WADSWORTH: The city is searching for an identity.

Concerned that the community needs a brand to better attract businesses and people, the Medina County city has hired a professional design firm to help it create a new image complete with logo, slogan and marketing strategy.

“In today’s world, we have to develop a brand,” said Harry Stark, the city’s economic development director. “Everyone who lives in Wadsworth knows how great of a community it is, but what about everyone who lives outside Wadsworth?”

The city hopes to come out of the process with a new brand not only for the overall community, but also one specifically for its still vibrant downtown. The goal is to unveil the new branding in late October, shortly after the city flips the switch on a redesigned website.

Wadsworth has hired Poggemeyer Design Group, which has an office in Westlake, for $37,000 to help with the effort, which is relying heavily on community input.

Wadsworth has asked residents to take an online survey — available at www.wadsworthcity.com — and will host its first public forum on the project at 7 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 120 Maple St. The public meeting will be interactive, with small groups being formed to come up with ideas.

Some business owners and residents struggle when asked to define the community’s image now.

Barberton is the Magic City and home to Lake Anna and the Mum Festival. Canton is a Hall of Fame City thanks to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Kent is home to Kent State University. And Medina touts its historic square downtown.

But what is Wadsworth’s brand to the outside world?

The words quaint and friendly are spoken often, along with the fact that the city of more than 23,000 people has a low crime rate.

“I think of 1950s movies with small towns,” resident Kristen Gordon, 32, said when asked to describe the community, as she shopped downtown last week with her two children, Harrison, 5, and Kenzington, 4.

She grew up in Wadsworth and enjoys the tight-knit feel.

Paul Bicksler, whose family has run W.S. Bicksler Electric, an independent appliance store, in town for 103 years, wants to see the downtown remain bustling. He likes the idea of developing a Wadsworth brand. But he’s at a loss as to what it should be.

“It’s a very friendly community with excellent schools and excellent city services,” he said. “It’s close to all major highways.”

When the branding is unveiled, it better not forget about what makes downtown special — longtime, Wadsworth-rooted businesses, said Gwen Peters, co-owner of Ann’s Pastry Shop.

Ann’s has been around for 60 years.

“For Wadsworth, they can do the modern twist but they need to keep a historical element,” she said.

Wadsworth was founded in 1814 and named after Revolutionary War hero General Elijah Wadsworth, who owned plenty of land here but ironically never lived in the city.

Its downtown remains an attraction, with eateries, a craft brewery, retail shops, pharmacy and professional offices, along with the Wadsworth Public Library and City Hall. Many community events revolve around downtown, including an Easter egg hunt, trick or treating at Halloween, fireworks at Fourth of July and the Blue Tip Parade.

“The downtown is the heart of a community and we have a great downtown, but how do you get people to come here?” Stark said. “I think that is one of the things we need to do and figure out.”

The city is more than just its downtown, though. Wadsworth operates its own cable company and community television station. It has a large YMCA complex in town and there’s a large shopping area with big box stores just north of Interstate 76.

Stark, who’s leading the effort, said the city has received more than 200 responses so far to the survey, which includes open-ended questions asking people what makes the community special.

He described some of the responses as thought-provoking. He declined to reveal them but the branding likely won’t revolve around the word quaint.

“A lot of communities say, ‘We are a quaint, small town,’ ” Stark said. “We want to focus on more than that.”

Rick Armon can be reached at 330-996-3569 or rarmon@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter at @armonrickABJ.