VERSAILLES — To be recognized, you have to be noticed. And in its effort to attract more jobs and more outside dollars, some residents want Woodford County to be noticed by creating a brand known as "Uniquely Woodford."
The brand would be used on products created in Woodford County, much in the same way that agricultural products grown and produced in Kentucky are eligible to bear the "Kentucky Proud" logo, said Ken Kerkhoff, a member of Woodford Tomorrow, a citizens group striving to find common ground about the county's future.
"We don't want to become 'Anytown U.S.A.,' but we recognize that whatever uniqueness Woodford County has, it has got to have some economic development to sustain it," Kerkhoff said.
And creating a brand is one way to foster job growth that complements Woodford's heritage and landscape.
Kerkhoff, who also is a member of the Versailles City Council, approached Woodford Fiscal Court last week about the possibility of appointing a committee that would manage the brand. County Attorney Alan George is studying the issue, but he and the fiscal court magistrates made no commitments.
As Kerkhoff envisions it, the committee would develop the rules for the brand, including the criteria for who could use it and who could not. "Uniquely Woodford" could apply not only to traditional fruits and vegetables, but to bourbon, agritourism, recreation, the arts and other specialty products and experiences.
A review of trademarks registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office shows a number of county-oriented slogans and logos.
DuPage County, Ill., bills itself as "the Heartbeat of the Midwest." Franklin County, Pa., registered a logo that depicts a historic clock tower.
Jim Host, the former state commerce secretary who pushed for "Unbridled Spirit" as Kentucky's brand and logo, said there are merits in Woodford developing its own brand.
"To be honest with you, as I think it through, that is a very unique county," Host said. "They've got a lot of character in Woodford County, primarily because they've preserved a lot of the natural terrain around it, and they haven't really encroached upon a lot of that. So I think there's a lot to be gained by what they're trying to do."
But Host cautioned: "The devil's in the details and the execution of it, and how it would be utilized.
"When we did the 'Unbridled Spirit' brand, there were 51 state brands. That meant one agency would have a Kentucky logo for this, and another agency would have a Kentucky logo for something else. There was no definitive state branding. When we did it, we got every single agency, every single mailing, every single brochure, every single Web site to adopt the same branding. The idea is to create a brand that is recognized and that stands for something.
So if Woodford County pursues the development of a brand, Host said, "they need to execute it so that it becomes an evident brand, and in this particular case, they would need to get every single merchant doing it, every single entity that would benefit from the brand to do it."
The brand could mean "more commerce, more recognition" for those who benefit from tourism.
"If you can get everybody pulling their resources to promote that county, then that county becomes a much stronger brand in the minds of the people that are visiting it. So that when they visit XYZ winery, it's a Woodford product. It begins to establish its own brand."