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City of Kaukauna

Engaging City Departments in the Branding Process

The Branding Initiative has been spearheaded primarily by the Planning and Community Development Department and our leadership team includes three members: Allyson Watson Brunette (Planning Department), Bob Jakel (Planning Department), and Brittany Simonson (Communications Coordinator for the City and Kaukauna Utilities). While our combined skills in messaging, marketing, business attraction, and connections to a wide cross section of the community, we knew that we needed to solicit input and get buy-in from other City leaders.

We envision our new brand as our means of communicating what an exceptional place Kaukauna is to live, work, play, and/or visit. It also sets an expectation (rightly so) of the quality of services and amenities we provide – and will continue to provide to our taxpayers (residents and businesses). The brand will be used across our organization, which means that we need our entire organization to be involved in the brand process and understand the method behind brand development and brand implementation.

As we ventured into our branding process, we had to answer a few questions based on various City departments….

How do we use our brand(s) currently within the City?

First of all, we realized we have multiple brands in use within the organization or that fall under the larger umbrella of the City – here are a few:

  1. Kaukauna Recreation Department
  2. 1000 Islands Environmental Center
  3. Grignon Mansion
  4. Kaukauna Public Library
  5. Kaukauna Police Department
  6. Kaukauna Fire Department

We also have some images that are on City-owned assets that have a distinct look and feel that are not exactly cohesive:

  1. Orange “wagon wheel” wayfinding signs – most commonly seen at City parks
  2. Galloping ghost on the South side water tower
  3. “Electric City” messaging on the North side water tower
  4. Vintage Electric City gear logo on Department of Public Works trucks

Some areas of the City will maintain their own distinct look and feel – 1000 Islands, Grignon Mansion, and Kaukauna Public Library. They are a part of the City but still function somewhat independently and should have their own look and feel. However,  we want to achieve cohesion where possible and ensure that some of these destinations – especially ones that might attract visitors – are communicated clearly as a part of our City brand message.

What audiences do we interact with as departments and as an organization?

When we challenged City Departments to list the audiences that they interact with, they gave us a wide-ranging laundry list! This list is not completely exhaustive, but to give you a taste – in no particular order, here are some of the groups that City staff interact with on a regular basis:

  • Recreation program participants
  • Youth
  • Families
  • Seniors
  • Pool patrons
  • Taxpayers
  • Financial institutions
  • Businesses in the City
  • Residents paying special assessments
  • Potential employees
  • Vendors for human resource services (insurance, investment, etc.)
  • Real estate brokers
  • State and federal agencies
  • Employees of the City and Kaukauna Utilities
  • Service groups and volunteer organizations
  • Homeowners and renters
  • Voters
  • Contractors obtaining permits
  • Individuals applying for licenses
  • Teachers
  • Entrepreneurs
  • School groups
  • People who enjoy outdoor recreation

What are Kaukauna’s Greatest Assets and Differentiators?

The discussion had by City staff about assets and differentiators was lively and interesting. City staff has a wide range of longevity. There are department heads who have worked nearly 30 years for the City and those that have started within the last two years. This diversity led to a healthy conversation with varying perspectives.

Overall, the key assets agreed upon by City staff were that a great deal of important history happened in Kaukauna, and that we are striving to make changes and be a forward-thinking community. Our differentiators (what sets us apart from other communities in the area) was our history of making history (so many firsts have happened in Kaukauna) and our community’s willingness to come together to help one another.

While staff’s interaction was a great way to get a pulse on who we serve, how we serve them and how this brand will be used, it was also a great team building exercise. City staff meet regularly on issues of the day (like upcoming Council and Committee meetings and on addressing problems), but we don’t often have the time to be introspective and think about how we present ourselves. This kind of thinking and exercise is great practice for learning together how we’ll implement our new brand down the road.

*Photo taken pre-COVID.