Last year, we were thrilled to be asked by a well-known local after school teen program to “decorate” the new school bus that had just been donated to their organization. The bus carries the students to various activities, including two gardens that they manage as well as local farmers’ markets that supply vegetables to underserved local communities. Of course we said “Yes!”
We were initially inspired by the doodles the client showed us on the students notebooks. That gave us the direction to have an iconic “doodly” feel, and originally there was more artwork filling the sides of the bus. However, our vision doesn’t always align with what’s possible, and after speaking with the vendor who did a great job die cutting and installing the decals, we scaled the amount of artwork way down to accommodate our tight budget. The result still maintains the feeling of vibrancy and activity we were going for, and shows all the elements that make Green Teen a great program!
Every now and then, a project comes along that we get really excited about. Last Spring, we suggested a website overhaul for this wonderful nonprofit, R Baby Foundation, which works to make emergency rooms better prepared for infants and children. We had been working with R Baby since their inception in 2005, helping them to evolve their brand. The nonprofit grew and thrived, but despite incremental improvements over time, their website did not keep up. By 2015, they had a home page that was choking with content and an outdated navigation that gave them 0 flexibility to showcase the growing work of the organization.
Aside from the outdated look of the website and lack of storytelling, it felt static and heavy. The client was also unable to make any edits to the website content and relied on us for all updates. So, spurred along by Google’s incentive to build mobile-responsive websites, the time came for the client to take the leap. We reorganized the website architecture, designed simple but elegant pages, and built an easy-to-use mobile-responsive WordPress website with a custom theme. It was important to the client that the heart of the issue is front and center, and that we show hard data that relates the scope of their work.
You can visit the new website here: www.rbabyfoundation.org.
Nonprofit leaders: if you haven’t yet, download the 2015 Nonprofit Communications Trends Report — it’s chock full of perceptions and opinions of people just like you. They’ve also created this wonderful infographic overview for us to enjoy.
To download the full report, click here »
Branding is finally picking up steam in the nonprofit world. The 2015 Nonprofit Communications Trends Report lists “Raising brand awareness” as one of the top three communications goals of nonprofit leaders, right behind “Engaging community” and “Retaining existing donors.” Nonprofits who don’t pay attention to their brand are going to get left behind. A strong brand can help nonprofits achieve all their goals much more efficiently. As an investment, spending more on brand building earlier is ultimately cost-effective over time. Here’s my quick take on why nonprofit organizations should grow their brand.
1. Develop clear, consistent communications.
Defining brand requires your team to look closely at who you are and what you are saying, and to commit to being consistent with all your communications. Not only will this present a clear picture of your organization to anyone your staff and Board come into contact with, but the message will always be the same. That’s how you begin to build a strong brand which will….
2. Win more eyeballs and help people remember you.
A solid brand strategy that is also well-executed enables communications that look great and are guaranteed to win hearts as well as minds. Strive to be unforgettable so that you can…
3. Raise more money and increase engagement.
Community engagement and increasing donorship are tops on the list for nonprofits. The more trust a person feels in a brand, the more likely they will engage and give. And of course this will enable you to…
4. Make a bigger impact.
Yup, you get it—everything builds on the last thing. The bigger brand share you’ve got… the more donors / volunteers / partners / constituents / recruits you have… the more money you raise… all these add up to be able to doing the work your mission calls for! And things begin to get easier, which inevitably enables you to…
5. Achieve long-term savings.
Here’s one thing I know from my experience doing this work over the last 20 years: when you do things correctly from the beginning, it pays off as time goes on. So if you make the investment into building a strategy, defining the brand, creating a corporate identity and design system, and developing a messaging strategy now, you will need to spend less later because the work is done, you’ve built your foundation. Whomever is running the next initiative has lots to use and build upon, saving time and money.
You can see I’m a big believer in the power of brand when it’s done well! Learn more about how we help nonprofits here ›
This week I attended a workshop on…workshops. A part of AIGA‘s Design for Good initiative, “Facilitation by Design” was led by service design superstar Renna Al-Yassini of user experience firm Adaptive Path. With loads of experience under her belt leading diverse groups to successful solutions, Renna led us through her process of how to prepare and execute a productive collaborative session.
Workshops can help with…
…generating new ideas
…making a plan
Why a Workshop?
Collaboration. Workshops (like designers!) are by nature collaborative. As opposed to a regular old sit-down meeting where people may discuss a topic, a workshop is designed to resolve a specific challenge question by engaging invested participants. Problem-solving is approached with pre-conceived activities designed to gain perspective from diverse participants. It’s the perspective of the participants that brings the most value to the session. Whether it’s designed for morale-building or to conceptualize improvements for the staff onboarding process, getting the right people in the room who can speak to the details of the problem and offer constructive insight toward a solution is key.
Problem-solving. Workshops solve problems, or at least one specific part of a bigger problem. They can be used to bring different community groups together for consensus-building and planning (like building a local dog park), or strategic planning for companies or nonprofit organizations. They can be used in the very beginnings of a project, such as the start of a new design initiative, or checking in on the progress of a longer-term project to see if the roadmap is on track. Or it can be used at the end of a project to set final deliverables and a launch plan.
Flexibility. The beauty of the workshop is its flexibility of application. Once you get that the collaboration can be designed to target any specific challenge question (that is, what do we want to accomplish by coming together?), you can see that it can be used to approach any business problem…or community or organizational challenge, for that matter. The problem can be big or small, involving many participants or just a few. Which brings us to…
Who Needs a Workshop?
Workshops are not limited to launching a new design initiative. Here are just a few examples of who can benefit from a workshop:
- Nonprofit organizations for strategic planning
- Banks for new line of business ideation
- Community coalitions for creating a roadmap
- Marketing departments for successful brand rollout
- Corporate mergers for information gathering
- HR departments for troubleshooting internal processes
- Product development teams to review & refine product design
What’s your main business challenge right now? Maybe it’s time to reach out to an objective facilitator to create some structure and collaboration around tackling it.
For more information: