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May 28, 2008

Out of the mouth of babes

Heidi Strand | Brandingou may have noticed that our blog covers a range of topics, and with three contributors, a range of voices as well. So if you haven’t taken notice of the fact that my contributions are a ‘little more quirky’ that my peers, this next blog posting is sure to get your attention.

We live in a town of about 60,000. Oshkosh is known for childrens’ clothes and military trucks. Ask just about anyone around the world and they will say ‘Oshkosh B’Gosh’? “Yes,” is the constant answer.

So, for a city that has such brand recognition, why the heck does my eight-year-old daughter prefer Appleton? For those of you not located in Northeastern Wisconsin, Appleton is about 100,000 people, 20 minutes north of our fine community.

Invariably if we travel to Appleton for dinner or a quick trip to the expansive mall, Cora will say “Yeah, I love Appleton. It has so many fun things to do!” Hmmph.

Branding impacts us at every age and our perceptions are formed from little on. What I try to tell my daughter is that we have as many wonderful cultural options as Appleton, but that is simply not her perception. And let’s face it, perception is reality.

I mention this for a few reasons:

  1. Appleton isn’t really better – in case you ever chose to visit.
  2. Our community has a brand problem and it’s impacting our youth – that can’t be good for Oshkosh’s future economic development! (OK, you may not personally care about that, but it’s a good lesson to remember … our kids get it at the root level … even sometimes more than we do.)
  3. And finally, if you think that your brand is constant – you’re wrong. Oshkosh may be known around the world, but here we have a poor image of our community instead of pride for its many accomplishments.

So, that got me thinking: our community needs some serious brand repositioning … that’s next on my to-do list today.