How do you reconcile an organizational rebrand with a campaign that’s happening in tandem?

In this post, we’re looking at how a campaign brand that we’d develop as your agency partner would build on or play well with your organization’s existing brand of. Every partner and project is unique, but we usually encounter three main scenarios. Let’s look at them using the twin, sibling, cousin, distant relative brand spectrum.

Scenario #1: We just went through a rebrand that’s working.

A year ago, Institution A launched a shiny new brand and everyone is super excited about it. While they were going through the rebrand process, they were already thinking about how this new identity would influence future campaigns. Now, they are in fact gearing up for a new fundraising campaign and they’ve made sure that the strategic plan is in line with this year-old institution brand. This is likely a situation where we absolutely want to play nicely with that existing brand. On the family spectrum, this campaign brand is probably going to be somewhere between a twin and a sibling. It should feel closely related to the institution brand and a natural extension of it.

Scenario #2: We just rolled out a new brand and it fell flat.

Let’s say Institution B recently unveiled a new brand, but unfortunately, it didn’t quite hit the mark. For whatever reason, there’s internal disagreement on it and it wasn’t received well in the community. Not to worry! This is an opportunity to take the messaging and visual elements of that brand and use the campaign brand to push it. Even though that newer institution brand fell flat, we can develop a cousin or distant relative that has more of its own identity.

Scenario #3: We want to see how the campaign can push our existing brand.

In this third scenario, Institution C’s existing brand has been out there for a while. It’s 3-4 years old and will probably be redone in a few more years. There’s nothing wrong with the brand necessarily, it might just be growing a little stale. What we would advise is going with a bold, distinct campaign brand that feels further down that spectrum on the distant relative end, there’s an opportunity to explore different directions. We can craft a verbal and visual identity that feels really fresh and new. What often happens is that after going through this process, the institution gets really excited about many of the elements in the campaign branding. And we can usually help them find ways to incorporate elements of that brand into their existing institution’s brand to give it new life. Ultimately, they might even decide to forgo a full institution rebrand and make minor updates based on the campaign brand (without it feeling like a mash-up of ideas).

These are just a few examples of scenarios we may encounter as we work on a campaign brand. The exciting part is having open conversations with our partners to figure out how we can best support the existing brand and push it in different directions.

Special thanks to collaborators Gray Gill, Tom Osborne, and Chad Paris.