Case Study: Life in Abundance Brand Development
Life In Abundance (LIA) is a nonprofit organization that works in several countries throughout northeast Africa. Their goal is to mobilize, train and equip local churches to implement holistic ministries that focus on the poor, orphaned and vulnerable within their own communities. In a market with many voices, they asked us to help them stand out. We have worked with this organization since 2007, first assisting them with their strategy and process and then with their branding both here in the U.S. and in Africa. We designed a new communication system for them that included logo and collateral, as well as ads, brochures and their annual reports. Additionally, we created two documentaries about their work in Africa and produced their first book.
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Our Rule29 team developed much more than a typical business relationship with LIA. After reading and immersing ourselves in the statistics surrounding the unbelievable poverty in sub-Saharan Africa, we knew that only a trip to Africa would do—to experience for ourselves what the facts could merely suggest. Two documentaries, a brand overhaul, several fund-raising campaigns and a book later, we are only beginning to understand.
Because LIA’s founder and CEO wanted to keep the meaning behind the existing bird image as their logo, we researched the iconography for the main countries in Africa where the logo would appear, exploring different colors, styles and options. We read statistics and tried to wrap our heads around what they meant: Could it really be that bad in so many areas? We wrestled with the impact these huge issues had on how we handled the brand development. Gradually, a clearer picture of the needs, the people and the statistics emerged for us. We knew that we needed to create a bold brand, but one that was also simple, peaceful, hope-filled and usable in all countries throughout the continent. All of this needed to work in conjunction with a fundraising and communication strategy that would convey the magnitude of the need, the existence of hope and the possibility of sustainable change.
Creating a brand for a nonprofit poses different challenges than one might encounter in less mission-driven companies. It took a lot of client interaction to develop the necessary understanding of what they were about and what they wanted to accomplish—not just in the U.S. but also in Kenya and Ethiopia. For example, their original logo, which used a bird image, didn’t communicate the help, peace and friendliness they desired (we nicknamed it the “war bird”) here in the U.S., where the majority of fundraising would take place.
To introduce a new logo required trust and collaboration on LIA’s part as well as ours. For us, the challenge was to truly understand the culture of the Africans that LIA serves; it necessitated actually experiencing it by traveling to Africa multiple times. On LIA’s part, they had to trust us with their story, and they gradually gained confidence that we understood the challenges of cross-cultural communication and that we “got” what they were attempting to achieve—we understood their “why.”
Our collaboration with LIA over the past five years has helped the organization grow dramatically and serve more people in more places:
- Total donations to LIA have grown by 300 percent over five years
- Programs are now operating in 10 countries across two continents
- The total number of people served is now in excess of 50,000 per year in lifelong initiatives
In addition, we believe LIA branding is consistent and relevant both in the West and in the countries the organization servies (cross-cultural recognition and professionalism has been achieved). LIA has become a viable force that many look to as a trendsetter in faith-based community development.
For more on the work of Life in Abundance, visit their site.