How the organization formerly known as the Robert Crown Center for Health Education rebranded to become Candor Health Education to better represent the scope and impact of their work and mission.
The Robert Crown Center for Health Education had been a staple in Illinois schools for decades. For over 46 years, they have provided sex and health education and prevention programs to schools and have now served more than six million students with their programs.
But in 2019, they were at a crossroads and faced a few challenges:
- Their long-term funder and partner the Crown Family Philanthropies had changed their strategic priorities and was no longer funding the organization. And despite this change, the name Robert Crown Center for Health Education still implied a partnership that limited their opportunities for donations and funder support.
- The name “The Robert Crown Center for Health Education” no longer articulated the scope and impact of the work they did. Since their founding as a sex education organization, they had grown to address far more health areas, like puberty, sexuality, and drug use and abuse.
- In 2017, they closed their traditional educational center to take the burden off of schools to bring students to them, and were now sending their team of experts directly to classrooms. The name “The Robert Crown Center for Health Education” still implied there was a physical center that no longer existed.
However, given their long-standing reputation in the community, they were apprehensive about a rebrand and its potential to harm the brand equity they had worked hard to gain. They needed our help to assess the potential impact of a rebrand before making the decision to move forward.
We began our work with Robert Crown as we do most engagements: we developed a Project Taskforce. This is a group of the organization’s internal and external stakeholders and people the organization serves. In Robert Crown’s case, this committee included leadership, staff, board members, students, educators, school administrators, and funders, each of whom would bring their own diverse perspectives and lived experience to our work and provide valuable input and feedback. We then worked with this committee throughout the rebrand process.
Our research began with a discovery kickoff meeting with the Robert Crown Center for Health Education team, followed by three key assessments to determine the potential risks and rewards the organization could face in a rebrand. These assessments are part of the research process for every brand strategy we develop. They include:
An organization assessment where we explore how the brand is presented and perceived by stakeholders today. We Interviewed the Primary Client Committee and Project Taskforce for insights, we reviewed key organizational collateral (website, marketing materials, strategic plans, etc.), assessed media coverage of the organization, and conducted third-party research to inform our understanding of the brand’s current status in the community.
An ecosystem assessment where we explore how rebrands have impacted other similar organizations. In Robert Crown Center for Health Education’s case, this included two sex ed organizations and one family named foundation. We researched the organizations to understand the timeline of their rebrand and name changes, analyzed available financial data, reviewed key media coverage, and spoke with the leaders of the organizations about the impact of the rebrand when possible.
A stakeholder assessment where we explore what stakeholders think about the possibility of a potential rebrand. We conducted a stakeholder survey to reach donors, funders, parents, educators, students, staff and board to ask about their current perception of the rebrand and their openness to change. We also interviewed funders, staff, board and leadership in the Project Taskforce.
Our research process led us to uncover a few key insights that guided the rest of the rebranding process. These insights included:
- Stakeholders were even more confused about the organization’s work and their relationship with the Crown Family Philanthropies than their leadership suspected.
- Stakeholders were receptive to the organization changing its name.
- Other organizations that had gone through similar rebrands had seen a lift in fundraising following the transition, and the rewards of rebranding appeared to outweigh the risks.
Our first step was to develop rebrand messaging that explained that while their mission wasn’t changing, their name and visual identity were being updated to keep pace with their evolved scope of services and impact. We developed messaging that explained why they chose to rebrand, where the organization was going and what their stakeholders could expect from the organization moving forward. We also developed messaging by stakeholder so that Robert Crown could ensure each stakeholder was hearing messages that resonated with them.
Next, we moved onto naming. For Robert Crown, we started by developing a list of more than 100 names, organized by thematic category. After holding a meeting with the Project Taskforce to review the long list, it was clear that stakeholders were most drawn to more evocative names that still detailed their work in health education.
Based on the input from these Project Taskforce working sessions, we selected a set of six top names we recommended for Robert Crown. We conducted research to determine name availability and any conflicts, as well as web domain possibilities. We also developed taglines for the final six recommendations.
The final names were shared in a meeting with the Project Taskforce and board and the two groups voted on the name Candor Health Education and the tagline, “Empowering young people to make educated decisions.” A descriptive tagline was an important accompaniment to the more evocative, less descriptive name. The new name articulates how Candor does its work, through open, honest conversations with young people that then equips them with the information they need to make informed decisions about their health.
Once the new name was approved by the board, we moved on to developing a new visual identity for the organization. We presented a variety of logo options with different typography and color palettes to the Project Taskforce and the board for their input and feedback before developing a final logo and visual identity system for Candor.
Robert Crown Center for Health Education was now ready to become Candor Health Education.
During the strategy portion of this work, we developed a Brand Rollout Plan that detailed how to announce the new brand to the organization’s most important stakeholders. This is something we do for every rebranding client. For Candor, the list of stakeholders they’d need to bring along in the rebrand included educators, parents, students, donors, funders and the general community given the organization’s long-standing history in the area.
With our main goals in mind for the rebrand, we started developing the tactical elements of the Brand Rollout Plan. We broke this into two sections:
- The first section focused on the rebrand announcement itself with tactics like email, social media and direct mail. This was to ensure all of their stakeholders heard about the name change and the reason for the rebrand.
- The second section was ongoing community engagement with tactics like Google Ads, PR and advertising. This would help stakeholders become familiar with the name and get used to seeing it over time, while building more widespread awareness for the organization overall.
The Brand Rollout Plan also included a list of the risks and rewards based on our initial research, and ways to overcome each challenge they could face with their rebrand. Finally, helped develop a budget for the rebrand rollout and we built a reband calendar so the team could stay focused and organized.
Aligning staff and other stakeholders around a new brand is critical. In fact, this is where many rebrands can go astray. We hosted several sessions to engage the Project Taskforce, which was made up of the organization’s diverse stakeholders, and engaged them for feedback on the brand as it was developed.
These stakeholders also played a critical role in presenting the new brand identity to the board. They each had a voice in the presentation so they could share their thoughts on the new brand approach and voice their support for the direction the brand took. They also were valuable spokespeople that helped those in their own circles learn about and get on board with the rebrand.
As the last element of the rebrand, we developed rebrand key performance indicators (KPIs) to help Candor Health Education evaluate the impact of the rebrand over the next few years. Given their goals, this focused on school retention and growth, donor retention and growth and community awareness.
In Candor’s case, we stayed on board during the brand rollout to support their PR efforts in announcing the new brand and writing PSAs for them to share with local radio stations. This resulted in local coverage in Chicago suburban publications, where the organization’s work is focused.
Candor Health Education announced its new brand virtually with a launch party for its VIP stakeholders on August 11th, 2020, and to the rest of its stakeholders the following day. They received an overwhelmingly positive response. Everyone is very excited about the potential for growth the new brand identity presents, and many donors and other stakeholders shared that they feel the new brand far better represents the organization’s work and mission.
“We loved working with Prosper Strategies. They were efficient, understanding and great at communicating the process.”
– Barb Thayer, Executive Director, Candor Health Education
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