communication strategy

NROC | Networked for Change

Networked for Change, NROC 2017

Education leaders take action to scale innovative practices

CHALLENGE

In 2016, NROC's marketing leadership identified "Networked for Change" as the theme of their upcoming 2017 annual member meeting.  Blue Marble was tasked with developing a visual identity for the theme.  

INSIGHT

The team at NROC felt inspired by aspen trees and wanted to use an aspen forest as a metaphor to describe how being "networked" is a powerful force for change. We agreed that the idea was a great fit for this collaborative group of education leaders. The branding program would need to appeal both to young teachers and seasoned administrative leaders.

"Networked for Change emphasizes how natural and human systems of connection encourage resilience and evolution. The NROC Network of members is a powerful force for change, unified by a commitment to honor and support all learners."

—Amanda Melton, NROC Marketing Director

For the campaign visuals, we created an illustration of an aspen forest spreading across a landscape with connected roots underground. In addition to creating the illustration, we developed the overall visual identity, including the Networked for Change logo and a style guide with defined colors, fonts, and graphic elements. Working closely with the NROC marketing team, the theme was integrated into conference activities. The visual identity was applied across a range of media, including signage, name tags, agenda, tote bags, notebooks, a card deck, slide presentations, websites, emails, conference app, and more.

RESULTS

The Networked for Change branding succeeded in capturing the mood of this nonprofit project as its membership works behind-the-scenes to re-think pathways to student success and improve outcomes within the U.S. education system.

2017 Ambassador award winner and California Adult Education professional, Penny Pearson proudly displays her award featuring the Networked for Change aspen illustration.

(click images below to view as slideshow, scroll down for video case study)

Video case studIes: NROC Annual Meeting 2017 Highlights


About NROC Membership / Annual Meeting 2017 Graphics

Creative Direction: Christine Fisher (BMC) / Amanda Melton (NROC)
Art Direction, Design, and Illustration: Christine Fisher, Blue Marble Creative
Photography: Jennifer Jones   ||   Videography: Wiley Watson
Aspen concept: Terri Rowenhorst / Ilse Wolf  ||   Video direction / project assist: Suzanne Wright Baumhaukl


CLIENT

The NROC Project

SERVICES

Brand and message development

Print and digital publication

FOCUS

Education

 
 

Maslow Project | A unique solution to youth homelessness

A unique solution to youth homelessness

Focus and clarity for Maslow’s audiences

CHALLENGE

Maslow Project has worked hard to establish a network of programs and support to address the physical, mental, emotional and aspirational needs of Jackson County’s homeless youth and their families. When they contacted Blue Marble, Maslow already had tremendous impact in the community and was highly regarded as an agency of integrity in advocating for its clients. Although Maslow Project had already gained some national (and even international) attention for its innovative model, they struggled to allocate the necessary resources to build and maintain a cohesive brand identity. Unfortunately, this led to confusion with other human services organizations in the community. When a donor asked where Maslow needed the most support, the leadership spoke up about the need for help with branding. The donor suggested (and generously funded) Blue Marble to develop a communication strategy to take Maslow's communications to the next level.

INSIGHTS

Our work with Maslow commenced with a BluePrinting phase during which we met with Maslow's leadership team to gain an understanding of the operation, its various audiences and specific issues we needed to address. From there we developed a messaging strategy and recommendations for updating and expanding the brand identity.

We took a two-pronged approach, developing one communication piece aimed at homeless youth and families, and another aimed at donors. The two audiences are both critically important, and in the process of developing these different items we gained a lot of clarity about the different needs and perspectives of each.

Maslow’s clients are young people, so protecting their privacy and respecting their dignity is paramount. As such Maslow had long ago decided against using images of their clients’ faces or other identifying features in any marketing or outreach material. We wholeheartedly agreed and took this into account when considering concepts for imagery. We all agreed that Maslow’s successful art therapy program would be a wonderful resource for inspiration.

The blue triangle in the Maslow logo is a powerful symbol that we retained and emphasized. The meaning of the triangle conveys many things besides the literal reference to Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. We were reminded of the gable of a roof, a tent, raising up, strength, and stability. Inspired by a client artwork that depicted hands together in the shape of a triangle, we recommended that the Maslow team start using this hand gesture in real life as a physical symbol denoting “Maslow." When the hands are together formed into the triangle, they also convey the idea of embracing, encircling—Maslow’s wrap-around support.

