Carter County looking to rebrand itself

Carter County is working on a new face and a new catchphrase as it seeks to rebrand itself for the future.

Commissioner Ross Garland came before the Health and Welfare Committee last week to present at least 11 months of work with Design Century.

“They have been great to work with,” Garland said.

The project started with an application for the state’s Branding Grant during former Mayor Leon Humphrey’s term last July, when the county received roughly $15,000 within the Branding Grant, which includes both a new logo and a promotional video.

“After the election, the project went to me,” Garland said.

Garland said he got together a group of county representatives, including Elizabethton City Planner Jon Hartman, Planning Director Chris Schuettler and current County Mayor Russell Barnett to meet with Design Century to figure out what the county wanted out of a new brand, especially thanks to the financial incentive.

“We thought ‘This money was available,’” he said. “Let’s see what we can do.”

Over the past year, Garland said they have met twice with the company in person. He said they brainstormed what they wanted out of the logo and determined who Carter County is.

“We were proud of the finished product,” he said.

Some of the commissioners present, however, did not share Garland’s sentiment.

In particular, some of the complaints about the proposed new logo said it failed to reflect the whole of Carter County, saying it looked a little generic.

“They thought it was not a good representation of the county,” he said.

Part of that complaint centers around the logo’s representation of Roan Mountain’s signature Rhododendron flower, a staple of the community. Critics said the flower in the logo looks nothing like it.

A short while after the meeting, the logo ended up on social media, a move Garland said he did not expect.

“I did not intend for the logo to come out yet,” he said. “It was presented in Budget Committee, and it ended up on social media.”

Garland said he was still working on ways to include the public in the rebranding process before officially unveiling the logo in a later County
Commission meeting.

He said some of the harsher criticisms stung after the work they put into it, but said he did not hold any grudges.

“There are no hard feelings,” Garland said.

He said they intend to go back to Design Century with the feedback they received before officially unveiling it in full commission, possibly in September’s meeting.

The August full commission meeting is scheduled for Monday, August 19, starting at 6 p.m. at the county courthouse. These meetings are open to the public.

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