Brand Building at the Prospect Park Alliance
When I became the head of marketing at the Prospect Park Alliance, the non-profit organization that manages Brooklyn’s flagship park in partnership with the City, I was given a marketing professional’s dream situation and perhaps biggest challenge: creating a new website for the organization starting on day one—and adding to that, by my own initiative, the freshening of the brand identity.
The Alliance had just completed the Samuel J. and Ethel LeFrak Center at Lakeside, an award-winning recreation center designed by Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architect, and an infusion of good will and heightened fundraising had provided the resources to take on this project, and in short time and with an ambitious timeline, we kicked off work.
The project went smoothly and was overall a success, and I attribute this to several steps that were taken along the way:
Set a strategy
About a year before I came to the Alliance, the organization hired Big Duck to undertake a brandraising intensive with leadership and key stakeholders. This valuable process, which identified the Alliance’s key audiences, its brand “personality” and the start of key messaging for the organization, served as a valuable strategic road map for our brand refresh and website redesign.
Consider the Brand History and equity
For every organization, its history and focus for the future will dictate what direction to take with its brand identity. For the Alliance, we felt that its most recent brand identity, designed by Chermayeff & Geismar in 2002, had resonance with our audiences, so rather than start from scratch, our designers built on that brand equity by streamlining and modernizing our existing mark, and introducing full brand system that played to our key brand characteristics.
I am lucky to work in an environment with colleagues and leadership that were fully supportive of this project – this is not always the case. But even in the best situations, building consensus goes a long way toward ensuring the success of the project. From day one, I assembled a leadership team that was charged with making final decisions on the project, which met a key milestones in the project’s development. In each phase of the project, the consultants met with key departments at the Alliance to gather their input and perspective. This not only ensured that the project went smoothly, but in my opinion also improved upon the design work.
Create a Full Brand System
Rather than just creating a logo and calling it a new brand identity, our designers fleshed out a full brand system, with our website as the first significant project. At the end of the project, we were provided with a font family, color palette, photography style guide, templates for creating the various types of print materials produced by the organization, letterhead, electronic newsletters, and even a system for branding all the work we do in Prospect Park. Consistency is incredibly important in establishing a brand and raising its profile, and this system was essential for our achieving these goals. Rather than restricting our designers, the new system has provided them with creative approaches for working within the system to produce strong and beautiful materials for our organization.
The results can be seen in the success of our marketing and fundraising activities – since the launch of our brand identity and website in late 2014, we have grown our email audience by nearly 200 percent, and have additional gains in our fundraising efforts with key audiences.
Deborah Kirschner is a marketing and communications professional with more than 20 years experience in the non-profit cultural sector. She oversees a full range of marketing and communications activities as the Assistant Vice President of Marketing and Communications at the Prospect Park Alliance, the non-profit organization that sustains, restores and advances Brooklyn’s flagship park in partnership with the City. Deborah was responsible for the development and implementation of a new brand identity for the organization, as well as the launch of a new website, and is currently spearheading the marketing and promotional activities around the Park’s 150th anniversary celebration.