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Grand Challenge News: Community Success Story

Community Spotlight: Monterey Creates Full Tourism Branding Package

Laura Beth GraphicThe town of Monterey, Tennessee has recently collaborated with the Center for Rural Innovation (TCRI) to create a full tourism branding package. TCRI Director Michael Aikens and Rural Outreach Coordinator Andrea Kruszka, along with TN Tech students from TCRI, connected with a coalition of Monterey residents to create the tourism brand. Through working with Tennessee Tech and its community, Monterey has created a tourism brand to be proud of.

Over six months beginning in August 2020, TCRI met with the coalition to provide them with training and instruction on branding and tourism in addition to discussing their perceived values of Monterey. Vincent Okot, a TN Tech doctoral student in Program Planning and Evaluation, worked with TCRI and the coalition to conduct qualitative research on their responses. Vincent states, “The members were selected due to their uniqueness in the area, i.e., former and current city leaders, business owners, and so forth. For example, coalition members were asked what their views of Monterey were in terms of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) in addition to their views of Monterey’s marketing sphere, vision, value propositions, and mission statements.” 

After hearing the views of the coalition, Okot looked for common themes across responses. Okot then used the Qualtrics software to create surveys with preferences on an official town color palette and logos for Monterey, based on the responses he received from the coalition members. Okot states, “The coalition members are very passionate about their city and that is what I like. They were always on time for our meetings, and they were quick to respond to our surveys, which made my job easy. I am very thankful for the opportunity to work with TCRI and working on the Monterey project. Working with Rural Reimagined helped me to improve existing real-life skills like networking, presentations, and public speaking.”

Digital Design student Laura Beth Hellerstedt also worked closely with the Monterey coalition to help create the logo and color palette, based off surveys that Okot distributed and analyzed. She states, “I illustrated Monterey's popular tourist spot, Bee Rock Overlook, using a few images I found on the internet as references. I drew the scene out in Procreate and then image traced the layers in Illustrator. I then added text and messed with colors all while trying to keep a warm and alfresco aesthetic.” Regarding her experience, Hellerstedt states, “Working for the Center for Rural Innovation is great because I get amazing opportunities to work with people like Monterey and their coalition. They gave me plenty of creative freedom and communication throughout the process, and it was a pleasure to work with them!”

Cultural Administrator for the town of Monterey, Rafferty Cleary, emphasizes as well how Bee Rock influenced the logo design. He describes that the colors are centered around the natural beauty of Monterey, with the sky in the logo representing their town motto, “Where hilltops kiss the sky.” Mayor JJ Reels states, “We could not be any happier with the finished products and what this will allow us to do going forward in some targeted marketing campaigns to promote Monterey. I feel Monterey was presented with a tremendous opportunity, and the ability to work so seamlessly with the students and faculty of Tech was a true pleasure. It's partnerships like these that can help to grow rural towns that may not have the resources to source these types of products on their own but still obtain world class results with true collaboration among many.”

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