By Sally Voth
Shenandoah County telecommunications leader Shentel is updating its image on the heels of a $60-million upgrade project.
Shentel recently unveiled its new logo and the tagline, "Always connected to you."
"It's been in the works for almost a year, and it's the result of a lot of research that we did into who we are and what we do and how we do it," said Willy Pirtle, vice president of sales and marketing for the Edinburg-headquartered firm. "We settled on it based on consumer feedback and focus groups and qualitative and quantitative research."
Lindsay Wilson, public relations senior account executive for GKV, a Baltimore marketing communications firm that worked with Shentel on the logo, said the new brand mark represents Shentel making a deeper connection with its customers and community.
The triangle represents the mountains and the company's rural roots, and its three legs Shentel's three business lines: wire line, wireless and broadband, according to Wilson.
She said the triangle's three colors: orange, gold and slate, are also symbolic.
"The orange and gold colors reinforce our genuine and reliable brand personality traits while generating warmth to convey that we are approachable and honest," Wilson stated via email. "The slate blue color signifies our hardworking and loyal traits."
Besides a new logo, Shentel is also unveiling its new brand identity, highlighted in new commercials featuring local residents and landmarks, according to Wilson.
"The logo itself is just a very small part of a much bigger process," Pirtle said.
GKV helped the company through a process called the brand inside, he said.
"Shentel's been in the telecommunications business now for 110 years," Pirtle said. "We've always done business with a focus on customer service and we're going to continue that focus on customer service and work on building deeper relationships with our customers going forward."
According to a news release from Wilson, Shentel has spent $60 million in the past three years to upgrade its cable networks ensuring "all of its customers have equal access to the most current Internet, phone and digital TV technology -- one of the main tenets of the company's mission."
In addition, Pirtle said, Shentel is in the midst of rebuilding its Sprint wireless network to offer 4G LTE service.
"We thought it was important after we spent all this money rebuilding our networks that we make sure that all of our employees are ready to provide great customer service on top of that," he said.
That's what led to the brand inside exercise and new logo. A great deal of work went into the branding commercials, Pirtle said.
"The crux of that ad campaign is that we want to make deeper relationships with our customers," he said. "We live in Shenandoah County, too. We're proud to be part of the community as well as a service provider here."
The tagline refers to the firm's technical connectivity with customers, and a more personal cohesion.
"We're also connected because we coach your kids' Little League teams, we go to the same churches," Pirtle explained.
He addressed criticism some have leveled at Shentel, accusing it of having a monopoly in Shenandoah County.
"We don't have a monopoly," Pirtle said. "Anybody who wanted to could come into Shenandoah County and build a network and provide services."
As representatives from another telecommunications firm said at a business fair in Front Royal last month, the issue with a rival company doing just that is the new company would lack the infrastructure and customer base Shentel already has in place, Pirtle said.
Shentel does have competitors, he said, pointing out that there are about a half-dozen competing wireless service providers, and "you can even get your data through your cell phone today."
"A lot of what we see in rural America -- and Shenandoah County is no exception -- is that it's very expensive to build a high-quality network to offer services, and because there are so few customers in rural communities like this, the first person who goes in and does that gets the lion's share of the customers, but we're spending hundreds of millions of dollars to build state-of-the-art networks," Pirtle said. "One hundred percent of our [Shenandoah County] customers can have DSL service. That's unheard of."
And, Shentel spent money to get cable customers in competing markets, he said.
Contact staff writer Sally Voth at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or email@example.com