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City of Kaukauna

Engaging the Community through a Brand Survey

It has been critically important to us in this branding process that we involve our community in its crafting. We realize that our new brand will interface with a number of different audiences, including:

  1. Residents who see our brand in communications, on signage, vehicles, etc.
  2. Employees who see and represent our brand through their work.
  3. Visitors (either visiting people or destinations here) who see our brand on signage, communications, etc.
  4. Employers who share our brand as they hope to attract employees or select a new market in which to grow

We hoped to capture the perspectives of these various audiences before we implement a new brand. We worked with the team at Guide Studio to develop a short online survey that was made available for people to respond to for a four-week period this winter. It should be noted that the survey closed on March 9th, so all questions related to specific businesses and employment were answered before the state-mandated business closures that occurred in Wisconsin in response to COVID-19.

We were thrilled that nearly 800 people responded to the survey! For a community of our population, Guide Studio only expected 300 responses. We achieved more than double the expected amount, thanks to the avid participation of community members. We want to share today a look at what we discovered through this survey. We’ve uploaded a summary report with a bit greater detail at the bottom of this post. This summary was presented to the Kaukauna Plan Commission on May 21, 2020. 

  • 738 individuals responded to the online brand survey.
  • The survey was promoted through City social media posts, a press release, an article in the local newspaper, and by direct asks sent to our major employers.

Who participated in the survey?

The vast majority of participants live in Kaukauna or live AND work in Kaukauna. Other relationships to the City are indicated in the chart below.

Of those who live in Kaukauna, many of the respondents have a long legacy in the City:

By contrast, those who work in the City likely have worked here for a shorter timeframe (0-10 years).

Survey participants work in the following general sectors:

What did they have to say about Kaukauna?

More than 90% of survey participants rated the following community attributes as very important or important to them:

  1. Quality of Life
  2. Cost of Living
  3. Quality Housing

When asked to rate Kaukauna on their community attributes, most attributes received average marks. The exceptions to that were the following:

  • More than 80% of participants rated Kaukauna’s location as Very Good or Good.
  • More than 20% of participants rated Kaukauna’s Access to Shopping and Entertainment as Poor or Very Poor.

We asked a number of open-ended questions. For these questions, the easiest way to make the data interpretable is to count the number of instances of a key word, phrase, or common theme and create a scaled word cloud that shows the frequency of these mentions. The larger a word or phrase appears in one of these word clouds, the more commonly it was mentioned.

Question: What brings you to Kaukauna?

Question: What makes Kaukauna special or unique?

Question: What is your favorite attribute of Kaukauna?

Question: What is your least favorite attribute of Kaukauna?

What were the overall takeaways from the survey?

The Positives:

  • People appreciate the low cost of living compared to the rest of the Fox Valley and feel that this is a good place to raise a family.
  • Multi-generational families were raised here and still live here. We were pleasantly surprised by the number of individuals who shared their feedback as having grown up in Kaukauna and still consider it to be home.
  • Outdoor recreational opportunities, whether at the 1000 Islands Environmental Center, on parks and City/County trails, or through organized youth sports abound and greatly shape the quality of life of residents here.
  • People feel safe in their neighborhoods and feel they are a part of a tightly knit community that looks out for one another.

The Negatives:

  • People greatly dislike the smell of the paper mill operation and associated landfill. There is a common mentality that the smell contributes to a negative reputation and stigma of the community. People instead wish that other amenities in the City more strongly represented our community (like the outdoor recreation).
  • There is a sense that the downtown and uptown districts have not seen revitalization at the same pace as other Northeast Wisconsin communities, and that the buildings in the downtown need to be cleaned up.
  • There is frustration that neighboring communities have annual festivals organized by local non-profit organizations that draw thousands into the community and that Kaukauna does not have such an event. There is hope that Electric City Experience can grow into a continuing event of this nature.
  • People like living in a ‘small town’ City, but lament the lack of various restaurants and shopping opportunities that locate in a larger community.

Facing our shortcomings as well as owning our positive assets are important steps in the process of rebranding. We thank the community members that participated in the survey and look forward to sharing how these findings play a role in our new brand message.

The full brand survey summary can be viewed here.