Arlington Heights is creating a task force to study rebranding the village in hopes of attracting more business, entertainment and shopping dollars to town.
Whether to keep the village's "Discover Arlington" marketing campaign or spend time and money developing and implementing a new plan has been a source of conflict with elected officials for some time, and was the subject of a long discussion among village leaders Monday night.
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The discussion comes after a 2013 consumer research study conducted by the Arlington Economic Alliance that found that 70 percent of respondents were unfamiliar with Discover Arlington.
Village Trustee Mike Sidor, who has a degree in business marketing, said he wants to see the village first go through a strategic planning process to find out its strengths before spending any money on a new marketing campaign.
"We need to figure out the answer to the question 'Why Arlington Heights,'" he said. "We can't rebrand ourselves until we decide who we are."
Sidor said the "Discover" tagline is already used in several other suburbs.
"Our messaging is feeble," he said. "We're not telling people that we're the best out there."
Trustee Tom Glasgow said he would rather the town's' reputation speaks for itself.
"How relevant is it for us to spend money on branding," he said, questioning the lack of data about how much return on investment there would be for such a campaign. "For me, it's irresponsible to spend money on an amorphous branding campaign."
Other trustees also expressed concern about cost.
"In order to really brand the village, it's going to cost us a lot more (than what is being spent on Discover Arlington)," said Trustee John Scaletta. "I don't know how much I'm willing to spend."
"I'm very skeptical of the whole idea of branding. It seems like a buzz word," added Trustee Robin LaBedz.
She added that it might be difficult to brand such a diverse town in only one way.
Other trustees though, said the cost would be worth it.
"We spend money on engineering studies and planning studies," said Trustee Jim Tinaglia. "This is one that pays us back."
Experts said talk of implementation and costs is premature. Planning has to come first.
"The village of Arlington Heights is like a quilt with many patches: the library, schools, a safe community, bustling restaurants and entertainment," said Angelique Gunderson, a village resident and marketing professional who spoke to the board on Monday. "These are fantastic assets to leverage, but the issue is that the quilt isn't sewn together. We need to uniquely weave together these assets and communicate to residents, businesses and visitors what makes Arlington Heights a great place to live, open a business and visit."
Branding is more than a tagline on a poster, the experts said.
"A good brand will give you a sense of place, it will give you a sense of the people," said Tim Meyer, another resident and marketing professional. "'Discover' doesn't do that. It leaves it up to someone else to find out instead of just telling them, 'We are Arlington Heights.'"
Officials didn't take any action on Monday. In the next few weeks trustees will vote to create a rebranding task force with volunteer members appointed by Mayor Tom Hayes. The panel will study the issue and bringing a recommendation to the board.