CASE STUDY: United Way of Marion County
As one of the nation’s largest and most recognized non-profit organizations, United Way of America is comprised of nearly 1,300 local agencies throughout the U.S., in addition to its worldwide network consisting of 46 countries and territories. This ambitious non-profit seeks to advance the human condition by focusing on programs that strengthen families, nurture children, foster self-sufficiency, and meet survival needs and basic skills on a global scale through the work emulated by its local agencies.
United Way of Marion County (UWMC) is one of those local volunteer-based agencies under the guidance of United Way of America, that has successfully leveraged its local resources to help its neighbors for the past 49 years. Through aggressive fundraising efforts, they have succeeded in engaging their neighbors and focusing their resources to provide solutions for important human needs in the communities of Marion County, Florida.
With several locations around the globe and a rich history of external marketing efforts, the United Way of America’s brand recognition, ability to recruit volunteers and positively impact communities is unmatched. On a local level, however, many agencies struggle with how to emulate the national level efforts with adapted solutions that can aid them in reaching their goals in their respective communities. This has proven to be a challenge for UWMC as well.
Shrinking budgets and limited resources challenged the UWMC team to reach its fundraising goals through advanced branding and marketing efforts without spending any additional funds. Though reaching more people and acquiring more resources without utilizing extra funds may appear to be lofty and unattainable, efficient and more streamlined practices aided this local non-profit in reaching their goals.
In January of 2009, UWMC partnered with Candour, a local strategic branding and design firm, to help them strengthen and align their branding and marketing efforts in a way that translated the national efforts of United Way of America, to solutions that would aid them on a local level.
Candour’s efforts began with a comprehensive audit of UWMC’s existing marketing and advertising efforts which revealed several inconsistencies, redundancies and overlaps in their plan of action. It was apparent that contradictory and cluttered use of marketing mediums were causing confusion with the public, and also with their own internal staff. Improving how to get the word out about the agency’s services, and finding appropriate methods in which to solicit donations and acquire action-oriented volunteers, was clearly needed.
The Candour team reviewed the challenges that UWMC faced and took a fresh look at what was working and what wasn’t. They weeded out marketing mediums that were no longer needed, or that were no longer working the way they were originally intended, and replaced them with innovative and strategic communication solutions that provided an ease of use for UWMC’s internal staff, and communicated more clearly-defined messaging that their audience could better resonate with.
Utilizing their findings and recommendations from the audit, Candour set forth a stringent marketing calendar for the length of one-year. The calendar identified benchmarks for success with each milestone and allowed the team to implement action items that contributed to the overall success of the plan.
Knowing how important brand recognition is to generating awareness and consumer loyalty, the Candour team took on the role of brand manager by learning the United Way of America brand inside and out to ensure greater consistency between the national brand and its local counterpart. Through the team’s strategic direction, every piece had the national brand standards applied to it with the use of consistent colors, fonts, messaging and imagery. To ensure the look wasn’t too corporate looking, all communications were infused with content and imagery that reflected the personality of the people in Ocala and Marion County. This approach ensured that community members fostered a greater sense of unity by seeing their friends and neighbors appearing throughout the marketing and advertising collateral.
Candour a">o embraced the opportunity to educate UWMC internal staff on how to use their brand correctly for daily office use, so as not to rely too heavily on using an agency for all of their communication efforts, which in turn helped UWMC save additional funds. Because not all the local agencies needs are covered by the national brand standards, Candour found the need to create smart sub-brands for use with UWMC’s programs that were custom to their needs, but that also seamlessly tied into the national brand. These sub-brands included Tocqueville Society, Caring Club, Eclipse Club, Young Leaders Society, Youth United Way, Student United Way, Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA), as well as their 2009 and 2010 Annual Campaigns.
Through Candour’s efforts, UWMC has a much more professional, on-brand design/marketing/advertising strategy that is stronger and better aligned with their national counterpart, thus presenting the community with a more consistent image and clearer messaging.
Not only was Candour able to streamline the UWMC team’s internal process for greater time efficiency, they were able to provide substantial cost savings, allowing for more resources to go towards individuals and families in-need throughout the community. Candour was able to save UWMC approximately $10,000+ in print expenses, $17,925 in discounted design services and pro bono donations, as well as $5,500 in UWMC staff salary time, for a total savings of $33,425+ in the first year of the partnership alone. Plus, the creative design and print solutions that Candour recommended will continue to save UWMC money year-after-year due to forward-thinking solutions that will continue to aid UWMC with better time and funding efficiency. These savings were the positive bottom line results of Candour simply consolidating communication pieces, designing them in a way that allowed for a longer shelf life, utilizing innovative print solutions, and collecting in-kind service donations.
In addition, Candour worked with two UWMC staff members to manage the projects, and in an economic downturn, alleviated the need for UWMC to take on the expense of filling an open staff position. By having Candour take on all aspects of their projects from conception to completion, including art direction, project management, working with vendors to collect bids, managing files, and handling all printing, they eliminated the need for UWMC staff to handle these tasks and freed them up to take care of more important aspects of running the non-profit.
The new consistent branding, marketing and advertising efforts have been met with applause from both employees and partners of UWMC. “Working with Candour has been a wonderful experience. They took the time to understand our national brand and honor it. All of our pieces we created and printed had a cohesive look and were right on target. They have made my life easier and saved us time especially with coordinating printing quotes to make sure we received the most bang for our buck. They weren’t afraid to challenge us and ask the difficult questions to help us be more efficient. I couldn’t be more pleased.”, says Tina Banner, VP of Resource Development for the agency.
United Way of Marion County
Tina Banner, VP of Resource Development
Summer Gill, Director of Business Development
THE EVENT TEAM
Kristin Goza, Creative Director, Designer
Holly Clark, Designer