Four students and their two teacher/supervisors from the College of Business at Northern Illinois University met Friday, Oct. 14 with nine representatives from village government, the business community and Forest Park churches to present what they have accomplished to date regarding the re-branding of our village and to get feedback.

The brand logo being used by village government currently has a park bench and an old fashioned lamp post with an urban skyline in the background with the words Big City Access, Small Town Charm.

The business people present agreed that the current logo is a good beginning but the park bench and the lamp post do not really communicate the energy and excitement of what is happening in Forest Park.

The NIU students said three principles need to be kept in mind when creating a new brand:

 Consistency: Be it the McDonald’s golden arches, the Nike swoosh or the Mercedes Benz hood ornament, whatever logo is chosen has to carry the marketing freight for many years in order to be effective.

 Accuracy in Portrayal: In other words, truth in advertising. Whatever image Forest Park chooses to project must bear resemblance to the reality of this village.

 Stakeholder Support: All groups invested in the village must get behind the new brand and use it.

Differentiation was also a key concept held up by the NIU team. In other words, what makes Forest Park different from other communities and therefore a place to which you might want to travel to shop, go to church or buy a house? Research done by the students indicated that in the minds of residents of the far western suburbs, Forest Park had more in common with Tinley Park than with Oak Park.

The business people at the meeting agreed that marketing work needed to be done to get an accurate perception of Forest Park out to people in the Metro Chicago Area. The NIU students were looking for feedback to improve their perceptions of what this village is like.

Their conclusion based on census data that residents of Forest Park were mainly Caucasian, middle class and married sparked over fifteen minutes of corrective feedback. Participants at the meeting emphasized that while the census data”which says the village is 56 percent white”might technically support the statement that Forest Park is a

Caucasian community, it does not do justice to the reality. At the same time, those present did not want to project a politically correct image of the diversity here.

The final meeting in the process will be in December when the students will present their final proposal which will really begin a whole new process. As Joe Locke, the man who initiated the whole re-branding idea in Forest Park, said, “Nothing is settled. The village, the business community, Mainstreet, the Chamber”many different parts of our community would have to accept whatever proposal is made before it would become a reality.”