Case Study


Building a Brand that Embraces the Past and Future

When Winston-Salem, NC wanted to build a brand that elevated the city’s national presence, it was important to stay true to the area’s historic roots in tobacco and textile manufacturing. With “Winston-Salem: Where It Starts,” DCI created a place brand that places Winston-Salem at the intersection of the past and the future.

The Opportunity:

At the heart of North Carolina is a city inspired by industry and driven by innovation – Winston-Salem. The birthplace of R.J. Reynolds, Winston-Salem has strong ties to its rich history in tobacco and textile manufacturing. Today, its iconic brick factories have been repurposed to house coworking spaces, breweries, music venues and loft apartments, alongside one of the country’s foremost urban technology parks. The problem? Winston-Salem had no clear identity on the national stage and lacked cohesive messaging among internal audiences.


DCI’s Approach:

Through perception research, DCI uncovered that 28% of site selectors and corporate executives identified “lack of image” as the city’s greatest weakness. In conjunction with messaging and a marketing strategy, DCI developed a place brand that, like the city, holds extremes (old and new; artistic and scientific) and amplifies them to attract business investment, talent and entrepreneurs.



Inspired by the history of the region and the blue, red, yellow and white of the North Carolina flag, the new brand places Winston-Salem at the intersection of the past and the future. With the tagline, “Where It Starts,” the brand ties back to the foundation of innovation and discovery on which Winston-Salem was built as well as the potential it offers to build the ideas and businesses of tomorrow. The new brand also preserves the hyphen that is so important to Winston-Salem residents. The tagline offers flexibility to substitute other words for “It” – such as “Where Innovation Starts,” “Where Business Starts” or “Where Life Starts.”

Dariel Curren

Executive Vice President (203) 733-7942 [email protected]

Interested in how DCI collaborates with our clients to increase visitors and business inquiries?

Get In Touch
We have updated our Privacy Policy to include GDPR. If you continue we will assume that you agree to our privacy policy.