Branding Case Study: Community Foundation for Northeast Georgia - Rock, Paper, Scissors

Posted 07 Nov 2016

Branding Case Study: Community Foundation for Northeast Georgia

We first came to know the Community Foundation for Northeast Georgia (CFNEG) when Randy Redner assumed the role of Executive Director in 2015. We have known Randy for quite some time, having worked with him over the years with various organizations he has been a part of. When Randy first came to the CFNEG, he discovered a few branding and identity challenges that needed to be addressed and, like all nonprofit leaders, knew he had to use his resources wisely while working toward a solution.

To get started, Randy started looking at what the CFNEG had in place. “For our first step we started taking inventory of what we had – a physical inventory of printed materials and of the community to see what they did and didn’t know about us, including our board and fund holders as well as people we thought should know about us,” Randy said. The feedback from the community inventory was consistent throughout in that no one had a clear idea of the goals and mission of the CFNEG. From there, Randy decided to take a step back and start looking at potential solutions to help improve the identity of the CFNEG.

The next steps included the beginning of a collaboration between the CFNEG and Rock Paper Scissors to look at what they did have available and start working on the messaging to ensure that it clearly communicated the purpose and mission of the foundation in a way that appealed to both donors and nonprofits. Of the process, Randy said, “We said ‘Okay, let’s take a stab at what this looks like, sounds like, and feels like.’ I tried using different language and words in my presentations to see what did and didn’t stick. We washed and tested this a few times and eventually came back and started building our marketing materials and created a strategy for marketing and communicating ourselves.”

During that process, we carefully looked over the CFNEG’s marketing materials. The existing brochure seemed to blend into the crowd with a mix of blue and gray tones, so we knew that we needed to work in a color to make it pop a bit more while also working with the messaging to make the concept of what the foundation does as simple as possible. “The blues and greys created a quiet and somber feeling, and after interacting with the team at CFNEG and seeing all of the projects they are working on, this was a huge disconnect. This organization is so full of life, energy, and wanting to build a better world, they needed a brand that reflected that,” said Amanda Sutt, CEO and Creative Director of RPS.

The result was the Charitable Giving Account mailer. We maintained some of the blue tones from the original color scheme and added a persimmon accent to the mix to make it a more eye-catching piece and more reflective of the character of the organization. We started with this color to add energy and excitement, but we did not want something as aggressive and dominant as a true red. We have since added more colors to the brand, but this was our first exploration to get the audience comfortable with this brand refresh and to see what kind of feedback we got.

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Next, we moved on to a trifold brochure where we implemented more brand elements, as well as the new messaging. We made the main blue more vibrant and added even more accents than in the previous piece. The more visible brand shift came as we added building block-like shapes to the piece, which gave us the opportunity to add images that would connect with donors and nonprofits alike, as well as the keywords that represent the goals of the CFNEG – give, connect, impact. We changed the colors of the logo ever so slightly. The tagline, “Connecting People who Care with Causes that Matter” remained the same.

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Michelle Drehoff, lead designer for the project, said “The building block shapes are a representation of how various types of elements are able to fit together to create a solid foundation upon which the Community Foundation can build on to impact the community in a greater way. As the elements are combined they create something larger than the the individual parts alone. The Community Foundation is like the master architect that is able to place the pieces together for maximum impact.”

Our next project was to create a magazine piece for the CFNEG to be used as the first annual Giving Report. The giving report highlights specific stories from different donors and nonprofits that have found beneficial connections through the CFNEG. For this piece, we chose a design that played off of the angular shapes found in the trifold brochure to enhance the visual appeal and continued using the vibrant blue and persimmon colors to keep a sense of cohesiveness.

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While all of this was in the works, Randy worked with the CFNEG’s board of directors to develop a new vision statement, revise the mission statement, and build a marketing plan. “It’s the crawl, walk, run,” Randy explained. “Rock Paper Scissors helped us work through the madness and figure out where we’re going and how we’re going to get there.”

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As the CFNEG started using the new marketing pieces and messaging, Randy feels they’ve seen a good response, with increased web hits, better reports from Google Analytics, and their Facebook likes have doubled.

“We’re still building our way out. We’re adding a new client about every three weeks. It’s amazing since we were so stagnant a year ago. We’re just getting started with more to go,” Randy shared enthusiastically.

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Two of our goals for our work with the CFNEG were to be wise with our client’s resources, as well as help Randy in his goal of creating a brand that would appeal to the traditional market of donors, as well as the next generation of philanthropists, and nonprofits of all kinds. We don’t do everything for the foundation, but worked together to select strategic pieces that allows us to move the brand over time while remaining within the CFNEG’s budget and make every dollar count. In this case, we added new elements along the way and later refined the plan as we learned more about the current audience and the target audience groups the foundation wanted to reach.

We love working with the CFNEG to help reshape and grow their branding and have enjoyed the continued partnership with them. We look forward to many more years of collaboration and growth through this partnership.