By Andrew Brenits, Kim Kiser, Vivian Fransen, Robin Colangelo, Kim Kanton
InSource is a professional association for creative inhouse leaders. So when several thousand in-house brand advocates are your audience, it goes without saying that you must have a savvy brand of your own. But that’s easier said than done, especially when you have limited resources and unlimited ideas!
Our InSource Board and Advisors are brand advocates, creative leaders and innovative business professionals working on the best brands in the world. So, we knew we had to take advantage of that knowledge, and began by picking their brains for fresh ideas. Through a core value survey, we were able to narrow our focus, to pull out who we really were, where we should go and what initial key messages we needed to convey to get us started. Finally, we reached out into our network of creative leaders and members for input on a brand refresh.
But before we could get to the fun stuff, we needed to decide on the organization’s long- and short-term goals to create a strategic focus and set the tone for future contributions to the in-house creative community. This process began with a few simple questions:
• Who is InSource?
• Are we growing in the appropriate areas to fit the needs of the industry and our members?
• What does the in-house community really need?
One Board Member stated: “Members should feel inspired and energized at every touch point – they should feel as if they are getting a jolt of caffeine, chocolate and an electrical shock all rolled up into one.” This became our guiding focus as we went through the process of discovery right through to execution.
Here’s what we realized during our exploratory phase. The people most attracted to the organization are those who really try to find answers and solutions and who, rather than gripe, seek inspiration and guidance from peers in the field. InSource is all about building relationships that matter and fostering collaboration by providing opportunities for creative professionals to exchange ideas and information.
Our mission is to help in-house creative leaders achieve success in their work through information sharing, networking and best practices. The community needs more tools and thought leadership to provoke and inspire leaders to build and lead their in-house teams fearlessly. Building and leading is no easy task in today’s environment, but with the proper support, guidance and tools, we know design leaders can accomplish anything.
We also knew our visual identity was way past its prime, and that we had outgrown the look and technology of our website. Clearly, we needed a drastic overhaul to upgrade the site to a WordPress theme with responsive design, forums and an e-commerce option to expand the organization’s offerings.
In today’s cluttered world, simplicity allows a brand to stand out visually while making content easier to navigate. A clean simple look also communicates a premium brand and confidence, which became our visual goal. Eileen Riestra and Ava Salzar, design volunteers for InSource, stepped up to the plate to take on our stodgy visual identity challenge. The two gurus met, reviewed, brainstormed and conceptualized until the winning idea emerged. Eileen presented the findings: “Since our organization is all about the creative community, we wanted to look and feel like something any one of us could quickly relate to.”
As much as we were looking forward to a brand refresh, we also knew that InSource had significant brand equity. We decided to retain our decade-old identity by sticking with our logo and color palette, and to put all our efforts into changing up our photography and graphics approach. After all, it’s the combo of your graphic devices that create a dynamic and innovative customer experience.
The juxtaposition between the old and new visuals signifies we’re moving forward with a purpose. Our graphics are now easier to read, slicker looking, and contemporary. Also, we now have a pool of fresh, authentic images, thanks to Shutterstock, that show approachable people doing their thing inside of the graphic design industry. Our photography now resembles real people to depict our real members. In addition, we converted our images to grayscale for a more sophisticated feel – and it makes our PMS 186 really pop.
Our messaging had become too wordy in some areas and too complicated to skim through easily. Basically, we needed to get to the point faster with a friendlier, modern voice. So we asked ourselves, were we hitting it out of the park on our social media splash pages, in our articles and in our headlines? Not so much. First, we took a hard look at our mission statement, which was also our public-facing social media description, and agreed it needed refreshing with a contemporary voice that better reflected where we had evolved over the past decade.
Then, Kim Kiser, director of communications, gave us some advice on language and wording for articles, newsletters and social media, which in turn increased our agility to produce new content and improve our SEO. This new tone and style were incorporated into our brand guidelines.
Website + Social Media
Shani Sandy, InSource’s digital director, engaged Dog & Pony Studios (DPS) to overhaul our old WordPress site into a fresh and responsive design. The Board voted on our new theme after reviewing several options, and DPS began the race to complete the design in time for an upcoming event in New York City. Bill Addison, web designer and digital lead at DPS, began the process by selecting a responsive grid layer. After the team settled on a homepage wireframe, he worked out a design that better reflected the needs of InSource members, considering carefully who uses the website and why, what information members require up front and, of course, how it looks! After several iterations, the team landed on an overall design, including a refined digital color palette, that reinforced our new visual identity. The new look and feel follows our refreshed branding and has an improved CMS, a rebuilt member directory, online forms and forum portals, an e-commerce option plus improved responsiveness.
The Entire Process Wasn’t Always Clear
We began our rebrand journey in 2014 and finally feel as if we are at the finish line. We had long breaks in between small successes, and moments of uncertainty, but at the end of the day perseverance has turned this caterpillar into a butterfly. We launched each newly branded initiative as it was complete instead of waiting to flick the switch one day. This helpe show our members and community that we were committed to forward movement. And frankly, it’s reflective of how most of us work all of the time. Great brands aren’t built in a single brainstorming session. Our brand is reflected in the look, feel and tone of voice of our website, programs and communications. It’s also reflected in the way our Board communicates with our network of in-house leaders and members. The key to success will be to stay “on brand” at every touch-point, from content and social media, to programs and events. And for the first time, we have a comprehensive set of guidelines to keep us on the right track. From designers to developers to writers, we had support from all angles to create impact and lead this rebrand to launch. This project activated our 20/20 vision, and exemplifies a community coming together to grow smarter and stronger for the benefit of in-house design and leadership.
Tell Us What You Think
InSource, a non-profit for creative leaders, is committed to leadership excellence and effective business management in the ever-growing in-house community. Visit us and click on “join” and scroll down to “join the conversation”. Also check out: DYAStudio.com and dogandponystudios.com