The Greater Richmond Partnership and ChamberRVA tasked teams of VCU Brandcenter students with concepting and designing a booth at the 2018 South by Southwest Interactive Festival. The purpose of the booth was to promote Richmond and its surrounding region as a desirable location for young professionals and prospective new businesses. A total of fourteen teams presented their designs to local Richmond business owners and past winners of the competition. Ultimately, our team was chosen to develop our booth and represent Richmond at the 2018 festival.
While natives were eager to tell us of their love for the region, our research and discussion with outsiders outlined our main issue facing Richmond: a lack of awareness. Outside of the discussion surrounding Monument Avenue, most people had only a cursory familiarity with the region and a low awareness has resulted in even lower consideration. These findings were in spite of the fact that Richmond boasted many positive statistics, including one of the largest growing millennial populations in the country in 2017 (Time Magazine) and a Top 20 Metro Area to Start a Business (CNBC).
We chose to focus on what people in the region loved about their city to appeal to outsiders. Based on our discussions with business owners and Richmond locals, we discovered four major values to highlight that elevated the region: A region that thrives on diverse perspectives and backgrounds; a society thriving on new and creative ideas; the autonomy of the individual to live by their standards; and a supportive community built to bring out the best in each individual. The Richmond region provides a versatile backdrop for locals to mold their careers and lives, and the cultural mix ensures that each person can enrich the community at large by bringing their own experience and point of view to the table.
Richmond is evolving. We are looking at a completely different city compared to ten years ago and will likely see something very different a decade from now. Luckily, this dynamic nature makes Richmond whatever you need it to be: a creative hub with a well-renowned art scene and growing millennial population; a central city on the East Coast within a day’s drive of most other major cities in the region; a growing suburban sector with plenty of space for new business and young families; the list goes on. The city acts as a canvas for its creators, to which they can bring their talents and grow personally and professionally. That’s why we are asking new businesses and young professionals to make their mark on Richmond. Representing a city that values community interaction, we are inviting everyone to become a part of what makes Richmond great by making their mark, big or small, on our mural inspired by the region. Attendees who interact with our booth will learn more about what the city and surrounding counties have to offer, from the great restaurants and growing craft-brewery scene, highly ranked public schools and proximity to the James River.
As its core, the booth will feature a black-and-white graphic illustration representing Richmond, designed by a local artist and enlarged to cover the back wall. Guests will be invited to "make their mark" on the Richmond area by contributing to the mural using dry-erase markers. In this process, they will learn about the Richmond region in the industry or lifestyle category of their choosing through fact cards, and the mural will serve as a starting point for conversation about how participants make a mark in their community. A mounted video camera will capture time-lapse footage of the installation so that the final product can be shared with participants and future stakeholders. The booth will partner with Blanchard’s, a regional coffee roasting company, to give guests a taste of the region.