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Chamber of Commerce unveils new name at annual celebration

A well-known local organization is making some big changes, starting with its name and logo.

During its annual celebration on Friday, the former Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce debuted a new logo along with its new name: the Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce.

“Of course, this is our annual celebration and it represents who are the most engaged and invested in the organization and we want to make sure those people that are the most invested and engaged have the opportunity to see this,” said James McCoy, president and CEO of the chamber. “Of course, most of them were really involved with contributing to making this, and they want to see what the result is.”

McCoy said the process of changing the name began about two years ago at a chamber retreat, where board members discussed changes to the chamber, community and expectations from the community had changed over the last 10-or-so years.

“It prompted a very healthy conversation about our brand and does our brand match those expectations, what are those expectations of our members and our investors in the community,” he said.

“So we started a conversation with the board about setting out to do the necessary research and work to have a very broad-based and thoughtful approach to our brand that can hopefully take us through not just the next 10 years, but the next 20 or 30 years moving forward.”

The name, McCoy said, isn’t exactly new but is the original name the chamber formed under in 1952. He said he believes Cumming was added to the name sometime in the 1980s but he wasn’t able to confirm when.

To gather input for the changes, McCoy said the chamber held meetings with “hundreds and hundreds” of stakeholders, the community and chamber members to get their thoughts on the chamber’s brand and later consulted with economic development clients, state officials and other organizations and businesses to come up with the new brand.

“Everybody thinks about a brand as being a logo, but it’s much deeper than that, it’s basically the personality of your organization,” McCoy said. “So, the feedback came back that, ‘Yes, we feel the organization has changed tremendously, and it really is time to look at the brand and overall experience that people have with the chamber and really take a hard look at that and see if that’s matching our expectations as investors in the community.’”

Derek Brooks, owner of Brandywine Printing and a member of the chamber’s board of directors who served on the rebranding committee, said the name change came about after internal questions with the chamber and surveys with the community.

One of those questions was about the name and asked if it reflected the community. Brooks said many felt the name was long and often shortened it anyway.

“There was a lot of input from that, but the overwhelming majority said Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce is a mouthful, no one ever says Cumming,’” said Brooks.

As part of the rebranding, responders were asked to describe their expectations of the chamber and what roles they felt it should play, which McCoy said would be used for future programming and events from the chamber.

“This is the beginning of a much longer process, and in fact, the name and the logo are sort of the tip of the iceberg, and I mean that in the most figurative sense in that that’s the part that people get to see. The part that is not visual is the experience.”

Though the name was kept under wraps until Friday, McCoy said he heard only positive responses from those who saw the change ahead of time.

“The response has been incredibly positive, largely, I think, because all of that is the result of data,” McCoy said. “All we did was ask people, ‘What do you think about our brand and what do you want out of it?’ So what it tells me, the little bit of exposure it has had already, it is answering what the community has asked us to do and what our investors have asked us to do.”