Why have an arts & entertainment district when you can have a mountain district?
In late summer of 2022, the City of Albertville approached us about creating a logo for the newly formed arts and entertainment district in downtown Albertville, Alabama. The arts and entertainment district would be a place for walking among shops and restaurants, gathering with friends, and sharing in the festivities of downtown while enjoying an alcoholic beverage within the approximately three-square block district from one of the licensed retailers. City officials and the Albertville Commercial Development Authority, as well as state legislators, worked extremely hard over several years to establish an arts and entertainment district within the city. They wanted to celebrate the launch of the district with a unique logo design concept.
We were excited to be a part of this historic project in our own hometown. After meeting city officials to define the scope of the project, finalize a contract, and learn the legalities of having an arts and entertainment district in Alabama, we started to work.
The city desired to build an engaging brand for its new arts and entertainment district that would cohesively symbolize the city’s identity as the Heart of Sand Mountain and its hope to build community. After researching entertainment districts in Alabama as well as across the southeastern United States, our team began the brainstorming, planning, and designing processes involved in creating brand concepts to present to the city. We started with the typical Albertville Arts & Entertainment District, but we felt we had an opportunity with this project to do something much more characteristic of the new “Heart of Sand Mountain” brand that the city had recently released. In addition, we wanted to be proactive in communicating the intent behind the district through the brand design and messaging. The city desired to revitalize the community aspect of downtown through special emphasis events and activities, and the designation of an arts and entertainment district opened the way for some new events to come to life and build the community of the downtown.
We started back to work, seeking a way to tie everything together. Could we play on “the Heart” of the city? The area is known for its warm reception and genuine hospitality of its citizens.
Could we capitalize on its location of “Sand Mountain?” While this is a geographical reference familiar to those in the area, it was not necessarily a regionally well-known locale, but it had been how the city had identified itself for many years.
Then the idea of the abbreviation of mountain, MTN, came to life, and the MTN District concept was born. Our team didn’t just want to try to connect the MTN District to Sand Mountain. We wanted it to signify so much more. Wasn’t the district all about bringing people together? Wouldn’t a MTN District be a perfect place for people to Mingle Together Now?
That was it! At least for our team, that was the direction we hoped to steer the project, so we started to work on some additional brand design concepts for a MTN District. We were keenly aware that the initial MTN District would be in the downtown area, and the city might often publicize events with the city logo and the district logo on the same promotional material, so we wanted them to feel connected but not identical. Drawing on the city’s new brand guidelines, we began to flesh out the concepts we would pitch to the city.
The excitement (and the nerves) were building on “pitch” day. As the committee gathered in a conference room at city hall, our team prepared to walk them through the journey we had been on to create what we were about to reveal to them. We started with the research and the examples of other districts throughout the southeast. We showed them the starting point of the Albertville Arts & Entertainment District concept, and then we invited them to dream with us about the limitless possibilities for a MTN District. We presented several brand designs and a few slogan options, but we fully pitched the Albertville Downtown MTN District where people can Mingle Together Now. The new brand was a hit!
“Our team had the privilege of working with local Branding & Advertising Professionals, BAP Agency, of Albertville, on the creation and implementation of the MTN District,” stated the city’s district announcement. “Their expertise and guidance throughout the project lead to the successful launch of a FUN and inviting brand for the arts and entertainment district that is both cohesive with our city’s identity as the Heart of Sand Mountain, and all about community… exactly what we were looking for!”
Once the brand was developed and the brand designs were finalized and approved, we began implementing the brand through product development. Parts of the legalities of arts and entertainment districts in Alabama require designated cups to be used within the district and signage to mark the edges of the district. We created a plan for each of these needs and sourced and designed the products that would be needed to keep everyone in compliance. The new products were produced and delivered to the participating merchants for use by the community enjoying the new district!
“Please help our downtown businesses remain compliant by adhering to the guidelines of the MTN District, set forth by ABC and City Ordinance, as you Mingle Together Now! To learn more, visit our website, or by scanning the QR code on an official MTN District cup while visiting a licensed retailer!” -The City of Albertville