EVART -- The city of Evart is looking to re-brand itself as part of the Michigan Main Street Program.

Community members gathered at a special session of the Evart DDA on Jan. 16, to hear a presentation from Ben Muldrow, a marketing and branding expert with the firm Arnett, Muldrow and Associates.

Muldrow works with Michigan Mainstreet Program participants, to develop and refine their branding.

Muldrow said he spent time with City Council members, the DDA board and the Chamber of Commerce, and explored the city on his own to develop recommendations that would "make sense for you to be able to tell your own story and own you own future."

"This is by no means a complete re-invention," he said. "We want to take advantage of the history of the area, the decisions already made and the resources already invested while still improving the things you are trying to do as a community."

Muldrow said he drew on the city's historical precedent of focusing on the water and the trees because that is the city's origin story. But in addition, he looked at the different logos already being used, including the DDA, the city, the Chamber and the high school.

"I evaluated all of the styling and color use and found a lack of consistency from the different entities," he said. "I looked for a way to put it all together in a more consistent and cohesive way."

The logo suggestion incorporates the history of the city using the trees, the water, the trails, the depot and the historic downtown area. The color collection incorporates the blues and greens of the outdoors, the blue and gold from the high school logo, and the red and grey of the depot, he said.

"Every color choice has justification behind it and connects to some tradition of the city," he added.

The branding ties together all the different entities that represent the city, such as the DDA, and the Chamber as well as other organizations, Muldrow said. Each entity's logo has enough variation to know who it is but maintains the overall look and feel of the brand.

"It's a standardized design with distinct differences between entities, which provides continuity while preserving individuality," he said.

The branding represents a unified image which makes marketing the community, as a destination or to developers, easier and more recognizable.

City manager Sarah Dvoracek said the branding would be very beneficial to the city and they will begin implementing the new brand on the city's website immediately.

"The branding presented was truly a work of art," Dvoracek said. "It depicted our community perfectly. It received a very positive response from those in attendance."

Dvoracek said one of the goals of the city is to provide way-find signage throughout the city and the branding process provided by Main Street Michigan will allow them to start gathering quotes right away because the design is now done.

"Council is hoping to start implementing the way-find signage within a year," she said.

In 2018, Evart became a selected city for the Michigan Main Street program, a program administered by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation to assist communities in revitalizing and preserving their traditional downtown commercial districts.

"The MMS program has opened many state level resources to the city," Dvoracek said. "The program has truly made our DDA board re-evaluate their direction and start thinking about economic development in a strategic way and the branding project will enable the community to see the progress. The timing is perfect for the new year and I'm excited to start the process."

The branding effort is intended to promote the city, its downtown business district and events, and entice investment into the community.