My Turn, Sam Morgan: Just brand us ‘ineffective’

Published 10:41 pm Monday, November 28, 2016

don’t know about the rest of you, but over the years, every single time I have read in the paper where the powers-that-be here in Salisbury/Rowan have decided yet once again that we needed to be re-branded, it made me want to hurl, and not just my lunch either.

Would anyone care to wager just how much money has been wasted on the numerous failed attempts at logos, “catchy” slogans, and so-called marketing strategies over the past three decades?

It’s enough to make you weep. And, from the looks of things, this latest venture takes the cake. I’m sure Steve Chandler is grinning from ear to ear as he heads for the bank. He could have very well fit the role played by George C. Scott in “The Flim-Flam Man” in this continuing saga of “Branding Rowan County.”

The reason I am weighing-in of this subject is that I spent my entire career in advertising, and this stuff intrigues me. I was extremely fortunate to have been a creative director, art director or graphic designer for some of the better-known agencies and design shops in the region. I worked for a wide range of clients, from major banks and financial institutions to power companies and mega sports venues such as NASCAR.

I have a lot of respect and high regard for those advertising professionals who work very hard at putting their clients’ best interests before them, coming up with great branding and corporate identity packages, and great contempt for those who dabble in it at the expense of the people who buy into the “concept” of trying to figure out who they are as a “goods” or “service” (or a community — drink that Kool-Aid).

It never fails to amuse me whenever rebranding comes around. What really gets me is the fact that, whoever the head of the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau is at the time, thinks that he/she has to go to another city (or this time another state) in an effort to find someone with enough creativity to solve their “problem,” when all the time, we have (and have had) people right here in our own county who know our communities, who know our problems, who know the people, and who are just as good (if not better) creatively than anyone the bureau eventually decides is worthy of their trust. There are plenty of “originals” right here (and I’m not referring to myself), yet they’re overlooked because they are too small? Not regionally known? How can that be?

I’m sorry, but “Be an original” is about as effective as a brand as “Be yourself, stupid!” This whole rebranding process has failed and failed miserably to address the main problem that continues to haunt this county economically.

Ask yourself, why are the counties all around Rowan enjoying such significant upturns in population growth, business, and economic success (especially during a continuing Recession), while we remain dead in the water? That question is THE most important question that has not been answered in all the surveys and interviews done by Mr. Chandler, or those before him. It’s the main question that has dogged this county for decades and will continue to do so until the people who have pulled the strings for so long are either replaced by forward-thinking individuals or the old strings are severed — completely. Period.

Some of the people this county still has (and has had) in power have brought us to this point in the road, and quite frankly, it’s not a very pretty sight compared to those around us.

It’s no damn wonder people refer to us as “Smallsbury”! Don’t believe me? Why did Budweiser build their distribution plant on the other side of the Yadkin River? How did the Carolina Christmas light show wind up in Concord? Why is it that we still do not have any large-seating-capacity outdoor amphitheater or arena capable of handling large concerts/events? Why did the city become involved in competing with private enterprise and now does everything it can to cover its pig tracks as a result? Why did Home Depot decide to build in Concord instead of on the old Moore’s Building Supply lot? Why is the parking garage at the corner of Liberty and North Main streets still in the same stage of construction it was 30 years ago?

The answers are all out there for anyone who has the courage to look. However, when you do find all those answers, you’ll discover that they in turn will lead you to a branding far different than the latest bill o’ fare. Oh! And, that pitiful, stacked logotype sucks, too!

Sam Morgan lives in Spencer.