Completing a Company Rebrand: The Story Behind CHS
Children’s Home Society of Florida (CHS) has had a singular mission for over 115 years: to help kids in need. And they have done just that, from helping to usher in child labor laws and rallying for the creation of the agency that would become the Department of Children and Families, to their current fight to revolutionize the foster care system. This organization of 2,000 team members impacts the lives of over 50,000 children and families every year. We don’t know about you, but that sounds like an organization worth our agency’s help. And while CHS certainly came to us with a legacy, we soon found they also needed a brand vision for the 21st century.
Partnering with CHS, Findsome & Winmore’s marketing pros set out to work on a new logo, color palette, website, print collateral, and even office interior. However, it was the influence we had on their culture that perhaps made the largest impact. If you aren’t a marketer (and perhaps, even if you are), you may be wondering where to even start on such a project.
We took some time to discuss the nuts and bolts behind CHS’s bright and bold new look with Andy MacMillin, Findsome & Winmore creative director, as well as understand the behind-the-scenes creative and strategic rebranding process. Hint: it’s much more than just picking a pretty font and your favorite color.
The Building Blocks to Rebranding CHS
What challenges were CHS facing that made them seek us out in the first place?
CHS first approached us to redesign their website. After speaking with CHS CEO, Mike Shaver, it became clear that upgrading their website without truly evaluating their overall brand identity would be a missed opportunity and possibly the wrong approach. Digging into the organization’s branding challenges led us to the conclusion that a full rebrand was the right choice for CHS.
What was the first step of the company rebrand?
CHS is a rather complex organization. We knew that we’d have to do some research to fully wrap our heads around the situation, so our first step was really just listening. We set up interviews with many of the key players, but it wasn’t just upper management that had a say. The Findsome & Winmore team spoke to a cross section of those who make CHS tick. Additionally, the team interviewed a handful of CHS’s clients to get an accurate perspective of what CHS means to the people they serve.
This interview process was incredibly important in highlighting not only what CHS currently was as a brand, but also what it needed to be moving forward. Interviewing a variety of people who experience CHS from such different perspectives also allowed us to uncover existing issues and beneficial traits of which the CHS team were totally unaware.
What was the biggest challenge of this company rebrand?
Our interview process revealed an organization that could benefit from a unified message. It’s not just that they were regionally separated in offices throughout Florida, but it became apparent they were seeking philosophical and cultural singularity. The challenge, therefore, became one of “taking the division out of the divisions” and providing the organization with a strong brand identity that could help unify and provide clear direction for the future.
Our new direction for CHS’s brand had to be rooted in a deep sense of pride and purpose in order to chart a path toward unifying all facets of the organization, from Broward County to Pensacola and CEO to teen mentor. We chose to focus on answering one simple, fundamental question: “What do they do?” With an organization as broad in scope as CHS, helping countless children, families and entire communities throughout Florida with a wide breadth of services, this was no small feat.
However, the team and I knew that impactful brands must go beyond mission statements and a list of services to connect to their audience on an emotional level. So, we had to answer the question in a more fundamental and conceptual way. Ultimately this took the form of a simple, clear, singular promise: “We do good.”
Shapes play a big role in the redesign. Explain this stylistic choice and the strategy behind the greater overall design of the brand and site.
The idea of utilizing basic shapes, such as stars, circles and squares, originally came about when I deconstructing the brand into its most basic elements. With CHS’s mission to improve the lives of children in mind, I harkened back to the old building blocks and colorful shapes of childhood. The elemental idea of CHS providing the building blocks for a better future for kids eventually evolved into the shapes that form the organization’s new logo and are featured prominently throughout the brand.
As CHS deals with difficult, often tragic cases of child abuse, neglect and poverty, the look of the site and overall theme of the branding had to focus on the positive to provide an emotional balance. This was accomplished in the many small details inserted throughout the branding but is most identifiable by the prominent use of the gold star, a universal symbol of pride, accomplishment and approval for all children.
All of these elements–the shapes, colors and promissory tagline–come together as a constant reminder to the CHS team that, regardless of position or office, they’re all working toward the same goal.
Where do you pull creative inspiration from?
Children are the heart and essence of everything CHS does so that was my primary source of inspiration. Understanding childhood experiences and interpreting them into a brand identity that has the ability to connect with kids, families and communities in a positive and reassuring way was the goal we strove to achieve. But like any branding situation, you must look to the organization and understand it from the inside to know what’s possible and, in that sense, the insight given by the team and client interviews helped to drive a great deal of the creative direction.
What are you most satisfied with about this rebrand?
This entire rebrand was based on our team’s desire to solve a problem for CHS. Though CHS was only looking for a new website, I and the account team were able to identify deeper issues within the organization that shaped the thinking and approach to the project. Ultimately this enabled us to create branding that the client felt truly spoke to their values and sense of purpose –something they are especially proud of accomplishing.
Doing Good for CHS
Every client’s rebrand is different, which makes perfect sense when you realize that every brand has its own unique goals, vision, voice–all of which must be considered before pen ever hits paper. This rebrand is the perfect example of how brands are built from the inside out. Because Andy and the account team were able to conduct in-depth interviews with a full, vertical slice of the CHS organization they were able to reshape the brand into something fresh and new yet something that still embodies what CHS is all about–doing good in many ways, in many regions of Florida to help children, families and communities live better lives.