Design & Strategy Studio - Portland

Emery County



How does a small community become a destination?


HUB told Utah’s best-kept secret.

Across the country, small towns and rural communities face hard times. Industries close shop. Mines go bust. Folks feel forgotten and left behind. HUB helps these communities tell their story, strengthen their sense of identity and pride, and bolster economic prospects. One such place is Emery County, an expanse of high desert, plateaus, and canyons in southeast Utah.

The community saw the potential economic boon tourism might bring for their families and neighbors. But they needed a plan. Emery County holds 12 communities with their own priorities and opinions.

Those 12 communities are spread over 4,472 square miles of frontier land—that’s 10,370 people spread over a county the size of three Rhode Islands. To complicate matters, wayfinding through most of that land is nonexistent. And though the landscape is remarkable, the county has no major draw like a national park to anchor a tourist’s itinerary. We wanted to make this a place people drive to instead of through.



Boots laced, we headed for the desert to learn what you can’t sitting behind a desk. We hiked slot canyons, conducted interviews, and led work sessions to understand the essence of Emery County and identify specific challenges and opportunities it presented. Dissecting the conflicting brands, names, and attractions around the Emery County and its landscape proved challenging and essential to understanding how we could make it easy for a tourist to pick this place to visit. We distilled what we heard and experienced into a simple, emotional vision based on leveraging the Swell as the literal center of the county and as a natural playground for all ages and adventure levels.


Articulating a Strategy

Visually, our design studies began with a logo for the Swell designed to our key principles and characteristics of the county. Further studies explored how the logo would work in various applications and accompanied by different colors and patterns. Tonally, we explored several different options from playful to cheeky that would guide future copy, taglines, and the general point of view of the brand. Strategically, we further developed our target audience personas and began to define how we would interact and reach them at various stages of their journey learning about, experiencing, and sharing their trip to the Swell. This grew into a full-fledged, multi-phase marketing plan.


The Playground is Open

We knew this had to be bigger than a single campaign. The County needed a brand that would deliver long-term sustained value and growth. HUB’s work with the county continues. Tourism numbers are up, the county is getting national recognition (in the likes of Vogue), and a sense of optimism and momentum dominates local talk about tourism.



Designed in Partnership with the Emery County Travel Bureau

Brand Strategy, Communications, Marketing, Design