Thinkso’s Give a Brand!® Celebrates Five Years of Pro Bono Rebranding


For the fifth year in a row, Thinkso is giving a free brand makeover (worth about $50,000) t0 an underfunded nonprofit. The annual initiative is called Give a Brand!®, but this year there’s a twist. The NYC-based creative agency selected three finalists that each provide some form of urgently needed medical care to farflung places.

Toronto-based Bridge to Health provides medical and dental care to Uganda through annual brigades; Los Angeles-based Family Health Alliance delivers culturally sensitive family planning and women’s health services to Afghanistan; and Manhattan-based NYC Medics deploys immediate emergency services wherever a disaster hits. It’s now up to the public to decide which of these charities will receive the free rebranding. Voters can make a selection daily through June 24 at the Thinkso site.

Thinkso brings together its own staff and a coalition of friends and vendors to execute the rebranding in a single day— extreme branding  if you will. “It’s more akin to a barn-raising than a typical branding project,” says senior partner and creative director, Brett Traylor. “It’s a long, hard day, but it’s a great feeling to come together to make something good for an organization, who in turn will be able to do more good with what we’ve given them.”

Give a Brand! is an intense, one-day design sprint that produces a full rebranding, including an identity, website, social media assets, marketing collateral, promotional items, and photography.

The Thinkso team is briefed in the week leading up to the event, so that they go into the design sprint with ideas percolating. The first half of the sprint day comprises a brainstorm and critique, leading to a presentation to the client of two rough ideas. The client chooses one to be developed and Thinkso’s designers, writers,  strategists, and project managers get to work. They spend the rest of the day working on deliverables such as the identity, website, social media assets, marketing collateral, promotional items, and photography. Surprise Highway, a web development firm and repeat Give a Brand! sponsor, programs the nonprofit’s website from scratch. The day’s excitement culminates in a final client presentation and cocktail party. Everything is webcast on Thinkso’s public website. This year’s date: Friday, July 22.

Thinkso's Give a Brand! 2015
Images of children reading, photographed by Give a Brand! sponsor Matthew Septimus, established a focal point for the marketing collateral. Those children then helped create the patterns and hand-painted typography that became key elements of the identity.
Thinkso shortened the organization’s name to “Max Courage,” which alludes to the “maximum” impact the program has on its participants, and honors the charity’s namesake, Max Warburg, for being the superhero-like inspiration that he is.
The overview brochure includes program information and unfolds into a poster that teachers can hang in their classrooms. It boldly displays the organization’s new tagline, “Characters encouraged.”

“For years, we did a mish mosh of volunteer activities. And while they were all worthy causes, we eventually decided to focus our talents and pro bono resources on doing what we do best: content-driven creative work,” remarked senior partner Elizabeth Amorose. “As a small organization, trying to find the time and monetary resources to do a full rebrand was a daunting task,” says Meredith Adamczyk, Executive Director of the Max Warburg Courage Curriculum, last year’s winner. “Give a Brand! gave us the opportunity to create a new look and feel and stronger messaging. It was an amazing experience.”