When Missy Thompson Gravelle thinks about Hall County, she calls it “Home sweet home to me.”
Hall County wants to hear from more residents such as Gravelle as it kicks off a marketing effort to give the county a solid brand and identity. Gravelle wrote that on The Times’ Facebook page Thursday as it solicited thoughts for this story.
Updating the county’s image isn’t a new idea, but the county got more serious about the effort when it started having discussions about developing an internal strategic plan late last year, said Katie Crumley, county public information officer, and County Administrator Randy Knighton.
“We want to make sure we do all we can to let people know what a wonderful place Hall County is,” Knighton said.
The marketing push, which will be connected to the strategic plan, is expected to include a new logo, slogan and website redesign.
The first step is putting together a branding team, which would meet regularly to define an overall branding scheme.
The makeup of that group is likely the first decision. Putting all the parts into place could take some time and it’s at the beginning stages now, Crumley said.
Developing a new brand will depend a lot on the citizen feedback and community involvement.
Crumley also intends to involve the members of the Hall County Government Scholars’ Academy, which starts on Tuesday.
The county expects to put up an online public survey in the next couple of months as part of getting feedback from residents.
Some responses could be less than positive. John Gilbert Colgan wrote he thinks of “Cow-tipping and restaurants that come and go,” on The Times’ Facebook page.
Ashley Haynes Carrigan posted it was “An illiterate place that sees no values in the library system.”
If citizens interact with county staff at any level or location, Knighton hopes they come away thinking “excellent service.”
Hall County also has some assets that appeal to visitors and residents, including Lake Lanier, a respected hospital system and the poultry and agriculture industry, which the county also wants to highlight, Knighton said.
“A perfect blend of city and country,” posted lifelong resident Jennifer Lee Valimont.
One goal of the branding would help enhance the county’s exposure and show what a great place it is nationally and internationally, county officials said.
Another goal is to increase interest from businesses and encourage economic development. Knighton pointed to a number of local businesses that grew up here and the international businesses that have located here.
“Hall County really is, I think, viewed as an international destination in some way,” Knighton said.
The branding concept was presented at the Hall County Board of Commissioners retreat in late March.
One idea was to add more color to the county’s logo, which is currently the seal of the state of Georgia.
Another was changing the look of the website. The current message of Hall County doesn’t stand out or catch the eye, officials said.
It doesn’t say this is a great place to explore and to visit, and its message to citizens could be more prominent, Knighton said.
The strategic plan is expected to include goals for the county government for the next 3-4 years.
It will be a way to guide day-to-day operations to meeting benchmarks and improving service to residents, Knighton said.