Case Study: Uncharted
It's nearly impossible for me to talk about Uncharted without gushing. This collaboration was easily one of my favourite brand strategy projects, and the team formerly known as The Unreasonable Insitute is one of my favourite teams. Below is a case study I wrote for Briteweb about the process; I was also a brand strategist, naming strategist and copywriter on this account. Although Briteweb has since streamlined their case study format, I include the original format both as a sample of my writing and as the story of a project I couldn't be prouder to have been a part of.
Entering Uncharted Territory
Most of our naming and branding clients come to us because something about their brand isn’t working – they’ve outgrown it, it doesn’t quite fit or they just don’t like it. But what if a rebrand is more a matter of necessity, rather than desire? Those were the circumstances in which Unreasonable Institute came to us for a new name, brand identity and website. It wasn’t that their name and brand identity weren’t working (they were) or that they didn’t like them (they did). But for Unreasonable it was time to let go of what they’d been in order to become what they will be.
There were many reasons for Unreasonable Institute to rebrand – not least of which was a significant change in approach. Founded in 2009, Unreasonable Institute spent its first few years supporting hundreds of ventures around the world by putting social entrepreneurs at the center of their work. But their team came to realize that this model didn’t allow them to solve the world’s most persistent problems at scale. To do that, they evolved their model to put the problem at the center and create a coordinated effort to attack it from all sides.
Meanwhile, it had become obvious that while Unreasonable Institute and its offshoot Unreasonable Group were both still committed to solving the world’s greatest problems, their approaches to doing so had diverged. It was time, they decided, for Unreasonable Institute to step away from the Unreasonable brand and establish themselves as something new – something that reflected their uncharted future.
The Unreasonable Institute team understood and accepted the necessity of a rename and rebrand, but approached it with trepidation. This was a team so committed to their existing brand that some members had it tattooed on their bodies.
Briteweb’s challenge was to help Unreasonable establish an identity that they loved as much – or, better yet, even more.
A daunting task? Sure. One we were game for? Absolutely.
From the get-go, our brand strategists wanted to create space for the Unreasonable team to articulate and address the fear and anxiety they felt coming into the rebrand process. At our kick-off session, we included a ‘Pre-Mortem’ module that allowed members of the team to identify potential risks, weaknesses and reasons that the project could hypothetically fail – all of which our project team would be sensitive to throughout the process. Above all, the team articulated fears that they would end up with a name that they and their community didn’t love as much as their existing name, that they would become a ‘blah’ organization, that they would lose their spark.
To ensure that we captured that spark and, and that we had what we needed to find a name and create a brand identity that they loved and felt connected to, we spent two full days getting to know their organization and what they’re about, allowing their head-office team to participate and contribute.
The takeaways from that workshop allowed us to create a positioning statement that captured what differentiates Unreasonable in the impact accelerator space, as well as a brand personality that encapsulates ‘who’ the organization is, and guides how it communicates.
Once signed off, Unreasonable’s brand personality became a major driver in our naming process. Three naming strategists generated an extra-long list of more than 1,000 possibilities based around the themes that came up during the workshop. That list was whittled down to our the strongest contenders and presented to Team Unreasonable. They spent some time with the list, and ultimately one option stood above the rest. The name that seemed to best encapsulate Unreasonable’s new direction – and the irrepressible spirit with which they were pursuing it – was Uncharted.
“Uncharted represents that our world, and how we improve it, is not fixed. There is no single way to solve the problems our globe faces, so we must head into the uncharted and learn what it takes to put big dents in big challenges.”
With a new name chosen and greenlighted by their legal team, we were ready to bring Uncharted’s new identity to life. First, our creative team designed a colourful, dynamic logo system that represents Uncharted’s vibrant personality – and its always-evolving approach to solving ever-changing problems. Like the organization itself, the deconstructed logo holds boundless potential to shift and show up distinctly wherever and however it’s applied. Mile and miles from ‘blah,’ we think.
“Our deconstructed logo resembles a world where there are constant shifts—a world where we need to adjust and adapt to find solutions to problems.”
Before the design team could bring the logo to life on the new Uncharted site, though, our team needed to create a content strategy that would work for the organization’s many distinct audiences – including Entrepreneurs, Mentors, Funders, Partners and Staff. The site needed to speak to the wants and needs of a growing number of corporate and government stakeholders without alienating the social entrepreneurs who had always been and always would be vital to Uncharted’s approach. To understand and appropriately address those wants and needs, we built on the audience profiles created during the brand strategy process, articulating for each group why they would visit the Uncharted site, and what information and experience they needed to get from it.
Once the content strategy and user experience were sorted, it was time for our design team to have some fun. You only need visit the site to see the fun they had.
Throughout this entire process, Uncharted’s new name was under strict wraps. Only when the new site went live on July 25, 2017 did Uncharted unveil its new identity. In the weeks prior to the launch, the Briteweb team worked closely with Uncharted to develop a launch plan that considered the organization’s existing community, ensuring that all stakeholder groups felt included and excited about what was to come. That excitement was crucial in ensuring that these stakeholders – who already felt a strong connection to this incredible organization – would continue to act as champions of the new brand.
When the clock struck launch, our team watched proudly as Uncharted’s community did exactly that – online and offline.
And was it as good as Unreasonable Institute?
Turns out, it was even better.
The day after launch, Uncharted Founder and CEO Teju Ravilochan said, “We would not be here without [Briteweb]. Everything just looks incredible. You guys have done such a thoughtful, caring, and wonderful job helping us build an identity that we are proud of! When we started, we didn't think we could have a brand as good as Unreasonable. I 100% believe Uncharted is something that is even more authentic to who we are and even more inviting to the world than Unreasonable. I am so very proud to be part of this brand and we are so grateful to both of you and to the whole team for what you've done for us."