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Task force picks two finalists for county rebranding

Rowan County’s outward image will likely be the responsibility of a Tennessee-based company.

The county’s rebranding task force on Tuesday whittled down the list of possible firms to oversee Rowan’s rebranding from three to two. The task force selected Chandler Thinks and North Star, both based in the Nashville, Tenn. area. Both firms specialize in brand development.

Multiple members of the rebranding task force said Chandler Thinks seemed to be honest and adaptable to changes. However, a lack of validation research — checking to see how well the final brand suits the community — was raised as a concern about the Chandler Thinks proposal.

County Commissioner Craig Pierce, a member of the task force, said the group shouldn’t second guess their decision if Chandler Thinks is selected.

“You’ve just got to do what you think is best and go on,” Pierce said.

Nearly all task force members said they liked North Star’s work, but wondered whether the company would provide a high level of personal attention. James Meacham, Convention and Visitors Bureau director, said North Star is a large firm that’s known by many in the tourism industry.

Several task force members said both firms would provide a good product if chosen.

No official vote was taken on a final firm to oversee Rowan’s rebranding. Instead, the task force voted to eliminate Charlotte-based Addison Whitney from contention. The decision came after hours of listening to in-person presentations from the brand development firms.

Pierce mentioned an incomplete map as a major concern in Addison Whitney’s presentation.

The map left out Kannapolis as a municipality located in Rowan County. Pierce said the mistake was especially disappointing because Addison Whitney was located nearby, in Charlotte. Another concern was a lack of community experience in brand development. Meacham said Addison Whitney’s portfolio primarily includes corporate clients.

“They said they didn’t want proximity to be the main reason I liked them, but it actually ended up being the main reason,” said task force member Justin Dionne.

Checking with references and past customers of North Star and Chandler Thinks is the next step. Meacham said the task force would meet one more time to make final decision. An exact date hasn’t been scheduled.

The Chandler Thinks proposal is the more expensive of the two remaining firms. North Star proposes a base price of $95,000. The cost estimate in Chandler Thinks’ proposal is $138,450. Both proposals are below budget for the rebranding.

A $500,000 loan taken out 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.

Chandler Thinks also proposes a longer amount of time — about eight months — to complete a rebranding. North Star’s time need is estimated at about six months.

Rowan’s rebranding, started in early 2015, would include a new logo, marketing designs,  strategy for implementation across the county and workshops for community members.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.






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