At a cost of $25,000 per word, Jackson County’s new promotional brand is “Play On.”
The Tourism Development Authority on May 22 picked “Play On” over two other contenders, “Base Camp for Life” and “Up to Good.” A Virginia company, BCF, is being paid $50,000 for leading the recently formed TDA through the branding process.
Art Webb, BCF president, said the brand selected needed to mirror the community. Success, he said, is dependent on buy-in of the brand chosen.
“Your feeling good about it, more than anything, determines success,” Webb said. “Perhaps our biggest job as a company is to make sure that you stay attentive to the heart, minds and desires of people.”
The TDA reached a consensus on “Play On.”
Chairman Clifford Meads, who a week ago heavily lobbied for “Base Camp for Life,” said that now he was sold on “Play On.” The brand is flexible and allows for good imagery to be attached via the promotional material, he said.
“ ‘Play On’ will work real well,” Meads said.
TDA member Merrily Teasley suggested marrying “Play On” to mountainlovers.com, the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce Website address.
“I think they’d go well together,” Teasley said.
Teasley added that there’s both active and passive play, such as hiking rather than bridge, that the brand encompasses.
Commissioner Doug Cody spoke against “Base Camp for Life,” saying it implies a staging area or temporary starting point. He added that at one time Jackson County used “Middle of the Most,” which he compared to a donut with a hole in the middle. After the meeting he expressed his support for the TDA’s selecting “Play On.”
“Play On’ would be the easiest to tag onto an activity, such as kayaking, pottery, fly fishing and more, said TDA member Alex Bell.
Before the selection, Webb told the TDA and others attending the meeting that a brand is not an advertisement, a logo, a marketing tactic or a slogan.
Rather, he said, a brand is a brand name, a brand promise and a brand identity.
“It’s what shapes a consumer’s perception of your product,” Webb said.
BCF’s president, as he’s done previously, touched on the company’s availability to further contract with the TDA on marketing the brand.
“I’d love to see the baby birthed … and shepherd it,” Webb said.
Webb said the company, while developing brand possibilities for Jackson County, worked with the following “concepts” about this place:
• Slower paced.
• Playground for adults.
• Serenity, security, safety.
• “Cooler” in temperature, altitude and attitude.
• A fortress that keeps the world at bay.
• Hide in these coves.
• Dual nature of life.
• Yin and Yang exist together.
• All-American hometown feel.
• It’s like summer camp.
• Your mountain self is your ideal self.
The company, Webb said, then narrowed these initial concepts down to six: slower pace, playground for adults, “cooler” in temperature, altitude and attitude, “touchstone,” good-heartedness, your mountain self is your ideal self.
When it came to actually developing “Play On,” Webb said the company used this thought to guide them: “Jackson County combines outdoor recreation with a relaxed attitude. Here, we feel like kids again.”
While explaining the development of “Play On” BCF’s president showed slides of a little girl running with the words “Play On” superimposed over top; two people paddling with the words again on the screen and two older golfers, with “Play On” on the slide.
The development of “Base Camp for Life” was guided by this thought: “Being in touch with what matters helps us face life with confidence. We feel grounded in Jackson County.”
And for the development of “Up to Good,” the company used this thought: “The people of Jackson County make it a soul-satisfying place to be. Goodness is a destination we all want.”
In other business, the TDA members:
• Listened as member Debby Hattler accused Meads of making unilateral changes to the group’s proposed budget after a finance committee had developed one. Meads defended his actions, saying that there’d been meetings where the changes were reviewed. Additionally, he said, the proposed budget contained a hike for the Cashiers Chamber of Commerce and none for the Jackson County chamber or Dillsboro visitor’s center. “Somewhere along the process Cashiers gets a 30-percent increase – I think that’s wrong and not sustainable,” Meads said.
Hattler responded, “My problem is not in the numbers, but how you as a board member handled this.”
• Approved three grants, one for $1,200 to a Dillsboro brochure to be placed in visitor centers and elsewhere; another for $1,200 to the biannual event Sculpture on the Green in Cashiers; and $2,500 to the town of Sylva for the development of a Main Street map and mobile phone App.