Design > Brand-building


ARGONAUT, San Francisco / CODE TENDERLOIN / 2019

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Bordered by some of San Francisco’s wealthiest and most successful neighborhoods, the Tenderloin has a reputation all its own – one based on its staggering homeless population, violent crime and rampant drug abuse. One organization trying to bridge the two worlds and bring economic equity to the underserved, yet vibrant community living among these streets is Code Tenderloin. Since its founding in 2016, Code Tenderloin has removed barriers to employment for hundreds of people from all walks of life. Tasked with the objective to cement the organization’s credibility and legitimacy with key stakeholders, we needed to create a brand that local policy makers and investors would trust and be moved by. The total budget for the project was zero dollars; meaning every re-branding effort was done in-house by agency staff.

Describe the creative idea

While the re-brand’s main objective was to create a new identity for Code Tenderloin, its intended impact is much larger than that. Code Tenderloin was the first organization to claim the neighborhood as a brand identity, both literally and figuratively. The organization’s pillars of community, education and empowerment aim to improve not only the lives of students in the program but the community as a whole. The re-brand was about re-claiming the Tenderloin and driving change in the neighborhood. The target audiences included key policy makers, investors, and potential partner organizations in the Bay area.

Describe the execution

For an organization shaped by its community, we knew that Code Tenderloin’s brand identity would have to be guided by exactly that. So we created a logo design for the brand influenced by the geometric shape of the Tenderloin neighborhood on a map, and paired it with a condensed typeface that is vibrant, monumental, and never quiet – a reflection of the community’s spirit. The re-brand allowed us to take something as simple as a logo and immediately create a launch pad for conversation about the mission and vision of Code Tenderloin. But the re-brand went far beyond the logo at the visual center. It informed everything from the shape of their business cards, the experience on the website, the activation on social, and how the organization produced other marketing collateral. All of these executions brought to life the new brand identity; one full of color, character, and strength.

List the results

As means to launch the reinvigorated brand, we hosted a “Five Corners Fundraiser” inspired by the new logo, which contributed to the organization’s most successful round of fundraising to date. Since the launch of the re-brand, Code Tenderloin’s student employment placement rate increased to 87%, including positions at companies like Microsoft, LinkedIn, WeWork and Checkr. In addition, they’ve experienced a YoY fundraising increase of over 350% and attracted long-term investors as well as built partner relationships. The re-brand also helped to reshape the organization’s charitable strategy from a grassroots effort to long-term, sustainable funding.

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