Forward Rabun Branding
The Forward Rabun initiative was created out of a desire to build greater cooperation throughout the community and a need to approach and manage economic development and growth in an innovative and proactive way.
As the organization began to take shape, key stakeholders knew they needed a plan for effectively communicating the new organization to the community to garner their support and to help them see that Forward Rabun truly wants to help people outside the community realize that it is not only a great place to visit, but a place filled with opportunity and poised to help businesses succeed.
We began working with the Forward Rabun transition team to develop the brand as well as defining the brand position and story on the website. Our goal was to draw inspiration from the natural environment while also creating a sense of forward progress. We also began developing Forward Rabun’s story and a website to serve as the central hub of information that will help people learn more about the Rabun County community and gain a better understanding of how the organization can help those looking to plant roots with a business.
The Forward Rabun logo features three leaves, playing off of the shape of the American beech leaves found in the forests in Rabun County. We selected this tree because it is hard and difficult to split and used for a wide variety of purposes, which is what we need Forward Rabun to be for their community. The leaves allude to growth and progress, with the main leaf including an arrow in place of the main vein to further illustrate the goal of forward motion. The end result illustrates how the community members, businesses, and government have come together to propel Rabun County forward.
For the brand’s colors, we drew inspiration from the hiking trails in the area and developed a palette aptly named “Trails.” The color palette pulls inspiration from the colors you see when out on a hike in summer with the deep green of the evergreens, the brighter green of new growth, the grays from the mountain rocks, and the yellow and plum making their striking appearance during spectacular sunrises and sunsets. These elements were incorporated throughout the website, along with organic textures to add an extra level of dimension to web and print pieces. Local photographers generously shared their work with Forward Rabun to help give those visiting the website a true glimpse into the beauty of the community so they can begin to picture what life is like there.
With the visual brand and website in place and a solid story to tell, Forward Rabun began to see interest from the local community and was given several opportunities to share with local elected officials what the organization hopes to accomplish. These presentations lead to the city councils of Clayton, Dillard, and Sky Valley, as well as the Rabun County Commissioners, all approving to distribute portions of their hotel/motel tax funds to Forward Rabun to help support the organization’s efforts to draw in new businesses and support the tourism entity, Explore Rabun. The organization has also built out its board of directors that consists of appointees from the county, each municipality, the superintendent, and the Chamber of Commerce.
About Forward Rabun
Forward Rabun is a public-private partnership established to integrate economic development and tourism marketing under one organization with joint oversight by the county and city governments and the private sector. Rabun County, Georgia is nestled in the northeastern corner of the state and has long been a place retirees and families who own second homes retreat to, as well as people who enjoy escaping the daily routine to explore in the mountains. The economy has relied heavily on tourism, and the community is filled with many smaller businesses as well as some fast-food restaurants, a handful of big-box retailers, and some manufacturing facilities including Parkdale’s Rabun Gap facility and ELK Group International.