County’s marketing plan unveiled
Community leaders were invited this past Friday to the Keith Holtsclaw Boardroom at Blue Ridge Regional Hospital to get the first look at Mitchell County’s new marketing and branding plan.
“Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not around,” said Anthony Domine, vice president and director of marketing and research for plan developer North Star Destination Strategies. “It’s the perceptions associated with who you are as a county. Branding is what you do about it.”
The Mitchell County Economic Development Commission and Mitchell County Chamber of Commerce began developing the plan in April of 2016 with Nashville, Tennessee-based North Star Destination Strategies.
With the ultimate goal of drawing people and business to Mitchell County, local leaders, stakeholders, organizations and businesses took part in the research and focus groups for the project. Research conducted internally and externally with three core groups – community, consumers and competition – led to the discovery of Mitchell County’s “strategic DNA.” Domine highlighted insights of North Star’s research, such as people associating Mitchell County with Mt. Mitchell, having the largest naturally growing rhododendron garden, having diverse microclimates and home to the purest quartz in the world. North Star then used its research to develop a phrase that encapsulates Mitchell County and sticks in people’s minds called a “strapline,” which is, “Mitchell County: Seek + Find.”
“The strapline creates a vibrant sense of adventure and has a layered meaning,” Domine said. “It’s short and memorable and is a familiar phrase used in a fresh way.”
The county’s new logo and strapline will be used in things such as advertisements, lapel pins, stationery for county departments as well as on county vehicles and signage. County websites are being re-skinned using the new logo, strapline and colors.
“We all know what we think of it, but the question is what do people who come here think of it,” said Keith Holtsclaw, Mitchell County Commissioner and EDC board member. “That external data was conducted in three segments – coastal, piedmont and mountains – and is worth looking at. That data provides some good information and that will be a good portion of the basis of what we are doing moving forward, from a strategic perspective, on how we target.”
EDC Director Laura Verla, who is responsible for implementing the plan, said North Star’s in-depth research would help in the future.
“The research behind how North Star chose the options for us to choose from is pretty incredible,” Verla said. “I’m excited to see how we can move forward with it.”
Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Patti Jensen praised the committee for working well together developing the plan.
“We looked at and considered a lot,” Jensen said. “Everybody was really good about providing their own input and coming together and I truly appreciate the work they did.”
The plans final documents, which include the 10-step action plan, will be released in the next few weeks. The strategy will be unveiled to the public in a future meeting.