‘Richmond Real’: City unveils new brand campaign

The “Richmond Real” campaign’s kickoff event was held on City Hall’s observation deck Wednesday afternoon. (Photos by Jonathan Spiers)

Ten years after the regional “RVA” brand took off, the City of Richmond is introducing its own brand identity aimed at promoting tourism and economic development in the city specifically.

Called “Richmond Real,” the new brand campaign was unveiled at a kickoff event Wednesday on the observation deck at the top of City Hall.

The event showcased various swag items featuring the campaign’s “R” logo and slogans, as well as limited-edition offerings from local businesses including Bev’s Ice Cream, Garden Grove, Gelati Celesti and Ruby Scoops.

In an intro video that preceded his own remarks, Mayor Levar Stoney declared, “This isn’t your grandfather’s or your grandmother’s Richmond.”

“This is a new Richmond that I think can be embraced by all people, all walks of life,” he added. “Richmond has been at the center of history — the good, the bad and the ugly. We’ve come a long way.”

The video set the tone for the goal of the campaign, which is to show Richmond in a new light and give it a new identity after decades identified primarily as the capital of the Confederacy.

The city worked with local ad agency West Cary Group to develop the campaign. Chief Administrative Officer Lincoln Saunders said conversations with West Cary founder Moses Foster started in 2020, amid the protests that followed the murder of George Floyd and preceded the eventual removal of the Confederate monuments that for decades dotted Monument Avenue.

“Some months later, we were working to build out our planning around strategic communications and build stronger communications and connections with both our residents and those outside the city,” Saunders said.

“West Cary Group does a lot of work with regional entities like PlanRVA, so that is how we started talking with them about a citywide branding and engagement concept. This is just the first phase, in my mind.”

West Cary Group’s Moses Foster provided remarks alongside Mayor Levar Stoney.

With the tagline “Real people, real places, real stories,” the brand features an “R” logo with spaces on each side that Foster said are meant to represent the city’s Northside, Southside, West End and East End. He described the R as providing a connection to each area and evoking an attitude of openness in the city.

Stoney said the city and West Cary Group spent a year developing the brand with input from various stakeholders, including residents, business owners, students and nonprofits.

The city’s investment in the effort totaled about $450,000, including brand development, design and the campaign launch, which will continue through the summer, according to Stoney’s office.

Swag items displaying the new logo and slogan.

Foster, who was involved in developing the “RVA” brand along with Venture Richmond, VCU Brandcenter and other area ad agencies, acknowledged that campaign in his remarks but described “Richmond Real” as the city’s own.

“We’ve got a brand for the region, and that’s RVA, but we needed to create something distinctive for Richmond, because we are truly distinctive,” Foster said, noting similar efforts undertaken by neighboring counties in the region.

“We’ve gone through a lot of change in Richmond over the past couple of years. We want to emerge from that change in a better place. We want to think about where we’re going and who we’re going to be as opposed to where we’ve been.”

A banner explains the design behind the logo.

The branding campaign joins other efforts to update the city’s identity. Last year, the City Council adopted a new official city logo that replaced the former image of a bridge crossing the river in front of the downtown skyline. The new logo features a silhouette of a bateau boatman and nine stars representing the states of which Richmond was once the capital.

The new logo will continue to be used for official city business, and the “Richmond Real” brand will be used for promotional efforts such as tourism and economic development.

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Ashley Smith
Ashley Smith
23 days ago

Another lackluster idea from Stoney’s office. Did Stoney ever invest in Richmond by buying property or is he still just a renter using Richmond as a stepping stone for his aspirational political career?

Jackson Joyner
Jackson Joyner
23 days ago

Really?

