Nashville, Charlotte firms finalists for Rowan’s rebranding

Published 12:10 am Friday, June 26, 2015

By Josh Bergeron

Rowan County will look to either Nashville, Tenn., or Charlotte to lead its rebranding effort.

The county’s branding task force on Thursday picked three firms to interview for Rowan’s rebranding effort. The firms selected were Charlotte-based Addison Whitney and two agencies based in the Nashville, Tenn. Metropolitan Area — Chandler Thinks and North Star.

A fourth firm — Willoughy, based in Kansas City, Mo. — wasn’t selected for interviews after a recommendation from Convention and Visitors Bureau Director James Meacham.

The task force set Aug. 13 for interviews. A firm is expected to be selected immediately after interviews.

The rebranding effort aims to overhaul Rowan’s logo, website, letterheads and overall image.

Prices proposed by the three firms varied widely. Only one proposal was below the $150,000 budgeted for hiring a firm. The most expensive was Charlotte-based Addison Whitney, which proposed a maximum price of $185,000 and a discounted rate of $150,000. Chandler Thinks proposed a price of $150,000. North Star was the lowest rate by a large margin, and proposed a price of $95,000.

A $500,000 loan taken by the Convention and Visitors Bureau will pay for the rebranding, according to Meacham. The loan will be repaid through an occupancy tax on hotels in Rowan County, he said.

The $500,000 includes $150,000 for the branding firm, $150,000 for the implementation and $200,000 for digital infrastructure such as website design.

Price was one of several factors considered by the task force. Chris Cavanaugh, a consultant for the Convention and Visitors Bureau, focused heavily on research contained in each proposal. Cavanaugh said Addison Whitney proposed the most significant amount of research. He said internal — residents of Rowan County — and external research — non-residents of Rowan — would both be important in developing a brand and logo.

The lengthiest portion of discussion during Thursday’s task force meeting focused on North Star’s price and previous work. The group’s submission for Rowan County’s rebranding mostly contained logos and work from counties and cities across the nation. Cavanaugh said the group was well known for its community branding, and essentially developed the field.

Meacham and Cavanaugh said North Star’s low proposed price point would allow the task force to add on more to the rebranding and remain under budget. Specific descriptions of Rowan County included in the proposal were also a selling point.

“They took the time to identify things that were specific to Rowan County,” Meacham said. “There was definitely some homework that went into the proposal.”

Task Force member Justin Dionne pointed out the similarities between one of the logos featured in North Star’s presentation and the Salisbury-Rowan Convention and Visitors Bureau logo. In response, Cavanaugh said the task force should ask how the firm keeps logos fresh, instead of recycling images.

Time to complete the rebranding was also included in proposals. Addison Whitney proposed the shortest timeline at 18 to 22 weeks — about 5 months. North Star’s rebranding is estimated at 24 to 26 weeks — about 6 months. Chandler Think’s proposed timeline was 30 to 32 weeks — about 8 months.

Online surveys and feedback from Rowan residents could be a part of the rebranding effort. Multiple firms proposed educational workshops at the conclusion of the rebranding.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246