Case Studies

Appomattox, Virginia

The Challenge

Historic Appomattox, Virginia, has some name recognition across the United States. That’s because it was the site of Lee’s surrender to Grant to end the Civil War. Even though generations of students have learned about the surrender in history class, few Americans understand the circumstances surrounding it. Fortunately, the legacy of Appomattox as the place where the fighting ended and healing began differentiates it from any other Civil War site in the country. 

In recent years, the Town of Appomattox has struggled with its identity. They hired Mikula-Harris to research the town’s many attributes, including the role that history has on its identity, and to craft a brand identity and strategy that will aid with future economic development, tourism and community pride.

The Strategy

Our research within the community, which included a lot of face-to-face interviews, as well as an online survey of residents, showed agreement on three key pillars:

  • Residents love the small town atmosphere, where people care about each other and where shops and restaurants are run by friends and neighbors. People in Appomattox want to retain the small town way of life.
  • The town’s quality of life is greatly enhanced by its proximity to outdoor recreation, quality healthcare, colleges and universities and transportation like Amtrak and airports — all of which are available in abundance within a 30 to 90 minute drive.
  • While some communities are downplaying their Civil War heritage, Appomattox is embracing it. Because General Lee surrendered to General Grant, marking the end of the fighting, the events of Appomattox transcend Civil War history and are truly American history.

Together, these three pillars represent what is authentic and unique about Appomattox. These things bring a sense of pride to residents and make them feel like they’re part of a special place.

One piece of the brand strategy is to elevate Appomattox to a must-see historic site. All Americans should understand that what happened at Appomattox profoundly affected the nation. The brand identity will be known as Appomattox, USA. Our creative team designed a logo that is appropriately historic, but not tied to the Civil War.


Appomattox Virginia case study samples

The Results

Our team helped the Town of Appomattox find its voice by defining its Brand Personality as “Historic, Caring, Proud and Welcoming.” For a small town with fewer than 2,000 residents, they have much to be proud of, including their local businesses, schools, hospitality, and their unique role in American history. Identifying a Brand Promise for a community is no easy task. It turns out that the Town of Appomattox has been living theirs for many years — “Where small town values make big ideas possible.”

The Brand Promise was inspired by the bold actions of Lee and Grant. Not only did they end the war, but they began the healing process as Grant chose not to take retribution against confederate soldiers. More that 150 years later, the brand promise is exemplified regularly in Appomattox where entrepreneurs launch businesses. It also inspires the residents, especially the youth, to achieve great things and support one another.

Every aspect of the brand strategy is represented in a creative ad campaign that is versatile enough to promote tourism, economic development and communication from town government.


Let’s talk.

How can your brand benefit from the talent and experience of the Mikula-Harris team? Let’s start a conversation. Make the call today.



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