Gov. Pat McCrory’s administration launched a new branding effort for state government this year, with a new state logo and a slogan: “Nothing Compares.”
The legislature gave McCrory’s Department of Commerce $1.5 million for the branding project, which began in 2014 with input from the Kenan-Flagler Business School at UNC-Chapel Hill.
Commerce officials put the new slogan and logo, which features the letters “NC” in green and blue colors separated by a longleaf pine, on 75 highway billboards across North Carolina this summer.
“We felt that was the cheapest way to debut the campaign and the most visible way,” said Kim Genardo, the department’s director of strategic and economic development communications. “We want this to be a public-facing pride campaign for North Carolina.”
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The green and blue colors were chosen to represent a “mountains-to-sea” theme, and the longleaf pine has been the official state tree for decades. The “Nothing Compares” slogan reflects “the passion that people have for the state – they feel like nothing compares to living here,” said David Rhodes, deputy communications director.
The billboards link to the executive branch’s main website, nc.gov, and feature photos including the Bodie Island Lighthouse, the Asheville skyline and a Seagrove pottery studio.
The Department of Commerce contracted with the Charlotte advertising agency Luquire George Andrews to help develop the brand and oversee the billboard campaign. Luquire will be paid up to $448,725 for its work, Genardo said.
She said McCrory started the rebranding effort shortly after he took office in 2013, and he often attended meetings about the project. “Gov. McCrory has been front and center,” Genardo said.
Every state agency overseen by McCrory now uses the logo and slogan on websites, official correspondence and business cards. It will replace more than 50 distinct logos previously used by various state agencies, which ranged from a recycling symbol for the Division of Surplus Property to a headdress for the Commission of Indian Affairs.
“Every program and agency had a different logo,” Genardo said. “That’s not happening anymore.”
All state employees recently received a lapel pin with the logo as an annual appreciation gift from the Office of State Human Resources.
Not everyone’s a fan of the new look. The blog Brand New, which reviews corporate and government branding campaigns, criticized the “Nothing Compares” logo’s use of “clip art-ey” simple mountain and wave images and typography choices.
“The tagline is two letters short of a 1990 hit song,” the bloggers wrote, referring to the Sinead O’Connor song “Nothing Compares 2 U.”
The Department of Commerce has registered a service mark for the logo, which allows the agency to regulate how it’s used. In the future, Genardo said the logo and slogan could be used on t-shirts and other promotional items.
“We’ve had a lot of positive feedback,” she said. “The sky’s the limit.”
A quotable slogan
Gov. Pat McCrory has been frequently using the new state slogan, “Nothing Compares,” in speeches and news releases. A few examples:
“Nothing compares to North Carolina’s small, independently owned businesses that create jobs, boost our economy and preserve neighborhoods.”
“From the mountains to the coast, nothing compares to North Carolina’s values, spirit and faith.”
“These state employees (award winners) represent the best of North Carolina. They’ve demonstrated through their actions that when it comes to providing great service, nothing compares to their dedication and passion.”
Other N.C. slogans
North Carolina government and tourism officials have used a variety of slogans to market the state:
▪ First in Flight (on license plates)
▪ First in Freedom (on license plates)
▪ Variety Vacationland (for tourism marketing)
▪ Esse Quam Videri, latin for “to be, rather than to seem” (official state motto adopted in 1893)