The ubiquitous RVA logo is getting even more popular.
Hudson News, a national chain of airport gift shops with seven locations in the Richmond International Airport, recently began stamping the RVA logo on clothing, magnets and a diverse array of drinking glasses.
“I don’t think we realized how fast these items would fly off the tables,” said Jamil Siddiqi, general manager of the Hudson stores at the Richmond airport. “And it’s just gotten bigger every week. I’ll put out an order of RVA T-shirts, and a couple of days later I’m placing another order.”
The gift shop has gone through at least 300 T-shirts and just ordered a shipment of sweatshirts to keep up with demand.
“College students have really taken to it, a lot of people buy it to take to family outside of Richmond,” Siddiqi said. “It’s right up there with our Virginia is for Lovers merchandise.”
What started as a campaign to brand Richmond as a creative capital is becoming a lucrative business opportunity for many local shops.
The branding of RVA began about two years ago when Venture Richmond, a few local advertising firms and a class of VCU students repurposed the existing abbreviation.
Economic development group Venture Richmond started to spread the word about the new logo by giving away black-and-white RVA stickers. They caught on fast, said Lucy Meade, the marketing director for Venture Richmond.
Since the campaign launched, Venture Richmond has printed and distributed more than 125,000 stickers. The city has incorporated the new logo into banners, police cars and garbage trucks, and business and universities have used the campaign’s online generator to design personalized logos.
Matt Williams, a partner at local advertising giant the Martin Agency, said that the goal of the RVA project was to provide an outlet for city pride but that the scope has expanded.
“These businesses have been taking it to places we don’t always expect,” Williams said. “We’re always surprised, and it’s fun to watch.”
No one owns the RVA brand, and businesses are free to pull it from the RVA Creates site without asking for permission.
“If people want to use it to make money, they can go ahead,” Meade said. “We put it out there for anyone.”
Carytown Bicycle Company co-owner Braden Govoni worked with a graphic designer to incorporate the silhouette of a bike into the logo.
“We’re not just a bike shop, we’re a Richmond bike shop,” Govoni said. “The RVA logo gave us an opportunity to work with a strong visual design and to tie our branding in with the city.”
And his customers are responding. In about three months, the shop has sold a full order of 150 RVA hats and about 50 shirts.
A Manchester coffee supplier also found a way to integrate the logo into its inventory. Blanchard’s Coffee Company collaborated with RVANews to create an RVA exclusive coffee blend.
Blanchard’s has sold about 30 five-pound cases to local markets like Ellwood Thompson’s, Farm to Family and both Libbie Market locations. It’s also available by the pound online.
Blanchard’s marketing director Stephen Robertson said he was surprised by how easy it was use the RVA emblem. He made a quick call to the Venture Richmond office and found out it would be free to use the logo on the coffee’s packaging.
“Working with Venture Richmond was a really streamlined process,” Robertson said. “It’s obvious they want the logo out there. They want people to use it.”
It’s about to get even easier for Richmonders to pick up RVA merchandise. Early next month, Venture Richmond will launch an online catalogue of RVA products. Any shop that uses the logo can post items to the catalogue.
“We hoped it would take off downtown, but we had no idea how far it would really spread,” said Lucy Meade of Venture Richmond. “It’s been embraced by the whole region.”