Marathon County, Wisconsin
County Branding Study
For those seeking an affordable, active, secure lifestyle, Marathon County, the gateway to Wisconsin's Northwoods, is centered -- in its geography, its values, and its culture -- providing you exceptional work-life balance.
Is it possible for a community brand with a strong economic development focus to also resonate with residents and visitors? Marathon County, Wisconsin – located between Green Bay and Minneapolis wanted a community brand with a focus on recruitment and retention of business and industry that would also appeal to the people who live and play in the region. Past efforts had fallen flat when dry economic messaging failed to connect with the essence of what makes the County special. Is it possible to develop a community brand that is both economically competitive AND emotionally compelling?
“Our research showed that Marathon County’s central location in the state is its most significant economic development benefit. Its access, convenience and affordability are big draws for business,” explained Don McEachern, CEO of North Star. “Leaders knew their location and proximity were economic assets but the idea of a brand based on a central location left them feeling flat. Research insights revealed a distinct work/life balance that defines the region . . . the diversity of activities and attractions and the vitality and energy of the people.”
Strategically North Star addressed this conundrum by expanding the idea of being in the center of the state to also being “centered” as a state of being. The creative concept is based on the idea of Marathon County being on “Wisconsin Central Time”, a place where time is on your side because you are close to the best of everything Wisconsin has to offer. The line literally establishes the region as the center of the state while all creativity and action focus on a more spiritual plane, establishing Marathon County as a place to recreate, re-create and renew. Messaging focuses on the idea that the time is always right, because you’re in a zone that beckons you to seize the day, catch and release, and enjoy it all again tomorrow.