Case Study: U.S. Navy CEC-OSC Identity Launch
Wars and natural disasters had a big impact on the first decade of the 2000s, making volunteer participation from military spouses needed more than ever. In time for the 60th anniversary of the U.S. Navy Civil Engineer Corps Officers’ Spouses’ Club (CEC-OSC), we established a CEC-OSC identity to support communications among target audiences and to increase community morale and participation.
Research and strategy
We researched 60 years’ worth of club archives, strategized club bylaws and constitution updates, and compiled data from the current culture and communication metrics. The team built a custom club identity taking into account the history, culture and long-standing “bee” theme related to Seabee history and various other service facets of the U.S. Navy.
The identity components include a logo, coins, stationery, certificates, a masthead and cover page design, as well as a website, Facebook page and photo archive updates. The bee image is the basis for the materials that target communication to audiences with dignity and a compelling call to action. We brought to the forefront the club mission of friendship and service with the tagline, “Promoting esprit de corps”— group spirit—“everywhere we go!”
It was a challenge to carve a visual identity for a club that formed back in 1950. The CEC logo was prominently used early on, but was found to be lacking on club materials for the latter part of the last century and the beginning of this century. Communication was also a challenge with widespread audiences and ages. Also, CEC spouses who were not club members were not privy to information that members had on a monthly basis. Tight economics with time restraints on members and nonmembers were also a challenge.
The identity design launch was successful because it impacted volunteer participation in the CEC Community. Board and committee participation increased 50 percent and continues to thrive. The limited-edition coins reached and recognized CEC spouses servicing across our nation at the end of a critical decade in U.S. history. The club’s website and Facebook page launch increased dissemination of news with an online payment option, reaching prospective members, and giving worldwide spouse service an image to the public. Our team website launch brought in 445 visitor views in the first year, with 26–38 visits per month on a continuing basis. The Facebook page has reached and engaged spouses relocating to DC, and has up to 67 visits per week. With new enthusiasm, participation has increased at club events, public recognition from high-ranking officials has increased at CEC events and CEC monthly news updates from the chief to club members have begun. Seventy-five club members joined out of one hundred CEC spouses in the DC Area. As the CEC spouse organization for the nation's capital, we are leaders for other clubs serving in the nation and the world. The team enhanced the tradition of the CEC community’s legacy for future generations. We bridged the gap that unknowingly developed without a club visual identity, making the entire local CEC community stronger going into this new decade and for future generations.
Our work also had an influence on the Military Spouse Residency Relief Act (MSRRA) becoming law. Our 2007–2009 CEC-OSC president, Joanna Williamson, with her partners and club member participation, led the efforts in this area. The MSRRA amended the Service Member's Civil Relief Act (SCRA) of 1940, guaranteeing the equity of the spouse of military personnel by providing them the option to claim the same state of domicile as their active duty spouse, and guarantees equity regarding matters of property, taxes, voting and residency. Often, military spouses would experience impediments in voting and property ownership as well as deterrents in employment and education because they accompany their active duty spouse under federal government orders.
Our team came into place after Joanna’s presidency and before the act became law. On October 16, 2009, the 2009–2010 CEC-OSC president sent a letter to First Lady Michelle Obama to share our club identity and plans, as it related to her military-family focus as First Lady, and also to request changes, including for the MSRRA to become law, to aid military spouses.
Although our team's part was small compared to the leaders and the folks “in the trenches” cold calling and posting to Facebook for MSRRA support, the visual identity that the 2009-2010 team established aided the efforts to serve spouses and the larger community, and recognized U.S. military spouses serving worldwide at a critical time in our nation's laws and history. Our collective efforts were met with a receptive government. Not only did the MSRRA become law on November 11, 2009, but the First Lady Michelle Obama and Second Lady Dr. Jill Biden announced a Presidential Directive on Military Families on May 12, 2010. As stated in the press release about this initiative, “President Barack Obama has directed the National Security Staff to lead a new 90-day review to develop a coordinated Federal government-wide approach to supporting and engaging military families.” The results of this government-wide study directive were released on January 24, 2011. Later, the campaign Joining Forces was formed by First Lady and Second Lady to increase public awareness of issues facing military families, in addition to the entire administration taking action to lay a foundation that will live on across the nation for all uniformed services—serving America's military families for years to come.
In more recent news, in 2012 the nation’s first military spouse career fair took place in Washington, DC, on January 13, 2012, with the support of business alliances and Joining Forces. The past 2009–2010 CEC-OSC president received a letter back from First Lady Michelle Obama on March 10, 2012, and at this year's Anniversary Ball on March 17, 2012, in Washington, DC, military spouses were called to the podium with their active duty service member in honor of their part in the U.S. service member's awards.
Our 2009–2010 club multimedia campaign, for establishing our image to the public, communicated these past years through multiple presidencies and engaged active, retired and new military spouses in our community. Fourteen Facebook participants joined membership as of August 2012, since the launch. Forty-two members have been active at events and on the board and various committees going into the 2013–2014 year. The people we serve across our nation and around the world were also engaged. In addition to the United States, 14 locations around the world connected to our Facebook site alone and many countries were also engaged through our website and mobile site. We have been featured in DC Military Family Life, and CEC Officers, NAVFAC and MOAA have connected through our Facebook community. Many positive changes on the national level, and many new initiatives serving military spouses and their families, have taken place across our country since this campaign’s conception, correspondence and outreach. The sites also served the community through emergency crisis communication news updates that helped families affected by the Washington Navy Yard incident in September 2013. Honoring our past as we moved into the new decade, carving an identity that needed to be spoken and heard, we paved the way for the future, knowing that others in America would follow.
In August 2013, the club started transitioning to the current CEC-OSC president’s vision for her second-year term for CEC Spouses’ future, with a new Facebook group activity correspondence, newsletter and free website for October 2013. As a military family advocate, I am honored for retirement now after eight years active military spouse and board/committee service, and over four years retired committee service to our CEC community. We hope the club will continue to grow into this century for future generations of CEC families. We have been thankful for, and honored to benefit from, the new initiatives that have recently taken place on a national level. We hope all families who serve our nation continue to benefit from these many changes and, in turn, contribute to and benefit our world for future generations.
The entire identity, stationery and certificate printing was produced by the club at no charge to the community, and only member time was spent. The coin and web publishing were paid for by the CEC-OSC budget using only $391 in extra funds that year. Stationery printing was donated. We ended the year with a surplus in the overall budget. The art is copyrighted by Denise McCall, creative director/designer/illustrator, for use by the U.S. Navy CEC-OSC, Washington, DC.
The team served its military community and nation, and the club mission ultimately serves the world. The travel and service exposure U.S. military families have in their lifetime impacts everyone’s future. Morale affects the military community, the health of military families and, ultimately, the health of the nation. Military spouses are vital to American family values and prosperity. As partners to military officers in times of peace and war, military spouses answer the call to serve with quiet sacrifice, grace under pressure and conviction of purpose.
This case study is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.