a luxurious and inclusive destination, is still a work in progress. Council board members worry that the effort could paint the area in a light that isn’t always positive.

“We have enough trouble with the marketing of Buckhead in our own city, and this (Atlanta Business Chronicle) article makes it worse,” the council’s Gordon Certain said.

Buckhead has tried for years to shed its image as a place for rowdy nightlife and instead focus on the upscale hotels, luxury stores and high-end restaurants that are found all over the 28-square-mile area.

Part of the plan, conceived by the Buckhead Hotel Council and the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau (ACVB), includes developing a logo and slogan for Buckhead, which in turn will be used uniformly by the area’s retailers, restaurants and hotels.

While Buckhead is inside the city Atlanta, it prides itself on being a destination of its own and hopes that the branding campaign will reflect that, luring tourists and locals alike to indulge in its 300 restaurants and more than 1,500 retailers.

“Done correctly, this can drive people to Buckhead, and they will spend money in Buckhead,” said Jim King, the Buckhead council’s president. “We need to make sure this allows us to move forward and not go backwards.”

This is not the first time Buckhead has attempted to adopt an identity separate from Atlanta. In 2004, the Buckhead Coalition revealed a flag that was created to help promote a sense of pride throughout the area. More than 350 of the flags are in circulation, including one that flies over the Governor’s Mansion, and the design has won international awards. It is not known how, if at all, that flag will be incorporated into the new marketing plan.

The plan is being crafted by the North Highland Co. with input from numerous Buckhead businesses, as well as partners on the ACVB board who have donated their time to work on the plan.

The major interests in the plan include the Buckhead Hotel Council, Simon Properties, the Buckhead Coalition and the ACVB.

The hope is that the brand messaging will be in place in the next eight months to a year and will be fully embraced and used by the community within three to five years.