It was also important to keep in mind that homelessness often goes unnoticed because it's not what people may assume. We were careful not to use any imagery that depicted dirty, downtrodden persons hanging on street corners or in back alleys. By contrast, we show uplifting images based on what Maslow offers its clients and their families and portray the outcomes that Maslow kids experience.

Maslow’s youth-centric agency model and its ability to meet kids where they are makes it unique from other agencies serving similar populations so it was important to visually play this up. No other entity in Jackson County and few others nationwide have been able to develop the range of programs and blend of school- and community-based services that Maslow offers its clients. A graphical depiction of Maslow’s approach brings the concept to life. Now Maslow has a consistent, tangible way to describe how it works and to reference the many services it encompasses.

RESULTS

External communications are better aligned with the organization’s internal vision

  • Maslow is able to differentiate from other organizations and establish its unique value proposition.

  • Staff report a greater confidence and clarity when talking to others about what Maslow does.

  • The team now has key collateral pieces like brochures and an array of visual assets, and they have been able to use to create other material in-house.

client-brochure-mockup-front-inside.jpg
youth-centric.jpg

Photography credit: Natalie Faye (hands images and many others used on brochures)

 

CLIENT

Maslow Project

SERVICES

Communication strategy

Brand and message development

Print and digital publication

FOCUS

Health & Well-being


“It’s been capacity building for us in terms of now we not only have the assets, but we have the different pieces. We have our message much more finely targeted, and that did exactly what I was hoping which was to enable us to be more effective in telling our story out in the community and get community engagement.”

– Karen Phillips, Development Manager

“We are very happy with the products that we have. We have used them and people are responding very favorably. Our donors who funded the project are extremely pleased with the end result.”

– Mary Ferrell, Executive Director

NROC | From product to purpose

From product to purpose

Highlighting mission to build a better brand

CHALLENGE

The NROC Project (NROC) is a national nonprofit that gives education leaders, teachers, and learners a voice in the production of digital content and software. Originally known as a “national repository of online courses,” the organization has received support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and others to build award-winning online learning tools. NROC is especially unique because they receive membership fees from educational institutions. Membership institutions share in both the work and the rewards of these development efforts. In this way, institutions are able to guide the development of learning materials to their own high quality standards while gaining access to excellent resources at a fraction of the typical cost. 

When Blue Marble first started working with NROC in 2008, the organization was comprised of several passionate staff with deep roots in education and technology. They had created various projects and initiatives lacking one recognizable name. The group was successful at securing grant funding and delivering quality work, yet it was difficult to gain recognition in a crowded and competitive marketplace. We were tasked with helping to narrow their approach and to define a brand architecture that could be used consistently long-term. 

INSIGHT

Over its 10-year history, NROC had proven to be much more than a static, “online repository.” Its unique attribute was its truly active community of education leaders. We began our work with a research and discovery phase, where we gained an understanding of the founder's longer-term vision. With that perspective, we suggested modifications to streamline the language for the organization’s projects. While many of these projects were complex, we realized the need for clear, concise names and consistent themes to address a diverse, national audience. This has been a multi-year process, and we are proud to say that due to the persistence and determination of everyone involved, NROC is increasingly gaining recognition for their valuable and innovative work.

 

RESULTS

Taking marketing to the next level

  • NROC began referring to itself as "The NROC Project" to change the focus to the active and participatory nature of the work while retaining their history. 

  • The visual identity has become more modern and professional, with an evolving suite of print and digital collateral to clearly articulate the mission, values, and offering.

  • Various elements of NROC's customer/member experience are now better aligned with the overall organization's identity.

  • NROC has a style guide and templates that staff can use to unify ongoing communications.

  • NROC hired a dedicated marketing director, who brought decades of experience in corporate marketing and collaborated closely with Blue Marble to grow an integrated in-house marketing department.

 

NROC-website1.jpg

CLIENT

The NROC Project

SERVICES

Communication strategy

User experience design

Brand and message development

Multimedia campaigns

Website design and development

Print and digital publication

Training and ongoing support

FOCUS

Education


“I think of Blue Marble as part of our team. Without their vision and creativity we would not have a fraction of the success we have enjoyed. Blue Marble took the time to understand the students and instructors that we serve, as well as the challenges we face. They committed creatively and emotionally to both our business success and our mission success.”

– Gary Lopez, Ph.D, Founder and CEO, The NROC Project