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New brand identity unveiled in Oshkosh

Rebrand aims to celebrate Oshkosh as a year-round tourism destination

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December 28, 2023

OSHKOSH – “Oshkosh wants to be known for more than the EAA AirVenture event.”

Those are the words of Amy Albright, executive director of the Oshkosh Convention and Visitors Bureau (OCVB) regarding the city’s unveiling of its new brand identity.

With business and community leaders and state tourism industry professionals in attendance, the OCVB hosted the unveiling at the Oshkosh Convention Center Nov. 29 to publicly announce the rebrand.

For more than 10 years, Oshkosh’s brand identity was Event City, but Albright said “a lot has changed in Oshkosh since then.”
“The new logo and brand – Discover Oshkosh – encompasses all that Oshkosh has to offer,” she said. “Events are a big part of Oshkosh, but there is so much more.”

Albright said the new brand identity was developed to expand the current perception of Oshkosh from a major event or summer-time destination to a year-round tourism attraction.

“The new brand identity appeals to a broader target audience, including residents and neighboring communities,” she said.
OCVB’s mission
Albright said OCVB is a private, not-for-profit destination marketing organization funded almost entirely by room tax.

“Our goal is to promote Oshkosh and Winnebago County as premier destinations,” she said. “We want to bring in visitors, so we’re always looking to get people to stay overnight – we want them to visit for leisure, sporting events, meetings and conferences. We work to make sure our visitors’ economy is strong. We aim to provide an experience that will make them want to come back.”
Event City
For good reason, Albright said the former brand identity was a good choice and fit the city – at the time.

“I’ve been with the OCVB for about five years,” she said. “The Event City brand was put into place before my time, but at that time, people promoting tourism in Oshkosh were looking at ways to differentiate Oshkosh. I’ve gone back and looked at files, and with AirVenture being one of the largest events in the state and country – bringing in 650,000 people from 90 countries – it was a good thing to hang our hats on. We know how to put events on, as evidenced by a town of 70,000 turning into one of 700,000 for a week in July.”

Albright said when she came on board, the organization wanted to encompass more in its brand identity, which eventually got the ball rolling toward the Nov. 29 rebranding announcement.

“I wish we could have just said ‘Event City and more’ at the time because there’s so much more to Oshkosh,” she said. “That led to us changing the name. The Event City brand served us well during the time it was used – big events have put the city on the map.”
Why Discover Oshkosh?
Albright said the new Discover Oshkosh brand identity fits better with what Oshkosh is today.

“One thing the COVID-19 pandemic showed us was events were not happening,” she said. “Our brand Event City wasn’t as accurate anymore. I’ve said it quite a bit in the past, but when events got canceled, it wasn’t good for the brand we were using.”

Albright said a good case in point was the pandemic cancellation of Country USA/Rock USA.

“This was an example of an event not making it through the pandemic,” she said. “That was a negative – we had people saying, ‘I thought this was Event City.’ There wasn’t a lot we could do to control what events got canceled because of the pandemic.”

Albright said it was frustrating “knowing Oshkosh has so much more to offer than just events” and that not being known by those outside of the city.

The Oshkosh Convention and Visitors Bureau unveiled a new brand identity Nov. 29 at the Oshkosh Convention Center. Submitted Photo

She said OCVB engaged the branding agency Hold Fast & Co, a Milwaukee-based advertising service, to prepare for the rebranding – which included primary and secondary research with target audiences about what makes Oshkosh a tourism destination.

Albright said key findings included Oshkosh’s natural beauty, expansive waterways and welcoming community.

She said the research also found that recent city improvements have led to a change in the perception of the city’s culture and what it has to offer from a tourism perspective.

“In addition to the findings, there is so much momentum happening in Oshkosh – the revitalization of our downtown, trails, golf courses, the development of our parks and waterfront and the growth of cultural events and attractions,” she said.

Albright said the tourism industry is evolving to include audiences you invite into your community but also those who live and work here.

“What I love about our new brand is it positions us to tell our story to both audience segments and invites them to explore facets of our city that are new, or they might not have known existed,” she said.

Albright said as the tourism industry continues to rebound from the pandemic, the OCVB expects the new Discover Oshkosh brand to encourage visitors to extend their stay longer, thus supporting the economic impact of Winnebago County.

“If you’re here for a business meeting or a conference, how can we tack on a few extra days to your stay?” she said. “We believe Discover Oshkosh is the best representation of who we are today and what we will be in years to come. We think Event City was maybe a little too specific.”

Another reason Albright said the change is good is because “sometimes bigger events don’t always have positive connotations anymore.”

“Many people don’t like big crowds, and (is) not what they’re looking for,” she said.

Albright said despite changing the brand name, people will still know Oshkosh hosts big events.

“Just because we’ve changed the name, that doesn’t mean people will forget about AirVenture being here,” she said. “It’s a critical piece of what we do here. It’s not just for July, but AirVenture helps us year-round – the museum, they bring in speakers and other events.”

Oshkosh is also home to the Wisconsin Herd, the NBA G League affiliate of the Milwaukee Bucks.

Albright said the team, which plays its home games at the Oshkosh Arena, has been in existence since 2017 and has “really helped the city.”

“It’s going great – they just opened the season with a sellout,” she said. “Maybe you’ve heard of a player (from the Bucks) named Giannis (Antetokounmpo) – his younger brother (Alex) is on the Herd this year, and it’s been a big draw. Giannis and his mom have been at a couple of games this season – it’s been fun.”

Albright said the G League is an affordable night of fun.

“Tickets start at $10,” she said. “It’s much like the (baseball team the) Wisconsin Timber Rattlers. If you’re bringing kids and a family, many don’t even realize you’re not at the Bucks game. There is great energy and entertainment, and there’s not a bad seat in the 4,000-seat arena. It’s another option for people to do in the winter. It fits perfectly into our Discover Oshkosh rebrand – it’s a year-round destination. I like that our brand can support the Herd.” 
Economic impact
Albright said the regional impact of people coming to Oshkosh is good for the surrounding communities, too.

“We work hand-in-hand with the convention and visitors’ bureaus in other areas, too – particularly in the Fox Valley and Fond du Lac,” she said. “If someone is coming to Oshkosh for AirVenture or other events, maybe they’ll also want to travel to Door County, Wisconsin Dells or head to Green Bay to check out Lambeau Field. That regional impact of discovering more while you’re here is big. We all benefit each other by being stronger. When there’s a Packers game, we have people stay in hotels in Oshkosh.”

Albright said all communities think their destinations are the best, but the proximity to other attractions helps everyone.
“It lifts the whole region,” she said.

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