County’s rebranding campaign unveiling receives positive reception
By Josh Bergeron and Elizabeth Cook
SALISBURY — If it’s surprising, something’s wrong, said Rowan county’s branding consultant Steve Chandler on Thursday.
During a Chamber of Commerce event, Chandler, who runs Tennessee-based ChandlerThinks, unveiled a slogan, advertising samples and the “brand story” for the countywide rebranding. Three words sit at the core of the rebranding — “be an original.” In the “brand story,” Rowan County is described as a place with many unique facets.
His presentation received an overwhelmingly positive reception early Thursday. Commenting on Chandler’s presentation, attendees of the Rowan County Chamber of Commerce breakfast said the phrase “be an original” seems to fit perfectly.
Chandler said the branding should naturally fit with well-known facts about Rowan County. After all, his firm spoke to or received information from a total of 1,800 people before deciding on the slogan.
“If I pull a rabbit out of a hat and it’s like ta-da, then you know it’s not really your story,” Chandler said.
F&M Bank President and CEO Steve Fisher, who attended Thursday’s presentation, said the rebranding “nailed it.”
“We’re a community of very distinct personalities and sometimes that causes us to smile and sometimes that causes us to challenge each other,” Fisher said. “We’ve got to embrace it because it’s who we are. People don’t change very much who they are. The fact that we are so diverse, so different and have so many ideas about politics and life and culture should be embraced.”
Salisbury City Councilman Kenny Hardin said he left the presentation “fired up.” The slogan and branding campaign is “very inclusive,” Hardin said.
Newly elected school board member Alisha Byrd said she also liked the message at the core of the branding campaign could have positive effects on children.
“I think we should encourage our children to be, as the presentation said, fearlessly authentic and to be original, to be yourself,” Byrd said.
Other education leaders expressed identical sentiments. Encouraging students to be original and find their own way builds confidence, said Rowan-Cabarrus Community College President Carol Spalding. Catawba College President Brien Lewis said he thinks “be an original” captures the spirit of Rowan County that he’s observed.
“I think it captures the community and I think it captures Catawba too,” Lewis said. “Everybody thinks we’re a traditional liberal arts college, and that’s part of us but that’s not all we are. So, I think it’s going to be very translatable for education, for business and all the elements.”
Some attendees of the meeting said they were surprised not to see a logo presented during Thursday’s event. Although the logo didn’t appear as a prominent part of Chandler’s presentation, it was there. At the bottom of sample advertisements sat a small logo consisting of stylized text that read “Rowan County, North Carolina, Be an original.”
When asked, Convention and Visitor’s Bureau Director James Meacham said the final logo will be a version of the one shown on Thursday.
Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.