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New Chamber brand becomes ‘digital front door’ to community
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New Chamber brand becomes ‘digital front door’ to community

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Mark Owens, Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce president and CEO, poses in front of the new branding seen from the sidewalk. 

The elements of the Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce’s new brand include a flaglike logo, an abstract collage of shapes, and a tagline—and they all hinge on the idea that the concept of “Together” (also the tagline’s title) can be a powerful, multifaceted force.

Airtype’s Adam Dixon, who served as the branding project’s senior designer, drove that point home again and again in a recent interview, as did Mark Owens, the chamber’s president and CEO.

The rebranding—unveiled at the chamber’s annual meeting last October—came about after Owens determined it could complement the chamber’s recent upgrade of its website.

“Being new to town, when I looked for information about Winston-Salem before moving here, it was very segmented,” says Owens. “There were a variety of organizations with helpful information on their websites, but no central welcome mat to the community that pointed me to all these wonderful resources. My vision for the chamber’s new website and brand was to become a digital front door to our amazing community.”

The rebranding’s togetherness theme emerged early on in Airtype’s work with the chamber as both entities focused on what made Winston-Salem unique. The city’s togetherness-friendly origins topped the list.

“Our city was once two neighboring communities named Winston and Salem, which merged in 1913 to create the city in which we all love to live,” Dixon says, recalling a union that the chamber supported. “It’s a really cool part of our city’s history, and we felt that if any city could truly own a phrase like “Together,” it was Winston-Salem.”

The chamber’s rebranding reflects this thinking in a variety of ways. Take the chamber’s logo, a flaglike design that features the city’s initials. Dixon called it “bold, simple and unique.”

“It was an icon that the chamber felt they could get behind and really own in order to differentiate themselves,” he says. “The flag evokes a sense a pride in our city and its people.”

Owens said the chamber was “really impressed” with the logo’s design.

“To us, the flag in the logo represents us waving the banner of our community and celebrating our town,” he explains.

As for the collage of shapes, these derive from prominent images of the Winston-Salem’s skyline, including the round dome of the Wells Fargo building, the iconic tiers of the old Reynolds Building, and the smoke stacks at Bailey Park.

“The collage embodies the idea of togetherness, as individual shapes come together to form our city’s skyline,” Dixon says. (The shapes are in motion on the chamber’s website, eventually creating a recognizable skyline.)

The visuals of the chamber’s rebranding reinforce concepts that the organization wants to convey. One such concept: The chamber “bring(s) people together to make the community a better place to do business and to enjoy with your friends and family,” Owens explains.

Another concept takes the form of a togetherness-friendly statement of the chamber’s strategic initiatives. These aim to further such goals as economic development, talent retention and recruitment, small business development and entrepreneurship, and career readiness. The statement reads: “Work Together, Grow Together, Create Together, and Learn Together.”

So, how is the rebranding effort working, along with the website upgrade and a video promoting Winston-Salem?

“We have the analytics and data to show that the rollout was successful,” Owens says. “But to me, that isn’t what counts. It is being able to represent our great city on a regional and national scale that we’re a town to pay attention to, we’re growing, we care about our people, and you can make a difference here and fit in. We are in this together.”

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