Writer: Baker Owens and Roger Nielsen
Day-trippers, agritourists and businesses are being invited to “Come Home to Hawkinsville” to visit, shop and perhaps put down roots in the Pulaski County city.
Hawkinsville and Pulaski County are extending the invitation through a community branding initiative the Institute of Government developed with UGA’s Archway Partnership and a broad-based community branding steering committee. The steering committee will host a formal, public unveiling of the “Come Home” brand and logo later this year.
Chaired by Hawkinsville Public Relations Director Ginger Martin, the steering committee worked with Institute faculty and staff since late last year to gather ideas and identify the community’s most important attributes.
“Our new brand came from months of seeking input in our community and is intended to reflect a common theme for us all,” Martin said.
The Institute of Government team developed the brand design, complete with a user guide and stylebook, over the last nine months with Archway Partnership support. The Institute team conducted seven different focus groups, interviewed 76 people and collected more than 100 online survey responses. The team also visited many local businesses, restaurants and farms.
Faculty member Kaitlin McShea Messich, a community branding and placemaking specialist who managed the project, said branding goes much further than just designing a logo that features an iconic site like the Pulaski County Courthouse cupola.
"It is more complex than that. Different from marketing, community branding is figuring out who and what a community is — uncovering unique assets, history and culture — and then packaging that in a way that is appealing to desired audiences," she said.
Messich and Institute graphic designer Allison Cape recently presented their final branding recommendations to Hawkinsville representatives, steering committee members and Archway professionals. They shared copies of the “Hawkinsville & Pulaski County Brand Lookbook” user guide, as well as samples of car decals, mugs, hats and other promotional merchandise that include the new logo.
The Lookbook explains that branding provides a strategic way to attract visitors, new residents and new businesses by showcasing what makes a community unique and differentiating it from other communities in a competitive market.
“I just can’t put into words my excitement for Hawkinsville and Pulaski County’s new brand and the potential impact it will have on the ongoing progress of our community,” said Jenna Mashburn, Pulaski County sole commissioner. “This is such a fantastic opportunity to showcase our beautiful county and everything we have to offer, not only to our citizens but to anyone looking for a new place to explore or even somewhere to call home.”
The next step is developing a strategy for the full introduction of the new branding.
“The new logo looks great, and I am excited to unveil this to our community. Now the ball is in our court to prepare, promote and produce results,” said Shelly Berryhill, a Hawkinsville City Commissioner who serves on the steering committee.