Case study: United Way of London & Middlesex

United Way of London & Middlesex logoCompany
United Way of London & Middlesex

The purpose of this contract position was to develop and lead a branding process to re-position the iconic United Way from a ‘fundraiser’ to a ‘community impact’ brand (a movement United Ways were undertaking, individually, worldwide). The work included:

  • Development of a multi-year, integrated communications plan
  • Facilitation of two separate but parallel collaborative processes with staff and the board of directors to create a new vision, mission and set of values and other brand elements (e.g. personality, promise)
  • Development of internal processes and tools, including:
    • A comprehensive brand platform document
    • A staff orientation document and presentation
    • Trainings and resources to facilitate the change management and to gain support for the re-positioned brand and the “new way of doing things”
    • An ‘impact toolkit’ of stats, stories and testimonials
    • Logo, photo and key messaging libraries
    • Internal communications calendar
  • Creation of a postcard campaign, presentation and a video to publicly launch the new vision, mission and values
  • Development of external collateral such as facts sheets for each priority area, fundraising letters and factsheets and a bi-annual newsletter
  • Project management of the re-skinning of the existing website to align with the refreshed visual components of the brand
  • Development of news items and stories for media, social media and the website

Opportunity & approach
The United Way of London & Middlesex made the decision to evolve its mandate to become a ‘community impact’ organization. Very simply, ‘impact’ means that success is measured by the systematic, social outcomes an organization can facilitate versus its outputs. As a very simplified example, let’s say an output is a healthy breakfast. A related outcome is a student who successfully graduated because she was able to concentrate on her lessons and not her hunger. United Way of London & Middlesex was an early adopter of the community impact model in Canada. The move to impact was well underway in the American United Way movement but not yet in Canada. This made my local United Way pretty progressive — and made the work even more rewarding and exciting.

I began this project by gaining the insight and opinions from internal and external stakeholders and immersing myself in the local, national and American research that existed on this movement. I then conducted an audit to identify the organization’s brand and communications strengths, weaknesses and gaps. Informed by my research and audit, I developed and executed a multi-year communications plan. I built a good relationship with and worked extremely closely with the organization’s director responsible for community impact to ensure the branding and the programming were 100% in sync. As you can see from the deliverables above, the work encompassed a number of trainings for staff and board members, the development of a variety of internal tools and resources, the creation of brand-specific campaigns and the writing and production of a number of external communications materials and stories to re-enforce the impact brand in action.

Within three years, the United Way of London & Middlesex fully re-positioned to an ‘impact brand’. Both the process and the end result were very successful and were widely and warmly supported. In fact, staff, volunteers, donors, funded agencies and government and community partners became strong advocates of the re-positioned brand. This can be largely attributed to the extensive groundwork that was done with internal and external stakeholders to make sure they understood the what, why and how of this change and to involve them in its development.

91% of staff and board members ‘agreed’ or ‘strongly agreed’ that the brand platform document I created and rolled-out “increased their understanding of the United Way impact brand”.

United Way staff, volunteers and community partners revisited the impact brand several years after it was in place. The organization re-committed to the brand and the vision, mission and values that were developed under my leadership. The vision, mission and values developed in 2008 remain in place today.

From the client
“Nathalie provided tremendous leadership as United Way explored its branding. In this role, she designed our strategic communication plan, and delivered on time sensitive collateral, moving adeptly within both strategic and operational levels. Her functions extended to staff and volunteer training, student supervision, liaising with designers, and media relations. Most importantly, Nathalie was instrumental in the creation of United Way’s brand platform. She led a rigorous staff and Board engagement process leading to updated vision, mission, values, as well as overall brand guidelines.” – Kelly McManus, former United Way of London & Middlesex Community Partnerships & Investment Director


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