Donation could help East Dundee update, rebrand downtown signage

 
 
Posted2/19/2019 5:33 AM
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  • East Dundee officials are considering using a $35,000 donation to update its signage in the downtown area.

      East Dundee officials are considering using a $35,000 donation to update its signage in the downtown area. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

A $35,000 donation could help East Dundee kick-start an initiative to rebrand and standardize its downtown signage.

The funds, coming from a settlement with Carpentersville's Otto Engineering, are earmarked for beautification and marketing efforts in the downtown district. During a general village committee meeting Monday, East Dundee officials discussed putting the money toward a new logo and a cohesive package of signs promoting the area's restaurants, shops and events.

The downtown is cluttered with signs that have conflicting wording and designs, Village Administrator Jennifer Johnsen said. Updating the signage was among the goals identified in a recent strategic planning session.

"We don't have consistent branding," she said. "We really want to think about this at a comprehensive level."

The committee recently was tasked with determining the best use for the Otto donation. To start, a portion of the funds likely would go toward a branding package to ensure all new signage has the same logo and design elements, Johnsen said.

Trustees Kirstin Wood and Scott Andresen, who sit on the committee, directed staff members to research the cost of constructing two large village signs that would allow local organizations to rent space for hanging promotional banners.

The committee also requested more information on wayfinding signs that could be clipped to light poles on the outskirts of the downtown. Those signs could direct drivers to businesses and events in the village's main square, Johnsen said.

As the new initiative is rolled out, the village would begin to remove existing signs that have been deemed outdated and contradicting, she said. The Memorial Park sign outside The Depot, and the large digital sign at Route 72 and River Street are at the top of the list.

Should project costs exceed $35,000, the village would attempt to make up the difference, Johnsen said. More signs could be added in the future as funding becomes available.

Officials also will have to determine the best designation for its downtown. The area is known by a variety of names, including the depot district, the historic district and the culinary district, a concept that has been used to market the downtown as a dining destination.

To ensure the branding initiative is sustainable over time, Andresen said he'd like to avoid using a term that references a specific theme or type of business.

Instead of labeling the downtown as a culinary district, he said, the village can use wayfinding signage to point visitors toward its cluster of restaurants.

"We have to make sure that whatever we do is adaptable as the area changes," Andresen said.

The committee is expected to continue discussions next month.

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