If you’ve ever visited Moses, you know that we have a soft spot for historic spaces. Case and point: our own warehouse headquarters in downtown Phoenix, where we blend industrial style with an indie approach. So when a team of developers came to us with an opportunity to revitalize a once iconic shop in Mount Vernon, Texas, we were more than happy to help.
Formerly the barbershop of one of the city’s most beloved residents, Colin “Watermelon” Mills, this proposed space would serve as a coffee shop and community hub by the same name. Already working with the Texas Historical Commission’s Town Square Initiative (TSI) and the Texas Main Street Program, the Watermelon Mills team reached out to Moses to create a brand identity and all the fixings that came with it.
The brand identity would have to showcase a rehabilitation that not only modernized but also preserved what was most important to the town: history, architecture and cultural values. But the challenge would be making sure that Watermelon Mills didn’t come off as another cliché heritage brand.
To do this, we would need to create a campaign that would be culturally disruptive. We would do this by attaching ourselves to consumers’ core values; but instead of reinforcing assumptions about those values, we would surprise consumers with an unexpected new angle.
In this case, we would be taking a piece of beloved town history, transforming it into something contemporary, and using the town’s core values of hard work, hospitality and virtue to embrace that change. In other words, the new space would speak to residents in way that was familiar but new.
Our creative team set to work creating visuals that blended modern characteristics with nostalgic elements. This included a logo, website and a hand-painted sign that hung above the entrance.
From a PR standpoint, we made it clear that this was not just another coffee shop takeover, this was a community event where residents could feel that they were part of something bigger than themselves. We made the project accessible, giving followers the opportunity to follow the project step by step and encouraging them to share stories, anecdotes and memories of the original Watermelon Mills across different social media platforms. The positive feedback was overwhelming.
Not only did the community see Watermelon Mills’ connection to the past, they also welcomed its potential for the future. The success of this project ultimately paved the way for further revitalization projects in Mt. Vernon, proving that sometimes good branding can do more than build a business, it can breathe new life into an entire town.