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Classically Carolina

Marketing firm reveals new Camden brand to public

Posted: November 14, 2013 5:51 p.m.
Updated: November 15, 2013 5:00 a.m.

Arnett Muldrow also presented various silhouettes of icons commonly recognized and used in Camden that can be used interchangeably throughout the city

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Camden: Classically Carolina.

That’s the new brand Greenville-based marketing firm Arnett Muldrow presented to Camden residents and city of Camden officials at a “brand reveal” Wednesday night at TenEleven Galleria.

Ben Muldrow, the firm’s designer, joined the team Wednesday to present Camden’s new brand. Arnett Muldrow did a three-day branding workshop focused on tourist attractions, African-American history and culture, young professionals and the general public, as well as merchants and the Camden Business Alliance. The series of meetings allowed Camden residents to give input to create the city’s new brand and future marketing efforts.

Tripp Muldrow told the audience he hoped participants would see their feedback reflected in the presentation.

“We always like to start with knowing where you’ve been and what the current situation is,” Ben Muldrow said before he recounted Camden’s previous branding efforts. Some of those things fell short, he said. While looking through South Carolina’s latest tourism guide, Ben Muldrow found that Aiken uses “Horses, History, and Hospitality” -- a slogan used by Camden up until recently. An audience member said Aiken usurped the theme, after the city started using a more recent campaign called Grab Life.

“The biggest issue that we feel that Camden has had in marketing itself was realizing how to have a system that allowed you to more dynamically wrap your arms around the diversity of assets that you have,” Ben Muldrow said.

Before the brand reveal, Arnett Muldrow presented several graphs using words in various sizes to correspond with the number of people who said a particular word or phrase during a public meeting Monday evening. During that session, participants related the positive and negative words they associate with Camden, the biggest misconceptions people have of Camden, what visitors most know Camden for, what city Camden is comparable to, and words association with how they feel about Camden. According to Ben Muldrow, the top words Monday night were “history,” “horses,” “hometown” and “friendly.” Participants were asked to write their answers on index cards, most of which were redistributed at random to the audience to read back.

“Horses,” along with “history” or “historic,” came up most often Monday night, especially when participants answered what visitors most likely associate with Camden. Ironically, one participant wrote that one of the biggest misconceptions is that Camden is only about horses. That brought laughter from Monday night’s audience, but several participants agreed.

One woman Monday night said she was not a supporter of the city’s 2012 proposal to build a sports complex with hospitality funds, but that she is a supporter of recreation activities. She claimed “90 percent of the young people” in the community travel outside the county to participate in various traveling ball tournaments.

“We have got to get something to bring young families in this community,” the woman said. “My son’s grown. I’m single, and I’m so trying to get to Columbia. This is no place for me. We have been trying and trying and trying to get young people to attend this that have children … and can support the city and the county. But until we start having some sort of sporting events here other than horses and things like that, we are not going to grow.”

Monday, Camden Mayor Tony Scully said “this horses is an odd thing” with tourism being the No. 1 industry in South Carolina and that the No. 1 type of tourism is equine.

“I’ve never understood quite how to translate that here. You come here, the horses in a sense are on another plane of existence. I mean, I know they’re real -- they’re flesh and blood, and God know the horse people work hard,” Scully said. “But most people don’t have horses. Most people don’t even, necessarily, like horses. But the horses, in a way, are our local god. When you see them gamboling across the field before the Cup, it lifts up the spirit of this whole community and there’s nothing like it, and I don’t think most communities have this.”

Again, however, the mayor wondered how to translate the horses’ beauty and grace into successful tourism.

“But there’s a reason everyone says ‘Camden’ and ‘horses;’ it’s real, but on a higher level,” Scully said.

Wednesday, Ben Muldrow next took the audience through Arnett Muldrow’s choice of color palette for the new brand. The colors used in the “Classically Carolina” brand are two shades of blue, two shades of red and a cream color. Ben Muldrow said the color choices “give a nice platform” and reinforces Camden’s already understood values.

Trip Muldrow noted that, during the Revolutionary War, both sides used red, white and blue. Additional research revealed that polo tournaments once played in Camden were divided into red and blue teams, he said. There are two typefaces used in the campaign: the primary typeface is a traditional serif used in all capital letters and the secondary font is a “clean” san serif font. Both can be used throughout Camden to tie assets, events and organization throughout the community, Ben Muldrow said.

He said they chose the first and primary font because it has built in options: including eight choices for letter style and flourish options “to move in and out of orientation and embellishment based on the target market” which allows for “tremendous expandability,” he said.

Tripp Muldrow then read Camden’s potential brand statement which, he said, was crafted after hours of debate and discussion:

“We are Camden, a place surrounded by history. Long a home of Native Americans, we were founded not long after Carolina was separated into North and South. Here, King Haigler, the Catawba Chief, worked for peace among natives and colonists along the banks of the Wateree. Here, Patriots suffered one of the worse defeats in the Revolutionary War. Yet from this place, the tide of war would turn and ultimately lead to victory for a fledgling nation built on ideals of equality, freedom, and hope.

“We are a place of beauty where the land provides for equestrian and hunting lifestyles that have attracted people here for 200 years. Many of us may never ride a horse, but we are all inspired by the classic grace and strength of this noble creature, which has been and remains a symbol for our community.

