In addressing the organization’s needs, we looked at several objectives:
We started by reviewing the research that two other firms had conducted for NRC, assessing the fundraising base and demographics. This provided us with an overview of how NRC raised money (largely through direct mail and telemarketing) and with an extensive breakdown by program type and donor analysis and trends.
To confirm our understanding of NRC’s brand needs, and to set the stage for a successful engagement, we met with the organization’s leadership to discuss their brand. The workshop provided the opportunity to share NRC’s history as it pertained to moving the brand forward, explore NRC’s brand uniqueness, and clarify the issues and expectations around the naming the organization.
We conducted an extensive competitive review of more than 100 Native American relief and related organizations to understand the types of organizations that existed, the names used in the sector, their missions, size, and scope. We learned that there are not many national organizations, but a preponderance of smaller local organizations that might compete with National Relief Charities for funds on particular issues, such as education and health.
Before generating names, we wrote a Creative Brief to get everyone on the same page about what the name should accomplish and to list the criteria and considerations for the name. The Creative Brief included Image Criteria, Functional Criteria, Directional Naming Considerations, and the Decision-Making Process for choosing the name. We also wrote a Brand Statement that summarized what NRC is all about in order to provide direction for generating names.
From the discovery process, three main approaches for the naming strategy emerged:
Geographic Focus (Plains, Southwest): This would be familiar to current donors, but might narrow appeal, lose national impact, and face strong regional competition.
Category of Services (Education, Health/Medical, Economic): Appeals to donors’ interests and may be able to represent both long- and short-term objectives.
Consideration for how they translate to foundation/”big gift” interest.
Short vs. Long-term Focus (Immediate Need vs. Long-term Capacity Building): Clearly positions NRC around its two primary program areas going forward, and better positions NRC to attract foundation/corporate support and major donors. Not as much appeal to individual donors.
We explored broadly in generating names for the parent brand, developing Descriptive and Evocative Names, names that were literal, benefit-oriented, metaphorical, and action-oriented. Here is a small selection showing the range of names generated.
We discussed the initial list of names with the client. The goal at this stage was to assess the types of names that would be suitable. It was determined that Descriptive names would best work for the organization, and so the Evocative names were discarded. The word ”partnership” resonated as a leading term.
Three main concepts emerged from this phase: Native American aid and advancement, impact, and partnership). The top names (along with various iterations) were:
Based on client feedback, we narrowed the list down and vetted the short list for for potential conflicts. We used the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office database, Google searches, and social media sites to make sure the names were available. We also checked domain names, searching for various iterations of the names to determine what was taken and what was available. At the end of this stage, we had a list of names with available domains and an understanding of potential conflicts.
Through discussions with members of NRC’s executive team and further analysis by Red Rooster Group staff, three specific themes emerged: Partnership, Impact, and Network.
At this stage, NRC wanted to know which of these concepts resonated best with key stakeholder groups, including higher-end program partners, board members, and recent consultants. We conducted 18 in-depth interviews with a range of constituents to generate qualitative feedback on three primary themes, each with three name options, in order to determine which themes and names were most effective.
Two of the three themes came out as preferred among those who were interviewed: Partnership and Network. We also gathered specific positive and negative impressions for each of the themes, suggested names, and other aspects of naming.
Our goal was to refine the list of nine names into a working list of three options. These names would then be tested in surveys of an internal audience of NRC donors and as well as an external audience of people unfamiliar with National Relief Charities. Thethree names were:
We then conducted a randomized survey of NRC’s internal donor base to field-test the appeal of iterations of the parent names and get insight into program preferences and loyalties. Variations of the survey were created, based on which of the eight sub-brands they donated to.
We asked how well each of the names communicated the organization’s mission, as well as personal preferences for the names. We also uncovered insights into donors’ giving habits — with questions about donors’ favorite programs and how they rated various services (food and nutrition, education, emergency aid, etc.). We also learned about preferences for the organization’s long-term focus on sustainability versus short-term focus on relief, and whether they had donated to other Native American organizations.
Four new names were also tested to determine how well they delivered against a range of other attributes (respect, trust, knowledge, community, financial stewardship). While the differences in some areas were minimal, Partnership for Native Americans scored highest across the board. More than 700 donors completed the survey, providing a statistically valid sample of NRC’s audience.
