On Branding


We don’t normally write project-specific blog posts, but we wanted to share a bit of news, and also a bit of our hearts, on an exciting launch that happened this past weekend.

Motley has been working with Gibsonville, North Carolina to complete a marketing analysis study and some other behind the scenes work, but one of our favorite initiatives with them is  their new messaging campaign. We were commissioned by the Town of Gibsonville to create a community brand that would unify businesses, residents, community organizations, tourism efforts and everything in between. Gibsonville is home to an award-winning tattoo artist, renowned instrument repair, incredible antiques, a chocolatier, French cuisine, and so many other amazing businesses, and we were up for the challenge of creating something that found them all some common ground. 

Motley met with community members, business owners and town staff to field ideas for a tagline and visual designs that they felt most embodied Gibsonville’s history, present, and future. After several rounds of feedback, we landed on a brand that represents the town now and for years to come.

Something fun about this project is that the brand follows an open source model. This means that anyone can download the logo in a variety of file formats for themselves from gibsonvillenc.com and print their own t-shirts, make koozies, paint a mural, make a yard sign - anything goes. This tool is created by the community and for the community to help form place attachment and build town pride.

So what?

Towns and cities are ultimately looking for ways to drive economic development. Maybe their budgets don’t allow for fancy incentives, maybe they’re looking to create a snowball effect as opposed to a one-time investment or maybe they’re just looking to try something new. We think that community branding makes this all a reality by defining what makes an area unique and attracting a community of residents and businesses that shares that same vision.

So it isn’t even really about creating the trendiest image or stringing the right words together.

It’s about discovering what truly makes an area unique, even if it’s currently lying dormant, and then building a platform and strategy around it that nurtures and attracts others who share those identified values and vision.

“Despite this highly competitive, Amazon-courting world we live in, cities and districts can actually benefit by going in the opposite direction. Do this by engaging with the public and, together, clearly defining who they are and who they want to be. Then, invest in the brand, and tell that story in a way that attracts others who share the same vision. This is what will save small towns and what's redefining the most successful districts and communities across the country.” — Ryan Short, Forbes Councils