“We are a place where the Winter Colony brought people from across the nation to Carolina, where they could enjoy life with kind and gracious people. We are a place where memories of a horse race, sometimes hazy, become the first experience of young people making a lifelong connection to South Carolina.

“Like the great Palmetto State, we are a place of many walks of life: young and old, black and white, native-born and from places far away. And yet, it is here we have chosen to call home. Here, where the stories of centuries past still echo in our ears. Here, where living is comfortable and easy. Here, where the future offers opportunity and potential. 

“We invite you to experience the pace of South Carolina’s oldest inland city. We beckon you to discover the warmth of our diverse cultures. We welcome you to discover the place we call home.

“We are Camden: Classically Carolina.”

The idea came together when Arnett Muldrow Associate Tee Coker told his team members that his friend recently named his child Camden because the name sounded like “classical, classic Carolina.” Camden was founded just after the Carolinas split into north and south territories, which is why Arnett Muldrow stuck with “Carolina” versus “South Carolina,” in addition to it being a mouthful.

 Tripp Muldrow said Camden embodies what South Carolina and the Carolinas are about like no other city: it is “a place that is welcoming and warm, a place that’s a lot more complicated than we often like to make it be, where the history is varied, where we fought for the freedom of our nation and where we look ahead to an exciting future.”

Preserving the city’s diversity was important in the visual aspect of the brand, Ben Muldrow said. Making sure the logo worked in multiple colors, one color and black and white was important in order to create expansion opportunities, he said. Arnett Muldrow used various icons seen around Camden, that are already used, to help the city’s “destination identity.”

Arnett Muldrow said there are many more “next steps” that could not be completed in the three days the firm was here. It will officially present the designs and its marketing plans to Camden City Council on Dec. 13. Some of the ideas include using various silhouettes as finials on top of sign poles, Ben Muldrow said. Arnett Mudlrow doesn’t typically customize to the degree of finials, but felt that Camden deserved a higher level of detail. Other topics will include how to grow a visitor-based economy, marketing to travelers using I-20 signs and encouraging the use of a city flag. Ben Muldrow said the Arnett Muldrow team saw lots of colonial flags, but Camden needs something of its own. Consistent signage and certain events can breakdown misconceptions, Ben Muldrow said. Arnett Muldrow said Camden could become a cornhole tournament site, if they wanted, all while incorporating Charles Cornwallis.

The cultivation of youth marketing is something the community needs to get behind as well, the firm said. Tripp Muldrow said they are working on a secondary “Camden United Campaign,” that Camden can use within the city itself versus external deployment. The word “united” reflects the history of Camden and the work people are currently doing to make Camden a better place, Tripp Muldrow said.

Scully said Arnett Muldrow came without preconceptions, as a tourist might, and that he is pleased with the outcome.

“The presentation just reiterated how great the city is and how much we have to be proud of,” he said. “It exceeded expectations.”

Camden resident Earnestyne Adams said the brand is an excellent demonstration of what Camden looks like on several levels and is a great start for the city. Adams said she loves the idea of a city flag to tie everything together. Historic Camden Executive Director Joanna Craig said Arnett Muldrow did a great job; she loved the combination of classic and contemporary fonts and the use of the various silhouettes. Both Adams and Craig said it’s just the beginning, however; that now it’s time for Camden to hire a tourism director and determine who it is trying to market to.

Camden Economic Development Director Wade Luther said the reveal was much anticipated. There will be a YouTube presentation for anyone who was unable to attend the reveal, he said. Luther said he is satisfied with the outcome, and glad it was well-received by the community and generated excitement the city needs. Luther said the city will look at the market data to determine where the focus should be for marketing purposes. Camden City Manager Mel Pearson said Arnett Muldrow did a great job creating a platform Camden can evolve. Now the city will be tasked with an outline to accomplish what Camden needs to grow, he said. Pearson said it was critical that the community and local merchants got involved and gave this branding effort the attention it needed.

City Councilman Willard Polk said the firm “captured Camden.”

“It’s expandable. It’s better than what we’ve experienced,” Polk said. “The logo, the byline and the branding statements are the essence of Camden. They are expandable -- we can build from it to create something for all seasons. It’s something for the whole community to get behind and embrace.”

Monday’s public input meeting also included suggestions that the city find ways to make horses a more visible part of resident’s everyday lives; to provide better access to information about what Camden has available; to better tie coming to Camden with events at the S.C. Equine Park and Carolina Motorsports Park, both of which are located outside the city; and to promote events at the Fine Arts Center of Kershaw County, which is inside the city limits.

Councilwoman Alfred Mae Drakeford, who noted she would be unable to attend Wednesday’s reveal, asked participants Monday to make sure the branding effort includes ways to draw African-Americans, Hispanics and other minorities to visit and live in Camden.

“We’ve got to remember to market to people out there that need something to do and places to go -- they can’t afford horses -- it’s got to be something else. I just want us to keep that in mind as we look at branding Camden. We need to try to brand Camden in a way that is inclusive, not exclusive,” Drakeford said.

Someone also brought up the need for a hotel and/or conference center Monday. Mayor Scully said that is a priority for the city.

“We have a consultant and are moving forward one step at a time. It’s under discussion. We’re very aware of the need for a better hotel and a conference center,” Scully said. “Not to worry; we want to get it right and we have a very fine and deliberate mind in Mel Pearson. We’re not going to make any mistakes.”



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