City of Eau Claire Could Get New Downtown Identity

By: Katie Heinz Email
By: Katie Heinz Email

A group of UW-Eau Claire graphic design students could see their ideas for a new downtown identity become reality in Western Wisconsin.

A newly-formed committee is discussing the proposal tomorrow to rename the city's four downtown districts and use new logos and branding to attract people to the downtown area.

Downtown Eau Claire, Inc., or DECI leaders approached a class of graphic design students to think about the city's image and what they would change.

"Their job was to see if they could create this umbrella visual identity for downtown to be used later on for any sort of promotional activities and then have some sort of coordinated visual identity that would relate to that main look for downtown," said UW-Eau Claire Graphic Art and Design Professor Chris Theo.

For that identity and look, the students proposed renaming the already existing downtown districts to the West Grand, medical, cultural and Phoenix districts, incorporating each quadrant's physical features into its name and logo.

They presented the new names, along with colorful logos for banners, signs and billboards to DECI, city and business leaders in December, and with rather unexpected success.

"They came back with some very interesting ideas," said Mike Schatz, economic development administrator for the City of Eau Claire.

So interesting that DECI created a special Downtown Image Committee to look at the proposal more seriously and present it to other area stakeholders.

"The biggest issue is what do we want to be," Schatz said. " What does downtown want to represent, be known for. And if there are better names that represent various districts within downtown, we're going to look at that and make those changes."

Vicki Hoehn, executive vice president of marketing at RCU, is part of the new commitee that includes people from all over Eau Claire.

"If we can just get people to understand it's a unique area, and it's fun and there's a lot of entertainment and things to do downtown, I think that would be great if we could get a brand and get people down here," Hoehn said.

In order for this to go through, the city's comprehensive plan would need to be changed to include the new names. And it would need city council's approval.

"We just need to make sure if we brand a certain area it is the brand we want for that," Schatz said.

And new signs and banners would cost money.

"If there were to be changes, it would take funding," Schatz said. "Who that funding source would be, we don't know at this time."

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