Brian Ezzelle
Brian Ezzelle
23 days ago

Real Lame

Brian Hutton
Brian Hutton
23 days ago

“We’ve gotten rid of all the American history so now all you have to worry about is the crime. Enjoy Richmond!” — Mayor Stoned

Bruce Milam
Bruce Milam
23 days ago
Reply to  Brian Hutton

We haven’t eliminated history; we’ve merely adjusted which part of history we want to celebrate with monuments. The Civil War history is still very alive in wonderful museums throughout the City. It was four years of the most devastation the state ever suffered, setting us back economically 150 years. Its story belongs in museums and history books.

Cynthia Oliver
Cynthia Oliver
23 days ago
Reply to  Bruce Milam

First I want to say Bruce that I respect your comments & experience. But how is it just “an adjustment” to see statues of black people & none of the historic statues? They weren’t moved & “reinterpreted”, they were destroyed. And the ending of the video after mentioning other cities, Stoney says, “I’m sorry I’m from Richmond” !! What does that even mean?

Deon Hamner
Deon Hamner
23 days ago
Reply to  Cynthia Oliver

It’s statue not statues… Arthur Ashe who we all agree is the only monument still up there. Bruce is 100% correct. I’m not for all this “Richmond Real” but it was long overdue to move on from the confederacy as any marketing strategy.

Michael P Morgan-Dodson
Michael P Morgan-Dodson
23 days ago
Reply to  Deon Hamner

To be clear I am not sure what the police memorial statue, the 1st Regiment statue to the Revolutionary War, Spanish War and our service dead, or to a railroad baron (yes he civil war veteran) or newspaper leader, or General Fitzhugh Lee for his service in the Spanish American War have to do what the Confederacy. I am sure they weren’t perfect but they were removed too.

JORDAN TUCKER
JORDAN TUCKER
23 days ago
Reply to  Deon Hamner

And destroy Monument avenue ? It went from being on the National Register of Historic Places to just another graffiti ridden city street. Let the City of Richmond continue to flounder and waste it’s assets

Kelly O'Keefe
Kelly O'Keefe
20 days ago
Reply to  JORDAN TUCKER

Monument Avenue is more beautiful than ever. Richmond is one of the fastest-growing cities in Virginia. Property values are at an all-time high. But, hey, haters gonna hate, right?

JORDAN TUCKER
JORDAN TUCKER
15 days ago
Reply to  Kelly O'Keefe

Laughable drivel

Justin Fritch
Justin Fritch
23 days ago
Reply to  Cynthia Oliver

how is it just “an adjustment” to see statues of black people & none of the historic statues?

How are you defining “historic”?

What does that even mean?

JORDAN TUCKER
JORDAN TUCKER
23 days ago
Reply to  Justin Fritch

Obviously you know exactly what it means. The National Register deemed them historic enough.

Ed Christina
Ed Christina
18 days ago
Reply to  Justin Fritch

Arthur Ashe was a tennis player, Richmond resident, and philanthropist . His statue features children of multiple races.

the fact that all you can talk about is that he is “ statues of black people ” say a lot about you.

Are you advocating that we go back to having a statue on Monument be limited to white’s only Justin? Is that what you mean by “historic”?

Bruce Milam
Bruce Milam
23 days ago
Reply to  Cynthia Oliver

I didn’t see the video so I have no idea. And he’s NOT from Richmond. Like me, he’s a born and bred Virginian, but a “come here” and neither of us will ever be a “born here”. Nonetheless, I’ve been here 27 years and I’m proud to say I live in Richmond. The civil war hero statues, after a 100+ year run on Monument Avenue, now belong to the Black History museum. Ironic? Do you know in fact that they were “destroyed” or are they merely in bondage?

Nathan Van Arsdale
Nathan Van Arsdale
23 days ago
Reply to  Bruce Milam

“Civil War Hero Statues”??? That’s a revised history perspective.

Judy Smith
Judy Smith
17 days ago
Reply to  Bruce Milam

The majority of the monuments are at the Richmond Wastewater Treatment center, still sporting the ugly graffiti, awaiting a their fate.

