We are incredibly excited to reveal our latest project – a new name plus an updated brand identity and website for CA! Almost a year in the making, they rolled out their updated launch earlier this week and we couldn’t be happier for them.
CA, formerly known as Commonwealth Autism, was founded in 1995 and works to impact capacity-development in human service systems through strategic public-private resource pairing, leadership, and collaboration. Operating throughout the state of Virginia, CA envisions a place where all individuals have the opportunity to be securely included across the broad spectrum of our community – through quality education, healthcare & housing access, civic activities, and employment.
In October of 2017, they approached us to discuss sharpening their overall branding strategy. As they had grown over the years, it was becoming harder for internal employees to understand and accurately convey all the services the organization now offers. So we set out to understand the depth of the confusion and create a more streamlined hierarchy the brand could operate under.
Through an extensive market research process, including surveying the employees and conducting internal/external interviews with stakeholders and members of the community, we discovered the brand confusion was being created at the root level – their name directly referenced Autism, but over the years the organization had grown to serve anyone with disabilities and behavioral challenges. They were solidly known as “the Autism people,” with most of the community (and indeed, some employees) being completely unaware that newer services had been initiated. It quickly became clear that updating their name was imperative to help eliminate this barrier.
A few rounds of creative brainstorming and naming later, CA emerged as the winner. Besides already an affectionately-used acronym, the flexible combination of adjectives and actions that begin with the letters C and A was strategically developed to further tailor their messaging to different audiences and across channels.
A thorough brand assessment also uncovered a fractured hierarchy of subbrands, some of which were barely able to tie back to the organization. Part of their process over the years had been to “brand” each new initiative, creating a rather disorganized house-of-brands.
With the possibility of more services being added in the future as CA continues to grow, as well as possible expansion beyond Virginia’s borders, our solution was to reorganize all of their services under three major brand units, broken down by the audiences CA works with.
At a state and local government level, Advocating Change now incorporates efforts to identify gaps, build awareness, and create a vision for improving systems.
The community level, Establishing Change, now comprises various service planning efforts, community events, information and resource assistance, and more.
Services offered to individuals, such as Children and Adult services and Shared Service Alliance, now fall under Innovating Change. These include the former Richmond House and The Founders Center.
In addition to the reorganization for CA’s brand hierarchy, we also worked closely with them to update their Mission, Vision, and Values to more accurately represent their efforts today, while remaining flexible enough for future services to be added. The new tagline, Reimagining Human Service Systems, was crafted to reflect their high-level efforts at improving systems for everyone who needs it.
With the new brand hierarchy, strategy and messaging in place, we set out to update the visuals to match the level of sophistication CA exudes.
We knew that we wanted to keep the three arrows, both for continuity between the old brand and the new, as well as using them to highlight the primary brand units. The arrow tips have been deliberately designed to become more narrow as they drill down to more focused services. Being able to use the arrows by themselves became a specific focus of the visual identity, whether used as a background graphic, to call attention to important information, or to quickly connect the content to the brand unit being conveyed.
We also incorporated some additional vibrant colors, using a warm orange, yellow, and creating a gradient that can be used across all channels. Since the primary brand logo uses all of them, this gives their marketing collateral and items great flexibility for design. Whenever a particular brand unit is being communicated, the dominant color scheme is shown in the brand unit logo and materials.
The last step in the rebrand was to update their existing website, both with the new visuals and also the sharpened messaging. We made sure to include their comprehensive Resource Directory, as well as industry opportunities to get involved, informative blog posts, and a lot more.
Next up will be various collateral and marketing materials – we have big plans to help continue bringing this brand to life over the next several months!
The resulting brand identity is vibrant, fun, and flexible – designed to carry them for the next 25 years.