York County still searching for defining brand

York County is known by many names — the Factory Tour Capital of the World, Revolutionary York, the First Capital of the United States, and its latest brand: the Industrial Art & Design Capital.

But has York found its identity?

Community organizations are starting another branding effort, and they turned to the people who know the county best.

“To learn what makes a community special, you have to go to the people who spend more than just their money and time there," Don McEachern, CEO of North Star Destination Strategies, said in a news release. 

The 100 block of East King street is shown in York City, Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017. Dawn J. Sagert photo

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"You have to go to the people who spend their lives there," he said.

North Star, a branding firm out of Nashville, Tennessee, is tasked with finding out what makes York County unique — not just what makes it special, but what sets it apart.

The company partnered with York County and Downtown Inc for the rebranding effort and recently developed a survey to reach the people who live and work in York County for their input. 

The last time the county had a major brand overhaul from an outside branding company, it was deemed the Industrial Art & Design Capital by Washington firm Roger Brooks International.

According to the York County Economic Alliance, Brooks researched the area in 2010 with the hopes of connecting the county's brand with that of York City's downtown.

The YCEA used its Creativity Unleashed initiative to extend the brand's reach throughout the county, believing it to be true to what made York County unique.

But in an online company handout reviewing past projects, Brooks noted of York, "the brand is often hidden and must be uncovered; make it obvious what you are about."

If York County still has a hidden brand, North Star hopes to discover it.

The county's rebranding project will have a steering committee with members from the Cultural Alliance of York County, Downtown Inc, Main Street Hanover, York County Community Foundation, York County Convention and Visitors Bureau, and York County Economic Alliance, according to the release.

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They will be looking for York County and downtown York City’s strengths, weaknesses, challenges and opportunities. 

“York County and Downtown York are ready for a brand that attracts people to the amazing things happening in our community,” Jane M. Conover, president and CEO of York County Community Foundation, said in the release.