Tryon expresses concern over TIEC using its name for branding

Published 10:00 pm Monday, December 19, 2016

TRYON – Tryon Town Council has directed its manager to have two meetings regarding the Tryon brand with the town tourism board and Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC).

Tryon Town Council met Tuesday, Dec. 13 and expressed concern over TIEC’s Tryon brand.

Commissioners were referring to a recent meeting held at the Tryon Fine Arts Center hosted by the Tryon Tourism board and TIEC on Dec. 7. Topics included the World Equestrian Games (WEG) and how WEG will impact the community.

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Tryon commissioner Crys Armbrust said last week that all four town commissioners attended the meeting and some of the statements made concerning the branding of Tryon were incorrect. Armbrust said Historic Tryon is a branding phrase for the town’s historic downtown district, which comes from the Tryon Downtown Development Association (TDDA). Armbrust also said the town’s tourism board is authorized and supervised by the town. He expressed concern that there was no contact regarding the meeting or invitations to any councilmen, the mayor or town manager to participate.

“That is a problem as I view it,” Armbrust said.

Armbrust suggested a meeting be called from the town manager and community development director with the tourism board to discuss protocols, rights and privileges. He also suggested the manager meet with TIEC as well.

Commissioner Bill Ingham said he agreed with Armbrust. Ingham said the town can’t have someone speaking on behalf of the town who doesn’t have permission.

“Anything that is proposed as a town event function should be run through the proper channels,” said Ingham.

Commissioner Roy Miller said he agreed with Armbrust’s suggestions. Miller added that commissioners should give the manager the direction to remedy the situation as he sees fit.

Commissioner Bill Crowell said he had a little concern that TIEC kept referring to themselves as the Village of Tryon.

“We’re the Village of Tryon,” said Crowell.

Crowell said he doesn’t think the town has any recourse to say, no, you are not Tryon, but does think TIEC needs to know Tryon is not happy about it.

Miller said he, Tryon Community Development Director Paula Kempton and others with TDDA had a meeting with TIEC and the topic of discussion was the Village of Tryon and they were promised TIEC would not venture down that road.

“All of a sudden they are using the Village of Tryon,” Miller said. “We have to protect the Town of Tryon.”

Miller said the way TIEC uses Tryon’s name and the way they use Morris the horse should be protected by Tryon. He added that the town should not be promising them anything without the consent of the board of commissioners, the town attorney, the manager and the community.

“In order to stop this train we have to stop it now,” Miller said.

Armbrust said he doesn’t think people realize the value in the name “Tryon.” He said there are many communities around the world who would love to have a brand that powerful.

Ingham said TIEC is also going to be promoting Tryon’s brand.

“A lot of people are going to hear our brand that wouldn’t have heard it before,” said Ingham. “So there’s a line to walk.”

Miller suggested the town form a strategic planning committee to see how Tryon could get the most out of the WEG. Miller said the town doesn’t want the individuals to just come to TIEC and not come to Tryon.

Crowell said Tryon could have its own shuttles to take people to Tryon. He said people could get on the town’s tram and buy tickets.

Armbrust said he thinks TIEC would welcome that, and that is why there needs to be open lines of communication.

Tryon Mayor Alan Peoples said it was inevitable that the town got to this discussion. He said there are probably 5,000 ideas out there and maybe a private entity wants to offer a shuttle bus service and lease land from the town. Peoples said he doesn’t want to shut any doors on that.

“But it’s our town and our door,” said Peoples.

TDDA member Jim Van Hecke said he appreciates the town’s discussion. He said the WEG is 18 months away, which is not a lot of time, and he hopes the town moves expeditiously.

Carol Browning said Tryon should be aware there are several committees being formed regarding the WEG, including marketing, transportation and customer service, which include five counties.

Patti D’Arbanville said every promise TIEC has made they have rescinded. She said TIEC was already supposed to have vehicles transporting people back and forth to Tryon. D’Arbanville said what they have created there is a whole village, including restaurants, boutiques, grocery stores and pottery all made here.

“It really is about time,” said D’Arbanville. “We’re late in the game. I think we have to jump on this.”

She said she went to a meeting in Columbus about TIEC using the name Tryon Village and people were told they weren’t going to do that.

“I don’t know how it happened but they got it,” D’Arbanville said.

Wanda May asked if there is anything Tryon can do legally  to protect the phrases Historic Tryon and Tryon Village.

Armbrust said Tryon is a historic community, but Historic Tryon is not a brand, it’s a marketing phrase.

“With regard to the legalities, to the best of my knowledge there is nothing to protect that marketing phrase to protect the national historic district,” said Armbrust.

Others asked why the town couldn’t copyright the brands.

Town manager Zach Ollis said he can look into options the town has to protect its name.

“We are Tryon, bottom line,” said Armbrust. “And there is value in those five letters.”

Peoples said there are others outside of Tryon using the name, including Tryon Estates, Tryon Sanctuary and others.

Van Hecke said TIEC is also using a website called