JORDAN TUCKER
JORDAN TUCKER
23 days ago
Reply to  Cynthia Oliver

Exacty. It’s a joke

Kelly O'Keefe
Kelly O'Keefe
20 days ago
Reply to  Cynthia Oliver

The statues honored those who declared war on the US to preserve the institution of slavery. Destroying them was the most appropriate response.

JORDAN TUCKER
JORDAN TUCKER
15 days ago
Reply to  Kelly O'Keefe

Brush up on your history before responding

Ed Christina
Ed Christina
18 days ago
Reply to  Cynthia Oliver

I’m upset by falsehoods.

None of the statues are destroyed, they are all down by the sewage treatment plant under tarps.

The residents of Richmond have said that monuments to racism ad treason don’t deserve a central place on public land.

If you think the “heroes” of the confederacy deserve better, then start up a gofundme and display them on private land, that you(confederates fans) pay for to maintain.

Judy Smith
Judy Smith
17 days ago
Reply to  Ed Christina

The City of Richmond would not transfer the monuments to those that wished to do so.

JORDAN TUCKER
JORDAN TUCKER
15 days ago
Reply to  Judy Smith

He knows that. Selective memory in play

Lucas Deblock
Lucas Deblock
18 days ago
Reply to  Cynthia Oliver

It’s an adjustment of what you choose to glorify, not an adjustment of the statue. I agree with you, it’s the complete destruction of the statue. You make statues to things you glorify and approve of. Germany remembers its history just fine without statues of hitler, he is resigned to museums and history books. Richmond is choosing to redefine what it glorifies and approves of, so can the rest of the south. And to be honest if you still want to glorify anything to do with the confederacy (the single largest act of treason against our country ever) then I… Read more »

Bruce Milam
Bruce Milam
23 days ago

I like it. What about using it as a design for the property that once belonged to the Lee Monument with gardens and walkways coinciding with that configuration?

SA Chaplin
SA Chaplin
23 days ago
Reply to  Bruce Milam

There were two prominent men who, at about the time of the Civil War, inherited slaves. (Actually, their wives inherited slaves which became the husbands’ property.) Both of these men opposed slavery; both opposed secession. One of these men freed his slaves, one sold them. Any guesses?  Robert E. Lee is one of our nation’s greatest heroes —and the one who freed his inherited slaves. I believe we should re-install his monument. Do what you will with monuments to the man who opted to sell his slaves (Abraham Lincoln). [Citation: Dr. Kevin Orlin Johnson, “The Lincoln’s in the White House: Slanders, Scandals, and… Read more »

Deon Hamner
Deon Hamner
22 days ago
Reply to  SA Chaplin

Robert E. Lee is one of our nation’s greatest hero? A man who betrayed his country and went to war against. If this is one of our greatest heroes, we in trouble… My goodness people are more fascinated with his statue than him. He didn’t even want statues of him. Since you giving out history lessons, America thanked General Lee by taking his house and property and using it as a burial site. Maybe you heard of it, Arlington National Cemetery?

JORDAN TUCKER
JORDAN TUCKER
22 days ago
Reply to  Deon Hamner

. Loyalty to your state was held in much higher regard during the time period than loyalty to the Nation as it was in it’s infancy. And yes he was one of the finest Virginians and Americans. Had he accepted command of the Army of the Potomac the war would only lasted 6 weeks at best

Jeremy Myles Lazarus
Jeremy Myles Lazarus
17 days ago
Reply to  Deon Hamner

Nothing like making up history, Mr. Hammer. Mr. Lee on the court record was brutal to the slaves he controlled and he only freed them when a court enforced the terms of a will. Lincoln did not own slaves.

Chris Crews
Chris Crews
22 days ago
Reply to  SA Chaplin

This is simply not true. Lee’s wife freed some slaves, and at one point, Lee sued to keep his. Lincoln never owned slaves. Your “author” has been widely debunked as a crank.

Phil Perkins
Phil Perkins
23 days ago

Another lackluster waste of time and money.

