Immediately following its launch, the PenFed Foundation Speakers Bureau teamed with Creative Cycle to establish an authentic brand identity.
Created in 2019, the PenFed Foundation Speakers Bureau brings together the “best and brightest” veteran speakers who motivate audiences through their own unique stories. Speakers travel around the U.S. to share their inspirational stories at a wide range of events. The Speakers Bureau is funded by the PenFed Foundation, a national nonprofit committed to creating a robust network to support veteran entrepreneurs. Both organizations are affiliates of PenFed Credit Union, which is also military-focused.
In January 2019, the newly launched Speakers Bureau collaborated with Creative Cycle to establish its official brand and develop its official website.
The Speakers Bureau is led by U.S. Army MSG (Ret.) Cedric King, a paraplegic wounded warrior, marathon runner and motivational speaker. As CEO of the organization and the face of its brand, Cedric was vital to our branding collaboration. However, his committed speaking schedule required year-round travel that made it difficult to regularly meet in person. To meet this challenge, Creative Cycle and the Speakers Bureau conducted the entire creative process online.
This was the first time Creative Cycle engaged with a client on a 100% virtual basis. Our priority is to always understand what clients think and feel — and remote communication traditionally makes this more challenging. For this reason, our teams made a concerted effort to stay constantly connected, using a mix of interactive channels.
Process of Feeling
As part of our branding exploration, we worked with Cedric and his team to understand their process of feeling. We used lightboxes in Shutterstock to create a mood wall of images. Via Skype, asked each team member what they associated with each image. Together, we explored which images personally resonated with them, and how they associated certain images with certain values.
Next, we explored what these stakeholders wanted to achieve for their brand. We understand that even when an organization has strong values and goals, its brand vision can be totally different. This exercise would help us align the team’s convictions with how they presented themselves as an organization. By building a brand on what they believed in, we were creating a brand that was authentic. This would foster trust among audiences and better position the Speakers Bureau for success.
The Speakers Bureau is the third of PenFed’s brands, alongside the Foundation and the Credit Bureau. When developing the brand guidelines and logo, our goal was to give the Speakers Bureau its own visual identity while also presenting it as part of the PenFed family.
For consistency with the other brands, we designed the logo with the same typography and Pentagon element used in the other PenFed logos. Creative Cycle and the Speakers Bureau explored different color options — originally using pink to reflect Cedric’s focus on heart and family. But after more in-depth discussion, our teams chose red and blue to better tie the Bureau to the Foundation.
Together, we also ensured the logo design reflected a unique set of values. We placed a microphone icon at the center to communicate a central focus on speakers, while the Pentagon represented a focus on veterans. Because inclusion is a core value of the Speakers Bureau, we used different-colored triangles to reflect the diversity of its speakers.
Once everyone agreed on the final logo design and brand guidelines, Creative Cycle began working to develop a branded website.
In developing the guidelines and logo, we were actually developing a larger concept — one that would be reflected in the Speakers Bureau website, its external communications and the services it provides.
By understanding what was important to Cedric and his team, Creative Cycle helped them purpose-build a brand they believed in.
This collaborative process allowed our teams to share input and insight at every stage. It gave Cedric’s team a direct and personal role in establishing their own brand — resulting in a product they felt connected to and invested in.
The project was also a great exercise in flexibility and creative problem solving. Once we understood the client’s challenges, we were able to tailor our work style to meet their needs. We combined flexible availability with the creative use of technology to maintain collaboration, despite time and distance.
The Speakers Bureau enthusiastically embraced its new logo and brand identity. With the website set to launch in October 2019, the Bureau plans to team with Creative Cycle on several more upcoming projects.
Creative Cycle believes meaningful relationships deliver meaningful results. By intimately understanding our clients’ values, goals, attributes and needs, we’re able to design with empathy and purpose. Listening and learning are integral to our creative process — and collaborating with our clients is how we produce the most effective outcomes.