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Council Gets First Look at New Herndon Brand Strategy

The strategy was created by Trialogue Studio, with help from town's brand strategy committee.

The Herndon Town Council got its first look at the new branding initiative for the town this week.

During Tuesday night’s work session, Trialogue Studio’s Michael Altman presented the council with the work the branding, design and communications company has come up with for the town.

The initiative was also spearheaded by a committee put together by the town, comprised of business professionals and town of Herndon residents, including those who specialize in marketing. Mayor Lisa Merkel and former Mayor Steve DeBenedittis also served on the committee. 

The brand strategy committee members decided on a positioning statement, naming Herndon a next generation small town:

“A next generation small town pulses on the edge of Fairfax County. Turn off the highway and find yourself in a place that welcomes innovators, risk-takers, history seekers and family-keepers. This is where the roots of history help to grow the ideas of tomorrow," it reads.

Altman said they want the town to be known as focused, open and caring. He said when they started to think about how to bring the vision to life creatively they chose a word mark that was bold, specific and had a certain emphasis and device they could use in marketing.

The “on” in Herndon is stylized, connecting the two letters. The branding initiative takes the stylized letters and creates phrases that can be used in marketing, such as: it’s on, try on, rock on, lunch is on and on point, among others.

The main colors for the new logo will be gray and red—colors that struck a cord with Herndon residents, as red is the color of Herndon High and Middle Schools. Alternate colors that may be used in the “on” marketing include purple, fuchsia, blue, green, yellow and orange.

Altman said they wanted to create a brand that would lend itself to collaboration with town organizations and businesses. He said the town should use crowdsourcing to get consumers involved in contributing to the brand, which would help them learn what would make people fans of the brand.

He said the town should also aim to have a business incubator—an organization designed to help entrepreneurs grow and succeed in the town through business support resources.

The town could also use what he called pop ups to show off available retail space, Altman said. He said when there is an empty store front, the town can collaborate with businesses and organizations to fill it for a short time to get more traffic looking at the space.

An example Altman used was creating a temporary art gallery in an empty retail space that would show up, give people some time to come in and browse the temporary exhibit, then disappear.

Altman said the town should also focus on being welcoming to all people, ideas and business. He said these four items will be the pillars of the brand.

The brand will also allow town businesses to opt into the campaign in their own way, Altman said. He said it can be as simple as putting a window cling on their front door with the new Herndon logo and the message “come on in” using the stylized “on.”

Another suggestion from Altman was for the town to hold an event called “lunch is on,” in which local restaurants will come together to form a large buffet meal to get residents and local workers sampling the food from area businesses.

He said the branding initiative could start with a kickoff event where Mayor Lisa Merkel would “turn it on.”

Town Council members praised the brand strategy on Tuesday.

Councilwoman Grace Wolf said she likes the word play available and the possibilities of all the events in town that could partner with the campaign. She said she would be excited to see the town launch the new brand around Herndon High School's Homecoming.

Councilman Charlie Waddell asked what the life expectancy of the brand is. Altman said the word mark, or town of Herndon logo, could be used for quite some time, even if the town ceases to use the stylized “on.”

Waddell asked if a tagline would be of better use, citing that Ashland, Va. calls itself the “center of the universe.” Altman said he finds taglines tend to expire more quickly than the approach he shared.

Councilwoman Melissa Jonas said the flexibility the brand lends itself is "amazing" and has provided her with lots of ideas. She said the additional colors they can use will provide the town with lots of mileage on the brand.

Vice Mayor Connie Hutchinson said though she thought the logo was plain at first, it grew on her. She said she would encourage the “caring” portion of the brand personality to include that the town cares about its residential and corporate citizens.

Town of Herndon Public Information Officer Anne Curtis said the next steps are to bring the branding strategy to the town’s departments and see how they can apply it. Then they will receive a style guide and more information on implementation. 

