Consultants unveil ideas for Salisbury branding campaign

When Jake Day was running for office last year, he often talked about promoting the city as the Capital of the Eastern Shore.

It’s part of a new brand for Salisbury.

Tonight, at a public information meeting, that idea of branding was explored in detail, as Ben Muldrow of Arnett Muldrow & Associates, a planning firm based in Greenville, S.C., displayed a slogan, colors and logos he is suggesting for the city.

Day, pleased with the ideas, told him it “feels like Christmas morning because we all have a bunch of new gifts to play with.”

Muldrow suggested a two-line, five-color destination brand stating, “Salisbury: The comfortable side of coastal.”

The word “Salisbury” is alone on the top line. Below, in blue, is the phrase, “The comfortable side of coastal.”

Wording was chosen to promote proximity to the beach while emphasizing the city has a slower pace, easier living, and not heavy beach traffic.

The three position statements of the slogan are “Maryland’s Coastal College Town”  in blue with a graphic of the tower at Salisbury University’s Holloway Hall, “Capital of the Eastern Shore” in green, with a compass and “The Heart and Soul of Delmarva” in red, with a sailboat.

“You need a brand that’s going to disrupt a little, that now, all of a sudden, downtown Salisbury looks different, visually, than my mind perceives it to be. I wanted to do something that was a little fresher,” Muldrow said.

He drew laughter from the audience of about 40, gathered at the fire department on Cypress Street, when he said the city seal is loaded with a list of items from beans to sail boats.

“This seal does have a lot of history to it,” he said, displaying it on a screen at the front of the room, but it can be more contemporary.

“I wanted to give this seal a very, very slight update with a main focus on the typeface and outer ring and treatments of the outer bands themselves with very little focus on the shield in the middle,” he said. One version was a single-color seal.

He suggested putting the word Salisbury on shopping bags, so if residents travel away from town to buy groceries, they will take the name with them. It can also be on  T-shirts, mugs and hats. Apparel could be sold at coffee and gift shops, he said.

“I can buy Salisbury University stuff all day long in town, I’m sure, but how easy is it to buy merchandise to show pride in where you live? This is one of the really great ways a brand can make its way into the private sector,” he said about apparel.

He suggested the slogan, “It’s happening. Downtown Salisbury.”

“It’s not that we’re done. It’s that it’s happening,” Muldrow said.

The Downtown Plaza, he said, is now a small, limited place. “We have to start chipping away at that idea of the Plaza and expanding it back out so we can create a true vibrant district and restore that motion that normally happens in a  downtown,” he said.

Showing a slide of a sign he designed 15 years ago with the words, “The space isn’t empty. It’s full of opportunity,” Muldrow said it can replace negative “Vacant” and “For rent” signs.

Currently, the marina feels like “a different thing,” he said.

Close to campus, he said, flags could convert to SU colors.

Salisbury resident Jamie Heater, who attended the meeting, said she’d like to see sponsor logos on banners. Muldrow said that causes them to be considered billboards by many state departments of transportation. If logos are used, he said, they must be placed at the top, since drivers read banners from the bottom up.

Muldrow said he tried to create a simple message, a system that is easy to employ and logical, one the public can connect to. He chose colors including blue, gray, green and red  and two typefaces.

One is a contemporary serif with nice curves. The second is non-serif.

He also wrote a statement with several sections, each starting with, “We are Salisbury.”

“Our town was born from the headwaters of the Wicomico River,” it states.

“We are a college town … We are a cultural town … We are a river town. The Wicomico River starts here. Water runs through our downtown and our city park. Bridges crisscross the water standing as a physical reminder of the importance of our connections.

“We invite you to discover our ever-changing downtown …and connect with this special place we call home.”

Reach Susan Canfora at scanfora@newszap.com.

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