Where History Meets Adventure

Matewan is a small, resilient town of fewer than 500 residents, located on the southern tip of Mingo County, which borders Kentucky and the Tug Fork River. With a prominent history in feuding and as a place known to some as the birthplace of the working class, Matewan is proud of its heritage in the Hatfield-McCoy region of West Virginia. Many of its shops and businesses inherit their names from the town's two famous feuding families. Evidence of its rich history, including the Battle of Blair Mountain that sparked the union for coalminers in the southern part of the state, can be seen throughout the area. Matewan is home to the state’s only airboat tour, a Mine Wars museum, ATV trails, unique lodging facilities, historic landmarks, and more. Matewan is a friendly tourist destination that offers a thriving artisan community, history, adventure, and a down-home good time for the entire family!



Matewan is a key player in Appalachia and American history with untapped potential as a historical and adventure tourist destination. However, a struggling economy and a lack of web presence and brand strategy posed an obstacle.


After conducting surveys and focus groups with stakeholders and community members, as well as a competitor analysis and digital analytics, students developed a three-phase plan. Their strategy included an increased online presence, a new brand image, enhanced media awareness and increased foot traffic.


  • New logo, slogan 

  • New website, pictures and content

  • 360 tour of Matewan

  • New social media accounts 

  • Increased social media engagement by more than 1,300%

  • Six media hits for nearly 450,000 impressions

  • Targeted ad buys

  • Branded merchandise and promotional materials

  • Social media training workshops

  • Visitor itineraries

  • Rack card design and placement at West Virginia Travel Centers

  • Additional plan outlines (e.g., bus tours, wayfinding packages, measurement) for future implementation by the community to encourage brand sustainability


A compilation of branding materials created by #Colistra459 

Brand Guide



Meet the latest group of #ColistraKids

Rita Colistra, Ph.D.
Faculty Leader & Project Director

Problem Solver | Researcher & Explorer | #CommunityBranding | Earth momma | Appalachian
Chris Adeigbo
Brand Manager

The original peanut gallery | The next Fresh Prince | Fearless Optimist | Mettlesome Realist | Head in the clouds and feet on the ground
Courtney Bartsch
Research Director & Media Planner

Dabbler in Spanish | Food Network fanatic | Disappointed Philly sports fan | Future crazy dog lady | Four continents down, three to go
Chelsea Betts
Research Director

Delaware original | Mountaineer | Future Mrs. Johnson | Basset hound mom | Sitcom junkie | Cookie batter lover | Dreamer & Achiever
Katie Jerrell
Art & Creative Director

Mountain Mama | Radio disk jockey | Traveler | Occasional painter | Food maker | Tattooed | Lover of television | Interneter
Kyle Wooding
Visual & Creative Director

NJ born | No, I'm not Italian | Motivated young professional | Glass is always half full | Success lies on one side of do and don’t | New York sports
Tyler Clendenin
Community Relations & Content Strategist

Probably napping tbh | HOBY & Mountaineer | Grocery shopping pro | Sharp wit; quick tongue | Making it all about me since '92
Melissa Gillespie
PR & Media Relations Director/Planner

Jersey girl | Lover of fashion | NJ Devils fan | Cupcake enthusiast | Series addict | Laughter is the best medicine | Country roads take me home
Lindsey Betz
Social Media Strategist

Made in MD | Coffee Fanatic | Hockey enthusiast | Dog lover | Extremely loud | I would drop anything to travel the world | What did you say?
Kelsey Staggers
Digital Media Director

West Virginia native | ONEWV | Coffee addict | Eternal optimist | Sympathy crier | Himalayan cat lover | Baseball fanatic | #LetsGoPens
Trevor King
Social Media Content Director

WV born | Piano enthusiast | Pastor of muppets | Almost made the 8th grade basketball team | Beach Boys fan | I care when Jimmy cracks corn
#BrandMatewan Team

Boots-on-the-ground Branders | Convergent thinkers | Creative Strategists | Social butterflies | Community cheerleaders | Storytellers | The future
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Public Relations Society of America - WV Chapter
Crystal Awards Gala, June 2016

Crystal Award for Best External Communications Campaign


Crystal Award for Research 

Crystal Award for Book - Brand Matewan Brand Guide

| Note: Crystal Awards are the highest honor in each category. |

"To be honest, I was intrigued with Matewan as soon as I drove up to the stop sign and watched the fog set in as a coal train passed on the tracks that separated me from the town. It was unbelievable."

- Dr. Rita Colistra, Project Director and Principal Investigator


Housed at the WVU Media Innovation Center, BrandJRNY is a community branding initiative that is a grant-funded collaboration between the American Electric Power Foundation and WVU Reed College of Media.

The Initiative was previously funded by the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation for our three pilot projects.

Original website designed by Mariah Elliott, under the direction of PI and Director Dr. Rita Colistra.

Photos and content may not be used without written permission by contacting brandjrny@gmail.com.

© 2016 All rights reserved.
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