Every organization has moments of inflection. They are good, bad and ugly, and quite possibly all three at once. Regardless, these moments cause an inward gaze and have leadership considering how they might proceed in the face of new challenges and opportunities. Of the many decisions that can be taken, redefining your branding is one option for reckoning with these moments as you pursue your mission.
In my role as Strategic Chief and Founder of local brand design studio The Butler Bros, we get a privileged account of what is really happening in the minds of a variety of leaders as they approach such moments. And while our clients span the country and various industries, I’d like to focus on a few Austin-based nonprofit organizations we’ve worked with to impart some local learning and promote their great work during this season of giving.
Each of the established, local organizations I will discuss ultimately invited us to redefine every aspect of their core branding; name, narrative and visual design. These rebrands are exciting as they allow a shift in perception both internally, which is key to motivating employees and volunteers in an often-challenging field, and externally, which is crucial to encouraging active community support and fundraising.
Each of these organizations all had strong values, mission imperatives and bold visions that drove these decisions. They each walked away from brand equity bound in the past toward growth opportunities that lived in the future. It’s been a true privilege to facilitate their courage.
Thinkery – Where science smiles.
After 25 years of being Austin’s Children’s Museum, their vision of becoming a place where families could engage STEAM curriculum together drove a massive shift in the way they envisioned the delivery of their mission. This manifested in the search for new space, the construction of a new building and exhibits, and the recruitment of new staff, all of which had towering capital implications.
The organizational leadership, board of directors, and community benefactors such as Lynn Meredith were steadfast in driving towards these changes and were able to powerfully grow their stakeholder base for the future as a result. We worked with the team to develop the new elements of the museum to embody a place where people connect with ideas by doing, making and experiencing, ensuring that the overall personality of brand mirrored the Thinkery’s playful creativity.
Upbring – Faith in every future.
After 138 years of delivering social services in the region, Lutheran Social Services of the South consolidated their sprawling programmatic focus towards ending the cycle of child abuse in Texas. This focus was key to future efficacy, and redefining their branding to signal their mission aspiration, even over their well-established religious affiliation, took a measure of faith in itself.
The leadership and public affairs and communications partner, Mach 1, prioritized storytelling the changes back to the organization itself as well as key stakeholders at the Texas legislature so that they organization could move forward with a more powerful alignment and focus. We worked with them to clearly tell that story in order to highlight the driving force behind the changes as well as message the new, bold mission so Upbring can maximize their overall impact.
We Are Blood – Drawn together since 1951.
Over 68 years, the communities and industry they operated in changed incrementally. Explosive regional growth, with new residents that needed to clearly understand the mission, as well as fundamental shifts in the economics of their service sector created massive disruption that required much stronger communication around the true nature of the local blood supply and demand cycle.
The leadership team, with vociferous support from CEO Marshall Cothron, and staff powerfully embraced the opportunity to tell their new, true story to the community. Together, we settled on the name and overall narrative of “We Are Blood,” conveying the idea of Austin as their family – or their “blood” – while highlighting their belief that our local blood supply is something that brings the community together.
The resulting shift in tone can be felt clearly in the ways in which the organization executes outreach and service delivery. They’ve set about the daily work of making a brand a promise you keep and theirs is critical to us all.
If your organization is considering refining or redefining your core branding to pursue impact and growth in the same way these organizations did, we have a gift for you. In this link, our team breaks down ways you can prepare before, during and after a rebrand. We hope you find it helpful in your journey. Go forth and be bold in 2019!
And please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to one of the organizations above. You’ll be investing in the future health and well-being of your very own community when you do.