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In the summer of 2012, AIGA Nashville paired
three groups of design students with professional designer mentors. The teams
used design thinking to create short-term deliverables and long-term strategies
for local non-profit organizations and then presented the work to the larger
design and business community.
The non-profit organizations went through an
application process and phone interviews prior to being chosen. AIGA Nashville
than vetted the three finalist non-profit organizations to make sure that they
met certain criteria. The student participants had to apply as well. They were
welcome to use the Summer of Good program for internship hours if their school
allowed it. The professional mentors were volunteers as well.
This case study documents the work that was done
with Urban Housing Solutions.
Urban Housing Solutions (UHS) has been in operation
for twenty years. Founded in 1991, their goal is to provide permanent housing
and support services to homeless, disabled and low-income residents. The
Nashville-based organization is an established pioneer and innovator in housing
services and is well-known within the housing community as a leader (no one is
bigger except for the Public Housing Authority in Nashville). However, they
were not well-known in the community at large as they lacked a consistent
visual and verbal branding solution. They needed a solution that would resonate
with their two target audiences—desired renters and potential
donors/influencers—and would therefore aid increasing the community’s awareness
of the organization, attracting volunteers and donations.
Before the program began, AIGA Nashville met with
UHS via conference call where overall goals and a few specific deliverables were
discussed. The following project objectives were established based off of this
call plus information shared during a kick-off meeting between UHS and the
This was an all-volunteer project. AIGA Nashville
hosted a final reception at a local restaurant at the end of the eight-week
After meeting with Rusty Lawrence, executive director
of UHS, at the initial Summer of Good kick-off meeting, where he supplied
a presentation about what his organization does in the community and the
printed publications they have produced in the past, the team met twice with
three people from the UHS team to get things started. In the first meeting, we
tackled learning more about the organization, defining target audiences and
laying out the goals for the project. During the second meeting, our team presented
to UHS the creative brief. We refined it during the meeting, incorporating the
feedback we gained from them. Then our team went on to develop a verbal
branding system, which included brand keywords. We continued to include UHS in
the branding process, allowing them to choose the order and structure of the
final list of keywords we developed.
Before interpreting the verbal branding visually,
we walked around the neighborhoods in Nashville that surround UHS’s office,
viewed pictures of UHS properties and talked with people in the neighborhood to
help us get an idea of how well-known UHS is in the community, as well as the
perceptions of those who might fall into their target audience. After gathering this information and building the foundation with the verbal brand, we began to implement our findings visually.
To establish the visual brand, we focused on six
brand keywords developed as a result of being active listeners during the
initial meetings when the UHS team talked about their organization and what
made it unique. The positioning keywords were: innovation, supportive,
revitalizing, opportunity, community and advancing. We used these six words as
the benchmark during the development and decision-making process of the visual
brand. All aspects of the brand—color, typography and logo mark—had to embody
and reflect these characteristics in order to be deemed successful.
While the final UHS logo mark can be interpreted in
a variety of ways—many doors closed in the face of failed opportunity but one
door open to a second chance, an urban community full of opportunity that is
yet to be discovered, an urban housing complex or high-rise building with
untapped potential—the mark elicits the “correct” response from the
viewer. Innovation, support and community are at the core of who UHS is as an
Timing and follow-through after the program ended
were the two main challenges. Middle Tennessee is a large area and the student
participants had to travel from areas outside of Nashville to meet.
Shannon Leutzinger traveled two hours from Huntsville, Alabama, while
Janey Nachampasak traveled 45 minutes. Planning a meeting time and place that worked
for the students, as well as for the mentor and facilitator (who both work
full-time), was tough at times.
Working with UHS after the program concluded in order to implement the
new brand is a challenge we still face today. Collaborating with Lawrence and
the groups during the program was great, but once it ended, most of the work
between AIGA, the students and UHS concluded as well. UHS is working to
implement the changes and the new website. Hopefully this will be an area for
improvement during the second year of Summer of Good.
This was the first year AIGA Nashville had a Design for Good
program. The Summer of Good program was a success, though it relied upon 100
percent participation from all involved. We are using the summer of 2013 to
strengthen the core of the program by developing a website that explains,
promotes and showcases the program and recruiting a full committee to manage
Summer of Good 2014.
Whether you’re hiring a designer for your department, expanding your design studio or looking for a freelancer, AIGA is the place employers turn to first for qualified candidates. Here’s what you need to know.
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