Union County, North Carolina, in the greater Charlotte metro is experiencing significant growth with families and businesses attracted to the great schools, quality of life, scenic setting, and opportunity for development. In the past couple of years, the County created a Communications Department to centralize and maximize the public relations and communications function for a broad and growing administration. Previously there were too many conflicting marks, styles and tones to the County’s muddled message. With the goal of consistency and cohesion, the County pursued a process to get out what is special about the place and how the administration is emblematic of that distinction.
“Our brand has helped us define a distinct sense of place for those who live, visit and do business in Union County. We have brought to life a visual identity that proudly showcases Union County and what makes us unique in the region. Developing the brand with North Star involved a well-organized process that was rooted in research.”
– Liz Cooper, Director of Public Communications
Union County enjoys an enviable quality of life rooted in agrarian traditions yet enhanced with the energy of increasingly multicultural residents. Conveniently located in the Charlotte region, it still has the space to breathe and innovate, its rolling hills as scenic as they are productive. There is a distinct independent spirit to Union County that also underscores a strong sense of community and generosity. Union County encourages its residents, scholars and business community to reach for new heights with ingenuity and integrity.
The Union County brand serves as an invitation to its place of growth, opportunity and prosperity.The logo mark is created from a graphic representation of the UC monogram. The blue U-shaped container conveys strength and stability while using the white space to form the C which creates an open and inviting feeling. In that open space is a leaf shape that gives a nod to the natural resources and impact of agriculture on Union County’s past and future. Within the leaf is a horizon line that draws the eye upward and forward into a future that is possible in Union County. The strapline’s use of “Plant” ties to the agricultural roots and current productivity, while pairing with “your future” has a personal and forward-looking feel. The line speaks clearly to long-time residents and newcomers alike that this is a place to put down roots and find opportunity. It is an imperative and invitation to a welcoming community with abundant opportunities, to a place where families, minds, businesses, and ideas grow (in the optimal environment for growth). And it also works well for economic development.
With a goal for consistency, the County pursued a family of logos using inspiration from the County mark for some key public-facing departments. Integral for buy-in, those departments were involved in the creative decision-making. A shared color palette and visual vocabulary creates a unified look while still providing the flexibility for each organization to create an identity that is uniquely its own. Parks & Recreation uses a tree reflecting active people and includes 14 leaves for each Union County community. The library monogram uses stylized books to represent print and electronic titles. The droplet for Public Works/Water uses the leaf shape that becomes a dynamic symbol. And Emergency Services chose a shield based on the blue U field with quadrants highlighting Emergency Management, Emergency Communications, Fire Marshal, and then adding the human element for those they serve in Union County.
The County was not quite prepared for the enthusiastic buy-in from all departments and has been inundated with requests for tools and apparel. With the goal of consistency, more stringent guidelines were established with the Communications team as a gatekeeper. The Communications team recently launched an internal intranet toolkit for ordering logo materials and seeking approval for brand uses. Union County achieved its unity and cohesiveness and then some. Visit the online store here. The County has also implemented the brand in the digital realm as well as the built environment: UnionCountyNC.gov