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Rebranding task force picks Tennessee company

Let the rebranding begin.

An appointed task force on Tuesday selected Tennessee-based Chandlerthinks to oversee the first, and perhaps most important, part of Rowan County’s rebranding — brand development. Chandlerthinks proposed a base price of $138,450. As a part of its contract, Chandlerthinks will conduct focus groups with community members, various forms of research and develop logos and imagery for Rowan.

The Salisbury-Rowan Convention and Visitor’s Bureau has also selected Arkansas-based Aristotle to oversee website design, photography and video. Aristotle’s proposed base price was $95,000. Photography and video come with a maximum recommended budget of $12,000.

Aristotle’s contract was finalized before Tuesday’s meeting, according to Convention and Visitor’s Bureau Executive Director James Meacham. A contract for Chandlerthinks could be finalized this week, Meacham said. He estimated a logo could be ready for presentation to the public in February or March.

In selecting Chandlerthinks on Tuesday, the rebranding task force picked the more expensive of the two remaining marketing firms. Chandlerthinks was also a smaller company than North Star — the other finalist. County Commissioner Craig Pierce was the most vocal advocate for Chandlerthinks. Pierce said Chandlerthinks would offer an opportunity to consistently work with the same people. With North Star, Pierce said, the task force might suddenly be forced to work with an unfamiliar person.

“It happens all the time, even with people you know,” Pierce said. “When we’re making this type of investment and putting this type of faith into a company, I’d rather have that 0ne-on-one relationship.”

On Tuesday and in previous meetings, most debate about whether to select North Star or Chandlerthinks focused on company size. Ultimately, the Rowan County rebranding task force selected the boutique firm.

Task force member Lane Wallace questioned Pierce. Wallace said North Star’s presentation appeared to show a small, dedicated team working on Rowan’s project.

If one person leaves the company or isn’t available, Pierce said, an unfamiliar person could be part of the county’s team.

With Chandlerthinks, Pierce said the branding task force would always be working with Steve Chandler, the company’s owner.

Task force member Justin Dionne ultimately offered a motion to pick Chandlerthinks to oversee the rebranding. He didn’t comment on the boutique vs. large firm question, but said Chandlerthinks appeared to be able to react faster. Dionne said Chandlerthinks appeared “hungry” for Rowan county’s rebranding.

Pierce seconded the motion. It passed without opposition.

A $500,000 loan taken out by the Convention and Visitors Bureau will pay for the rebranding. The loan will be repaid through an occupancy tax on hotels in Rowan County. Rowan’s budget for rebranding includes $150,000 for the branding firm, $200,000 for digital infrastructure such as website design, and $150,000 for implementation.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.

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