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New logo pulls into Bryson Chamber, TDA approve train-themed logo

A new logo will soon chug onto the marketing landscape of Bryson City following the Swain County Tourism Development Authority and the Swain County Chamber of Commerce’s approval of a design meant to emphasize the town’s most unique aspect — the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad. 

“It’s fresh, it’s new and it has that subtle play on what we have that no one else has,” said Karen Wilmot, the chamber’s executive director.

Formerly, Bryson City’s logo had featured a mountain skyline, but the city’s marketing leaders began to think twice about that design after talking it over at a January board retreat. They took the idea for change to the next step after attending the North Carolina Governor’s Conference on Tourism in March, which featured internationally known marketing expert Roger Brooks. 

TDA and chamber board members attended a workshop with Brooks in which they brainstormed Swain’s assets — hiking, waterfalls, scenery. 

“He said ‘No, no, no, no, everybody in the mountains has that stuff,” TDA chairman Brad Walker said. “’What is the one thing you have that nobody else has?’ And we said, ‘Well, the train’ and he said ‘Jump on that.’”

The TDA and chamber asked Charles and Ellen Snodgrass of Deep Creek Arts to design the new logo. The company occupies the chamber’s permanent creative line item, which allocates $10,000 for the year. Deep Creek Arts has not yet sent the invoice for the project, but Wilmot expects the price tag to fall somewhere between $1,000 and $2,000. 

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“No one knows our brand and product like Charles and Ellen Snodgrass,” Wilmot said. “Quite frankly, we’d be crazy not to utilize their expertise.”

The new logo was approved by what Wilmot termed an “uncontroversial” vote from first the TDA and then the chamber board, and it will soon start appearing in a spectrum of marketing venues, including print versions of “Our State” magazine, the Little Green Book of American Parks, the Blue Ridge Parkway Association Guide and “North Carolina Sportsman Magazine.” Online, its appearances will include websites for “Outside Magazine,” “Roadrunner Magazine,” the Blue Ridge Parkway and Bryson City’s Trip Advisor page.

But it won’t stand alone. 

“The board didn’t just see it as a freestanding logo,” Wilmot said. “It was a proposal that showed it fit into our existing campaign, which is ‘Have a big vacation in a small town.’”

That’s a campaign that includes all of what Bryson City has to offer, which includes fishing, hiking, scenery and all other assets in addition to the railroad. The ads in which the logo appears will speak to the whole package. 

“A logo is always designed to compliment your existing campaign,” Wilmot said. “We felt strongly that we like the existing campaign that we have because we do want potential visitors to know there are so many things to do here, but at the same time spotlight that which is truly unique.”

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