Case Study: Global Health Corps—Rebranding a Nonprofit
Global Health Corps (GHC) is a nonprofit organization that promotes global health equity by connecting outstanding young leaders worldwide with organizations working on the frontlines. Recruiting fellows from a wide range of skill sets since 2009, the year-long fellowships serve underserved communities in East Africa and the United States. Landor was asked to help define GHC’s mission, clarify its story and create a new identity system that would appeal to both potential fellows and prospective donors.
Following an extensive audit and analysis phase, we redefined GHC’s mission by creating a clear manifesto for fellows to rally behind, as well as a strategic messaging framework to use when speaking to internal and external audiences. The design team developed an entire new visual system for the organization, consisting of a logo, color palette, typeface, photography style and infographic style.
Guidelines were developed to help explain the system and ensure that it remains intact. We created a number of print asset templates for GHC to use:
- Fellow brand book
- Business cards
- PowerPoint and Word documents
- Timeline documents
- Thank you letter
- New class posters and application flyers
Global Health Corps was selected for Landor’s Brand Aid program—therefore, all work was done pro bono. Brand Aid, Landor New York’s pro-bono program is the manifestation of our commitment to exploring new territories and constantly pushing ourselves forward—to collectively unleash creativity in the service of the greater good. Through Brand Aid, we leverage our passionate network of talented, driven employees to help innovative nonprofit organizations tell their story in a compelling way, providing the tools and skills to enable them to reach new heights. GHC was selected to be the second annual Brand Aid project.
In addition to conducting an extensive visual audit of fellowship programs and health equity-focused nonprofit organizations, we interviewed almost all groups that have been involved with GHC since its inception. We spoke with the group of co-founders, a handful of partner organizations, a few of the major financial supporters as well as current and past fellows to really understand why GHC was different and what made them believe in the organization.
What we discovered is that GHC is committed to achieve health equity through a new and innovative model. Their main goal is to attract and engage talent from across industries (not just from traditional health fields) to solve local problems that, in turn, lead to broader solutions that can be applied in a variety of other contexts. Out in the field, these fellows turn good for some into good for many.
It was clear that the key to GHC’s success was the layering of partnerships—each fellow connects with a co-fellow (in another country). These co-fellows then pick an established health organization and partner with that organization and their personal mentors within the organization. This interconnected network ensures that each fellow’s skill set is put to use, expanding their leadership abilities and facilitating the smooth transfer of knowledge and learning.
Following the discovery phase of the project, strategists and designers came together to define the mission and create the identity. Rather than handle positioning first and then move on to design, the models were developed together.
At GHC, everyone is represented under one common banner—it is the symbol of health equity. The logo is therefore in banner-style to suggest movement and the journey of a fellow as well as the organization’s expansiveness, spanning geographies, cultures and practices. GHC creates community and draws people together for a serious cause while remaining vibrant and optimistic.
We embraced the power of infographics and illustrations to share GHC’s impact and results in a fun and engaging manner. Drawn simply and without frills, our infographics and our use of recognizable icons (like simple human figures, map pins, pie charts and Facebook-like thumbs-up) in GHC’s print and web assets mirror the no nonsense, let’s-get-things-done attitude of the organization.
The colors are vibrant and youthful, to represent the passion and diversity of the organization and their fellows. A gray header and the use of white space serve as a foundation that focuses the energy and balances the organization’s need to appear youthful but professional. The two typefaces in the system do the same by showing both an approachable personality in the editorial headlines and a geometric workhorse for the copy.
Materials that describe who the GHC is and what they accomplish were a priority. We gave them a storytelling toolkit that includes both metrics-driven infographics and in-the-moment snapshots of fellows out in the field. Instagram-style photographs take the stage as a way to connect to the efforts of the fellows. We used photos taken by the fellows themselves so anyone can see what they’re seeing, experience what they’re experiencing and learn what they’re learning. By combining the organization’s data and the fellow’s snapshots, we tried to capture both the organization’s character and the spirit of the fellows within the visual identity.
Beyond the usual brochures and fliers, we found other avenues for the system that excited GHC and built on their mission. The clarity of infographics and icons made us want to use them as an education tool. This led to the creation of a Fellow Guide—a kit that fully explains the organization, the fellows’ role and quick tips that will help fellows become GHC brand ambassadors.
The new branding lives most publicly in the newly launched website. The site received not only a cosmetic makeover, but also a structural overhaul that changed how people interacted with GHC. Our process for creating the website consisted of really listening to the staff at GHC and understanding how fellows, partners and possible donors would use the site. Each group would inevitably use the site in different ways for slightly different reasons, and we tried to address all those needs. We wanted the fellows to be at the forefront, and we accomplished that by giving them a way to share their experiences through a dedicated fellows’ blog that allows visitors to get to know them better. Our desire to help each type of user find what they’re looking for drove the design and easy navigation for the site.
The GHC identity is truly a system. It is successful because of the way that the different elements work together across platforms and touchpoints. It is more than just a logo and a typeface. It is a system of considered elements that speak the same visual language and can be used in all types of collateral. We believe the true marker of success of the overall branding system lies in its ability to fluidly accommodate sponsoring or partner brands whose products or support need to represent GHC correctly. Brand extension ideas—such as partnering with a boot company to create and sell limited edition GHC-branded boots—strengthens both parties and unites their similar ideals and visions. The co-branding and partnership possibilities are endless.
We had to pay special attention to the financial and resource-related constraints that come along with nonprofit organizations. Whatever we created had to be easy to manage and implement. We designed the guidelines to be understood by designers and GHC employees alike. The identity also needed to appeal to a wide range of people—from possible fellows to possible donors to established health organizations.
Our designers were challenged to create something that was easily transferable from medium to medium—a malleable and beautiful system to help move the cause forward.
Since its launch in August 2012, the new GHC website has received 16 times more visitors during the same period the previous year.
There were 111 more fellowship applicants in 2012. GHC also reports a marked increase in the number of positions for which applicants applied. In previous years, applicants expressed interest in an average of two positions but now each applicant applies for an average of three positions—a direct result of a clearer understanding of GHC’s mission and easier navigation through the site.
GHC reports that the rebranding, design and website have improved their external communications with potential fellows, partners and donors.
This case study is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.