Branding Hinds County With Just a Little Snark


Blake Wallace, executive director of the Hinds County Economic Development Authority, says any organization or business can adapt the "World of Difference" campaign to its needs.

What difference could a bold marketing campaign make to Hinds County economic development? Tripp Muldrow, a South Carolina planning consultant, suggests it could make a world of difference.

Two dozen people came to the Mississippi e-Center Friday afternoon for the reveal of "A World of Difference"--a new Hinds County branding message from Arnett Muldrow and Associates condensed from three days of research and public meetings. Earlier this year, the Hinds County Economic Development Authority signed a $10,000 contract with the urban-planning firm to develop a brand for the county.

"You are your greatest critic," Ben Muldrow, a partner in the consulting firm and Tripp's brother, said to the Hinds County residents in the small crowd. "You are far more critical of yourself than your neighbors and visitors." Hinds County needs someone to remind its collective self that it is attractive and desirable, the Muldrow brothers said.

The first part of the consultants' presentation was Tripp Muldrow narrating a slideshow of Hinds County landmarks. When the Capitol building flashed on the screen, Muldrow talked about pride. When it changed to the governor's mansion, he mentioned responsibility. When an image of the King Edward Hotel popped up, he said one in 10 Mississippi businesses call Hinds County home.

Tripp Muldrow read a list of positive affirmations describing Hinds County as a place where skyscrapers and farms coexist, where neighbors help neighbors in downtowns big and small and where the world comes to meet Mississippi. After sharing more facts about the numerous medical facilities and higher education options, he circled back to the positive descriptions, then announced, "Hinds County--A World of Difference."

That tagline is only the beginning of the Muldrow marketing vision. The brothers offer "tools to tell the story of Hinds County," including a sans-serif typeface, a simple logo and even a color scheme. The "World of Difference" tagline is a jumping-off point for a marketing campaign to sell a message at home first.

"What difference does it make?" one proposed ad mock-up with a picture of the Standard Life Building reads. "There are only 300 new places to live in downtown Jackson alone." The Muldrows say if it sounds a little snarky, that's OK. It's designed to make the home crowd stand up and take pride. "It forces you to talk and tell the story," Ben Muldrow said.

For a regional or national market, the message would change. "We would take the snark out of external pieces," Tripp Muldrow said.

Raymond and Terry had mock-ups with the "What difference does it make?" teaser as did Fondren. Any community, organization or business could adapt the campaign to promote its own highlights. Blake Wallace, executive director of the Hinds County Economic Development Authority, says many venues exist for the marketing.

"We are not trying to create or infuse an identity. These identities are their own." Ben Muldrow said. "You can't be timid any more."

The Muldrows even suggest an offshoot of the campaign might be an "I Make a Difference" campaign that could involve simple yard signs and magazine ads promoting local celebrities and unsung heroes. T-shirts with the "I Make a Difference" message could fit under the "World of Difference" umbrella.

Tripp Muldrow predicts the campaign has a shelf life of five years or longer. It's not a temporary branding that county leaders would have to reinvent in six months, he said. Part of what makes it work is the flexibility for diverse groups to tell their own story of how they make a difference, he said.

"Play the story in a way that works for you."

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