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  • Writer's pictureLori Gagen

Making Kendallville Main Street look like $2 million bucks

When the City of Kendallville was awarded a $2 million PreservINg Main Street award in late 2021, the organization tasked with helping to steward and distribute those funds to properties along Main Street knew it was time to give their branding a facelift, too. Experience the Heart of Kendallville was ready for a new look!

I was delighted that Catchy Creations LLC was trusted with facilitating the process of determining what "message" the newly expanded board of directors of Kendallville's Main Street USA Affiliate (and Indiana Main Street Affiliate) organization wanted to convey. The process of rebranding began with a full board meeting at which we talked about:

  • What message the existing brand conveyed (Experience the Heart of Kendallville)

  • Who the primary audiences are for the new brand

  • Which stakeholders are most important to embrace the new brand

  • What words best describe the "vibe" for new branding

  • What downtown features are most important to promote in new branding

Coming out of the first meeting, I had a pretty good idea of my homework, which was mostly to determine what sorts of shapes, colors, and font styles would best support the consensus reached during brainstorming. Once those basic design decisions were made, I got to work creating some logo samples. "Round 1" of logo designs offered the team six unique looks. The board assigned a task force with whom I worked to narrow down those choices.

When we got to "Round II", I brought back three of the options from Round 1, each with two variations. The task force met, reviewed, and as we reviewed we revisited the original decisions reached by the full board about demographics and messaging. This led to a "Round III" of samples, which featured just two designs. Sensing the team was leaning towards one design over the other, I offered eight variations of it, plus a couple variations of the lesser desired option to make sure we didn't eliminate anything quite yet.

Rather than meeting in person each time, we conducted most these "Rounds" of reviews by blind online survey. This made the process move quickly and smoothly, with full participation of the task force and without prejudice or peer pressure.

We called "Round IV" the "Semifinalist round". In this round of samples I wound up harkening back to one of the Round I designs that had not moved forward, based solely on "shape". I added some new elements to the most popular Round II design and offered up six variations (mostly with different font styles). This led us to narrowing down to the Top 3 design choices of the committee.

When the full board met again, the Top 3 choices of the committee were presented - not for feedback, but for a final, full board vote. (The task force was trusted to manage feedback and requests on behalf of the full board to keep this process moving). A simple board vote revealed the new logo, as well as color choices:

What is notable about this process for Historic Downtown Kendallville is:

  • The color palette mimics two other industry leaders, which strengthens branding and recognition of the role the organization plays in the community

  • The "heart" pays homage to the organization's origins as Experience the Heart of Kendallville

  • The lamp post provides an historic element, important to this organization, and is an exact reproduction of the real (unique) posts produced locally

  • The oval shape is modern and conveys "action", also important to the organization

  • The simple HISTORIC DOWNTOWN font choice is modern

  • The cursive "Kendallville" a bit more nostalgic

Did we meet the board's objectives? You decide - and feel free to weigh in with your comments!

  • Entrepreneurs are the top audience for branding

  • Brand needs to convey that Kendallville is unique and active

  • Brand needs to be gender-neutral

  • Brand needs to be playful

  • Brand needs to be modern

  • Brand needs to be youthful

  • Brand needs to respect historical significance

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