News Article

Mar 01, 2018

Johnson City launches community-wide branding program

The City of Johnson City has launched an intensive branding program designed to discover, define, and design Johnson City’s competitive differentiator – or, what makes the city special so it can stand out in the marketplace. The ultimate goal of this initiative is to attract more businesses and tourists to the city and to improve/maintain quality of life for existing citizenry.

To bring outside objectivity to the project, Johnson City has partnered with Nashville-based North Star Destination Strategies. North Star has helped develop community brands for more than 200 communities in 45 states nationwide.

“Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not around. In other words, your reputation,” said Don McEachern, chief executive officer of North Star. “People have chosen to move to a city – without ever visiting – based wholly on the word-of-mouth about it. Branding is what you do to change or refine that message. We are delighted to be working with the City of Johnson City in this capacity.”

“It was important to City staff and our Board of Commissioners that this process be led by a firm with extensive experience in community branding,” said City Manager Pete Peterson. “North Star’s methodology not only allows for discovery of our unique identity, it provides valuable data and feedback that can be used for strategic planning purposes.”

The integrated process includes research, strategy, and creative development. To begin, qualitative and quantitative research paint a thorough picture of where Johnson City is today. This research began in January and includes an assessment of the environment; perceptions of visitors, neighboring communities, residents, and stakeholders; and a review of current communications and the competition.

Now, North Star is asking the community for their input via an online survey that can be found at This questionnaire has been carefully crafted to determine Johnson City’s strengths, weaknesses, challenges, and opportunities.

“One of our priorities with this initiative is to ensure our citizens play an integral role in the process,” Peterson said. “The City of Johnson City is facilitating the project but at the end of the day, the input of those who live and work here is crucial to its success.”

Printed surveys will also be available at the Municipal and Safety Building, 601 E. Main St.; Memorial Park Community Center, 510 Bert St.; Carver Recreation Center, 322 W. Watauga Avenue; and Winded Deer Park, 4137 Bristol Highway. Printed and electronic surveys must be completed and submitted by March 25.

Upon conclusion of the survey, North Star will develop a brand strategy that is relevant to Johnson City’s current situation but that also differentiates the city to consumers.

The final stage of the project will involve using the research-driven brand strategy and representing that “essence” through creativity and action. The ultimate outcome is to uncover, define and bring to life what is most compelling and unique about Johnson City.

“At the conclusion of this process, we will have a better idea of who we are and how that can best appeal to others,” Peterson said. “We want to clearly convey what makes Johnson City so special.”

To learn more about Johnson City’s branding initiative, visit

Community Relations


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