Erik Anderson
Erik Anderson
23 days ago

Sorry, but what roundabouts? The former Lee circle and the one where people crash around the racist AP Hill? And let’s pretend for a moment that Richmond has a significant number of roundabouts, of which we do not…why are they being lauded as a “signature” feature of our city?

Matt Faris
Matt Faris
23 days ago
Reply to  Erik Anderson

They are circles, they are NOT roundabouts. Much different. And you’re correct, they certainly aren’t a signat0ure feature of Richmond.

Robert A. Steele, FAIA
Robert A. Steele, FAIA
23 days ago

I support the message and the branding the City has developed. Well done. Any time the City provides an open platform which is inclusive of citizens, businesses, advocates, naysayers, cultural and creative organizations – all interested in sharing their voice – a positive outcome appears. Kudos!

Richard Rumrill
Richard Rumrill
23 days ago

Brand seems good, but It doesn’t appear that the process was as transparent as the ‘RVA’ branding process. Replacing involvement of the public, other ad agencies, and Venture Richmond with more involvement from the Mayor and the CAO gives it the feel of a campaign ad. Sometimes how you do something is as important as what you do.

Michael P Morgan-Dodson
Michael P Morgan-Dodson
23 days ago

Richard hit the nail right on the head. This is a part of the Mayor’s goodbye spending tour plan (and banking for his run for Lt). Can anyone name the two other “brands” since 2000. I give a hint one was “One City, Our City; Come Live It!” Anyone remember the other!

Matt Faris
Matt Faris
23 days ago

Did someone say “statue”? Has hizzoner ever mentioned the Police Memorial statue that was to be cleaned and returned (from the anonymous parking lot)?

karl hott
karl hott
23 days ago

Not bad…but certainly not memorable. Obviously based on the “keep it real” figure of speech which is a bit dated. Richmond has a vast creative community who probably could have done better. Still, I’ll give it a chance.

BRUCE HALE
BRUCE HALE
23 days ago

” I’m sorry. I’m from Richmond”…do they ever listen to themselves?

The banner explaining the logo reads like a “Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey” Saturday Night Live skit.

Curious to know what they paid for this…but hey…good luck.

JORDAN TUCKER
JORDAN TUCKER
23 days ago
Reply to  BRUCE HALE

How many fire alarms in the RPS system could have been repaired for the amount of money wasted for removing the statues and this little campaign??

Larry Horton
Larry Horton
23 days ago

lame

Michael P Morgan-Dodson
Michael P Morgan-Dodson
23 days ago

$500,000 on this and almost as much was spent to put the new logo (which is the old city seal that has been on the flag for YEAR) on all the vehicles/letterhead/signs/etc. Along with the statue removal and this spending that is over $2M on taxpayer funds that do little to actual improve the lives of residents.

Jerel C. Wilmore
Jerel C. Wilmore
23 days ago

If our roundabouts are so important, why hasn’t the mayor cleaned up the former Lee Circle?

Andrew Joseph Cox
Andrew Joseph Cox
23 days ago

Sounds more like an unfiltered cigarette brand than a city descriptor

Billy Bearden
Billy Bearden
22 days ago

Born and raised in Virginia. Popular song from my youth was “Sweet Virginia Breeze” and Richmond was “The City of the Monuments” which included Arthur Ashe. Someone installed a Stoney as Mayor, and allowed chaos and destruction and crime to flourish under the color of law protection. Now Richmond is a rusted crumpled shell totally devoid of any ingredients of a shining city on the hill. I used to travel to Richmond hundreds of times for both work and pleasure. Numerous trips to RVA for business and leisure. When Stoney came to power and Richmond saw it’s second burning that… Read more »

Jackson Joyner
Jackson Joyner
22 days ago
Reply to  Billy Bearden

Billy, the Ashe statue came a solid 20 years after that song was written. There is plenty of good happening in the city right now. Is there any city that makes you happy? Doubt it! You will probably be happiest wasting away in front of a TV way out in some basic suburb.

