CivicBrand Trip #2 Recap

The primary goal of our second trip to Waupaca was to visit nearby competing areas in order to understand how Waupaca is different, as well as speak to a few different groups within the community to understand their perceptions and get a sense of what life is like in Waupaca once all the tourists have left in the off-season.


Much of our trip was spent visiting nearby communities that compete with Waupaca for both tourism and residents. After flying into Milwaukee, we spent time in Cedarburg before driving up to Door County, where we stayed the night near downtown Sturgeon Bay and visited some of the area’s best outdoor recreation spots. We also visited Minocqua and Stevens Point and got a great sense of what brings people to each area, whether they’re choosing to live or visit. It’s also worth mentioning that on our first trip we spent some time in Appleton, so we’ve got a sense of most of the major players in the area.

During our time in these communities we definitely noticed that some were more tourist driven while others were areas you’d live but not vacation. Visiting these areas also made it more and more clear that Waupaca has a pretty great mix of both — its obviously got a vibrant tourism season but there’s a unique local community here as well.


We held a public meeting our first night in town, discussing what branding is and what the goal of the project is, and also gauged attendees on their perceptions of Waupaca and some of the nearby competing areas. At the beginning of the meeting, we had each attendee fill out a worksheet where they had to write down the three words that came to mind when thinking of the towns they were prompted on. We then compiled their responses into a word cloud for each community and discussed them at the end of the meeting.

In order to hone in on Waupaca’s brand principles, we also asked attendees to rank Waupaca in comparison to other communities on a few different dimensions, like how great the downtown is, how nostalgic it feels and what kind of opportunity exists there. All of these activities spurred on some great conversation and gave us a better understanding of how the community views itself relative to its competition.

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One morning, we met with a group of teachers at Waupaca High School to understand their perception of the area. Teachers are uniquely situated in that, while they have their own life in Waupaca as adults, they are also in tune to what their students feel about the community, so it was important to us to hear what they had to say. We had them fill out the same worksheet we had attendees fill out at the public meeting.

We also met with about 15 high school students. As the future of Waupaca, it was really enlightening to hear their opinions on the community. A big part of our conversation centered on what Waupaca is lacking for their age group in terms of activities and amenities, and they all had some really great ideas for things Waupaca needs to do or have in order to provide more options to young people. We also had them fill out the worksheet mentioned previously.


Small craft breweries have become staples of thriving communities across the country. They help local economies by providing a place for residents and visitors to hang out, encourage other businesses to stay open longer and encourage new entrepreneurs to finally take that leap and open a business of their own.

We chatted with John Parent from 22 Lakes Brewing, and Brandon Oltmann from H.H. Hinder Brewing Company about what it’s like to start a business in Waupaca and what their businesses mean for the future of the area, then spent some time at each brewery to get a sense for their atmosphere.


We made sure to check out a really important part of Wisconsin culture during our second trip — the start of deer season. We visited a Deer Camp outside of town and were there to see them hang the three deer they had just brought back to camp. Stories were exchanged about the history of the deer camp we were visiting — this particular one has existed since 1959, and mementos were scattered throughout the main house of the family’s time there.

That morning we also made sure to stop by a couple of the arts fairs that are put on for Widow’s Weekend. We got to see a lot of really cool crafts and artists, and also tried lefsa for the first time!


During the next phase of the project, we’ll be finalizing the brand principles that serve as the guiding light for the brand, solidifying the brand positioning strategy and moving onto the design process. Make sure to sign up for notifications to stay up to date with all that we’re doing!