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Durham Conventions & Arts Complex Visual Branding RFP

Discover Durham (the marketing and tourism agency for Durham city and county) seeks a local agency to brand and produce marketing materials for the Durham Convention & Arts Complex – a new umbrella brand for four historic event venues in Durham’s city center. Visual branding and marketing material design work is to be executed throughout the fall for a total budget of $40,000.00.

>> View the RFP now. <<

All responses are due to rfp@discoverdurham.com by 12 p.m. ET on Monday, September 20. We know the timeline is aggressive. It is necessary given the commitments of when funds are to be used by, etc. No phone calls or visits, please. Please be sure to include your main contact’s name, email address, phone number, and your agency’s site URL in your response.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Durham Convention & Arts Complex Project Team

Questions from Submitting Agencies

The questions below were compiled from inquiring agencies and have been collected and answered here for transparency among all candidate agencies.

Audience & Brand Strategy

Are the meeting planner targets consistent for the different facilities that are part of the Durham Conventions Arts Complex, or are there different targets for each facility? Alternatively, is there one type of meeting planner who might be a prospect for all of the facilities, at one time or another?

They are consistent. We are focused on working with meeting planners that would originally consider the Durham Convention Center as a venue, but may need additional square footage and/or desire unique venues for receptions, breakout sessions, and additional plenary locations. Most of the meetings that will take place in the complex will be corporate, industry-specific, and educational sectors. There is also the possibility that large festivals will take advantage of the complex space.

Are there any conventions and/or art complex brands that you like or dislike? Who do you look to as competitors? I.e. aspirational destinations/organizations?

We complete with similar small- to mid-sized destinations. We are keen to distinguish ourselves and be competitive with similar urban meeting destinations within our region, particularly within the Carolinas.

Some examples of complexes that we looked at in naming the DCAC include:

What does success look like to you with the creation of the new umbrella brand for the four venues?

We desire the final brand/style for the DCAC to be something memorable with meeting planners, event attendees, and residents. The personality of the spaces and Durham’s vibe needs to shine through in the brand work. Ultimately, the umbrella brand will entice meeting planners to learn more about the DCAC and Durham, and consider the space for their events.

Process & Timeline

What is your approval process for creative work? Who and how many people will be involved in the decision-making of the project deliverables?

The approval process for the initial brand logo concepts will include the Discover Durham CEO, VP of Marketing & Partnerships, and Creative Director. For all other project deliverables, the Creative Director will serve as the point of contact, have final approval, and will consult with other relevant stakeholders from the participating venues and the Discover Durham team as needed.

Is there any flexibility within this timeframe, and if so, how? Is there any flexibility in the order of deliverables (e.g., must the style guide be completed before the print collateral)?

The timeline included in the RFP document is tentative and largely outlined to show the scope and interdependencies of the expected deliverables. The most critical deadline within that timeline is November 18, when we plan to publicly announce and start marketing the complex on digital channels. To this end, we need the logo, some early components of the style guide (color palette and brand fonts), and the promo kit graphics (likely using a mockup of the rebranded plaza or another facility) ready for the public launch. We invite candidate agencies to provide alternative timelines within their proposals that address this critical deadline and account for the dependencies within this project.


The RFP declares that the budget is $40,000, but on the very last page, under Questionnaire 7a, you mention that this a “suggested amount.” How will you determine the final scope and budget?

The project team has secured $40,000 of funding for the branding and marketing material development phase of this campaign, which will be the upper limit of cost we can accommodate for those deliverables. However, there is also the multimedia production leg of this project that will take place in late spring once the public art is installed and unveiled. The budget for this phase is to-be-determined, though we invite any interested agencies that feel confident in accomplishing both phases to offer a rough itemized budget that we would expect to be over $40,000 to account for the additional scope.

Are production costs, including signage, to be part of the budget? Would you please let us know what your $40K budget is intended to cover? Is it the agency fee? Are production costs separate?

The $40,000 budget is intended to cover agency fees for the brand and design development work, along with production costs for a collateral piece that advertises the DCAC to a meeting/event planner audience. Currently, we have this piece scoped to a bi-fold or tri-fold piece with 1,000 copies, though we are open to creative approaches from the finalist agency (see more details in the Deliverables section below). Production and installation costs of signage are not included within this $40,000 budget.

Given that the number of exterior banner designs, wayfinding signage, branded digital ad creative, and graphics are not specified, is it safe to assume that we should allocate a lump sum of hours to each task that includes revisions?

This would be accepted as a valid approach. We do expect that later deliverables will benefit from prior foundational work done in earlier phases of this project and will therefore have less back-and-forth and revisions.


Brand mockups: What kind of brand mockups are you envisioning?

The highest priority item would be mockups of exterior signage of the DCAC in the Convention Center / Carolina Theatre Plaza as depicted in the RFP. Such mockups would visually communicate to our audiences that this is a larger cohesive complex and not just one single convention center building, while also highlighting the pedestrian-friendly environment and location in Durham’s bustling downtown city center. Our team is gathering additional photography of the plaza that we’ll make available to the contracted branding agency to use in their conceptualizations and composites. The agency will also have the opportunity to gather additional photography on to-be-scheduled site tours if they wish.

Style guide: Beyond logos, color palette, typography, and other possible graphical elements, what do you expect to be included?

The only other asset we would like included in the style guide is co-branding treatments for the individual venues (e.g., juxtaposing the Durham Convention & Arts Complex brand mark with the Durham Convention Center mark). Otherwise, we expect the style guide to be limited to the above features. Because each of the participating venues has its own brand and voice that they will still retain and use day-to-day, we expect an all-encompassing brand bible (or similarly engrossing deliverable) is outside of the needed scope for the DCAC umbrella branding.

Collateral: Do you have any idea of the print collateral specs (e.g., is it a one-pager, multiple pages, how many pages/panels, etc.)? Will the project require a single brochure for the Durham Convention & Arts Complex or one for each of the venues as well?

Currently, we have this piece scoped to a bi-fold piece or tri-fold with 1,000 copies, though we are open to recommendations and creative approaches from the finalist agency. We will need only one collateral piece for the entirety of the Durham Convention & Arts Complex. This piece will be primarily used by our Sales team when engaging meeting planners.

What promotional materials have you used in the past? Are there any that you feel worked better than others?

We have a number of past examples of collateral that our Sales team has found success in engaging our meeting planner audience in the past. Though these vary in style based on the branding or campaign they were affiliated with, they all share the attribute of being small enough to stow in a purse or bag that a conference attendee might readily have on them:

Venues & Complex Functionality

The Durham Convention Center, Durham Arts Council, and Carolina Theatre all have logos. Does the Durham Armory have one, or is a logo in development?

The Durham Armory does not have a logo of its own. Because it is jointly operated by the City of Durham and Durham County, it does feature those municipal logos on its exterior and official communications.

Aside from a unified brand, how else will the DCAC work to provide a seamless meeting opportunity? For example, will there be a central point-of-contact for all of the facilities so that planners can work with one contact to plan an event?

Meeting planners will have a unified experience in planning their event at the DCAC. There will be a main point of contact through Discover Durham and via the Durham Convention Center that will handle all leads. In addition, the complex will have a central booking system and coordinated contracts / invoicing. There will be shared preferred food and beverage vendors. In addition, the creative component will be threaded throughout the booking process, providing access to additional “experience packages” with the Durham arts and creative community for meetings and events.