Why rebrand after helping children

for almost a century?

The Children’s Center


Fundraising, relevance, and retention were on the down slope

As The Children’s Center in Midtown Detroit expanded its offering from a handful of services in 1929 to more than 30 today, it became increasingly challenging to talk about their work in a meaningful and relevant manner. It was very difficult for families to understand what The Children’s Center did and how it could help their children. Some had no idea The Children’s Center even existed—right there in their own backyard. Desktop Publisher was on everyone’s desk and they all used it. Their brand had become weak and diluted with mixed messages and uninspired imagery. It was being communicated in a variety of voices. Worse yet, lost relevance, inconsistent messaging, and a weakened brand severely undermined donor trust and confidence, which had a significant adverse impact on their fundraising results.

The climate

To compound its challenges, The Children’s Center also faced an increasingly competitive giving environment. They were competing for the same pool of donors and corporate sponsors. Donors were still giving, but to fewer charities. Government funding was shrinking. And, they had an identity problem: They were often being confused with the Children’s Hospital in Detroit, who has a strong identity and great reputation within the same community.

To address these growing challenges, The Children’s Center came to us for help redefining and strengthening their brand, and improving the donor and consumer experience across all touch points of its brand.

What we did

While interviewing families, staff, donors, board members, volunteers, community partners and corporate sponsors, we determined that The Children’s Center was committed to improving the lives of children and families through three key principles: 1) a holistic approach to care, 2) advocate for children in need, and 3) heal with advanced expertise. The result is their essence or what they stand for at their core: Helping children and families heal, grow and dream again. We then conducted in-depth audits of peer organizations to assess the competition, evaluating messaging, identity, presentation, and overall experience. Armed with this insight, we moved forward with a total rebrand.

Taking a peek under the hood

Our first step was to perform a comprehensive brand and communications audit. This included an deep-dive review of all marketing and communications collateral (digital and print), cultivation and stewardship tools, internal processes, internal and external marketing resources, communications tools and technology, use of social media platforms as well as their approach to sponsorships, events, advertising, community outreach and PR/Media relations.

Archetype mapping to reveal the brand personality

We also performed archetype mapping to reveal their brand persona. Not just to help shape the brand’s personality, but inform how to create brand affinity and how best to engage its many audiences.

Putting their brand house in order

Leveraging all data and insights gathered, we created a powerful messaging system, a strong “advocacy” voice, new program collateral, technologically advanced and meaningful website, a compelling brand story (print and digital), communication tools designed to empower employees and loyal supporters to evangelize the mission of The Children’s Center, and a unique philanthropy engagement system to help support their robust fundraising goals. We also created multichannel communications strategies and developed PR/media relations plan focusing on establishing The Children’s Center as a leading authority on the topic of children’s mental and behavioral health.

Brand launch

Finally, we set the stage for the brand rollout by providing leadership, employees, board members and loyal donors with tools they needed to launch the new brand in their own circles of influence, empowering each to talk about the work they do —and why it matters — in a powerful, and consistent manner. In a way that inspires giving and desire to be a part of what’s happening at The Children’s Center.

The results

It didn’t take long for The Children’s Center to see a significant return on its investment. The Development team leveraged the new brand to help triple philanthropy. The new brand is clear, simple and human. Families, donors and key stakeholders now truly “get” what they do, why it matters, and what role they can play to help advance the mission.


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