As we talked about in our last post, Meet Our Branding Consultants, Guide Studio is helping Kaukauna hone in on the brand that is already inherent in our community – rather than creating one from scratch. This approach involves some deep diving into who we are as a community, what our key assets are, and how our community members perceive us.
We have really strived to be inclusive in this process of self-discovery, and this post will dive into how we’ve engaged different members of our community. Today, we will talk about two of our three means of self-discovery – developing and giving a “Greatest Hits of Kaukauna” tour to the team from Guide Studio and hosting several participatory focus groups for community members. Our next post will discuss our most broad outreach effort – a public survey that garnered almost 800 responses.
“Greatest Hits of Kaukauna” Tour
For Guide Studio’s first in-person visit to Kaukauna, they challenged us to come up with a multi-hour driving and walking tour of our community. We know our brand will speak to a number of audiences – current residents, current employees working in our local business community, as well as prospective businesses and residents. What would we showcase to someone who was unfamiliar with Kaukauna? What are we most proud of, and what sets us apart?
Not surprisingly, we had a LONG list of amenities to showcase – ranging from our still new municipal complex to our large park system, schools, the historic Grignon Mansion, and our downtown business district and industrial park network. We made time to showcase some of the “hidden gems” of Kaukauna that might not be widely known to the entire Fox Cities – multiple recreational trails, the Interactive Learning Garden at the Kaukauna Public Library, the multiple greenspaces providing views and recreation along the Fox River. We showcased some of Kaukauna’s fabulous small businesses to our guests, as well.
We spent about three hours conducting a driving and walking tour of the City of Kaukauna, and even this was not exhaustive. To maximize our guests’ experience and allow them to fully immerse themselves in the tour, we prepared detailed binders for the team at Guide with photos (including some that were taken without snow – this tour took place in February, after all!), maps, and descriptions of each of the sites we visited.
This very tour was one of the reasons why we were excited to partner with a firm that had not worked in this part of Wisconsin. It’s refreshing to start with a blank slate – the team at Guide had no perceptions before setting foot in our community, and we were able to impart a positive first impression of all that Kaukauna has to offer – even in February.
Focus Groups with Community Members
Guide Studio hosted three focus groups (they called them Discovery Workshops, which is a much more fun name) with approximately 45 members of our community that were invited participants. While we had a survey that was open to the public, we specifically invited participants to these focus groups to ensure inclusivity. While developing the invite lists for these groups, we considered things like participant age, gender, longevity in the community (were they born and raised here or had they moved here recently?), their role in the community (non-profit leaders, business leaders, education leaders, etc.), the communities that they interact with through their roles (youth, seniors, low income populations, young families, etc), and to bring in a wide range of industries from service sector to bars/restaurants to real estate, banking, education, and healthcare. We made a concerted effort to include parties representing ALL of the various buckets that make up a community, and we believe the process is better because of it.
We strived to ensure that more than 50% of participants were residents, but this was also a good way to engage active members of our business community that do not reside in Kaukauna. We used the public engagement process of the branding initiative to invite a diverse set of voices to the table – this was an opportunity to engage a group of people representative of our community as a whole.
In the three focus groups, Guide Studio walked participants through a number of exercises:
- Affinity mapping: Crowdsourcing a list of the assets of our community and the groups that make up our community (for example: young professionals, retired empty nesters, bird watchers, fishermen, bicyclists, bowlers – you name it!) and identifying themes.
- Love letters: A fun exercise – we were challenged to write a love letter to Kaukauna as if it were a person – if we could be vulnerable and share openly and honestly what we love about our community – what would we say?
- Personifying Kaukauna: If we were to describe Kaukauna as a person – what would we say? Would we describe them as a cat or a dog person? A person who drinks craft beer or domestic? A vegetarian or someone who brings home their own deer during hunting season?
While these exercises may seem a little silly on the surface, they are a means of getting our community members to critically analyze the place we live, work, and play and to recognize our strengths and points of pride. The way we talk about our City shows the team at Guide Studio how we present ourselves to the Fox Cities at large and how we can capitalize and build on our strengths.
We are immensely grateful to the large number of community members that gave their time to participate in the focus groups. This branding process would not be nearly as effective without your input. We will highlight the even larger findings from our online survey that reached nearly 800 community members in our next post.