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William Campenni September 07, 2012 at 01:26 PM
Only thing missing is the World Wide Wicked Herndon Girl. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0dn98mSrNAY&feature=relmfu
Dave Webster September 07, 2012 at 04:40 PM
The logo looks pretty good. How much did we pay Trialogue for their work?
Mark Carolla September 07, 2012 at 04:54 PM
I love that clip, Bill.
Barbara Glakas September 07, 2012 at 06:42 PM
Ah, but Bill – too bad you left the work session meeting early and didn’t even get to see the Branding Initiative briefing. It was very well received amongst the council members and the staff. This will be a positive thing for the town!
Leslie Perales Loges (Editor) September 07, 2012 at 08:17 PM
It might take me a bit to dig it up, but I'll look for it. I'm sure it's in the budget or CIP somewhere. The whole thing started when the town began it's economic development task force back in 2010/2011. The consultant, Miles Friedman, and task force decided that the best way for the town to move forward was with new branding/marketing and an economic development staff position (which has been funded in the budget at somewhere between $75K-$100K I believe...) Will dig later! Might not get to it today though since I'm off to both JamBrew and the HHS vs SLHS football game tonight and I'm working on a story. :)
Leslie Perales Loges (Editor) September 07, 2012 at 08:20 PM
The staff position was funded at $85K (possible yearly salary of $65K) assuming there are some start up costs rolled into it. More info: http://herndon.patch.com/articles/herndon-council-votes-to-add-economic-development-staff-member
Dave Webster September 08, 2012 at 01:53 AM
Thanks Leslie. That's all the information I need. I was working one of the entrances at JamBrew. I guess you came in another way.
BK September 08, 2012 at 12:41 PM
I have to say that I was underwhelmed by both the design and the color combinations chosen for the logo. The choice of red and gray for the design may be fine for young eyes with normal color vision, but for those of us who are older or have any degree of red/green color vision impairment the choice of that particular color combination is not optimal. It is estimated that approximately 7% of men in the United States have some degree of red/green color vision deficiency so the choice of red lettering on a black background is particularly problematic. In addition, as we age (and there are a lot of aging boomers out there) the eye needs more crisp contrast in order to see well, especially at a distance. Black on white is a lot easier to see than gray on white. All caps are harder to read than upper & lower case words and larger point type is preferable to the smaller type – as in TOWN OF and VIRGINIA in the logo. If you are going to use alternate colors for the “on” such as purple, fuchsia, blue, green, yellow and orange, keep in mind that in addition to being artistically pleasing, it needs to be easy to read.
Ruth Robertson September 12, 2012 at 12:31 PM
I am glad the Town is looking into using empty retail spaces as temporary art galleries. I first suggested that tack almost 5 years ago after seeing it work to regentrify areas in DC and Arlington, VA. Two years ago I approached Lisa Merkel about taking this approach to reinvigorate the downtown. I know first hand that this works, and once again I would urge the town to contact those municipalities that have used this approach successfully for help in implementing this in Herndon. Thanks for listening, Lisa! :)
Ann H Csonka September 18, 2012 at 06:04 AM
First, I have NOT reviewed all the branding stuff...no time right now. It will be done anyway, right? I did notice one comment reported from Council that made a lot of sense: "Councilman Charlie Waddell asked what the life expectancy of the brand is." It does seem like another cutesy contrived (and expensive) marketing gimmick and those do have relatively short lives. Maybe everything being "on" will stick in our local vernacular . . . ? BK had some good points--but most folks, apparently even design consultants, think little of how color works for people. In an attempt to quickly see what was gong on, somewhere I saw a sketch of a banner with a bunch of different-colored "ons". and we paid how much for that "idea"? How does that reflect Herndon as a friendly hometown? I guess it is not contentious, so no one will be offended except anyone who might like something that SAYS (or shows) something substantive about town character. No, I don't know what offhand...need to get back to what I was doing. There are good things happening in use of space, etc. but contrived branding is like the brick fad promoted as reflecting small-town history that is not historically accurate here or in hundreds of other places. But if it lightens things up, and feels good, right on!

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