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Rebrand your nonprofit like a boss

Food Moxie's Hope Kitchen. September 28, 2016 Category: FeatureFeaturedMediumMethod
The nonprofit formerly known as Weaver Way Community Programs (WWCP) is finally at the end of a months-long rebranding process, and its leadership has learned a lot.

The food justice organization was founded nearly 10 years ago so Weavers Way Co-op — the cooperatively owned grocery business — could be more engaged in the larger Northwest Philadelphia community. The original name, WWCP, was meant to be a placeholder, “but it just short of stuck,” said ED Jill Fink. “We wanted to have a name that reflected the types of programs we offered.”

The nonprofit ended up with Food Moxie as a name because “moxie” is a word that recalls “courage,” “skills,” “know-how” and “having a certain nerve and determination,” she said.

Rebranding was a long process, one the org is still working through. But it’s been worth it: “It’s been nice to have a brand and a name we can actually get behind.”

Thinking of embarking on your own rebranding journey? Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Have clarity of purpose — Everyone involved needs to understand exactly why the rebranding is happening, or the work won’t be done well or efficiently.
  • Do it when it makes sense — Not during your org’s busy time of year, not when you’re about to host a gala, not when 50 grant applications are due. “It takes a tremendous amount of time from the people that are directly engaged in the work,” Fink said. Make sure you have the bandwidth to undertake such a project.
  • Assume the process will take more time than you expect“It took us a longer time than anticipated to settle on a name,” Fink said.
  • Get feedback — The rebranding committee consulted with a number of stakeholders, including staff and community members, before settling on a name to ensure that the changes would be welcome to its larger constituency.
  • It’s more than a name change — It’s a new logo, new bank account, new checks printed, new BCO filing, new bulk mail permit, and on and on. Be sure everyone on staff knows what they’re in for.
  • Learn the correct language, or get someone on board who speaks it — Specifically, if you’re working with an ad agency, you need to speak ad agency. Fink didn’t, but luckily, someone on the board did and could translate the industry-speak when necessary.
  • Get a second opinion — Before it began the rebranding process, Food Moxie applied for help from Wharton Social Impact Consulting Group, undergraduates who conduct market analysis for local organizations as part of their classwork. That group advised that the former WWCP should indeed change its name, but that it should also employ a tagline referencing its relationship to Weavers Way — hence, “An offshoot of Weavers Way Co-op.”
  • Get uncomfortable —The nonprofit sent an RFP to design agencies and chose Chinatown-based Machinery to conduct its rebranding. “One of the reasons we chose Machinery as an agency was because we thought they would push us outside of our comfort zone,” which indeed it did, Fink said. “There was a lot of discomfort there, and I think that discomfort is good, because it gets you to where you need to be” — with a bold new name and look.

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