EvMark board members this afternoon got an update on what people think about downtown Evanston and a look at possible new logo designs for marketing the downtown area.

EvMark board members this afternoon got an update on what people think about downtown Evanston and a look at possible new logo designs for marketing the downtown area.

Based on responses from more than 400 people in focus group sessions and online and paper surveys, consultant Scott Freres of The Lakota Group said respondents generally see Evanston’s strengths as its shops and restaurants, the lakefront and the university. But they’re annoyed by panhandling and parking tickets.

Freres say those questioned also would like to see more opportunities for nightlife and entertainment — especially for people of high school and college age.

He said the the new music venue Space, at 1245 Chicago Ave., frequently was offered as an example of what people wish Evanston had more of — along with the perennial favorite of adding a bowling alley-style entertainment center.

He said the study suggests the city could do more to market the walkability of downtown and better promote use of the downtown parking garages.

Respondents gave relatively high marks to the safety of the downtown area with 42 percent saying they feel very safe downtown and only 1 percent saying they feel very unsafe there.

Less than a third of those interviewed said they know what EvMark itself does, which raised the issue, not further addressed at the session, of whether the group, funded through a special downtown tax district, may itself need a new name.

The Pressley-Jacobs design consulting firm unveiled four designs for logos to be used to promote downtown. And after a range of comments from people at the meeting, EvMark Chair Dan Kelch said the designers would go to work refining the two designs that proved most popular.

One uses an ultra-bold capital letter “E” with multi-colored vertical bands that some in the group suggested represented the diverse fabric of Evanston. The other features a stylized swirl of color resembling a lower case “e.”

Each design would have “Evanston Downtown” as its primary text with the tag line “Where Chicago and the North Shore meet.”

In addition to implementations of the design for media advertising, the designers also showed mock ups of the logos used for t-shirts and placed on everything from banners on light poles to shopping bags.

EvMark Executive Director Carolyn Dellutri said the group hopes to have the design work finished in time to use the new logo to promote events this summer.

The board also gave Dellutri approval to seek proposals for a redesign of EvMark’s website and elected officers and a board of directors.

In addition to Kelch, the owner of LuLu’s restaurant, the officers are Secretary Rob Gilbert of Church Street Plaza and Treasurer Rick Braunstein of Rotary International.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. The real world is passing us by
    The consulting firm means well, of course, with the logo and T-shirts and shopping bags, but seriously, this campaign needs to be about product development, not branding. Evanston – once the gem of the North Shore – is in a state of dramatic decline, due NOT to the economy, NOT to Northwestern, but to the head-in-the-sand, historic mentality of the city’s leadership. We keep electing this mentality, and we continue to decline. Logos aren’t going to do it if visitors come to check out the new Evanston and quickly realize it’s the old Evanston disguised in a T-shirt.

  2. Panhandling
    As a longtime Evanstonian who does understand the importance of branding, I completed this survey a few weeks ago. I was dismayed, but not surprised to see that those who responded to the survey listed panhandling as an annoyance. For the average cost of a typical rebranding job, the city could prevent homelessness for at least 50 people experiencing a temporary crisis, or provide permanent supportive housing for 5 mentally ill people panhandling on the street. The former is obviously sexier to fund but the latter is so critical to healthy communities.

    I hope that those who see pandhandlers as a menace will consider supporting the agencies and initiatives that attempt to stabilize them. It’s naive and unrealistic to think that the problem of homelessness will simply disappear or stay contained to the areas south of Howard Street – especially in this economic climate.

  3. Not much to purchase downtown
    If you want children’s shoes, where do you shop in downtown Evanston? I believe that there is a Famous Footwear and another local store in downtown Evanston. But I can drive to a store outside Evanston and park in a free parking lot. Given the free and plentiful parking, we just bought three pairs of tennis shoes outside Evanston, rather than drive around looking for parking within two blocks of the store.

    If you want new children’s clothing, where do you shop in downtown Evanston? I do not believe that there is a children’s clothing store. There was one children’s clothing store a few years ago. I shopped there once just before Christmas. It was ridiculously overpriced and moved shortly thereafter. About the only option for children’s clothing in Evanston is Target…not in downtown Evanston. I frequent the very attractive second-hand children’s shop on Dempster but you can’t always find what you need there and you’ve got to plug the meter to take a chance on finding what you are looking for. I purchase almost all of my children’s clothing on the internet because I don’t like driving to Old Orchard for my children’s clothing.

    If you want clothing for an professional working woman, where do you go in downtown Evanston? No offense but there is nothing for me to wear to work at The Gap.

    With the cost of parking meters and lack of any real options for these important categories, I do not shop in downtown Evanston. I already have all of the wall hangings and knicknacks that I need so I don’t shop at the studios or galleries.

    For the first time, I looked at the EvMark web site this morning. Almost all of the photos feature people in their 20s or maybe early 30s. I’m in my mid-40s with children. You’ll find no pictures of older adults on the web site. There is one photo of three children sipping on straws from the same glass. I’m not surprised by the photos because that’s the feeling that I get when I look at the offerings in downtown Evanston — nothing for you or your children here unless you want to eat.

    We have money to spend and, unfortunately, we spend it elsewhere. Given the focus of its marketing efforts, EvMark shouldn’t be surprised that I don’t shop downtown. I agree that product development and an attitude adjustment should be at the top of the list of things to do for EvMark. A t-shirt will not get me to shop in downtown Evanston.

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