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BILT to partner with department of commerce 

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The team assembled to create a regional branding identity for economic development in New Hanover County and surrounding areas will partner with the North Carolina Department of Commerce.

During the Brand Identity Leadership Team’s meeting Friday, May 16, Roger Johnson, Wilmington special assistant to the city manager for economic development, said department of commerce marketing director David Rhodes agreed to work with the team to create the economic development brand.

New Hanover County strategy and policy manager Beth Schrader said the partnership would help the team take its key insights and form them into one message while also merging it with the state’s economic development brand.

During Friday’s BILT meeting, the team broke into groups to discuss the emotions and insights each team member felt when considering statements about the area that came out of BILT’s previous meetings.

One of the statements read, “Being discovered since 1739, coastal Wilmington pledges its beautiful natural resources, diverse entrepreneurial spirit and authentic southern character as the ideal setting where opportunity and inspiration thrive.”

Some common buzzwords one or more of the groups mentioned were: coastal, create and discover, lifestyle and resources.

When shaping the brand identity, Dr. Thomas Porter, University of North Carolina Wilmington marketing department chair, said the brand would not actually attract new businesses but would serve as a way to tell the story of the area without having to target one particular group.

With the idea of promoting the coastal lifestyle of Wilmington and surrounding areas, a couple of ideas were expressed.

Wilmington and Beaches Convention and Visitors Bureau vice president of marketing Shawn Braden said the coast would be a way to set the area apart if companies were also looking to Raleigh or Charlotte.

However, Cape Fear Community College Foundation executive director Margaret Robison said being coastal could also be a detriment by being at the end of a highway, unlike those transportation hubs of Raleigh and Charlotte.

Similar discussions ensued about other buzz words and phrases. Johnson said the notes from Friday’s meeting would be shared with David Rhodes and the department of commerce marketing team.

In response to concerns that BILT would have to accept whatever the department of commerce develops, Schrader said the two teams would continue a dialogue throughout that process.

“It will be an iterative process where we will go back and forth with the state about what the final product will be,” Schrader said.

In addition to the discussion notes, the BILT also included “Wilmington and the Carolina Coast” as a possible title for the brand.

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