The Town of Middleburg has been working with a branding and graphic design firm to develop a new marketing logo and brand identity for the Town. This logo will not replace the official seal (above) but will complement it by providing a logo and materials to attract more visitors and business to the Town.
The current Town Seal for Middleburg was developed in 1984 to reflect the history and tradition of the Town and has been used since for all Town business.
In early 2017, the Town’s Economic Development Advisory Committee (EDAC) – comprised of 9 town business owners – along with the Middleburg “Futures Group” (made up of members of MBPA, EDAC and Council) provided input and a recommendation to the Town Council that embarking upon a robust and directed marketing initiative was needed and would support the Town’s business community. At the time, the Town had over a dozen vacant storefronts on main street alone and was still recovering from recessionary trends. EDAC recommended a branding effort that would lead to better marketing and attraction of both visitors and businesses, while at the same creating an emotional draw for people to visit Middleburg and experience its authentic community. Soon thereafter, the branding project became one of the Town Council’s Top 12 Strategic Initiatives.
Since that time, the Town Council has substantively discussed the branding project at over 16 public Council meetings, to include several work sessions solely focused on the branding project.
Public Engagement and Input
In April 2018, the Council awarded a contract to Native Collaboration to develop a brand audit for Middleburg and create marketing collateral and promotional logo content. This process involved the initial outreach to dozens of local business owners and residents, over 20 social media influencers and target audience members from surrounding regions, and over 1,500 people in the DC region. Native’s results reiterated the need for the Town to do a better job of marketing the Town’s history, assets, and retail/dining/shopping opportunities. The results also indicated two key themes that the Town and stakeholders connected with: aspirational equestrian and a modern fox.
Draft logos were then market tested with approximately 30 local residents and business owners, as well as to over 1,000 people in the DC region. The aspirational equestrian was clearly preferred over the modern fox. This further emphasizes the input received from respondents to the “Futures Group” survey that strongly embodied “horse” and “equestrian” in their descriptions of Middleburg’s reputation and public appeal.
After multiple reviews of the draft concepts by Native, the Town Council decided to move in a different direction for the graphic design stage. The Town solicited proposals from local, regional, and national firms and short-listed 6 firms for interview. Out of that process, the Town Council issued a contract to RedThinking, a firm out of Ashburn. Their team visited Middleburg multiple times prior to submitting a proposal, and their team continued to visit Middleburg for inspiration and clarity during the design phase. The Town also assembled a stakeholder group of local residents and business owners with experience in marketing, design, and hospitality to provide further input on the design process.
Many iterations and concepts were presented for review, which led to two final concepts for the Council’s consideration. After discussion in public, the Council decided, from the referenced inputs, to go with the concept featuring a horse jumping over a stone wall. It is important to note that the concept is not final and is continuing to be developed – this is merely the initial direction. The Council provided key input on the design that will help the logo more clearly represent Middleburg’s history and class.
The Town originally budgeted $65,000 for the entire brand audit (research), graphic design, content creation, and implementation of the project. Approximately $26,000 was expended in the contract with Native which gathered the community and customer input on Middleburg. The contract with RedThinking is for $40,000. Of that amount, only $6,000 is for the actual design of the logo. The remainder is allocated for brand positioning, style guide, application on various media (print, website, materials), content creation, custom social media graphics, and more once the final logo is selected.
The Town is also the recipient of a $60,000 grant from Loudoun County to use the new marketing materials to promote overnight stays in Middleburg. This may take the form of print and digital ads, along with other promotional materials, to further spread the word about Middleburg.
The Town is not replacing the Town seal featuring the fox in any way and has never had any intention to do so. This marketing material will complement, not replace, our use of our seal/emblem. The goal of the new logo and brand is for tourism and economic development marketing, wayfinding signage, digital and print media, and other means of outreach to position Middleburg as the ideal place to visit, shop, open a business, and escape from the city. It is also intended to be used widely by businesses and groups in the Town who wish to create their own merchandise and marketing with the new logo.
The Town Council intends to review the final concept, including typography and secondary marks, at a meeting in the January/February 2020 timeframe. After that time, the design team will continue with the next phases of the project, to include a comprehensive roll-out across multiple platforms.
The public is welcome and encourage to reach out to the Town with any questions or input.
Town Administrator – Danny Davis – firstname.lastname@example.org – 540-687-5152