Case Study: Team RWB Brand Development
Team Red, White & Blue is an organization that exists to transform the way America supports its wounded veterans when they return from active duty. Team RWB’s intention is to create a community of veterans, their families and American citizens who can enjoy authentic social interaction and shared experiences through activities and events all across the country. USA Today, The Daily Show and the United Service Organizations are just some of the national organizations that have partnered with or featured Team Red, White & Blue. The Rule29 team has been a part of this effort from the beginning as Team RWB’s brand partner. Rule29 has helped them tell their story through print, wearables, environmentals and a comprehensive online strategy and implementation. Rule29 also assisted Team RWB with their national partnership campaigns, video series and social media.
To date, the budget is in the $80,000 range, with some services being donated.
Our team needed to understand the military, veteran and civilian culture of Team Red, White & Blue. In order to create a complete identity that really communicated the breadth and depth of Team RWB’s vision and values, we had to understand the challenges, needs and obstacles faced by returning veterans, as well as the solutions Team RWB proposed: physical fitness, social interaction, regaining a sense of military pride and community involvement. Rule29 also explored various fundraising and nonprofit tools in order to incorporate into the work.
Types of research included the following: competitor analysis, marketing research, user testing, visual exploration, ethnographic research and qualitative research.
Our first goal was to create a strong and memorable patriotic mark, one that would symbolize a military focus, create visual recognition, and be something vets and athletes would be proud to wear to help create conversation. The phrase “Wear the Eagle” has become a call to action, highlighting what it means to be part of TRWB.
Our next project was creating the Team RWB website—the hub of their communication. The site has evolved over time and now boasts in-depth organizational information as well as chapter details and a map, veteran statistics, an updated blog and a customized Ning community for veterans and Team RWB participants to network more privately across the country. R29 helped Team RWB make forays into social media, resulting in more than 10,000 followers on Facebook.
The challenges we encountered were tiered. First, we needed to create awareness of the new type of post-9/11 veteran and their needs. Sadly, all veteran support has been primarily modeled on the needs of Korean and Vietnam war veterans, but we have a whole new generation with different struggles, disabilities and desires. We also have a public that is largely uneducated about the struggles our vets face as they attempt to reengage in civilian life. The media primarily highlights the amputee vets, but all vets come back changed in some way. Many have invisible wounds that can be much more difficult to address.
When TRWB called on R29 to help get the message out, we set about creating a brand and some identifying gear that could be worn and displayed to help generate grassroot conversations at both local and national events. Utilizing TRWB’s network and online support presence, we were confident we could get the ball rolling on the awareness and advocacy training ASAP.
Another challenge was that while we had hoped for some traction in the first two years, after only one year the message and brand had gained much national recognition, and this caused unforeseen demands to which this fledgling organization—as well as our team—scrambled to respond.
There were other challenges as well:
- TRWB’s founder wanted to make sure that the messaging was always positive, communicating the huge issues facing veterans but keeping the focus on the many solutions available.
- There was the challenge of implementing consistent branding throughout an organization primarily made up of remote volunteers running local chapters. Because of the meteoric growth (beginning with two chapters that quickly grew to 63), each RWB community was stretched in unique ways.
- Beyond the local growth, TRWB is becoming a global presence, and this brings new branding hurdles that R29 is strategizing to address and implement.
With consistent branding, an incredible network of supporters and volunteers, and a new look, Rule29 has helped Team Red, White & Blue’s exposure continue to grow. They are currently viewed as the premiere veterans’ organization, and with 1.2 million veterans coming home over the next four years, R29 is helping them ramp up from 20 active chapters to (hopefully) 100 in the near future. Additionally, organizations like the Bob Woodruff Foundation approved a sizable grant to TRWB, which will be used to expand fitness and recreation programs at 12 of their most active chapters around the country. Other organizations that have joined forces with Team RWB include the Travis Manion Foundation, K-Swiss, Kraft Foods, New Balance and Vanguard. Their advisory board includes retired military leaders like General Frank Kearney and celebrities Elisabeth and Tim Hasselbeck, to name just a few.
The organization has been featured on Fox & Friends, the Today Show, The Daily Show and NPR, and has been covered in Psychology Today and many other national publications and media outlets. Team RWB has recently partnered with the USO. There are currently 2,300 veteran and active duty ambassadors and 5,500 athletes and advocates helping to fulfill the vision of Team RWB, and Rule29 is honored to be an ongoing part of making that happen.
The best representation of this project is Team Red, White & Blue’s website, which shows the range of features we were able to create.
This case study is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.