I joined the Literary Arts team at a very exciting time. There’s a lot of changes coming up for the organization. The office will be moving out of its Wieden+Kennedy home. The Writers in the Schools program will be getting a bigger push. And the website is currently undergoing some major renovation.
I’m very privileged to be taking on this last challenge personally. It has really given me a chance to look at how the organization functions and what needs updating. To some extent, I’m looking at the new website as a large-scale rebranding project, and I think I have a unique perspective coming in as an outsider.
Literary Arts definitely appeals to an older demographic. Most of our patrons are women over the age of 60. This means that we have a challenge to expand our market as these women begin to age. We are trying to infuse some youthful exuberance into some of the programs by bringing high school students who are involved with the Writers in the Schools program to the Schnitz for our lecture series, Portland Arts and Lecture. From the video footage I’ve seen, it’s clear this adds another dimension to the organization that I think is worth sharing. For the website, this has meant transitioning from a very text-heavy format with a dull background and few photos to a more vibrant website with lots of photos on a clean white background.
Working on this project has really got me thinking about rebranding.
One organization I think has done a good job with their recent rebranding effort is Starbucks. They released their new logo at the beginning of the year, and overwhelmingly had a positive response. I think the reason this effort was so successful was because it lined up with the long-term goals of the organization. It’s been clear for the last few years that Howard Schultz has been wanting the company to be more global. What better way to do that than to take all wording off the logo? That siren has a good chance of being as identifiable as the Nike swoosh or the McDonalds arches in a few years…whether you think that’s a good or bad thing.
The second thing I think Starbucks did well was try to simplify the brand. With all the things the company does these days, a simplistic logo that can stay consistent from grocery products to pastries is important. I’m trying to do something similar with Literary Arts. They have a bunch of different programs that can seems somewhat unrelated, so I’m trying to create simplified consistency throughout the website. I’m getting rid of the clutter and connecting things with similar designs. Hopefully it will make Literary Arts seem more youthful, which is the way many of the programs are heading.
What do you think makes a successful rebranding effort? Do you have any recommendations from what I could do with the website? Or can you think of another successful example?