The term “holler” may mean different things to different people depending on what part of the country they’re in. If you’re on the west coast or in the northeast, “holler” may just be a synonym for “yell” or “shout.”
But if you’re in the heart of Appalachia, “the holler” has a much different meaning.
The dictionary definition of holler
The Oxford dictionary defines a “holler” as a loud shout or cry. This is a great example of amplifying a message, whatever it may be.
When you think of marketing or advertising in its most basic form, it’s just telling people about something. To make it more effective, it helps to tell a lot of people about something at the same time. That’s what hollering does.
Think of an old-timey newsboy with a handful of papers. What would he do on the street corner to sell more papers? He’d stand on a street corner yelling, “Extra! Extra! Read all about it!” Therefore, hollering about something could be seen as the most rudimentary form of marketing.
But there’s more to our name than that.
The holler in Appalachia
The word holler is an Appalachian pronunciation of the word “hollow.” (Think of a southern person saying “window” as “winder.”) A hollow, in this context, is a small valley situated between two tall hills or mountains. Many people in Appalachia live in these long, deep landforms.
The folks who live in hollers often form tight-knit communities. Life in a holler is distinctly rural and the people and families that live in them work together to get by. There is a sense of interdependence and community in hollers that seems to have been lost in many other parts of America.
Stereotypes of the holler
There are certainly negative stereotypes of people who live in hollers. They’re often associated with poverty, inbreeding, and a lack of education. Not only do these stereotypes shape the perspectives that outsiders have of these people, but they shape the perspectives that these people have of themselves.
We want to help change these stereotypes.
Our mission: hope & opportunity
We named our company The Holler Creative because we want to be a part of changing those negative stereotypes. When people think of the holler, we want them to think of creativity, community, and collaboration. We know that Appalachian people already possess these qualities in abundance, but we want others to know it too.
Our name is based on our mission, which is to bring hope and opportunity to Appalachia. But to fully understand the need for hope and opportunity in this region, you need to know a bit about its history.
Coal mining in Appalachia
Coal mining and production accounted for a considerable portion of the Appalachian economy from the mid-1800s onward. It would not be uncommon for multiple generations of coal miners to come from the same family. Coal mining provided well-paying jobs for thousands of people across the region.
The Appalachian coal industry thrived during times of war when supplies needed to be transported across the country. In many ways, Appalachian coal miners helped fuel the allies to victory in the Second World War.
The decline of coal
The coal mining industry is no longer what it once was in the region. According to the Appalachian Regional Commission, coal production fell by over 65% in Appalachia between 2005 and 2020. The decline in this industry affected the whole country, but Appalachia was hit harder because it was such a large sector of the economy.
When you combine the economic hardship associated with the decline of coal with the negative stereotypes that have been formed, it leaves many people in the region feeling hopeless with few opportunities.
The Holler Creative
As a digital marketing agency, our goal is to help clients drive results through digital strategies and execution. But our greater mission is to bring hope and opportunity to a region that feels they have lost it. This can practically be achieved by helping businesses in the area grow and thrive, which will ultimately create more jobs (opportunities) that give people a steady income that will help their families (hope).
Along with that, we also want to inspire hope through the success of our own endeavors. We want to show others that it is possible for ordinary people to use the internet to build thriving businesses in this region. As internet connectivity grows in the region, Appalachians have more opportunities than ever to start and grow their own businesses.
So there you have it. That’s why we named our digital marketing agency The Holler Creative. The name speaks to our local culture, our mission, and the work that we get to do every day.