There are three eternal truths for anyone working in the non-profit or charity sector.  The first is that budgets are always tight.  The second is that this creates an internal focus on the fundraising / business development team. The third is that while we might know our audience, those teams just…can’t….quite…get… the traction that’s surely just round the corner.

I joined the Foundation for International Education (FiE) in January 2019 as the new lead for marketing and recruitment.

FiE is a boutique education provider teaching American students who want to come to London or Dublin for a semester or the summer.  FiE is staffed by extremely committed people who believe in the value of an international education.

I spent my first three months analysing the data and talking to as many people as possible about what they do, to get under the skin of what FIE does

It quickly became clear to me. To ensure a healthy future, FiE needed to show the outside world its personality.

As a Head of Marketing, once you’ve identified that your communications might be lacking in emotional engagement with your core audience, the next question is how to go about building that engagement.

If you don’t have a proposition that is working, rebranding may well be the best decision you could make.  You’ve got two choices: do it alone, or bring in an external supplier to do it together.

Choosing to do it alone, in my opinion, would certainly be a mistake.  Most of us, irrespective of our titles, juggle so many other tasks, that taking on something so fundamental as a rebrand is a tall order.

Get it right, and the long-term growth potential of the organisation can be maximized.  Get it wrong, and the pressures of your day job might mean your rebrand is nothing more than a logo change.

My own experience in taking FiE through a rebrand is that a specialised partner with an in-house team is absolutely the way to go.

After an exhaustive search, interviews, references and some real agonizing internally about the final two (there really are some truly superb, experienced outfits out there), Spencer du Bois were invited to take the reins.

The task for SdB was to demonstrate a differentiated approach of ‘immersive education’ and capture the attention of a student pool who are spoilt for choice.

SdB peeled back the layers of why we do what we do and what makes us tick.  And they asked the difficult questions either side of our national lockdown in March.

It was the process of co-creative that instilled the necessary organisational confidence to drop the long hand name and simply move forward as FiE.

Being a smaller player and a local expert is now a point of pride and a key differentiator. FiE is all about immersive education: Life-changing study abroad experiences that expand minds and futures.

And the new brand communicates this in a way that engages with Gen Z and their parents, authentically presenting FiE as an experience worth investing in.

The new visual brand, created exclusively behind the closed doors of our national lockdown, needed to capture the immersive experience that sets FiE apart.

The result is an identity that’s about redefining the classroom and opening minds. It’s an active, animated brand that visually captures the moment of engagement and discovery. It’s all about making your own experience in study abroad. Exploring different perspectives.

And importantly building cultural intelligence.

A good branding partner will provide a seamless process between the written language and the visual.  How to condense all of what a non-profit/charity is all about into a few engaging colours, rules, fonts and a logo?

A good partner will take you through each step and set of options, working with you until you are satisfied the written and visual guidelines truly capture you.

Just a few months on from the kick off, we are armed with water-tight and easy to use brand guidelines, our website has had a makeover, we have produced a series of impactful videos and launched a new blog.

The value of refreshing your brand goes far, far beyond a few pats on the back for a shiny new logo.  It should be, within your audience’s first glance, representative of what makes your organisation special.

To learn more about FIE please visit our website. 

This post was written by Mark Blakemore from FIE and Max Du Bois, from Spencer Du Bois.

If you are in the process of hatching a plan, the Spencer Du Bois team encourages you to use their imagination. You can drop them a line here: Spencer Du Bois. 

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