Community pride is what WVU students and faculty want to highlight in the City of Grafton. It is all part of a branding initiative to revitalize what has been lost.

“The first impression was great. It was so humble and warm. We fell in love with the town within the first day and we were only here for about eight hours,” said Korey Hernandez, a WVU Reed College of Media student and member of RF Branding.

Like many West Virginia towns, Grafton is one where people talk about ‘the way things used to be’, but a few dozen people want to change that.

That is where the RF Branding group from the WVU Reed College of Media comes in.

“Within a 30 mile radius of Grafton are 250,000 people and so many of them don’t know we’re here and we have so much to offer,” said Tom Hart of All Aboard Grafton.

They toured the city, met with residents and brainstormed with community leaders, all to figure out how Grafton can keep its small town charm and showcase its assets.

“Number one, we’re hoping to have a uniform, cohesive message so when we say the word ‘Grafton’, people get this image in their mind. It’s a brand, what Grafton is,” Hart said.

The group wants to create more youth involvement, promote local events and combat substance abuse.

It will use social media to help the community extend its reach. #BrandGrafton shows their progress on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

“There’s a brand here,” Hernandez said. “Everyone knows about Grafton. There’s something to love about it. That’s their brand, so it’s up to them  to implement it and stay with it and make it everlasting.”

“We’re going to do the best job we can to give you guys the keys to implement it,” said Brooke Duddie, a WVU Reed College of Media student and member of RF Branding.

Students and faculty will continue their work through the spring semester in hopes of Grafton residents picking up where they left off.