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United Way for Greater Austin Case Study
Client United Way for Greater Austin
Disciplines Branding, Design & Content, Marketing, Web Development

Bringing a fresh approach to a beloved nonprofit agency

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Reimagining a Classic

Everyone knows United Way. They’ve been supporting local communities across the country since their founding in 1887.

Here in Central Texas, United Way for Greater Austin (UWATX) has an equally rich history. But with thousands of other nonprofits in Austin and competition for precious charitable donations growing fiercer every year, United Way found themselves in need of a refreshed identity. They had to prove that they actually, truly, make Austin a better place every single day.

Enter Mighty Citizen.

Hyper-local brochures featuring the impact of United Way in Austin.

A pesky misperception had taken root: Austinites believed that UWATX sent their local donations out-of-state and abroad. Not the case! All money is spent right here in Central Texas. Everything we designed needed to clear that up. In a very real sense, UWATX needed to be properly re-introduced to its community.

And voila! United Way suddenly felt like Austin again.

The awareness (aka, fundraising) campaign we developed was steeped in Austin iconography, style, and language. The creative deliverables — which included digital and offline assets — have a “street level” quality: bright colors, sharp graphics, handwritten type. And voila! UWATX suddenly felt like Austin again.

This campaign backdrop is used for community events and fundraisers.

But, of course, Austin isn’t only one thing.

It’s a diverse city, and UWATX’s work touches many parts of the community. That idea led to the development of the campaign’s core concept, “Makes Austin Greater.” The idea was simple: Give every Austinite a chance to say what they believe makes Austin greater. It’s a fill-in-the-blank design, a Mad Libs approach that puts the audience squarely in the middle of the UWATX story.

The “Makes Austin Greater” concept is especially clever because it’s so easy to execute. It empowers UWATX with a playground of ideas on which to iterate and experiment. Website graphics, social graphics, direct mail, video — every fundraising effort can deploy the “Makes Austin Greater” campaign quickly and inexpensively.

At a Glance

288%
increase in online donors
4M
targeted ad impressions
10%
increase in employee workplace giving

Going Wide

With a new brand strategy in place, it was time to take it to the people. Our advertising campaign took a multi-channel approach: print, online banner ads, bus wraps, and other unique placements across the city.

In addition, every member of the UWATX Board was armed with a “Brand Pocket Guide” for quick reference at public speaking events, donor meetings, and networking conferences. It empowered them to stay on message and speak in the new UWATX voice.

Board members received this Brand Pocket Guide featuring United Way’s new talking points.

You’re My Butter Half

The awareness campaign was a hit. But there was something missing — a piéce de résistance that would set UWATX apart from every other charitable nonprofit in town.

The answer hit us like a wall of bricks: A mural! Austin’s outdoor art is vibrant, and on the east side of the city, where UWATX is headquartered, it fits in perfectly. We’d literally paint a big love letter to the city, courtesy of UWATX.

So we created the “You’re My Butter Half” mural. A large, bright, impossible-to-miss image, it quickly became an Austin institution. It’s been the backdrop to countless photos (and a couple of marriage proposals). The mural even inspired a line of stationery and jewelry, and has been featured on several national TV shows.

Recognition

The “You’re My Butter Half” mural has been recognized by people all over the U.S.

  • Best of Austin
  • Austin ADDY
  • AIGA – The Texas Show
  • Summit International Awards

Going Digital

United Way does so much for Austin — education support, poverty prevention, grant-making, etc. — that their old website was overstuffed with content. Users found it difficult to wrap their heads around all that UWATX does.

So we got to work simplifying the site architecture — bringing top-level services up the hierarchy and constantly reminding users of the scope of UWATX’s impact in the city. The backend CMS is also greatly improved, allowing staff to wrangle website content more efficiently.

The site’s visual design demonstrates UWATX’s new, locally-focused brand by incorporating social feeds and the stories of real Austinites who’ve been helped by United Way. The effect communicates that UWATX impacts Austin every day.

We simplified the United Way website, driving home their local impact in the community.

Digital success

1200%
increase in online donations
27%
increase in average gift amount online
40%
increase in email open rate
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