I’ve always loved how branding, when carefully developed and deployed, can shift the way people relate to their work, their communities, and themselves. Last year, my wife came home and mentioned that she had met one of the leaders of a local adoption-support organization located in northwestern Atlanta. On a budget, and with little success, the group was searching for a new look and feel. I felt a tug in my heart, and suspected that I had found our office’s next pro-bono contribution to the firmwide Social Purpose program. That night and over the coming days, I read up on the Foster & Adoptive Parent Association of Paulding County (FAPAPC). It became clear that this little organization, in spite of its ungainly title, was deeply essential to its community, and to the lives of children who need help the most.
Not long after, I was discussing FAPAPC’s needs with the organization’s then-president, Kathy Carter. She told me that Paulding County’s foster system had just fifteen homes but 146 children. Filling this urgent need no longer squared with the organization’s historic focus on training, community referrals, providing supplies, and facilitating donations of clothing or ballet tickets or trips to the zoo. We agreed that more people in the county needed to see foster care or adoption as viable options, and that a compelling, attractive brand could be the first step in that shift. I told her about my team’s work designing brand names and identities for organizations all over the world. It already felt like a perfect fit.
FAPA, through its many county-level chapters nationwide, provides support to local families who open their homes to children throughout the United States, providing stability and warmth to kids who have seen little of either. Paulding County’s FAPA chapter, run by just four volunteers, was something of an upstart. It would be the first in the national network to develop an identity tailored to its own outlook. Leadership and stakeholders expressed a strong desire to raise their visibility within the community and define themselves among county and statewide peers. But chiefly, they wanted to communicate an image of kindness and vitality in a way that potential parents would gravitate towards when first considering foster care or adoption.
Working from FAPA’s guiding principle that “every child deserves a safe, stable and permanent home,” our team spent an enormous amount of time with the four volunteers who run the chapter. We began to understand their services and their mission. We mined for strong, personal stories that could become the pillars of an identity based on existing strengths. In addition to a new logo and design standards for all communication materials, our team was asked to create a new name for the organization. After extensive exploration, the team unanimously settled on Kindworks United, a name that fit perfectly into the values and attributes of the former FAPAPC. Addressing a logo, we nestled within the identity a custom “n”: a house illustrating the safety and warmth that come from a stable home-life. Happily, the word “kids” is embedded within the new name. And finally, “United”: it alludes to the story of people coming together to form a family, but also to the region’s network of non-profit child-focused organizations. While they’re not officially part of Kindworks, it was important to acknowledge them as allies or even kin, given the mutual emphasis on ensuring every child’s safety and wellbeing.
This spring, we unveiled this fresh start during a ribbon cutting ceremony at the Paulding Chamber of Commerce. Community leaders presented our team with so many plaques of recognition that we could hardly carry them. The place was overflowing with a sense of pride and gratitude in work well done. If there was a dry eye in the room, I didn’t see it.
My day-to-day job is to define physical and digital environments that change cultures. But over the course of this project, I found that I myself had been changed.