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Southern star: city branding revealed

  • Friday, July 18, 2014

Taylor Griffith/South Strand News Andy Kovan of The Brandon Agency gives a presentation on the new City of Georgetown brand

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The city of Georgetown is a Southern star.

It has a rich history, adventurous spirit, southern grace, artistic whimsy, proud tradition and a welcoming feeling.

Strong faith, good manners and a strong humility govern the people who live here and entice those who visit here to stay longer.

Those visitors value action over object, and that’s what attracts them to the city. Its manifesto is comprised of the sense of place, the characters who live and work here, and the overall character the city is made of.

This description is the brand of Georgetown, at least as defined by The Brandon Agency. The Georgetown Partnership, the city’s Designated Marketing Organization, hired the Myrtle Beach-based company to develop the city’s brand concept in May for $15,000 of city accommodations tax funds.

It presented its findings to around 15 people, including members of The Georgetown Agency and the general public, at a July 14 meeting in City Hall.

Andy Kovan, account planning and development director for The Brandon Agency, presented the audience with a 12-page pamphlet called a “brand book” that detailed the agency’s findings.

He explained the document and its contents were an internal document only, and should be taken as a foundation for moving forward with possible branding and marketing for the city.

“This is a set of blueprints,” he said.

The Brandon Agency conducted three “branding discovery sessions” with community stakeholders involved in tourism, including business owners, festival organizers, downtown residents and City Council.

The sessions were used to discover the essence of Georgetown, which will be a starting point for future revitalization efforts.

“Overall, this is a more involved process, so to have a foundation that’s solid will mean we don’t have to go back through this exercise again. We know who we are, and who we are isn’t going to change,” said Tee Miller, The Georgetown Partnership executive director.

“This is the voice of the brand. The visual will be taglines and graphics.”

Miller said the next step will be working on developing the “visual,” the marketing materials, but for now it’s important to get the public buy-in on the brand.

“When we get into marketing, and the execution of it, if they don’t buy-in, we won’t get off the ground,” Miller said.

Barry Sanders, new business development director for The Brandon Agency, encouraged the group at the meeting to take charge.

“The buy-in comes from this room. You all are the ambassadors of this brand,” he said.

Based on the reaction from those who listened to the presentation, buy-in won’t be a problem.

“I love it.”

“I like it!”

“Home run.”

The audience quickly voiced approval at the conclusion of the presentation, and even applauded.

Mayor Jack Scoville, who excused himself from the meeting early, said, “Get ‘er done,” on his way out of the door.

Peter Mitchell, president of The Georgetown Partnership board of directors, said he was very excited by the presentation: “It’s powerful, but unassuming, and that’s what Georgetown is.”

After excited chatter for a few moments, someone asked, “So what’s the next step?”

Kovan listed working on social media, redeveloping city websites and beginning to advertise as examples of how to move forward.

Miller said marketing is still a few steps away, but redesigning the city website may be the best place to start.

The branding process is part of a larger goal for revitalization of Georgetown, a task The Georgetown Partnership is dedicated to.

The organization was formed last spring to be a vehicle for the city to gain admission into the Main Street program, a national community of nonprofits and city agencies designed to revitalize communities through design, economic restructuring and promotion of the downtown or “Main Street” area.

The Georgetown Partnership’s nine-member board of directors and executive director represent a variety of community members, local organizations, public officials and business owners.

“This is everyone’s group,” Miller said.

He said The Georgetown Partnership will be sending in its application for the admission to Main Street in a few weeks, which will be followed by an assessment from the the National Main Street Center in the fall.

Miller said Georgetown’s Main Street district will be about 10 blocks along Front Street and several side streets.

If admitted, the organization will then begin using the “Main Street Approach” to work to revitalize the city.

Obtaining branding information now is a proactive step, and it’s just the beginning.

“It’s not an end product,” said Mitchell, “it’s a process.”

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