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Deveron Projects

The Town Is The Venue
What is a Shadow Curator? What is a Shadow Curator?

Jacques Coetzer

Room to Roam


You go yours - and I go mine - the many ways we wend.
Many days - and many ways - ending in one end.
George MacDonald
A considered brand for Huntly, looking at both our physical and more spiritual opportunities

Jacques Coetzer came to Huntly from South Africa and was in residence for the first half of 2008 with his wife Leán and children Juliana and Jan, who both attended the local Gordon Primary school.

Branding exercises, to attract tourists to towns and cities are now common all over the world. Often, tens of thousands of pounds are spent, employing a PR or design company, where a slogan or logo is created as well as a marketing plan. This all hopefully boosts the local economy. As a result of such an exercise, in the early 1990s, Huntly was branded as the 'family town'. The local community, however, felt that Huntly has much more to offer than just being the 'family town'. This project explored how tourism branding can change, or reinforce, the town’s sense of identity.



Huntly Development Trust (HDT), a local authority initiative, approached Deveron Projects to collaborate in developing the town’s new branding. After a rigorous selection process, Jacques Coetzer was invited to live and work in Huntly. Jacques was adamant that the branding should derive from Huntly’s unique characteristics, rather than passing fashionable trends. He went on to research all facets of the town through a busy schedule of one-to-one meetings, community consultations and conversations at various social meetings, such as the monthly farmer’s market and other mass public gatherings.

Jacques identified a number of elements that were characteristic of Huntly:

The town still has many historic architectural references, counterbalanced by newer developments from the sixties onwards

Huntly has a very strong rural feel, surrounded by rolling hills with farmland

Music and poetry play an important part in the town’s social life 

This last aspect became central to Jacques’ project after discovering the link between George MacDonald (a famous Victorian writer from Huntly) and The Waterboys (a well-known Scottish pop band); Jacques decided to make Room to Roam (one of MacDonald’s poems, that also was the title of one of The Waterboys’ albums) the main theme for the project.

Jacques invited the Waterboys' leader singer Mike Scott to rehearse his tune with local musicians, appropriating Room to Roam as Huntly’s new anthem. He also designed a new logo based on the antler theme, and an updated coat of arms that was featured on brand merchandise such as mugs, t-shirts and stickers. The visual negotiation between the traditional antlers and a network of points (relating to community, geography, local politics and people) referred to the unique Scottish law of right to roam.

Room to Roam applied this in both a physical/geographical sense as well as in an emotional/intellectual sense. Both logo and anthem were first presented and publicly performed by the newly formed Room to Roam Choir at the annual music festival. Since then the town has adopted the anthem and the logo within their coat of arms.


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