From time to time we see so-called destination branding strategies that are far less than stellar. Actually, many are just logos or taglines and are not even a component of brand strategies. But the recent logo design efforts of Haywood County Tourism Development Authority (HCTDA) is the worst we have seen in a while and provides a stark warning for all places thinking about developing a brand strategy.
The Haywood County NC efforts provide a sobering example of what NOT to do on so many fronts that I don’t have space to cover them all here. As reported by Smoky Mountains News , a robust debate at a recent HCTDA meeting started when they tried their hand at designing a logo without a brand strategy, or at least they didn’t seem to be following any sort of strategy.
Firstly, you do not allow a committee to design a logo – ever! Your brand strategy must be defined before you start designing the logo. A brand must have a singular focus based on your competitive advantage that others can’t easily match. The logo and tagline should catch the essence of this brand and be creatively and concisely presented. Logos are not air raid shelters into which you jam everything of value from within the community to please all local constituents!
HCTDA should decide the name of the destination then use it! If it is going to be Haywood County, then that’s the brand name. You lead the branding and marketing with it and feature it in your logo. The logo is not the place to list every town in the County. Despite the healthy debate at the HCTDA meeting about whether every town name should be included in the logo, I could not easily find detailed visitor information for the towns on the tourism website. The website is the place to tell the story of the towns, NOT on a logo.
You can see the logo here. A logo is not meant to be an illustration featuring every tourism asset in the County. The Smoky Mountains News reports, “The new logo sports a country road rambling past a barn and farm fields and then disappearing into mountain peaks, with the silhouette of stately elk in the foreground and a meandering river in the background.” This description sounds more like the logo should hang in the Haywood County Art Gallery. While committee members may be patting themselves on the back for getting their town’s name into the logo, it’s irrelevant because the customer can’t read any of it.
The logo is accompanied by a not so short tagline, “Authentic Appalachian, Pure and Simple.” If Haywood County is promising “pure and simple”, a good place to start is by simplifying this smorgasbord of a logo and by defining a clear simple strategy. That simplicity is not going to emerge until self-interest is cast aside and a true regional approach is adopted. In the meantime Haywood County, other places are eating your lunch while you squabble over the year’s worst logo and whether your town’s name is in it. You have a very beautiful destination that deserves much better.
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