Optimize My Brand

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Creative Company expands NYSAC and AOC brand

New York State Association of Counties and Association of Oregon Counties see an expanded brand system and new look for communications

MCMINNVILLE, OR: Creative Company expanded the brand identity system for two government associations, the New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC) and the Association of Oregon Counties (AOC). NYSAC and AOC chose Creative Company to increase visibility and perceived value with updated brand standards. Work included broadening the color palette, standardizing logo elements and building letterhead and publication templates.

Expand the brand for effective communication

After speaking at a conference for county association directors, Creative Company President Jennifer Larsen Morrow was contacted by Stephen Acquario, Executive Director of NYSAC, to synchronize communications and strengthen the association’s image. Shortly after, Morrow was contacted by AOC to undergo a similar expanded brand identity program.

Morrow’s presentation emphasized how audience perception is guided by the visual presentation. If documents are hard to read or don’t look professional, important information will be missed. As communication volume increases, it’s harder to capture attention and hold the interest of all audiences. Membership-driven associations must deliver high perceived value.

With goals to improve audience attention and perceived value, and streamline production of more attractive materials–Creative Company went to work for NYSAC and AOC.

A broader color palette, formats for materials, and messaging

Expand the brand color palette

Color palette chart in the Identity and Style Guide

Expand the brand on publication templates

Publication template for documents, designed for easier reading with two columns, and highlights of important ideas.

The expanded brand identity system for NYSAC build on the existing logo with a broader color palette, specific fonts and document layout templates. An identity guide established standards. Creative Company also wrote value statements for members and provided edits and feedback for important legislative documents. Final document templates, designed for easier reading, were created for the internal communications staff. A series of email templates were designed for daily and weekly contact with members and other important audiences.

“Being responsible for NYSAC’s communications, it is critical for me that we are always putting our best face forward. This work with Creative Company has enabled our Association to package and promote our work in ways that we were not able to do before. Our message hasn’t changed, but it is more valuable because it no longer gets lost in the clutter. Our form now better follows our function,” said Mark F. LaVigne, Deputy Director of NYSAC.

Branded email template

An email template for standardizing daily communications.

NYSAC Executive Director Stephen J. Acquario added, “Having all forms of communication reflect the NYSAC brand consistently has immeasurable and noticeable value. Prior to making these changes, our documents, publications, emails and other forms of communication were ad hoc and inconsistent. Our new forms enable us to project a more finished and professional image.”

From letterhead templates to templates for booklets and brochures, NYSAC is now able to help members absorb the valuable information they provide. Percieved value is vastly improved with the refreshed brand identity system.

Association of Oregon Counties refreshed their brand identity

For AOC, Creative Company developed a one-page brand identity guideline, consolidated logo versions and easy-to-use Microsoft Office letterhead templates and PowerPoint templates. Brand training for office staff introduced the new brand elements and communication templates while reinforcing the value of consistent branding to improve audience perception.

“Members want to take pride in their organization.”

“In the world of membership associations, image matters both internally and externally. Members want to be able to take pride in their organization. An organization’s credibility begins with how it is perceived. Paying attention to the details of image optimizes both objectives,” stated AOC Executive Director Mike W. McArthur.

expand the brand with broader colors and a style guide for Association of Oregon Counties

Brand Identity Style Guide for Association of Oregon Counties

“Jennifer Morrow provided the impetus to move AOC to the next level in developing our brand image. She absorbed our ideas, led us to creative solutions and helped motivate the staff to adopt the changes.”

The goal of the expanded brand identity systems is to increase member engagement while creating a higher perceived value. Creative Company refreshed AOC and NYSAC communications for their audiences. The simpler, cleaner look helps different audiences and understand key messages.

expanded brand includes letterhead templates

Letterhead template to standardize logo, text formatting and overall layouts

Government and associations benefit from branding too

“Most government associations don’t incorporate marketing or branding concepts since they don’t have a product to sell. But marketing is about understanding your audiences and communicating effectively.

“Understanding how people access information — most scan and don’t read — provides the direction for simplified layouts, shorter chunks of copy with subheads, good use of color and a consistent brand presentation to enable quick recognition,” explained Morrow.

A presentation on the successful brand expansion work for NYSAC and AOC was added to the continuing education series for the National Council of County Association Executives (NCCAE) at the National Association of Counties (NACo) conference in July, 2011.

When other county associations contacted Creative Company for a brand review, we recommend starting with a brand audit. An audit identifies inconsistencies and how and where to simplify communications to elevate audience perceptions.

Ready for more ideas and tactics for internal branding and training? A few links …

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About the author

Jennifer Larsen Morrow

Jennifer's four decades of work in the industry, starting as a designer and adding marketing, copywriting and digital marketing, has generated response for clients since 1978.

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