Spartanburg, South Carolina
Downtown & City Brand Study
For the young and young at heart yearning to be part of something with meaning, Spartanburg provides a sense of community through a grassroots cultural movement that celebrates the creativity, ideas and beliefs of the creative class.
Spartanburg, South Carolina, started out wanting a traditional tourism campaign. But early research showed that Spartanburg’s problems went deeper than lackluster tourism. Residents believed that when it came to culture and a good time, Spartanburg was a bust. What’s the point in pursuing visitors, when your residents direct them elsewhere for entertainment?
North Star’s research uncovered that the internal audience – residents and students attending the city’s five small colleges – had the mindset that Spartanburg was dead; nearby Greenville was the place to go for entertainment. Good stewardship of resources demanded that the branding shift from tourism to a city-driven initiative targeting the internal audience and promoting the idea that Spartanburg is a cultural hub. While the city could be the brains behind this campaign, in order for it to be considered “authentic,” the city’s cultural leaders and icons must be the face and voice of the brand.
For this internal brand to gain traction with young people it needed to come from the community's creative thought leaders, not from city government. A team of creative visionaries was assembled and through marketing programs that included a robust online presence, guerrilla marketing and interactive artists in residence, the creative culture in the city began to grow. The line HUB-BUB presented in a gritty, "of the streets" logo became the mantra for the movement. As the HUB-BUB director said, "Much of the success of this program is due to the name, HUB-BUB. What creative twenty-something wouldn't want to be part of a movement called HUB-BUB?"