In response to an evolving organizational structure and to changes in the child care field, Child Care Answers will launch a campaign in late August announcing its amicable split from Early Learning Indiana. As a part of this split, Child Care Answers undertook a rebranding initiative. Executive Director Mollie Smith explains how they went about it and what they learned from the process.
Child Care Aware® of America (CCAoA) is launching a new member benefit – Marketing Toolbox – a series of short webinars with associated “grab and go” resources providing information and advice on basic marketing activities. Subjects to be covered will include branding, reputation management, social media, media relations and much more. The series kicks off on August 26 with “Introduction to Branding.”
Why did you decide to rebrand? What were your goals?
Until recently, Child Care Answers was a program of Early Learning Indiana, which serves as the Central Office for the Child Care Resource and Referral Network and runs a number of child care centers. As Early Learning Indiana’s strategic goals evolved, it was decided that Child Care Answers would spin off as its own 501(3) non-profit organization. Our rebranding efforts were a natural evolution of this initiative. As we prepared to launch our new organization, we wanted to be seen as approachable yet professional, passionate and trusted.
|Old logo||New logo|
How did you go about the rebranding process?
We engaged with a local marketing firm, Smallbox, which expertly led us through the process. We first examined our goals and needs and how we wanted others to view our organization. That led naturally into the creation of our new logo and style guidelines. As anyone who has rebranded before knows, the visuals are just the start. We meticulously inventoried our existing resources to determine what would need to be rebranded and strategized about how our small team would make that happen. We then worked to create a separate robust launch plan to map out how we would communicate the change and rebrand to our core audiences.
Was it helpful to seek outside assistance and work with a marketing firm?
Yes, Smallbox has been an integral partner with us throughout the process. They led the way on visual rebranding and website development. They also served as a trusted consultant as we developed our brand story and how we plan to talk to our audiences about our new organization.
How did you communicate the rebrand to your constituents?
Because our audience is varied and wide, we thought it was important to target messages so each audience would gain a thorough understanding of why our rebrand and spinoff was important to them. Our message was just as much about what was NOT changing as it was about what WAS changing. We will continue to offer free, high-quality services and we wanted our audiences to understand that we would always be there to serve their needs.
To accomplish this, we used a variety of media. We leveraged as many of our existing communication channels as possible. We presented to early childhood partners during regularly scheduled meetings and through existing email channels. Those who subscribe to our email newsletters received trickled messages throughout the process until we officially launch the full message at the end of August. Our biggest success was communicating to our staff alumni and donors through a hybrid celebration event. This event commemorated the history of the organization, showing the natural transition into the future of our organization.
A challenge during our rebrand was that we are part of a Child Care Resource and Referral Network for the state of Indiana which was rebranded at the same time. We had to do some revising and pivot to work around that rebranding and minimize the confusion because that change was also new to our clients.
Do you think the rebrand will be successful?
We are excited to find out, but we know that we took many steps to ensure it was a success. Not only did we build personas, interview a variety of our clients, work with our board and gather consumer feedback, we also worked with our former parent organization, presented aspects to our contract holder and involved a variety of partners in the planning stages. Each person or organization is looking in through a different lens and we wanted to make sure we took this all into consideration.
How will you determine whether the rebrand was successful?
We know that key components to our success are:
- Families, child care providers, community members and businesses continue to come to Child Care Answers for our quality services; and
- Clients know how to find/contact us. As a part of our acquisition of 501(c)3 status, we changed our website and email from childcareanswers.com to childcareanswers.org. We also moved offices during this process. With so many things changing, we want to ensure our contact channels are clear.
- Our existing clients discover our new services that they didn't know we offered AND we reach new clients who can take advantage of our services
What advice would you give your peers who are considering a rebrand?
- Start early! Take time to truly assess your audience and needs before diving into the logistics. Find a trusted and neutral outside partner.
- Plan for spending more than what is originally quoted. It’s like a renovation; you often find more problems than originally planned for.
- Assess your staffing to determine whether it can accommodate the rebrand and the associated tasks. With nonprofits, often new projects and tasks are given to current staff in addition to their other responsibilities. Make sure to plan for the time/work it will take to complete the project. Confirm that the appropriate skill set is available and how the workload will need to shift to allow completion,
- Consumer feedback can be difficult to gather, especially during a pandemic! We found that incentives, even small ones, increase participation.
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