Rebrand + Re-engage: New key messaging leads to empowered constituents and increased donations

In early 2013, I led a rebranding effort for a 75-year old visual arts nonprofit. The organization had grown exponentially in the past seven years, since moving into its own facility, and had outgrown its old identity.

As the full time Marketing & Communications Manager for the organization, I had to figure out how to create messaging and a new visual identity that would elevate the organization and speak to its more mature presence in the world of contemporary visual art, while maintaining its funky, unpretentious character.

Among those already in the know, the organization was well known for its progressive approach and groundbreaking work supporting Chicago’s artists. But most people outside of the art world just thought of it as a community center and a place for kids art classes. The challenge was to create brand messaging and a look and feel that would express that these two elements were two sides of the same coin for this organization.

As project lead, I interviewed staff and audience members and worked collaboratively with a three person team to develop new key messaging, a new style guide, and a comprehensive Communications Toolkit to empower citizen marketers on the staff, board, and faculty.

The rebranding efforts resulted in a cohesive, coherent brand identity, where organizational ambassadors felt empowered to know exactly what to say in which situations. New messaging was used in program materials, print collateral, direct mail, and even grant proposals, where it was favorably reviewed by granting institutions. Staff members and board members reported that the new messaging made their jobs easier. Faculty, students, staff, and members all approved of the new look for materials, and donations even went up as a result.

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Read the messaging. [PDF] View the Communications Toolkit. [PDF]

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