It Takes A Village-To Build a New Brand

Businesses and organizations rebrand every day. Some do it for good reasons and others do it to boost lagging sales, gain media attention, or to reach different audiences.

In our case, the York County Heritage Trust name and brand were not serving the organization well. And while there was discussion around this disconnect for years, there hadn’t been any data to back it up.

So we gathered the data! With the help of the late David Polk, a longtime member and supporter of the organization, we executed a marketing research study to find out who knew what about the York County Heritage Trust.

Sometimes market studies reveal stunning surprises. This time, the results confirmed that community residents thought that we offered financial services, or perhaps we were affiliated with the Heritage Rail Trail, Heritage Police Museum, or with Historic York.

Results in hand, and with David’s calm reassurance, we began the task of acquiring a new name, the York County History Center, and entered into the rebranding process. We quickly discovered that the gargantuan task would take A Village, and fortunately for us, support came from a multitude of sources:

  • The Board of Directors gave thoughtful consideration to the name change, its implications for donors, members, and the community as a whole, and considered our long-term goals
  • A Marketing Task Force made up of board members, community marketing professionals, and volunteers gave “big picture advice” to the process
  • Gavin Advertising was engaged to do the creative work of establishing messaging, visuals, and a website re-design that “fit” the organization

After many months of work, starting with “brandstorming” and ending with a phenomenal new look, The Big Reveal took place on 6.16.16. The day started out dry, with differing weather models predicting heavy storms, rain, or no precip at all.

The outdoor event, planned on the grounds of the new future museum, was moved, after much wringing of hands, to the Colonial Courthouse back yard. Tent was erected and Plan B went into action.

Would the storms scare people away? Would the advertising, social media, and promotion be all in vain? All was ready, and still no rain. Reception hour arrived, and guests began to check in. And they came….and they came…and they came…in the end, the combination of invited guests and community members totaled more than 300, and the Court House was overflowing with people as the heart of the new logo was described…and then revealed. #YourHistoryStartsHere began to make sense, in so many ways.

The media came too, and the coverage was beyond our expectations. We thank them, along with our Board, Task Force, Gavin Advertising, and our community, for being part of our Village. And we thank David Polk, whose presence we miss terribly, for his invaluable contribution to this effort.

The response? It’s been overwhelmingly positive. Our audiences understand and embrace the logo as capturing our pride, traditions and values all in one visual element. York countians see in it the iconic half-timber architecture of the Golden Plough Tavern and the “Y” that represents roads that converged in our county, then as they do now.

And on March 9, 2017, the Central Penn Business Journal, at its NonProfit Innovation Awards Breakfast, presented the History Center with the Brand Identity/Unique Marketing Campaign Award for this project. It was a wonderful confirmation that this new brand, so painstakingly and thoughtfully crafted, truly DOES honor our history, even while it inspires our future, as a new, center-city cultural anchor that reflects the community and creates meaning and memory.

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