Firm creating branding plan

JOHNSTOWN – A new regional branding project designed by a Tennessee firm to better identify Fulton and Montgomery counties should be released publicly later this year, an official said.

“It’s probably going to be fall before we know what the brand is going to look like,” Fulton County Planning Director James Mraz said Wednesday.

Fulton and Montgomery counties hired North Star Destination Strategies of Nashville, Tenn., to brand the area.

International site selector Michael Mullis, in his visit to the area in September, recommended the two counties develop an identifiable name and logo for the region. Mullis said that will make the region more recognizable.

Mraz said the firm’s work continues, including North Star researching other regions of New York state. He said the firm targeted three other regions “to obtain people’s perceptions” of the business and economic development climate in the area.

The Fulton County Board of Supervisors in October authorized a contract between the county and the Montgomery County Industrial Development Agency to hire North Star to develop the brand for the two counties.

The “community blueprint” is being developed by the firm for economic development marketing purposes at a total cost of $46,000. The direct cost to Fulton County is $13,000. National Grid is paying $23,000 of the cost. The Fulton County Center for Regional Growth is contributing $10,000 through proceeds of a 2013 marketing contract with Fulton County.

As part of the project, North Star and local officials conducted a public “vision survey” to help create a new logo.

Mraz participated in a web conference in which North Star presented its research, reviewed its preliminary strategy recommendation and released a draft brand statement.

“They are now at the stage of putting together our branding statement,” Mraz said.

He said his department has seen the draft of the branding statement, although he said he can’t release details at this time.

He said North Star is scheduled to meet with “project teams” from Fulton and Montgomery counties this month.

Mraz said the final step of North Star’s work will be the “creative piece” of the branding project. He said that will include some “written concepts.” He said the project also will include graphics related to the branding, such as those that can be used on billboards, but officials aren’t sure how they will be used.

Ken Rose, director of Montgomery County’s Business Development Center, couldn’t be reached for comment for this story.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at manich@leaderherald.com.