The Washington Ave Merchant’s Association had existed for over 10 years and its branding was nearly as old. Faced with declining interest that bordered on ignorance of the organization’s very existence, something had to be done.
While organizing local activities like cleanup events and merchant networking events had begun the process of reengaging the community and rebuilding support for the Washington Ave - Prospect Heights Association (WAPHA), a local Merchant’s Association, the message that WAPHA was new and improved had to be more forcefully announced.
Unfortunately, years of decreasing engagement had run the bank accounts down to near zero, further highlighting the need for a re-branding, but a large marketing campaign just wasn’t in the budget.
Instead, the merchants had to band together, roll up our sleeves, and do as much as we could with the resources we had.
Partnering with branding agency McMillan Co, a specialist in Business Improvement Districts and Economic Development projects, we interviewed stakeholders to ask them what WAPHA meant to them.
Over the course of a few weeks, the board members interviewed and lead discussions with merchants, community groups, and neighbors where we explored their thoughts about WAPHA and helped them to articulate their feelings so we could better provide our branding agency with actionable insight.
The board then reconvened to share what we had each learned and condense those findings down into a few key insights. These were shared with McMillan to guide their creative process and over the course of multiple presentations, feedback sessions, and revisions we were able to guide the creative process forward.
We were surprised to discover a reservoir of nostalgia for the established branding, but a desire to see it revitalized, modernized, and brought back to life. Not unlike our goals with WAPHA itself.
Rather than engage in a complete overhaul of the Association’s visual identity, we chose a more restrained path of saving a few key pieces of the old branding but bringing them in line with modern aesthetic sensibilities.
The new branding would serve to retain WAHPA’s established history in the area while still presenting a fresh identity that would be appealing to a changing neighborhood.
With a primary logo in place and serving as an anchor point, McMillian was able to establish a color palette and visual language they could use to create secondary collateral and graphic elements.
The board then brainstormed every potential usage of the logos, from social media icons and posters to street banners and stage scrims, to make sure that WAPHA had a full library of logos and branding in every conceivable size and format it would need to promote itself and its vision moving forward.