Matt Faris
Matt Faris
22 days ago
Reply to  Jackson Joyner

Give recent economic development can you imagine how much better the city would be if they had a competent mayor? Better schools, safer streets, more tourism, a better quality of life, better entertainment and possibly (I know, a stretch) better cooperation with the local counties.

JORDAN TUCKER
JORDAN TUCKER
22 days ago
Reply to  Jackson Joyner

I think he probably knows when the monument went up.
His post is spot on.

JORDAN TUCKER
JORDAN TUCKER
22 days ago
Reply to  Billy Bearden

So true. I have not spent a penny in the city since business or pleasure.

Justin Fritch
Justin Fritch
19 days ago
Reply to  JORDAN TUCKER

Thank you, the city is better without you.

Ed Christina
Ed Christina
18 days ago
Reply to  Justin Fritch

Good! I hate waiting in line at Stella’s, stay in the county and enjoy Applebee’s or wherever you people eat.

JORDAN TUCKER
JORDAN TUCKER
15 days ago
Reply to  Justin Fritch

You are very welcome!
It only has one way to go as it is a cess pool now

Ed Christina
Ed Christina
18 days ago
Reply to  Billy Bearden

I’m really curious how you can post on this site and not see the dozen or so articles a week about how property values are going up and up, and more and more people are moving into downtown Richmond.

Jackson Joyner
Jackson Joyner
22 days ago

Does anyone remember “Easy to Love”? That was another big waste of money. Lots of fanfare and lead by to founder of the Martin Agency. In the future, please allocate those funds to landscaping and graffiti removal.

Boz Boschen
Boz Boschen
22 days ago

Please, post your own recommendations for city marketing slogans or taglines.

Jim Jones
Jim Jones
22 days ago
Reply to  Boz Boschen

Richmond, enter at your own risk……..

Arnold Hager
Arnold Hager
22 days ago
Reply to  Jim Jones

Back before there was a Dodge City, KS.- the saying was “I’m gettin’ the heck out of Richmond.” It’s been revived, as I said that phrase last week.

JORDAN TUCKER
JORDAN TUCKER
15 days ago
Reply to  Jim Jones

Bingo!

Ashley Smith
Ashley Smith
22 days ago
Reply to  Boz Boschen

Why do we need a City slogan or tagline? Can anyone think of any city’s slogan or timeline? Seems like a pork project meant to make the admins ego grow bigger, because tourists are not paying attention nor do they care about a tagline.

Bob Law
Bob Law
22 days ago
Reply to  Ashley Smith

The only other city tagline I can think of is for Las Vegas.

Jerel C. Wilmore
Jerel C. Wilmore
22 days ago
Reply to  Boz Boschen

Richmond: The City of Festivals

Arnold Hager
Arnold Hager
22 days ago

BREAKING NEWS! Richmond Mayor Stoney is forced to apologize for ripping off the winning entrant of the RPS Re-Brand The City Contest, where each city school submitted their slogans for the contest, and the winners would receive a free tour of City Hall. Said Stoney, “What’s the problem? Foxx School won and there ain’t no school there anymore.” But hey, I’ll keep it real.” Stoney’s attempt to re-write history has proven unsuccessful.

Randall Hudgins
Randall Hudgins
22 days ago

“Keepin’ It Real” would have been a lot better. Seriously.

charles Frankenhoff
charles Frankenhoff
20 days ago

This is an embarrassing waste of money

David Powell
David Powell
16 days ago

Truth is, I used to make regular visits to Richmond. I would always try and get by Monument Avenue to see the statues, and I would visit the museums frequently. Richmond has shunned its place in history now. It can only look forward to being another northeast ghetto riddled with crime and decay, its politicians trying to defend their inactions in letting the mobs destroy what no other city could boast of. So, I, now, like many other tourists, have no desire or interest in visiting Richmond anymore. And despise the people there so much I have even boycotted Duke’s… Read more »

JORDAN TUCKER
JORDAN TUCKER
15 days ago
Reply to  David Powell

Well said and hit the nail on the head