North of Normal: A new chapter at the CVB

It’s only been a month into the New Year and already the Fargo-Moorhead Convention & Visitors Bureau has seen a lot of change. On January 29, we had the opportunity to unveil our new brand to over 200 local stakeholders and industry partners with a social at our city’s newest brewery, Drekker Brewing Company. Rebranding not only an organization but a destination was an exciting process that began 12 months ago.

In January of 2014 we were visited by 2 employees of North Star Destination Strategies, the company out of Nashville, TN that was hired to conduct our rebrand. They spent a few days familiarizing themselves with the cities of Fargo, Moorhead and West Fargo. They also conducted countless interviews and focus groups with both locals and leaders in the community. The research phase took several months while both quantitative and qualitative research was gathered to better understand our community, our consumers and our competition. This was a vital phase in gathering insights that lead to developing a new brand identity.

We found that our brand identity is not asset-based, it’s more of an attitude and a culture. The line “North of Normal” is truly a reflection of our young, highly educated talent that’s churning out innovative ideas, eateries, events and businesses that are reshaping the face of this region. Fargo is, well, cool. A line like “North of Normal” begs for a graphic identity that is out of the box and reflects that cool vibe. As you can see in the new logo, Fargo takes the lead of the other cities which aligns with the research. The “A” in Fargo is a directional symbol pointing North in reference to the strapline – North of Normal. The fact that the “A” is out of line speaks volumes to the attitude of Fargo.

This destination is not the same place is was 10 years ago. Although we are still situated in the mid-west and winters can be brutally cold, we are now seeing words like “progressive, “vibrant” and “artistic” be used to describe Fargo-Moorhead. A few of my favorite (anonymous) quotes from the research that was gathered were… “Have you seen Fargo? There’s nothing like it!” (and that was referring to the city, not the movie or the TV show) as well as “Fargo-Moorhead is a smaller (colder) version of San Francisco, full of young and passionate people with entrepreneurial spirits and a love of community.”

Over the last year of discussion about who we are as a destination, the phrase “tipping point” came up multiple times. There is a lot of momentum happening here and we are seeing it in multiple industries. It won’t be long before Fargo leads the way for new concepts and innovation. What better time than now to give this destination a fresh new look. Something that both are our locals can embrace, yet intrigues new visitors.

Developing a new brand is more than creating a new logo. It is creating a new story to tell. We chose to tell our story through a narrative video created by one of our talented employees, Kylie Herland . We hope you enjoy it!

The concept with the new creative is bold colors and attention-grabbing photos with quirky headlines and nontraditional copy. Here are a few examples of the new creative:

The North of Normal story doesn’t stop there. This is only the beginning and we looking forward to telling our story around town, around the nation and around the world.