In 2018, the Chamber Board of Directors tasked Chamber staff to gather data to determine if it was time for the organization to rebrand. Based on this data, the rapid changes occurring in Forsyth County and the new horizons for the local economy, the Board endorsed a rebranding initiative for 2019. In March the Chamber staff began building the infrastructure for new brand development. A committee of Chamber Board members was formed and they began meeting on a monthly basis.
Initially, this committee developed criteria for the marketing agency selection process and engaged in a great deal of organizational introspection. They went through several exercises to create an encompassing view of the Chamber’s current brand. They completed SWOT analyses and created brand positioning elements. They then moved on to developing an encompassing view of the organization’s aspirational brand by creating a brand positioning statement and a list of brand adoption words.
The brand positioning statement and the brand adoption words were key elements in the research components of this initiative. These items were presented in third-party-led focus groups of Chamber members and in a survey to the Chamber membership. A survey was also sent specifically to the Chamber Board of Directors to gain feedback on particular elements of the rebranding initiative.
In an effort to gain an all-encompassing view of the organization’s current brand, the Chamber also contracted a secret shopper. This individual went through several elements of engagement with the organization. They established membership in the Chamber both in person at the Chamber office as well as over the phone. They met with members of the Membership Services Staff to learn more about the organization. They called to seek information about relocating to the community. They spent time navigating the organization’s website. They even attended a Chamber event! After engaging in these elements, the secret shopper produced written and verbal reports to Chamber staff.
This report as well as all of the collected data from focus groups and surveys was then presented to the Chamber Rebranding Committee. The committee spent time studying the data and then utilized it as they moved forward in developing the Chamber’s creative brief. The committee worked with a marketing agency in this portion of the process, ultimately coming to a consensus on the visual elements of the Chamber’s brand.
One mantra of the committee emphasized by both the marketing agency and Chamber staff members was that a new brand is more than just a new logo. The new brand should be about determining an ideal perception and then working on individual elements to ensure that the desired perception is what is created in the minds of those who engage with the Chamber. This means having visual elements that carry the organization into the future but also equipping staff to deliver on the brand promise that the organization is making and ensuring staff members have the tools necessary to delivery on that promise.
The committee’s efforts and resulting recommendations were presented to the Chamber Board of Directors at their September Board Meeting. The Chamber Board unanimously voted to accept the three presented recommendations of the Chamber Rebranding Committee. The Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce’s new brand was launched at the 2019 Chamber Annual Celebration on Friday, November 1st.
“This is the beginning of a much longer process, and in fact, the name and the logo are sort of the tip of the iceberg, and I mean that in the most figurative sense in that that’s the part that people get to see. The part that is not visual is the experience,” commented Chamber President and CEO, James McCoy. “The response has been incredibly positive, largely, I think, because all of this is the result of data,” McCoy said. “All we did was ask people, ‘What do you think about our brand and what do you want out of it?’ So what it tells me, the little bit of exposure it has had already, it is answering what the community has asked us to do and what our investors have asked us to do.”