‘Small towns. Big passions.’

Proposed brand takes in nature, history, exploration

Jesse Hollett
Posted 6/21/17

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – After a year of talk and expectation, county commissioners have given the order to finalize a new logo and branding scheme for the county they hope will spur intrigue, tourism …

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‘Small towns. Big passions.’

Proposed brand takes in nature, history, exploration


GREEN COVE SPRINGS – After a year of talk and expectation, county commissioners have given the order to finalize a new logo and branding scheme for the county they hope will spur intrigue, tourism and economic growth countywide.

Jacksonville-based advertising agency Burdette Ketchum presented the new design to the Clay County Board of County Commissioners at its June 13 meeting.

The agency designed a new county logo and seal they believe encompasses the soul of Clay County. Place brands emphasize the distinct characteristics of a location in an authentic way that would make it desirable to others.

Eventually, the logo will be prominently displayed on wayfinding signs throughout the county and above the signs that lead into many of the county’s gateways and municipalities. Commissioners smiled throughout the 30-minute presentation and later presented their thoughts.

“I think you captured us perfectly,” said Commissioner Diane Hutchings. “You have nailed Clay County.”

Commissioners suggested minor touchups to the logo prior to a final draft. The agency will appear again before the commissioners to propose its final brand on June 27.

An implementation team made up of constitutional officers and department representatives have already met following the meeting. The team was tasked with finding approximate costs for the transition and where to place wayfinding signs.

The group will soon finish an inventory of every county seal that would need to be replaced following the update, and will make recommendations to County Manager Stephanie Kopelousos.

As currently designed, the logo and tagline – “Small cities. Big passions.” emphasizes the differences of the county’s various municipalities and communities, while taking in such aspects as waterways and nature. Ketchum said the design promotes exploration of the nooks and crannies in each municipality.

“Clay can have a brand that lives throughout the county but we allow each of the small towns to preserve their own identity,” Ketchum said.

Ketchum aimed to create a brand-identity that appealed to older residents while also attracting new ones.

“The first priority was all Clay County residents, right? It has to resonate with all Clay County residents,” Ketchum said. “We wanted to straddle both of those to invite young people to pursue careers here and be part of the workforce as a driver of economic development, but also resonate with people that have already been in Clay County and just need a sense of ‘yes, that’s us.’”

Clay County’s rebranding comes as the county sits on the precipice of massive growth expected from the First Coast Expressway toll road. The road will link Duval to St. Johns Counties through Clay. The rebranding gives Clay the chance to position itself for the kind of growth the county wants during this time.

The county paid for the rebranding through a $60,000 reimbursable grant from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, which was secured by the Clay Economic Development Corp. last year.

“I don’t know that the county has ever really had a brand,” said County Tourism Director Kimberly Morgan. “I think that the county has said this is who we are this is our sela, and quite frankly when you look at governments...most governments do not market themselves well. Their work is very institutional...what we are trying to do is, as Clay County government, we are telling the rest of the world who we are.”

“Progressive counties are doing this,” Morgan said.

Branding is a process that used to be reserved for larger metropolitan areas looking to consolidate dense population and job growth. However, rural areas on the outskirts of metropolitan areas are now conducting their own branding to attract new residents.

Seminole County north of Orlando approved a rebranding campaign in 2015 to dub themselves ‘Orlando North’ in the hopes of grabbing wayward Floridians who may want to live within reach of a major metro area without all the problems of a major metropolis.

Clay County’s strategy in branding remains markedly different from Seminole County’s. The goal is to differentiate the county both in substance and form from Jacksonville to the north. Clay’s brand emphasizes southern charm, religious conviction and natural exploration, attributes not inherently seen as vital in Jacksonville.

If implemented with the right amount of panache and strategy, officials hope Clay County can move from being perceived as a rural backwater to having its own distinct identity in Northeast Florida.

If the implementation team moves quickly, residents could start to see the new logo and seal in communities near them by the middle of July.


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