Exploring

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Discover Your Future

Learning For Life’s educational, social, and skills programs have been helping students of all ages for decades. The organization’s outdated web presence, though, wasn’t particularly helpful to anybody, least of all Exploring, Learning For Life’s career-oriented skill-building program.

Exploring was already a well-regarded program, but it tended to get lost amidst Learning For Life’s other offerings; Exploring’s brand needed a serious reset if it was ever going to stand on its own. So, when Learning For Life asked us about rebuilding Exploring’s website, we made the case that what it really needed to increase brand awareness and digital relevance was a full organizational rebrand, not just an improved web presence. We pitched Learning For Life on the value of a ground-up platform rebuild, they jumped on board, and we dove in headfirst.

The Three Pillars

Rebranding isn’t about choosing a new logo and nice colors—that’s repackaging. A rebrand is all about defining who you are, why you exist, and who you serve, something that Exploring desperately needed. After a series of discussions with the team at Exploring and serious collaboration with our friends and partners at FleishmanHillard, we identified three strong pillars that would support the brand’s messaging: Strength of Partnerships (who Exploring works with), Diversity of Experiences (what opportunities Exploring provides), and Leadership & Life Skills (why Exploring provides these experiences).

Creating a Personality

Once we had these pillars down, it was time to focus on defining who Exploring really is. That required nailing down three characteristics: mission, vision, and position. Working backwards from Exploring’s major value proposition–the ability to deliver unique hands-on experiences that let teens and young adults achieve their full potential–we defined Exploring as a unique organization that’s built on its ability to DELIVER character-building experiences, SHAPE and engage the workforce of tomorrow, and LEAD youth through career mentorship and training.

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Just as key was settling on a distinct personality for the organization and carefully framing its audience, so Exploring would know exactly who it was talking to and how to speak to them. It had to appeal to potential participants, parents, and community leaders, and had to do so in a voice that was inclusive, passionate, and personal.

EXPLORING ANTHEM

Boldly Pointing The Way

Since Exploring’s rebrand was being launched alongside a redesigned website, it was important to have a comprehensive and consistent visual language that could be applied across digital and print platforms by national organizers and local posts alike. This wouldn’t just make Exploring easy to identify, but would reinforce its discovery-oriented approach.

We started with the logo, which is bold, instantly recognizable, and anchored by the compass-inspired central “O”, complete with a needle pointing due north to signify guidance, direction, and discovery. The logo also plays nicely with Exploring’s new “Discover Your Future” tagline to emphasize the brand’s hands-on career-oriented approach to learning.

Better yet, a full suite of alternate colorways, fonts, formats, graphic devices, and photography guidelines are all hosted on a digital brand center, empowering any Exploring member, post, or volunteer to design and execute their own content that’s true to the brand language. This is an awesome way to build brand awareness, but it’s also an great tool to improve local recruitment, which is the foundation of Exploring’s model.

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Working Together to Say Something Real

Like any good design process, the Exploring redbrand was highly iterative, with a full slate of partners, volumes of drafts, and loads of sharing and collaboration. We worked closely with the Exploring team and FleishmanHillard to determine what we wanted the new brand to stand for, and spent considerable time meeting with steering committees of Exploring volunteers, employees, and board members to fine tune what we wanted the brand to stand for. This approach helped eliminate surprises and miscommunication, but it also kept the end product authentic, because the design process has been guided by the people who live and embody the brand.

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What’s Next?

Accompanying the launch of the new brand was a laundry list of implementation opportunities, from websites to print brochures and trade shows booths to T-shirts. Since the unveiling, we’ve launched a new website as well as an entire suite of marketing assets, all of which are available for download in the organizational brand center.

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And we’ve continued the expansion of the brand by leading the charge to create new visual media assets that tell the story of Exploring, like the anthem video (displayed above) that we created with our partners at Unblind.

But this isn’t the end. The real power of the new brand is its ability to empower Exploring leaders, volunteers, and participants to learn and grow, and we will continue working with the Exploring team to provide strategic marketing services as the organization moves forward on its new platform.

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Takeaways

Logan Clifford, Director of Marketing Operations

“Working with Exploring was an amazing opportunity that was a direct result of our work with the Boy Scouts of America. Non-profit youth-serving organizations are something of a niche market, so our experience and track record were powerful indicators of our ability to handle this project. So, when the project kicked off and we encountered numerous branding issues, the Exploring team was quick to look to us to provide strategic insights.

Learning For Life is the name of the umbrella organization and Exploring is one of its sub-brands. For years, Exploring was simply presented alongside Learning For Life, despite the fact that it offered a very different experience to its participants. We concluded early on that differentiation was essential, and that Exploring should be given its own stage to stand on, with a new brand, a new website, and new marketing materials.

The Exploring team consisted of mid-level marketers, national board members, and everyone in between. Our experience navigating similarly large organizational structures played a major role in the success of our pitches and strategic direction of our conversations, and ultimately led to the successful development of the brand and launch of the new website.”