Walk inside any Boys & Girls Club in America, and you’ll know immediately what it’s there for: all kids, all the time. After school or in the summer, children of all ages fill every available space, painting murals, working with tutors, learning guitar. There’s enough boisterous energy to power the Space Needle, yet everyone seems to have a purpose.
The 13 clubs in King County are no exception. All told, the clubs serve more than 16,000 kids a year and, like most nonprofits, staff resources and extra cash are in short supply. Still, Rachel Doxtater, director of communications and public relations, dreamed of re-designing the website, donor solicitations, marketing materials and other public communications to reflect the spirit of the organization. “These clubs do amazing things,” she says, “and we wanted to tell the King County story in a cohesive way.”
A GUTSY REQUEST FOR PRO BONO SERVICES
In 2008, the King County organization sent an RFP (request for proposal) to 20 creative agencies outlining a long list of creative needs and boldly asking for free services. “We took a shot,” Doxtater says, “but never in my wildest dreams did I think we would get everything we asked for. In fact, we got more.”
Doxtater and her team chose Lionfish because Lionfish approached the project strategically (and offered our services pro bono). Lionfish felt that the clubs needed more than a new website — they needed to define a brand strategy, clear messaging and a compelling visual identity to lay the foundation for the individual creative projects, as well as tools and training to help each club become part of a new unified image for King County. “I knew we needed to work on our brand,” Doxtater says, “but serving kids is sacrosanct, and we’re all running a million miles an hour to keep up. Developing consistent brochures never managed to make the priority list; I was just happy if each club used the right logo.”
FIVE CONCEPTS AND A UNANIMOUS CHOICE
Lionfish went to work on the re-branding and public messages, gathering input from each club and surveying 10,000 members, parents, teachers, donors, community leaders and staff. What emerged was a clear picture of the value the clubs bring to the community and a strong commitment to creating a positive place for kids. The research helped inform the messaging and a relevant visual identity that would appeal to kids, parents and staff alike, while inspiring potential donors to contribute.
Lionfish submitted five concepts, but one quickly emerged as the winner. As Doxtater explains, “We went for the one with photographs on a muted color palette, which made the kids’ photos come alive, along with key words, icons and textures that tell our story. At a glance, you have a feeling of what the clubs are actually like inside.”
Once the foundation was laid, Lionfish set about working on the website design and materials for KidsBreakfast 2009, one of King County’s two major fundraisers each year. They introduced the re-branding to donors that morning by infusing all the breakfast materials — from stage graphics to placemats — with the new look, and launched the website simultaneously.