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Ask Matt ... about county's new brand

The Lightning's intrepid researcher answers readers' questions.

Q. I read where they are going to do a rebranding project for Henderson County. I thought we were the "City of Four Seasons." Where did that come from and is that going away?

The City of Four Seasons lives. Hendersonville magazine attributes its origin to historian and radioman Kermit Edney. It's been around for some 60 years and has been printed on City of Hendersonville official letterhead at least as far back as the 1970s and is still used today, just not in any of the county's tourism publications. But if you Google the term, it takes you to Melbourne, Australia.
I spoke to Beth Carden, executive director of the Tourism Development Authority (TDA) about the branding project. She informed me that technically the county has never had its own true brand before. "Discover Historic Hendersonville" was a default brand that evolved over the years. The new brand will be solely owned by Henderson County and used by the TDA in publications — to "get heads in beds and feet on the street."
The consultant retained to spearhead the project will work with focus groups and TDA partners who will offer input on what will click with tourists. "The task is not just look around and dream up a long list of brands and logos," Cardin said, "Those involved in the branding process will be asked to look at Henderson County as a destination for first-time visitors, not as they already know it." The brand has to be both catchy and meaningful and in just a few words capture what the community represents. It has to have destination recognition for visitors and that destination is Hendersonville just as Asheville is the destination, not Buncombe County. "One of the biggest challenges we face," says Cardin, "is that Henderson County is so diverse that it will be hard to select the right brand. 'Land of Waterfalls,' Transylvania County's brand, is a no-brainer. Ours won't be that easy." The final brand selection should be made by the end of the year.
Once the brand is chosen by the TDA, logos and taglines can then be created. A tagline is not a must, but often helps with marketing to selected groups. For example, Las Vegas has the well-known tagline "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas." But selection of a proper logo for our community might also be a challenge. Will it be apples, bears, mountains or something more creative? Perhaps barley.