A critical element of the NRC re-branding effort was to consolidate its eight program sub-brands in a way that both supported the new parent name while preserving the funding appeal of the organization’s three primary focus areas:
In considering directions for the sub-brand renaming strategy, we evaluated the strengths and weaknesses of each program name and focus of service. For example, strong regional loyalties had been established but keeping those might get in the way of the organization’s mission of establishing a national identity and broadening its donor base. Short-term aid has been a critical part of NRC’s mission but the organization is committed to building its credibility as a provider of longer-term solutions. For each area, Red Rooster Group developed a set of criteria to help direct the re-naming process. A block of questions had been added to the internal donor survey to gauge program name and service loyalties. The results revealed that:
Based on this research and on discussions with the NRC executive team and other stakeholders, Red Rooster Group recommended three sub-brands under the new parent name, Partnership for Native Americans:
After the names had been established, we started designing a brand architecture that unified the parent brand and its sub-brands into a cohesive brand family that could be easily recognized by supporters of all the programs. This would allow the organization to take credit for all of its programs and expand its fundraising appeal.
We also did an extensive review of logos in use by other Native American charities, as well as iconography in popular culture depicting Native Americans.
To prepare for the logo design process, we reviewed Native American symbols to understand what various symbols meant and how they related to specific tribes.
In our initial round, we presented six conceptual design directions to create a brand family for the organization. Our goal was to provide a fresh look that stood out from other Native American charities.
In this concept, we used a geo-metric pattern borrowed from Native American iconography, but used an overlap effect to give it a contemporary look. The overlapping arrows forming a familiar Native American symbol represented the way the organization comes together with Native Americans. Simple shapes were used to create symbols for the sub-brands, with maroon and sky blue as the consistent colors to tie all the
In this concept, overlapping hands that evoke an eagle (a Native American symbol representing protection, strength, and courage) are used to form various other symbols including a tepee, heart, person, and bird in flight.
Traditional feathers are given a modern twist in this design with different arrangements in contemporary colors that unite all the brands.
Inspired by drawings on tepees, this series uses bold colors and unexpected cropping to create a modern look.
Overlapping hands forming a tepee, and a heart in way that evokes Native American weaving is the prime symbol in this design. In this case, we used the same symbol for the parent and sub-brands, with just a change of color to distinguish them.
In this version, we explored the concept of using the parent name in a predominant way throughout the system, subordinating the sub-brands. The name, rendered in a suggestive, but not cliché typeface, is the leading element, rather than a symbol.
As with many organizations that use their branding process as an impetus for other organizational improvements, NRC was rebuilding its board during this process. The new name reflecting its partnership with Native Americans had attracted new board members.
After discussions with the new board members about the contemporary logo direction, the board decided it wanted a more traditional Native American approach with the medicine wheel as the basis for the organizational logo.
This shift to the more traditional Native American approach also influenced the sub-brand names. The original decision was to condense all but two of NRC’s programs into the newly named parent, but the new board put geographic identification of Native American tribes back on the table. Ultimately, two of the sub-brands that we originally recommended were kept, and two geographic sub-brands were added (Northern Plains Reservation Aid and Southwest Reservation Aid).
Given the task of building out the sub-brand logos in a way that connected them with the parent logo, we rendered the medicine wheel concept with brush strokes, allowing us to use that style for the sub-brands to create a consistent look across the organization. We then explored colors that would best represent each of the sub-brands.
To help NRC understand how to transition from the current brand to the new brand, we developed Transition Plans. These showed how the old and new logos would be gradually phased in so recognition for the new brand could build on the foundation of loyalty to the existing brand.
This Transition Plan shows how ROAR evolves into Reservation Animal Rescue. This is the current sub-brand in use on direct mail and email solicitations.
The new parent name is introduced with the new typography but the old logo is maintained so donors recognize the organization on direct mail pieces. ROAR is identified with a “formerly” line.
The “formerly” line is removed.
The new icon replaces the old icon.
Once the logos were finalized, we developed a Brand Manual that included the brand elements and usage guidelines.
To help the organization announce the new name, we wrote letters to each of the eight main constituencies — staff, donors, partners, media, and others. Each of the letters was customized for the particular audience, addressing their specific concerns about the name change.
The organization is using its new identity as the basis for its new website and launching a public relations campaign to gain greater awareness for the organization. By reducing the number of sub-brands that it uses for fundraising, the organization is able to consolidate its fundraising efforts, cutting the amount of direct mail it sends in half and reducing costs significantly.
We chose Red Rooster Group to help us develop a brand identity with maximum impact. They were quick to grasp our business and highly respectful of the unique culture and tradition of the Native American communities we serve. Our new name – Partnership With Native Americans – helps donors, the media, and the public understand that we partner with and invest in Native American communities. Having our brand immediately associated with our work and easily found through Internet searches is helping us achieve our mission by connecting us with those interested in Native causes. Within the first six months, our brand awareness achieved parity with our old brand that had been used for 25 years, and it’s continuously growing. We applaud Red Rooster Group for their exceptional guidance on this critical investment.