We here at Switch have a big heart. Our generous partners will donate anything from stage lighting to large-format printing to blood (seriously – we hold regular blood drives). Helping out humankind is in the Switch DNA, and we have a key to the city to prove it. But one time each year, we choose one special cause, with one special mission. We welcome them with open arms and invest our talents, along with our hearts and souls, hoping to make a difference.
This year was no different. We accepted a rebranding project for the Martin Truex Jr. Foundation, a non-profit organization started by NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver – you guessed it – Martin Truex Jr. as well as his long-time girlfriend Sherry Pollex, to serve underfunded research initiatives related specifically to Ovarian and childhood cancers. This opportunity proved to be a great branding exercise for a team comprised of both battle-tested and rookie agency types. The time had come to roll up our sleeves, welcome a new client to the Switch family and get to work.
Even armed with the essentials – a sketchpad, a cup of coffee and a Spotify playlist – a creative mind can get lost quickly without a strategy. The Switch strategic process – designed to guide the way to great work – is made up of five stages: Discover, Define, Create, Activate and Analyze. Without them, our creative work would be graded purely by its aesthetic design, without account for how it delivers upon the client’s strategic needs. For Martin Truex Jr. Foundation brand identity work, we began as we always do – with discovery.
Step 1: Discover
We at Switch are no strangers to the world of NASCAR. The races, the sponsorships, the activations, the community. But this track record of experience doesn’t exempt us from crucial listening and proactive investigation. We listened with not only our heads but also our hearts, translating the client’s passionate briefings to indicators of success within its refocused mission. Secondary research fueled our awareness of the logos, positioning and major marketing pushes of similar organizations. The more we listened and researched, the more we discovered. It was an emotional journey. I found myself – and others – shifting from the role of objective agency team member to a passionate advocate and teammate of the Martin Truex Jr. Foundation.
Step 2: Define
With Discover underway, the next step was to prepare a defined strategy. Data and insights served as the guiding light to our task – so how would we use them to benefit the client? With team members engaged in the conversation, we shaped the creative brief, constructed the audience profiles and pointed to unique opportunities. Then we had the meat of the assignment – the strategy. We knew what success would look like and how it would be measured. We knew the client’s journey, challenges, hopes and target audience. We understood the cultural tension inherent within the assignment, the burning questions that needed to be answered by this piece of creative.
Step 3: Create
With the strategy providing the foundation and the guardrails, it was time to take pen to paper, mouse to screen, and heart to head. Create is the point where actual meaning and applied meaning collided to make something tangible. The integral information the team deciphered from pages of notes helps lead things in the right direction.
For the Martin Truex Jr. Foundation, we developed next-level fervor. We made their fight our fight too. We realized that our creative contribution could actually create positive change for others, whether they’re giving, receiving … or just listening.
Our process is not yet finished. It never truly is. After Create, we went to Activate, sending the new logo to the wonderful team at the Martin Truex Jr. Foundation to share with the world. You’ll see it on their website, with Martin in every race and anywhere the foundation is fighting to make a difference in the lives of those affected by Ovarian or childhood cancers.
Finally we Analyze, measuring the success of this new brand mark. Through that analysis, we discover more and more, determining if it’s time to course correct or amplify our current efforts. It’s an iterative process, allowing our work to be as vital as a living, breathing thing, making every activation across every medium a new beginning.
In this case, the contributions made during the rebranding process gave as much to the team as they did to the Foundation. We were motivated and inspired by the difference we could make. Brand identity carries a lot of weight on its shoulders, especially for a foundation hinging on donations. We had to communicate forward movement – cancer research. We had to communicate a sense of urgency – the reality of the cause. And we had to communicate context – racing roots. A ribbon for hope. In turn, the client benefits from that passion, enabling them to continue doing amazing work that changes lives.
Read more about our rebranding work for the Martin Truex Jr. Foundation and how they are helping change the lives of women and children fighting the battle against cancer.