Monthly Archives: March 2020
This month, USGBC launched a brand refresh. I want to explain the design thinking that went into the brand refresh, and showcase all the work that went into the project.
Evolving our brand
First, why would you even do a brand refresh? Companies rebrand to remain relevant. It’s as simple as that. You can’t change what people already think of your brand—those are their memories. But you can change how they feel about you moving forward. USGBC is 25 years old, and we are the expert in our industry. But to remain relevant and show our audience that we are still at the top, we needed to refresh. I aimed to modernize the USGBC brand and show that the organization is evolving.
I decided to stop using our gray seal as the main logo. We have used it for so long that is has begun to feel dated. Moving forward, I introduced using the black seal on formal printed materials such as letterhead, certificates and advertisements. This is our most recognizable mark and should be future customers’ introduction to our brand. Using the black seal offers high contrast, and it feels like a modern spin on an existing presence.
I also introduced a new piece to our recognizable look: our oak leaves. We will now use the oak leaves in an informal context. This includes social media, staff merchandise or promotional swag like stickers or tote bags. Since this wasn’t a full rebrand for the organization, this was a way to evolve our logo subtly and introduce some new applications for a fresh take on the brand.
Along with our oak leaves, I introduced a new lowercase wordmark that is reserved specifically for employee use. It will be used on staff business cards, as well as internal staff communications. This wordmark is meant to encompass our staff culture. It’s a way to bring us together and have an internal look and feel as an organization.
Introducing new colors and fonts
For 25 years, USGBC has had a huge color palette. I decided to trim this down to a smaller range of colors, and I chose colors that evoke emotions we hope people associate with USGBC. The new palette is approachable, and you’ll notice a lot of our colors are in the blue family—blue tends to be associated with trust, stability and loyalty.
I chose to introduce two new fonts that offer a huge range of weights and widths, which means they can be used on many platforms. They also feature more subtle transitions of stroke width, which creates a more humanist tone of voice when using them. While I wanted the brand refresh to feel modern, people are still at the core of our mission, so it was also important for our fonts to feel welcoming.
When looking at fonts for a brand refresh, I always suggest checking out the full history. Why were the fonts created? Where have they been used before? That can tell you a lot about how easy they are to read and how familiar they may seem to people.
USGBC’s new business cards show off our new wordmark and features organic shapes pulled from our recognizable oak leaves. I like being able to think about how we can repurpose our existing logo to give us a new perspective. Just because our oak leaves are recognizable doesn’t mean we can’t play with scale to create some new, bold shapes. Removing our formal seal from the business card subtly moves away from exclusive use of our formal seal and allows the card to really capture our staff brand identity.
Drawing new icons
I also developed a set of custom hand-drawn iconography that can be used for articles and email images when photography can’t be sourced. This helps to show a diversity of visual styles across our platforms. Icons are super popular right now, especially on the web. If you want to include icons in a brand refresh, I always suggest seeing what’s out there, but ultimately creating your own set. You want them to feel personal to your company’s brand. I decided to hand-illustrate ours, again because people are at the core of our mission. Anything too clean and modern would feel impersonal for our brand.
Sharing the new style
To launch this brand refresh to staff, I prepared a toolkit for staff to reference and use over the year. The toolkit includes a full brand style guide, social graphics to share, a postcard cheat sheet and slides to include in presentation decks. Our social media manager took the time to provide a USGBC brand ambassador cheat sheet that’s included in the toolkit.
While this refresh is actually a big change for USGBC, one of the most important things I wanted at the forefront of our messaging is that we still stand by the same mission. New look, same mission. Same vision. Same purpose. Same USGBC.
If you’ve been on the job hunt in the digital marketing field lately, you may have noticed a growing trend in the call for “community managers.” As broad as the title may seem, the role is exactly what it says: managing the online presence of an organization’s or company’s community.
Most people would think, “But isn’t that what a social media manager already does?” Well, yes—partly. While that is true, let’s think of the community manager as a more organic version of the social media manager.
The best brand ambassador is an individual, not a company.
In the simplest terms, social media managers post as their brand or organization, while community managers post as themselves.
A community manager is very much like a brand ambassador, engaging and interacting with the online community on the front lines. This can entail building positive relationships, directly interacting with customers and a doing a fair amount of “social listening”—documenting the sentiment of conversations around the brand/product, and ultimately, implementing a strategic conversational agenda.
Advocating for my brand as a person, in my city.
The community management role has grown in importance as social media dialogue and online communities—as resources—become the norm. What one employee or a very small team could once do full-time now requires more hands—most of all, more “ears.” If the social media lead is responsible for output strategy, then the community manager is largely responsible for monitoring and acknowledging the audience’s response, while relaying key insights to the social media marketing team at large.
A community manager is the most important brand ambassador for an organization. According to Everyone Social, 84% of people trust recommendations from friends, family and colleagues over other forms of marketing. It gets better: Employees have five times more reach than corporate accounts, and social followers of your employees are seven times more likely to convert. This data is essential in making the case for a community management role on your social strategy team.
Deploying active listening and person-to-person connections.
At any moment in time, you will find me on any number of my personal platforms, advocating for USGBC‘s mission and engaging with partners, members and enthusiasts. However, I am subtle in my actions, and this is the key. It is in the subtleties of giving praise or thanks, supporting a particular campaign or even crafting some of my own thought leadership that I am able to truly connect with people in my industry, in a very real way.
“For a community manager role, skills like being able to interact with people online and understand how customer trust works is crucial,” says Sprout Social.” They’re tasked with growing a community and nurturing it, rather than focused on pushing for sales growth. Being able to present themselves authentically online is a core component of success.”
Sharing some of our member content with a casual voice.
Naturally, a community manager gets a bit more freedom, as they get to be themselves, versus acquiring the voice of the brand, as a social media manager would.
Sprout adds, “In a social media manager job description, it’s common to see skill requirements like being able to set goals, understand analytics…They need to craft a post to push a product in one minute while responding to a service request in the next one.”
Smaller teams and communities may have one person feasibly doing both of these jobs; however, as a brand’s presence grows (which is the whole idea), the ability to effectively perform all the aspects of both positions can eventually become ineffective. No one can be two places at once, especially at the speed of Twitter, so I predict this role and its responsibilities will continue find priority on marketing agendas globally.