Wisconsin’s brand is a winner

    When Gov. Jim Doyle launched the state’s new fall tourism advertising campaign earlier this month, Wisconsin took its first steps towards a unified competitive branding strategy, opening the door to collaboration and partnership that crosses all economic sectors and government agencies.

    Gov. Doyle first introduced the brand, which celebrates the originality and creativity of Wisconsin’s people, at our annual tourism industry conference last spring. Now residents and visitors alike are getting their first taste of how this new brand strategy for Wisconsin will play out.

    Last year was a milestone year at the Department of Tourism as we set out to unearth, once and for all, the attributes that make the state’s tourism experience different from and better than our competitors. After industry and consumer research, led by a panel of brand experts from many walks of Wisconsin business, we landed on this brand statement: "Because of the passionate nature of our state’s people to create fun, express themselves in original ways and feel more comfortable doing it here than anywhere else, in Wisconsin originality rules."

    We discovered that the people of Wisconsin are perceived as incredibly loyal, proud, passionate, and having extraordinary fun with life. That translates to Wisconsinites being warmer, more spontaneous, more imaginative and more fun to be with. We felt strongly then and continue to feel strongly today that this positioning, based on the characteristics of our people and the original experiences they create for others, could become the foundation for an overarching Wisconsin brand.

    Our new fall campaign puts two sets of Wisconsin originals in the spotlight – the BoDeans and the Leinenkugel brothers – to tell the story of what autumn means to them.

    Each ad asks, "What does fall in Wisconsin mean to you?" and encourages travelers to visit www.TravelWisconsin.com to discover the state’s fall travel opportunities. The ads can also be viewed on TravelWisconsin.com.

    As you can imagine, our list of original people, places and possibilities is growing by the day. 

    Now, let’s go back to the attributes of Wisconsinites listed above, and consider this: What business contemplating relocating to Wisconsin wouldn’t find those traits relevant and attractive? What potential employee wouldn’t feel the same? The fact that we have so many "originals" hailing from every region of the state and every sector of the economy is proof that cheeseheads and America’s Dairyland can co-exist with stem cell research and the arts.

    We’re serious about this initiative, so much so that we’ve assigned Sarah Klavas from the Department of Tourism the duties of brand manager. Successful corporations have brand managers, and we’re taking a page from their best business practices. Our brand manager will be responsible for looping in other state agencies, like the Departments of Natural Resources, Agriculture and Commerce; business organizations; even the University of Wisconsin system.

    In so doing, we’ll put ourselves in a position to turn up the volume on the message that Wisconsin is the place to live, work and recreate, ultimately creating more loyal customers, retaining talented employees, attracting new business, and giving the state a strong return on investment and competitive presence in the national landscape.

    That’s how good brands work. And we believe we have landed on a good brand for Wisconsin.

    Kelli Trumble is secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Tourism.

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