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Authentically Rebranding YNPN Portland

In case you hadn't noticed, something's changed around here.

A hint: what used to be green, but is now extremely orange?

The answer: our logo!

YNPN Portland is a small, entirely volunteer-run nonprofit. We had dreams of redesigning our logo several months ago, and we’re thrilled to share the result of the process with you today! Here’s how we decided what we wanted our logo to be, made the pitch to our leadership, and found our new logo.

Step 1: Deciding to update our logo

Change for the sake of change is never a good motivator – and it wasn’t ours. Our original logo was effective and well loved: it clearly defined our acronym name and communicated that we are Portland-based.

But at the end of last summer, our marketing committee saw an opportunity to evolve our logo. Our organization itself has been evolving behind the scenes: new board leadership has entered the picture in the past year (myself included!), and many recent planning sessions have begun defining our organization’s future. Taking a closer look at our brand felt like a timely exercise.

Step 2: Defining the foundation of our brand

Brand is what makes up the first impression on any newcomer to the organization, and a logo is the foundation of a brand. Logos are often the first opportunity to communicate value, distinguish from competition, foster loyalty, be memorable, and engage an emotional response from your audience.

Our marketing committee began this process back in September by having some conversations about what we want our brand to reflect. Those conversations involved taking a look at several evergreen components of brand very closely: our mission statement, Five Pillars of Leadership Development, and our full name: Young Nonprofit Professionals Network of Portland. We also consulted YNPN’s national organization for brand guidance. They had a brand guide readily available, luckily!

From a close examination of this language, we identified central attributes that we wanted our new logo to reflect:

  • Alignment with our key demographic, emerging nonprofit professionals in the Portland, Oregon area

  • Visuals that distinguish us from “the pack” – many Oregon-based organizations utilize the color green, as it is so representative of the natural landscape of our region

Step 3: Creating a creative brief & identifying our designer

A creative brief is a document that details every aspect of a project. It is intended to provide the creative team, agency, or individual designer with everything they need to complete the project - from the context and history of an organization to specific dimensions and file types to the fundamental 'why' of the project itself.

We began by creating an asset list, which is a detailed list of what specific materials we wanted the designer to create. These are the questions we asked ourselves when compiling the list:

  • How do we use our current logo, and what versions do we currently have? What do we anticipate needing in the future?

  • What visuals do our social media platforms require (icons, cover images, etc)? What about our physical presence (swag, signage, etc)?

  • Do we need black and white versions of the logo? What about versions with a transparent background?

  • What dimensions we need? Does our website layout require specific dimensions or orientations for a new logo? What about other digital constraints?

After answering these questions for our own organization’s needs, we compiled a creative brief. We captured the following details:

  • Contextual information about YNPN as a national organization, including their brand guidelines

  • Background information about YNPN Portland specifically

  • Key attributes for the new logo

  • Asset list

  • Desired timeline for the project

  • Key contacts for the project

We were now ready to look for a designer! To do so, we utilized our networks to generate a list of potential freelance designers, shared our creative brief with each, and evaluated the quotes we received. Kathlyn Grant, of Pepion Designs, was our choice!

Step 4: Getting buy-in from leadership

A crucial step for any organization – large or small, nonprofit or for-profit – is presenting a project brief to your leadership!

As marketers, we are used to thinking about our work as crucial, top priorities. But naturally, not everyone in your organization will have the same view. Knowing your audience and the kinds of questions people in specific roles are likely to ask is a useful preparatory exercise.

As you may have guessed given the tone of this article along with the new logo present on this page, in our case the board gave an enthusiastic thumb’s up to the logo redesign and we were ready to get started!

Step 5: Working with our designer

Our designer Kathlyn kindly attended our next committee meeting to dig deeper into the vision and scope of the logo update. We had an engaging conversation with her and created a mood board (click here to read an article about how mood boards help graphic designers meet a client’s needs) to help orient her to the kinds of designs we admire.

Included in our mood board were some fellow YNPN chapters whose branding we love!

  • YNPN Twin Cities

  • YNPN Southern Nevada

  • YNPN Phoenix

  • YNPN Chicago

  • YNPN Greater Buffalo

After many emails exchanged with Kathlyn (I actually went into my Gmail to confirm: we exchanged 53 emails regarding this project!) and several months’ work on the committee’s part and Kathlyn's herself, it finally came time for what we had been long waiting and anticipating: sharing the logo with the world!

Our new logo aims to represent who are in a new, refreshing way. By adding the graphical element of the raindrop, we reference our Pacific Northwestern setting’s well-known weather patterns while also reflecting our organization’s core driver: to make a difference in our community and empower emerging nonprofit professionals to cause a ripple effect in their own careers and communities.

The orange was a bold but deliberate choice: orange is warm, joyful, and enthusiastic. We also paid close attention to the accessibility of our logo by ensuring our contrast ratios and overall design would be readable.

Ultimately, we’re delighted with our new logo and its embodiment of our mission as an organization!

We hope sharing our story helps provide insight into what a re-branding process can look like in an organization. If you have additional questions on this topic, please feel free to send us an email at

Also, be sure to peruse Kathlyn Grant's website portfolio to see the other awesome work she has done!

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