Visual brand identity, that is. Much more than just a logo, a VBI is what your fonts and colors and designs are, but also what is behind that. Without knowing who we are and who our constituencies are, it wouldn’t be possible to develop a visual brand. Our identity as an organization isn’t just the groundwork for creating graphics, it the reason to create the graphics and it must always remain our core focus over the graphics.
Nevertheless, the graphics are very pretty. We have a logo, a business card design, a report cover design, and some general motifs to use throughout our print and web presence. It was a challenge to come up with a logo for our program since we have a parent company already has their own. We decided to have the logo be a stylized way of writing our name so it wouldn’t overpower the parent logo. It’s pretty exciting to have this major step completed!
Vintage Vignettes glimpse into the Communicationist’s past, one to ten years ago from this day.
On this day in 2007, I was doing street outreach in Sofia, Bulgaria. It was my last weekend of a 2-month internship with the country’s only LGBT organization and the whole team (all three employees, a few board members, two summer interns, and a couple of volunteers) pulled together to raise awareness in a park with a lot of foot traffic in the downtown area of the capital city.
We set up a tent called the Pink Point. Outside of this tent we handed out brochures and engaged people in conversation. Inside the tent we had displays and activities. Number one challenge for me in this outreach event: Not speaking Bulgarian.
So how did I and the other international intern get around this? First of all, we had print materials in Bulgarian to hand out. We learned how to say “Want to learn about equality for all Bulgarians?” (or something like that) and if they said “Da” we would just point to the tent where they could talk to the Bulgarian staff. Ahead of time we were able to contribute in other ways by brainstorming the activities and discussing logistics at the office in English. It worked out pretty well and it just goes to show that communication is more than language — Smiling, open body language, and lots of nodding can go a long way.
We are completely re-branding our organization and starting with the re-naming. If you’ve ever had to name an organization or a child, you know how hard it is. You need to make sure it will work for it as it grows for years and years. You need it not to hold it back and you don’t want it to get teased. Quite the opposite: You need it to inspire confidence and make a good first impression.
It’s a lot of pressure on a couple of words and there are many stakeholders (directors/parents, CEOs/grandparents, staff/siblings). Getting everyone’s input and trying to get 100% consensus on one name can feel impossible. Our process was no exception and there were several disagreements along the way. But in the end, we found a name that expresses the core of who we are.
Our old name was something along the lines of ”The Institute for Training and Community Organizing.” One of our main pain points with this name was its lengthy drawn-out wordy longness. “The Institute” and “ITCO” were its real names and these said absolutely nothing about who we are. The other central issue was that we had outgrown this name: “Training” and “Community Organizing” are now only two of our eight service areas.
It was a descriptive name (like Florida Orange Juice and British Airways) that had lost its descriptive quality. Knowing that our service areas may continue to change, we did not want to go this route again. Different communicationist camps will tell you different categories of name types, but I think descriptive vs. evocative basically covers it. “Evocative” meaning the name evokes a feeling or idea about the product or company instead of being literal. Our new name focuses on our approach instead of services, but isn’t direct about saying it. I think having to describe it will actually be useful in a pitch.
Our new name is meant to highlight what we think makes us unique: our approach, not our specific services. We also went from a name that was 6 words long to one with just 2 words. I believe the change will be well-worth the investment of time and resources and the risk that goes along with feeling like you’re starting from scratch. If you could change your non-profit’s name, would you? What would it be?
One of the responsibilities of being Volunteer Chair for Boston Pride is planning a party to thank all of the volunteers that made the events happen that year. In the past it had been a gathering at a billiards place or bar, but I wanted to make it a real selling point in recruiting volunteers. I approached a few cruise ship companies based out of the Boston Harbor to see if they would be interested in a barter. Boston Harbor Cruises answered the call and donated the ship, staff, food, beer, and wine for a 3-hour event in exchange for a sponsorship package of ads, registrations, etc.
Telling volunteers that they would get a free cruise for volunteering was a huge addition to my pitch. I created a few events within the cruise that I hope will encourage the volunteers to return next year. The first was “Speed Meeting.” Lots of volunteers join up to meet new friends, professional connections, dates, etc. I wanted to make sure those connections were facilitated. I created speed meeting to be like speed dating, but instead of just meeting a date you could meet a friend or other connection. Everyone who wanted to participate had two minutes to talk to a stranger, then I would ring the bell and they would move on to the next fellow volunteer and have two minutes to talk to him or her.
The other was an Awards Ceremony. This was something the Pride Committee had been talking about doing for years, but hadn’t been done, at least for several years. I created awards such as the “Unwavering Loyalty Award” for a volunteer who stood in the rain without an umbrella or rain jacket to complete his task, the ”Sustained Leadership Award” for a group of veteran volunteers, the “Long-Distance Love Award” to the volunteer who had traveled the farthest to be a part of Boston Pride. Winners received certificates, Boston Pride schwag, CD giveaways, and in some cases, tickets to upcoming shows! Overseeing and MC-ing this ceremony was a lot of fun and I think it gave all of the volunteers incentive to return and go above and beyond in 2011.
Giving out an award
The whole event was a blast and the Boston Harbor Cruises staff and Boston Pride Committee team helped out so much that I was even able to enjoy myself too. Being the MC was so much fun – I could live with a microphone in my hand. Thanking volunteers is one of the best parts of being a volunteer coordinator!