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Pittsylvania County and Danville, Virginia Kick Off Joint Branding Initiative With Community Survey – Mike Swanson

I attended yesterday’s Board of Supervisors Meeting for Pittsylvania County and the most interesting aspect of the meeting was a presentation about a new joint branding initiative by the county and the city of Danville. This is a big deal and deserves going through all of the details of what this is about. It is starting with a post card that will be sent in the mail to area residents about their thoughts and feelings for the community. At first glance that might not seem like a big deal, but the end result of it will be.

There is a lot to this.

First, here is a video announcing the survey that was posted on Facebook today.

DiscoverDanville.com put out a press release about the survey today. You can read the full release here, but here are some key paragraphs:

The tourism survey, which is open now and available at dptourismsurvey.com, includes questions that explore favorite local assets, community attributes, and citizen perceptions. This is an important effort, as the information gathered will help shape the community’s tourism story and promotional investments for years to come.“Brands are about reputation, and a community’s tourism brand should be informed by the people and places it is meant to represent,” said Tourism Manager Lisa Meriwether.

“We are really excited to be kicking off this process and eager to hear the insights and observations our community will share. We want to work through this process together, taking our time, and doing our best to make sure everyone who wants to be involved
has a way to make their voices heard.”

Starting today, and stretching over the next several days, every business and household in the region will receive a blue postcard inviting them to participate in this effort. The headline reads, “Change is coming, help shape it.” Citizens are encouraged
to scan the provided QR code or use the URL dptourismsurvey.com to take the survey from their cell phone, tablet, or computer.

Anyone in the community who is not connected to the internet or who would prefer a paper-based survey can also visit their local library to participate. The Danville-Pittsylvania County tourism survey should take most people about 15 minutes to complete. All surveys must be completed by midnight on July 15.

“It’s incredibly exciting to see our region unite around all the opportunity in front of us,” said Kattie Saunders, project manager for the Pittsylvania County Economic Development Department. “There is an unprecedented amount of attention on our region right now and we have the opportunity to help shape and share our story with the world.”

A few weeks after the survey closes, the initial findings and more information about how they will be used to shape the community’s new brand identity system and tourism marketing plans will be shared back with the community through a series of public meetings. The dates and times for these events will be announced later this summer.

Why this is important is that the survey information is going to be used to come up with a new brand identity for the area to attract visitors, tourists, and even future residents. The county and city are hiring the Roanoke based Eddy Alexander marketing firm to help accomplish this. One of their people presented at the board of supervisors meeting last night along with Lisa Meriwether and Kattie Saunders, who is the project manager on this in the Pittsylvania County Economic Development department.

You can see this full presentation at the 33:25 mark in this video:

They make pretty clear one big reason why this is necessary at the start when they state that there are 1,500 jobs in the area thanks to tourism and the county and city collect $2.4 million in local taxes thanks to it. I don’t know where these figures come from, but I have no doubt with things such as the VIR and the races in Martinsville that a lot of tourists come to the area and stay in the hotels. We also had the Hard Rock concert last year in Pittsylvania County and even though it won’t be held there again this year it is going to be next door in Halifax County.

The speakers noted, though, that the $500 million Caesars casino project makes a new branding initiative even more important now. And they explain in the presentation how this process is going to work, with the survey being the first step.

They talk about “logos and colors” as being a big part of that, but I think the words used can be very important.

For example, slogans used in Danville in the past include phrases such as “Danville Can” and currently “Reimagine That.”

In the River District you see signs with that phrase on it.

That’s nice, but I think is a phrase directed inward to the residents of Danville and not outward, welcoming the rest of the world.

The development of the River District began after the closing of Dan River Mills and a final loss in the population of the city thanks to years of stagnation. This all caused a loss of morale among many and loss of hope, so a re-imagination of what the city could be was important to emphasize at the time, especially just as the River District was starting to be redeveloped.

But now that the character of that area has completely changed, with well over a thousand new people living in it, it isn’t so necessary for people to re-imagine a future that they don’t just have to dream about, but can now see with their own eyes.

So when I go to fill out the survey I’ll try to answer it with the idea that a new slogan is needed, but one that isn’t inward to buck up the morale of people already here, but is somehow inviting to the rest of the world. The people who have re-imagined things have done their work and now it’s for the next chapter in the city and county’s history. Maybe you have a better idea on this.

You got your own ideas I’m sure, I’d suggest you fill out the survey and share them too!

You can find it here: