How Research Shaped The Family Promise Brand

How Research Shaped The Family Promise Brand

how research shaped
the family promise brand

Once upon a time not so very long ago, we were presented with a challenging task: How do we create a brand for Family Promise of Grand Rapids that differentiates their organization from the other homeless shelters in West Michigan?

And this is where our journey begins.

A local newspaper published an article on homelessness. While perusing the readers’ comments, there was an astounding number of people who were livid about this issue. That hit home for us. How do you talk to someone about Family Promise when the public gets angry or put up a wall as soon as they hear the word ‘homeless’? This was the issue Family Promise of Grand Rapids was dealing with every single day, even though they weren’t dealing with the addict sleeping under the bridge or the man on the corner asking for money. They were helping an entirely different demographic of homelessness – families.

And so the research ensued.

We interviewed staff, clients, volunteers, donors, and board members. We can attest to the fact that there is nothing more authentic, heartfelt, and eye-opening than one-on-one research interviews.Here’s a summary of the high points:

  • We knew Family Promise’s brand needed to focus on families – this brings the focus away from homeless individuals.
  • The families Family Promise helps are not chronically homeless. They’re dealing with situational homelessness caused by job loss, medical bills, divorce, etc.
  • We were surprised by the ways children encouraged their parents during this tumultuous time. A six-year-old may say something as simple as, “It’s gonna be okay, Mom.”
  • The staff repeatedly said, “It’s all about the kids.”

So there you have it. Hours and hours of research condensed down to four bullet points. But we still needed to find a common thread in this research that would bring their brand to life. As we were mulling over this in a coffee shop, it hit us. The common thread is the kids. It’s what had to stand out in every element of the Family Promise of Grand Rapids brand.

And then the creative juices started flowing.

We got into the mind of a child (this was easier for some staff more than others). Headlines were written using children’s words. We chose a headline font that mimicked a child’s handwriting. Photography focused on children. Videos were told from a child’s perspective.

By focusing the brand on children, we saw attitudes in the community shift. Why?  

  • It was hard for someone to transfer their anger about homelessness to a child, knowing it wasn’t the child’s fault that the family became homeless.
  • Family Promise’s brand became memorable since very few brands were sharing things from a child’s perspective.

As a result of this rebrand, Family Promise’s volunteer-base doubled. Foundations and donors who previously gave to Family Promise became reinvigorated by their mission…so much so that Family Promise raised $2.5 million in 10 months.

So as we near the end of our tale, I must ask, do you know why this new brand worked?

Because we listened. At Scott Allen Creative, we use research to ensure an organization’s passion is evident throughout all aspects of their brand. We know there isn’t a mold that every organization fits into. Every organization has something that sets it apart from its competition, something that makes it unique, something that inspires others to join its cause. For Family Promise of Grand Rapids, we brought to the forefront what was special and unique about their mission – kids.  

And this is the reason everyone lived happily ever after.

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Our Design Process for Camp Tatiyee’s New Logo

Our Design Process for Camp Tatiyee’s New Logo

our design process for
camp tatiyee’s new logo

The Design Process

We believe that logo design is always a creative challenge that sparks innovation. After our team became inspired by Camp Tatiyee’s mission, our designers went to work analyzing their competition, identifying what sets this camp apart from the rest, and becoming engrossed in the stories of campers, families, and staff.

The inspiration behind this logo design ultimately came from the iconic scout badge symbol, an emblem that many associate with the nostalgia of summer camp.

While it may seem like an obvious choice, it means so much to those at Camp Tatiyee. Here, campers have special needs. This camp badge represents the things they get to do just like everyone else. It’s a reminder that camp is for people of all abilities.

Camp Tatiyee’s mission is best depicted in the smiles of their campers. To capture this radiating joy within the design, our team incorporated a sun to represent the positive impact of Camp Tatiyee on campers and counselors alike.

The Psychology of Color

Color selection is serious business when it comes to engaging branding. We were very purposeful in the decision to use warm yellow and orange tones for Camp Tatiyee’s badge logo. We were also wary of the competition’s use of red and blue and steered away from that palette.

Yellow draws our minds to warm summer days, bright, shining, and filled with the joyous little victories that make summer camp so exciting. Orange is associated with enthusiasm, creativity, determination, and success – actions brought out of each camper and counselor during their time at camp. Together this iconic color duo sends a strong brand message that speaks to the life-changing experience of Camp Tatiyee.  

What originally started as an inspiring challenge for our design team concluded with a logo that embodies the heartwarming passions of Camp Tatiyee’s campers and counselors.

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Creating Annual Report Content That Is Visual and Compelling

Creating Annual Report Content That Is Visual and Compelling

creating annual report content
that is visual and compelling

Annual reports. They come in all shapes and sizes. You know you need to do one every. single. year. So what can you do to make yours great? You’ll be happy to know it doesn’t have to take much! When it comes down to it, it’s really all about creating content that is visual and compelling.

keep the content visual

Gone are the days when a report needed to be 20 pages with lots of text and tiny photos. Nowadays, we strive to make it visually engaging. How?

  • Full bleed images that tell a story.
  • Short quotes from those impacted by your mission.
  • Infographics that highlight last year’s milestones in bite-size pieces.
  • A video that shares a story in a very engaging way. (more on that a little later)

creating compelling content

I’m a firm believer that an annual report should be an asset for an organization. The time invested in creating an annual report needs to have a good ROI, especially since it’s typically not a huge money maker from a donation standpoint. So here are a few ways to repurpose “old” content and create to new content you will use throughout the year.


Remember that if you share a story, it doesn’t have to be brand new to readers. The purpose of an annual report is to recap the previous year. Perhaps you can give an update on a compelling story you shared in an appeal or newsletter. If it was about a family who just moved into a house after being homeless for a year, share an update on how they are and the impacts the family sees now that they’re settled in. It’s another excellent opportunity to thank donors for the life-changing impact they’re creating in people’s lives.


Here’s another way to rehash an “old” story. So often stories focus on the client, but more often than not, these stories have a ripple effect that goes way beyond a client. Jump off the momentum of a popular story by telling it from someone else’s perspective. If your story was about a client’s journey through a health crisis, retell that story, but this time, from the viewpoint of a spouse, parent, or sibling. It can be powerful for readers to realize the impact your organization has beyond the clients you serve. 


Afraid of making and sharing your own videos? Don’t let them scare you off. Contrary to popular belief, a video doesn’t have to be a big production. It can be as simple as something shot on your phone and edited using software that comes standard on your computer. Imagine volunteers and clients working side-by-side to raise the first wall of a home or a person meeting their assistance dog for the very first time. Video is an exciting tool that can show emotion in a way that words never could. These clips can be used again on social media, at events, at board and staff meetings, the opportunities are endless!


The infographics mentioned earlier also have so much life beyond one annual report. Each one can become a social media post. Scatter them throughout newsletters. Use them on collateral displayed at events. The time invested in creating a cohesive family of infographics is a great resource that will serve you well in the upcoming year.

Habitat for Humanity annual report

“A visual tells a complex story in a manner that can be quickly consumed and easily understood” 
-The Power of Infographics

So there you have it. A few quick tips on how to create an annual report that will be a valuable resource to you and your organization for 2019.

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How We Created the Dwelling Place Appeal

how we created the
dwelling place appeal

Our team was over the moon when Dwelling Place told us they wanted their year-end appeal to be out-of-the-box; literally. We were throwing around ideas of pop-up cards and I think the word confetti was blurted out at one point. As creatives, our job was to organize this excitement and produce an appeal that would launch their new brand in a celebratory fashion, but also act as a marketing piece to maximize donor engagement. Not to give away the magic, but here’s a step-by-step of how we accomplished just that. 

(If you like to get straight to the point, scroll to the bottom to see this beauty in motion)


Commonly used in website and app design, wireframes worked wonderfully for this project. A few hours of research and lots of cutting and folding scrap paper led us to these four options. We took these wireframes to printers to see what was plausible with the budget. There was a clear winner!

Mini Mock-ups

The design always reflects the content. Dwelling Place requested the appeal have a celebratory theme. This, combined with the opening house effect, perfectly embodied their mission: Dwelling Place improves the lives of people by creating quality affordable housing, providing essential support services and serving as a catalyst for neighborhood revitalization. This process of printing and checking was a great way to make sure the appeal stayed on mission.

