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Rebranding task force scheduled to select firm on Tuesday

A group tasked with selecting a firm to oversee Rowan County’s rebranding is scheduled to select its top choice on Tuesday.

The Rowan County Rebranding Task Force has scheduled its next meeting for noon Tuesday in the Gateway Building — 204 East Innes Street. It’s scheduled to pick either Chandlerthinks or North Star. Both are marketing firms based in the Nashville area.

Rowan’s rebranding, started in early 2015, will include a new logo, marketing designs, strategy for implementation on websites and workshops for community members.

In late August, the rebranding task force narrowed the field of marketing firms from three to two. The task force also considered whether it should pick North Star — a large, well-known firm — or Chandler Thinks — a smaller, boutique firm. Instead of selecting a final firm, the task force asked that the companies’ references be contacted to gather information about past work.

References for North Star included Stanly County; Golsboro Travel and Tourism; Miami County, Ohio; and Bowling Green, Ky.

References for Chandlerthinks included Corning and the Southern Finger Lakes Convention and Visitors Bureau, in New York; Katy Area Economic Development Council, in Texas; Kentucky Lake, on the Tennessee River; and Macon Convention and Visitors Bureau, in Georgia.

References contributed mostly positive comments about both firms.

One reference for North Star, however, said the community at large was not involved in the development and assessment of various concepts. North Star sought input from the community during research. Afterward, an appointed creative committee took on much of the community-engagement responsibilities, according to the reference. North Star also experienced significant staff turnover after the research phase, which caused the project to move more slowly, the reference said.

Comments from references sent to the rebranding task force don’t include any negative comments about Chandlerthinks. Budget constraints prevented one reference from continuing to work with Chandlerthinks during implementation of the branding effort.

Rowan County’s rebranding is a $500,000 project funded by the Rowan County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, which took out a loan to pay for the project and will repay debt through a hotel occupancy tax.

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 and only part of the overall project. 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 estimate is about six months.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246

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