Those attending ACE’15 last month were the first to see it. NEF has a new brand identity and is proudly showing it off.
Let’s back up a little. Early in 2014 the NEF Board of Directors created a new marketing committee and nominated Board member Jane DeLancey, DeLancey Design, as chair. The Committee’s mission was to develop a new brand identity. Committee content lead, Elizabeth Sikkenga, Crisp Strategy, describes the need best, “When NEF started out 29 years ago, there weren’t many other organizations doing anything similar, but the field has grown hugely since then. It’s much harder now to get your message across, especially to busy entrepreneurs, so NEF’s branding really matters.”
For a starting point, the committee reviewed the in-depth third party survey NEF conducted in 2013 of current and former members, stakeholders, companies that we coached and others in the entrepreneurial community. Results of this survey were a major driving force for the formation of the committee and the decision to rebrand NEF’s identity.
Using a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis, Sikkenga then led the committee through a brand discovery designed to discover how NEF could best differentiate itself from other local organizations that offer services to entrepreneurs. The results of this analysis served as a foundation for developing NEF’s new brand identity.
One of the outcomes was to define key characteristics and the brand promise. Key characteristics include: respect, helpfulness, generosity, community and education; our coaches have credibility and experience. The brand promise is, “We interact with the business community to everyone’s benefit: coaches, coachees, investors, and other stakeholders. Each interaction with NEF will lead to new ideas, improvements to existing presentations, and new contacts and networks in the entrepreneurial community.”
At the completion of this process, a Creative Brief, approved by the Board last October, was created as a guide for developing the visual brand. Q Ltd., Ann Arbor, was engaged to create the logo. Q Ltd was outstanding in delivering a great new logo that came with new Identity Guidelines defining colors, fonts, placement of tagline, etc.
At Q Ltd’s suggestion the Committee agreed to also have them jazz up our 29-year-old tagline. Of half a dozen presented by Q, “Coaching. Perfecting. Connecting” was the unanimous choice.
With a shiny new logo and jazzy tagline in hand the Committee set about implementing the new brand. An 8’ tall banner, a new tabletop banner, brochure, business cards, name badges were created; the website was completely overhauled to show off the new brand—all in time for unveiling at ACE’15.
After almost a year of strategizing, reviewing, planning, agonizing and debating there are many folks to thank. Committee members would likely agree with Elizabeth, "One of my favorite branding strategy projects ever! It was such an honor—and so much fun!—to help NEF refine and shape their brand.”
It’s a long list and we want to be sure each person gets their proper credit so here goes:
Jane DeLancey, DeLancey Design; chair
Elizabeth Sikkenga, Crisp Strategies; content lead
Members from the NEF Board of Directors:
Helen Ewing, Ewing Group
Francis Glorie, Glorie Associates
William McPherson, McPherson Commercial Capital
Gerry Roston, Pair of Docs Consulting
(joined mid-year) Terry MacEwen, ABC Awesome Business Counselor
Tina Bissell, Michigan Initiative for Innovation & Entrepreneurship
Annie Wolock, Keystone Media
Logo design and tagline:
Q Ltd., Ann Arbor
Christine Golus, creative director
Katie Chang, designer
Paul Koch, writer
Banner and brochure design:
Kevin Ryan, Alfa Jango
Business cards, name badges, website:
Gerry Roston, Pair of Docs Consulting