Final Touches

As we neared the final proof, Dwelling Place requested extra time and space for the board members to write personal notes on these appeals. With the donors in mind, we made sure that the return on these appeals would be well worth the effort! Did you receive one of these fun appeals in the mail? If not, be sure to contact Dwelling Place to donate or sign up to volunteer. This organization is truly a staple of West Michigan and we are blessed to have the opportunity to work with them!

Be wary of flying confetti in the next piece…

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Why a Professional Brand is Key to Engage Donors

Why a Professional Brand is Key to Engage Donors

why a professional brand
is key to engage donors

We will be the first ones to say it… a professional brand is key to engage donors.

First, what makes a professional brand?


Logo: The mark that people come to recognize your business by.

Tagline: A clear and concise statement that communicates the service or good that you sell in a memorable way.

Voice and Tone: Voice is who the readers hear talking and tone is the way in which you say it. Your voice and tone could be formal and academic or conversational and funny.

Color: A Color palette can range from 1 color like Coca-cola or 10 colors. The color palette for a law firm would be different from a candy store. There is a psychology behind color so choose wisely and make sure the color you choose reflects the personality you want.

Typography: Typography is the art and technique of arranging type to make written language legible, readable, and appealing when displayed. The arrangement of type involves selecting typefaces, point size, line length, line-spacing (leading), letter-spacing (tracking), and adjusting the space within letters pairs (kerning). Your brand fonts will usually consist of two-one for display or headline fonts and the other for body copy.

Graphic Elements: These can be patterns that add to the brand. For example, Louis Viutton has become known for their brand patterns.


Imagery: The images used to project your brand can have a certain style and filter to make your images distinct.

Look at the differences in Spotify and Nike:


Why a professional brand is key to engaging donors


A professional brand shows you take your mission seriously.

It shows that you have taken the time, energy and funds to invest into your brand. This shows that you care enough about your brand and that it is important enough to do so. This will make donors who see your brand take it seriously as well.

A professional brand gives the impression that it is a successful brand.

Donors want to give their money to successful brands because they know their money is going to be used well and benefit the cause. They don’t want to give to a failing mission. They might as well throw their money out of a moving car.

A professional brand shows that you know who you are.

When your tagline, tone and voice, and imagery are cohesive with clear messaging a donor has confidence that you know what you are about. A confident person (not over confident) like a confident brand is attractive.

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8 Ways to Create a Campaign that Wins Over Donors

8 Ways to Create a Campaign that Wins Over Donors

8 ways to create a campaign
that wins over donors

1. set a goal 

Set a goal that is attainable. It is always a good idea to have some of the money already fundraised before the campaign begins. That way it shows participation which is motivating for others to contribute.

2. come up with a name for the campaign

Create something catchy or something that pulls on the heartstrings. It’s helpful to have a brainstorm session with your coworkers. Start writing ideas on a whiteboard even if you’re not sold on them. Try typing keywords into your search engine to get the creative juices flowing and look up synonyms to words you like. Come up with something original and stay away from generic phrases that are overused.


3. create a logo for the campaign

Have your graphics team come up with something. And use it on all your promotional material. This keeps the branding consistent. If you don’t have a graphics team you can use free online software like Canva. It’s enough to treat the name of the campaign in a different font other than what you use on a day-to-day basis.


4. create compelling and concise messaging

Be clear what you are fundraising for and tell the donor what their money will do. You can even give them a suggested amount to give like the FB ad below:

5. come up with a hashtag

This is a great way to track your posts and others who are using the hashtag. If you are having an event ask the attendees to use it. You can re-share their photos on your page. Look how Susan G. Komen used the hashtag #unacceptable to promote their campaign.  

6. create a plan/calendar of when and where you will post

Whether the campaign is a year-long or a few weeks it is important to create a plan to know where you are going to share the posts, videos, and email so you know what kind of graphics you will need.

7. create the video or graphics that will be used for each platform

Video is a great way to tell the story of the program you are raising money for. People would rather watch than read these days. But there will still be a need for graphics and Canva is a great place to do that. They have templates in the correct sizes already created for the platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc.

Make sure all your graphics have consistent branding on all your platform art including the messaging.

8. execute

Start scheduling your posts. You can use tools like Hootsuite to do this for you.


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