Graham's new identity
Forget Gateway to the Dragon … With A Proud History As Deep As The Roots of Her Trees … You’ll Love Where We Take You … Roads to Adventure … and every other slogan anyone ever applied to Graham County.
From henceforth our beloved county shall be known as — a drumroll please — “Graham County, Your Natural Destination.”
That’s the conclusion of Arnett Muldrow & Associates, the Greenville planning and branding firm employed by the Graham Revitalization Economic Action Team (GREAT) to work with a council of local citizens to establish a brand identity for Graham County.
Arnett Muldrow came up with the tagline “Graham County, Your Natural Destination” after Aaron Arnett and Shawn Terpack made at least three visits to our county and met with dozens of business owners, politicians and residents.
“We considered a number of things that make Graham County special. The thing that rose to the top is your unique heritage,” Arnett told two dozen GREAT members who attended Arnett Muldrow’s presentation at Stecoah Valley Cultural Arts Center on Friday.
“You’re the perfect escape. You’re a retreat,” Arnett said. “You’re a place people come to unplug, to relax. Or to connect with nature, to connect with adventure you have here. One of the things that kept coming up over and over again in the discussions is this connection to the land itself.”
Arnett was also impressed by Graham’s “strong mountain culture, Cherokee and Snowbird history, and the role Fontana Dam played in America winning WW II.”
“Going all the way back to that Native American history, the people who live here, you all, whether you’re born and raised here or decided to come here, there’s this emotional and physical connection that you have for the land that makes you love this place,” Arnett said.
Arnett Muldrow worked closely with GREAT Destination Marketing Council members Greg Corvelle, Rick Davis, Beth Fields, Brian Johnson, Zelerie Rogers, Robin Turner and Bob Wehr.
“They were a very professional group to work with. Every focus group that discussed our identity always went back to the land. ‘Graham County, Your Natural Destination’ is a perfect fit, a great fit,” remarked Davis, GREAT’s executive director.
The ‘natural destination’ tagline goes hand-in-hand with a lengthy brand statement Arnett Muldrow came up with that includes the verbiage, “Graham County is an escape, an enclave, a paradise, an Eden … A place beyond time, where our land and water will renew your spirit and our natural adventures will exhilarate you.”
Arnett Muldrow did more than develop a tagline and brand statement.
“The graphic we created is the primary brand, but there are variations to that,” Arnett explained before showing graphics designed for GREAT, Graham County Travel & Tourism, the recently-formed county historical society, Town of Robbinsville, Fontana Dam, Town of Lake Santeetlah, Hometown Holidays, Heritage Festival, Kid’s Fishing Day, Ramp Fest and Fontana Classic Bass Tournament.
“We’ve designed graphics, we want to offer them up to various agencies. You don’t have to use them, but we hope you will,” Arnett said. “Probably 300 graphics have been delivered. GREAT owns them, we don’t.”
Those graphics included templates for gateway signs, lamppost signs and information kiosks.
Arnett Muldrow even secured the Internet url yournaturaldestination.com.
“That adds a tremendous amount of equity to this concept,” Terpack said.
Arnett Muldrow’s presentation drew several positive comments from attendees.
“I love it, I’m definitely happy with it, considering what it was to begin with,” said Jim Kriner, a member of GREAT’s asset map committee. “Nobody has that branding, it is really unique. It means something.”
The quest for a brand identity for the county began with a grant Fields wrote for GREAT in 2014. Funding was recieved in 2015.