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How can a 100 year old organization change to bridge the most challenging divides?

United Way Hero

United Way of Greater Houston

The Opportunity 

United Way of Greater Houston was approaching its 100th anniversary of impacting the Houston community, and asked Deutser to help refresh their brand to align with their new Second Century Vision. There was an immediate recognition that the ability to build a brand around the bold vision would also require a deeper dive into the existing culture framework of the organization as well. There was also a need to make sure that people understood the importance of the organization and its mission to address the more than 47% of Houstonians who are struggling just to get by – no matter how big the need in the community or the magnitude of the organization’s impact, if their mission was too broad, people would not be able to understand, to connect or to support it. 

The Human Approach

We conducted 100+ interviews of stakeholders, volunteers, clients, partners, employees, as well as board and community members. We hosted a series of culture focused and behavioral workshops to distill the complexity of the organization. With each session, the importance of the work elevated, so did the magnitude of the problem and the breadth of solutions only the United Way could address. We were challenged to simplify this increasingly complex organization.

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Connecting People to Possibility

Our goal was simple - connect people to a different future, connect people to possibility. To represent the surprisingly large and growing need in our community, we incorporated a single line design device, a “Storyline”, to represent each individual’s life journey, and a reminder of the gaps that the organization closes. The line drawn 47% up from the bottom of the page represents a great divide – the 47% of people living at or below the poverty line that look to the United Way for possibility and hope. 
And through research into the original United Way logo designed by the legendary Saul Bass in 1972, we resurrected meaning around the power of color and gradients to move the brand into today. Telling these stories became a critical part of the brand refresh, both internally and externally, so a very “humanized” brand and messaging guide was developed to aid in this endeavor, as well as a video series, website and multimedia campaign.

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The Lasting Change 

The organization was reborn. The clarity of the position and the vibrancy of the message have changed the internal culture and impacted the ability to work with other organizations in partnership and raise money from donors. The positioning has eliminated perceived overstepping of the organization and has enhanced partnerships across the non-profits in Houston. The positive feedback and pride is difficult to measure, but it is clear with every communication. People finally understand one of the most prized assets in Houston and are changing the line - in a good way – as they connect people to more and changing possibilities.