Case Study by Scott Christie RGD, BLVD Agency
The Ireland Park Foundation (IPF) needed to create an identity for the Dr. George Robert Grasett Park (Grasett Park) to promote and raise funds for its grand opening in June 2017.
The Ireland Park Foundation creates and maintains commemorative public spaces dedicated to celebrating the story of the Irish in Canada. Their organizational objectives are to:
- Provide opportunities for artists from both nations to travel to each other's countries and facilitate cultural internships.
- Engage academics to produce unique research on the history and contribution of Irish migrants and their descendants to Canada, facilitating the production of educational material and public lectures to help stimulate public discourse on the Irish experience.
- Engage the public by hosting events celebrating the role of the Irish in Canada and Canada’s influence in Irish affairs.
Scott Christie RGD, Partner & Creative Director of BLVD Agency has been working with the IPF since 2000, and was the original designer of the past award-winning logo.
Initiated in September 2016, the The Grasett Park identity design project was the catalyst for a much larger need — a completely new IPF brand architecture. This new architecture and identity system was required to address the current and future marketing needs of the whole foundation and each of its projects.
Timing was tight. BLVD was given a month and a half to make a compelling case for a considerably larger project than the IPF board recognized, create a new identity system and, finally, be in a position to launch the first mass email announcing their gala event.
- Clarify the current brand architecture issue by demonstrating to the IPF that they needed to move away from their existing model of promoting both Ireland Park and the Ireland Park Foundation with the same identity.
- Educate the IPF board about the brand architecture options available in order to gain a consensus on the most suitable direction.
- Create an identity system that would promote each of the IPF's initiatives, Ireland Park and Grasett Park, while maintaining credibility, building awareness and establishing a greater understanding of the IPFs’ role.
The IPF seeks financial donations, grants and contributions of time from the Canadian government, the Irish Government, senior leaders of commerce, academia, foundations with aligned goals and individuals sympathetic to the history of Ireland and Canada’s role in that history.
- Four weeks for research, brand strategy and initial identity explorations
- Two weeks for idea creation and refinement
- Two weeks for application of the winning idea to all marketing materials needed for the October 28th launch
Due to the IPF's charity designation, the budget was significantly discounted from what would typically be a $60,000 – $120,000 client investment.
The process began with collecting information on the various brand architecture models that were comparable and could be appreciated as best practice by the design team. BLVD searched globally for other organizations, specifically parks, similar to the IPF who have incorporated an effective identity system. During this process a few key observations starting influencing and shaping the work: Italy’s Fiat’s hybrid brand architecture back in the 50’s, and Scwarzwald, a national park and conservation area in Germany that used a system much like the Marriott hotel chain.
BLVD also observed from reviewing other park logos globally that most are very literal in their interpretations. This was explored in the initial idea phase along with multiple other approaches such as shape, dimension, pattern and more.
Many logo ideas were presented with the strongest put forward in application. The winning idea was late to the table; it wasn’t until after a couple of weeks of exploration that the idea emerged to eliminate any literal interpretation within the logo. In fact, while presenting to the IPF board it was admitted by one of the members that the literal iteration was mentally selected until BLVD unveiled the video that would demonstrate the winning direction.
The video sealed the deal. It was a necessary step due to the logo's static inability to demonstrate how versatile the presented logo system could be in application.
BLVD is built on a expert-source model. The agency is managed by four senior partners who are supported by freelance talent. The curation of talent is based on the experience and expertise needed to successfully complete client projects within allocated budgets. In the case of IPF, three designers and one After-Affects designer were briefed by Scott Christie, with Scott contributing to all stages, orchestrating the various directions and managing the overall project including client presentations.
Throughout the process there were two key representatives from the IPF who would guide the direction of the final Board presentation. These representatives were integral early in the project when the brand architecture directions were being presented. They introduced BLVD to the architects behind the park design, fielded preliminary presentations and were always available, which was a huge asset due to the restricted timelines for this project.
One key challenge was verbally explaining at the beginning of the project that there was much more to be done than simply designing a logo for Grasett Park than the client had expected or realized. BLVD shared a presentation with the board explaining what brand architecture is and how it works. It was made clear that simply adding a Grasett Park logo to the mix without restructuring the whole system would not improve the foundation's situation.
Once they understood that they were using the Ireland Park logo for both Ireland Park and the Ireland Park Foundation, they realized the potential confusion and how this lack of clarity could be costing them lost donations and sponsorship dollars. It also came up after the brand architecture presentation that they would like their Foundation name mentioned with every project, which made the case for rethinking the whole project, moving away from just a logo for Grasett Park and addressing the whole foundation instead. After this explanation, there was agreement regarding the best course of action and the budget required.
Another challenge was coming to the decision to use a video to demonstrate the winning identity. This was not expected or accounted for in the initial plan, but luckily one of the designers on the project had some basic knowledge of After Effects and was able to put together enough information to show the IPF that this was an idea worth investing in. Since launching this project the video has been further enhanced and expanded for a better experience.
Promotions and additional hiring by the IPF have ensued.
The Carlu launch was a huge success resulting in donations exceeding $380,000. Since the Carlu there have been two subsequent events maintaining momentum for the 2017 summer unveiling of the park. BLVD is responsible for all implementation. They saved some money by not commissioning an identity guide. It was agreed BLVD would role out the identity and manage future events and projects.
“Working with BLVD has been a most rewarding experience. The team listened intently to what we were asking and identified the best route forward. The final concept presented to us, while fundamentally different from initial intentions, was ultimately exactly what was needed. A well-prepared presentation helped bring the Board on-side and the Foundation is significantly better off because of it.” William B. Peat, Executive Director, IPF
The IPF is very appreciative of the fact that by having a system to work with on all future marketing, they no longer need to reinvent design options for each invite, zap banner, or eblast. The colour combinations, logo layout positioning constructs and fonts are all established, which allows for quicker turn-around, saving the client time and money. The new challenge, as with every client, is to keep evolving the branding, to surprise the customer at each touchpoint. This can be done with new imagery, messaging, layout changes, etc. and allowing the brand identity to evolve and remain responsive to changes over time.
The exciting challenge going forward will be expanding what has been started and building on the ideas to keep the IPF front and centre with their partners and contributors. This starts in March with the next project — the website.
- Ensure you zig while others around you are staying the course, for you never know what the winning idea will be built on.
- Context setting is very important for navigating each meeting, it helps to demonstrate your point of view visually when you need your client’s comprehension, understanding and decision making.
- Video is more and more becoming a preferred media of communication. Record everything; movement and sound can greatly differentiate and enhance your presentations.
- Be brave. Being a charity does not limit your choices; approach the agencies or studios you want to work with.
- The question should never be “how many people do you employ?” rather, "how efficient, creative, collaborative, flexible, resourceful, accountable is your company?"
- Assign someone or make yourself readily available when restricted timelines are necessary, it makes the whole process move that much more smoothly.
Ireland Park Foundation Branding from BLVD Agency on Vimeo.
Company: BLVD Agency
Client: Ireland Park Foundation
Strategy: BLVD Agency
Design: Scott Christie RGD, Jong Won (David) Lee, Sam Dal Monte
Creative Direction: Scott Christie RGD
Video storyboarding: Scott Christie RGD, Jong Won (David) Lee, Jon McCallum
Video development: Jon McCallum