Lessons from the Atlanta Community Food Bank on rolling out a new brand
After months of meetings and presentations, your new brand is board approved. Huzzah! Time to ‘go live’! But before you do… pause! Taking time to craft a smart rollout plan will be a critical part of your rebrand process. A new brand is more likely to resonate and thrive if it’s rolled out both internally (to staff and board) and externally (to volunteers, donors, partners) with attention and care.
Julie, Atlanta Community Food Bank: Success meant marrying mission with a refreshed look that would send a “get noticed” signal to the community. Hunger is a critical issue, and urgency around ending hunger in our community is vital, achievable, and is something we do together. Success was also very much getting consensus from multiple audiences (board, stakeholders, staff) that we were making the right move with the right look.
Allison, Atlanta Community Food Bank: Success also meant that we not only got love from our staff and constituents, but also from the “old guard.” We have a lot of people at the Food Bank who are 20+ year employees, not to mention constituents who have been with us since our founder was working out of the basement of a local church. The blue and the cornucopia have been long-standing icons of the Food Bank for so long that changing these things felt very nerve wracking. Getting their buy-in was so important.
Ally, Big Duck: Specifically, how did you engage your staff in the brand rollout?
Julie, Atlanta Community Food Bank: This turned out, for us, to be our biggest pivot point. Consider, though, that our staff was pretty change-fatigued coming into this rollout on the heels of a onboarding a new CEO and weathering a massive re-org and launch of a new 10-year strategic plan. It became critical to consider how to engage staff, knowing they could not collectively play a big role in the actual design of the new logo and tagline. Making it fun and engaging became a vital concept. It was the little things that counted—a fun “trunk show” to unveil new brand uniform options; fun swag giveaways at staff meetings where we were simultaneously covering all of the necessary communications around the rollout; an engaging, ceremonial staff exercise and lots of cupcakes and goodies to sweeten the goodbye for a brand that had been near and dear for a long time. Must also say that one of our best investments, besides Big Duck, was the creation of a fun, light-hearted, celebratory brand launch video to say farewell to the old look and introduce the new!
Allison, Atlanta Community Food Bank: To echo Julie’s comments, we also went department by department to go through the steps we took to get to the new brand and to show them how it would be implemented across different areas that may have meant the most to them (trucks, letterhead, etc.). Because we were so change-fatigued, the fact that we were careful to go to every single department and show them the new look helped.
Ally, Big Duck: What has your community’s response been so far to the new brand?
Julie, Atlanta Community Food Bank: Overwhelmingly positive. From our partner agencies to our stakeholders, board members and volunteers—just about everybody has said “We love the new look!” and has been proudly wearing the abundant amount of swag items we handed out.
Allison, Atlanta Community Food Bank: There’s been a lot of revitalization about the Food Bank and what we’re doing because people are noticing the change. Wherever we can put the new brand, we are!
Ally, Big Duck: What advice would you give to another nonprofit rolling out its brand?
Julie, Atlanta Community Food Bank: That there are a lot of moving parts—a LOT. Coming up with the new look is just the starting point. Fully planning how to make sure the brand is effectively launched, accepted and that it gets teed up for a long, highly visible life, is where the real work begins. It is really critical to build a well-constructed plan to consider everything from letting key stakeholders under the curtain early (no surprises), to how to get staff to turn in their old uniforms and wear the new ones, to planning far enough in advance for the simultaneous creation and rollout of new marketing collateral, etc…
Allison, Atlanta Community Food Bank: Have Big Duck on your side. But also, making sure you’re keeping in mind ALL of the moving parts—for us, we had people who wanted to order items prior to our fiscal year ending, and identifying ALL of the places our logo lives, which was much more than we had anticipated.
Ally, Big Duck: While it’s early, can you share any anecdotes about what impact your new brand has made?
Julie, Atlanta Community Food Bank: Hunger exists every day for a whole lot of people—people you may not realize are finding it hard to put meals on the table. Having a new brand sends a bold signal into the community that there is a problem we can solve together. LET’S GO!