Avenue’s goal is to build stronger, healthier communities by offering housing assistance and improvement programs to the residents of greater Houston.
Despite the work it has accomplished, Avenue faced challenges around brand awareness, potentially impeding its ability to raise funding and fully disseminate information around the breadth and depth of the services it provides to the community.
Avenue applied for a marketing and branding grant through Savage Good. The grant was utilized to:
The timing of the brand refresh was critical, as the organization was celebrating 25 years in the community, and was ramping up for its most ambitious capital campaign in the organization’s history.
Avenue’s reputation was primarily thought of as a service provider to lower income individuals and families seeking housing assistance. In reality, Avenue’s audiences are a wide swath of the Houston community, which includes those in lower income brackets, but also first-time homebuyers, working families and any individual seeking guidance navigating the home-buying process.
Additionally, acquiring potential donors and maintaining a relationship with current donors was critical, as well as educating the greater Houston community around the wide variety of service offerings the organization provides.
Savage conducted a strategic facilitated session where it was uncovered that a general lack of awareness existed throughout greater Houston around the organization, and the overall brand “story” of Avenue needed to be told to create clarity and awareness of the services, benefits and value they provide to populations throughout the community as a result.
Our strategy addressed:
To help close these gaps in understanding, Savage developed a strategy that focused on creating a cohesive story that more accurately describes who Avenue is and what the organization provides through cohesive messaging that focused on Avenue’s goals and mission. Savage uncovered that the two most salient points to build the brand messaging were that Avenue focuses on assisting and elevating all populations in the city of Houston, and it possesses a needed expertise on how to help close the affordable housing gap, and what it means to create a strong community. This messaging was used to update brochures and fact sheets, as well as social media pages and the website.
Avenue came to Savage needing a name change due to an enhanced community offering and seeking to avoid confusion with the sound of a government agency. A brand refresh followed, along with a more contemporary color palette, a website facelift, a supergraphic based on the logo and the flexible application of the new brand to a number of tactics that could be utilized on an on-going basis, with in-house resources.
Aligning with another part of their mission, to “enhance the quality of life of working families and to promote healthy, vibrant and economically diverse neighborhoods,” triangle graphics based on stylized rooftops and upward arrows were used to emphasize upward mobility and advancement. The main brand color also changed from a corporate blue to a vibrant green to emphasize the sustainable nature of their services past move-in day – not just getting people in new homes after coaching them through the finances and qualification process, but educating them on how to stay in their homes for the long term through financial workshops and seminars throughout the year.
As a grant recipient, Savage worked with a very conservative budget to deliver the new brand and marketing materials. Because Avenue is a non-profit, it was important to provide them with materials that could be easily reproduced in-house. Savage worked closely with the organization to understand their greatest needs, and prioritized the deliverables provided based on those needs. Additionally, Savage provided guidance for usage and best practices that could be easily implemented into Avenue’s regular production schedule for ease of use.
Utilizing the new messaging and brand look, Avenue was able to seamlessly integrate them into existing materials. Savage worked with the organization to ensure consistency among all materials – online and printed, including building signage, social media, website, flyers and brochures. To date, Avenue has integrated the messaging, logo and other brand elements into their existing materials, demonstrating a subtle yet powerful evolution over their 25 years in Houston.
The organization’s largest annual fundraiser – Art on the Avenue – was deemed the brand’s “launch party” where, as part of the 25-year celebration, Savage worked with Avenue’s PR team to secure placements relating to the new brand look and feel. The event is marketed through direct mail, social media, email and other graphics that all incorporated the refreshed look. A showcase part of the event branding was a timeline depicting Avenue’s 25 years in the Houston community.
Today, Avenue has maintained all assets going forward including its website, flyers, stationery, and event collateral.
“Savage Brands challenged us to identify who we are and what we stand for in a more holistic way than we did for our annual strategic reviews. We have a brand that iconically represents us in a way we never did before. We all feel very proud of our new brand identity as the whole organization took part in the process.
We hit the ground running with our brand integration as we didn’t have the time or staff to work on a proper roll-out. Savage supported us every step of the way, jumping in to provide help whenever we needed it, from redesigning our Facebook page to designing our annual fundraiser materials.” – Kara Niles, Director of Fund Development and Communication, Avenue