Edmonton Community Foundation

The Project

We began working with the Edmonton Community Foundation (ECF) in the fall of 2015 after they had released an RFP looking for a digital marketing strategy. As is the case with many of our clients, we began with a research phase (that included extensive interviews with each of their internal departments) and then developed and presented a strategic direction that would empower them to meet their marketing goals.

Our primary recommendation was to redesign the ECF website. People who could benefit from ECF’s granting programs were missing out on great opportunities because the information they needed was missing or buried in a confusing drop-down menu. The foundation had a strong base of donors already, but will always seek new donors in order to sustain the projects it funds over time — however, the old website wasn’t compelling in its presentation of reasons to become an ECF donor. There were smaller issues too: slow load times, small type that was difficult to read, unclear calls-to-action, and a reading level for the content that made digesting information frustrating for visitors.

The old website was built without significant consideration to the people the website is ultimately for: donors and grantees. We worked with ECF to develop a new website to build strong relationships between grantees and the grants ECF offers, and between donors and the legacies they want to leave behind.

About the Client

ECF strengthens the Edmonton community by connecting donors to charities and causes that are important to them. They maintain an endowment base of more than $489 million and have provided more than $170 million in funding to charities and community-based projects. If a person is looking for a student grant, funding for their charity or for a specific project, or for a trusted place to donate, ECF helps make an impact in the community.

Client Goal

To be more recognized within and engaged with the Edmonton community in order to connect with more donors and grantees.

Our Job

  • Develop a strategy to engage with Edmontonians about the Foundation’s purpose, values, and goals
  • Build a mobile-friendly website with an easy-to-use navigation
  • Improve ECF’s image in the community with a new visual identity that represents their brand values

Services Provided

Initial Needs Analysis

  • Audit of current situation (technical and content audit of current website and an internal/external communications review)
  • Strategic Planning
  • Guide Development (content, SEO, social media, paid advertising, data & analytics)

Subsequent Needs Analysis

  • Website design, development, and blog post migration
  • Brand redesign
  • Stationery and collateral design

Website Design & Development

ECF is composed of several different departments, and each had their own requests for the website as far as the pages they wished to include. We developed a sitemap that took these requests into consideration, but kept a focus on what the keyword research told us their audience actually searched for and needed from the website.

ECF committed to writing their own content before we started wireframing, so we were able to push “real” content directly into the wireframes — this always cuts down on design time, as there are no content surprises further down the road! Readability was imperative, so we adopted the “less is more” model — lots of white space, clear hierarchy for headers and text, and no extraneous visual elements in the body content. For the more content-dense pages, we used a mixture of anchor links and accordion content to reduce navigation time.

For functionality, we went with a simple dropdown menu for the top navigation, which switches to a slide-out drawer menu on mobile to ensure information was easy to find, regardless of the type of device a person was using.

ECF had already built a large collection of Edmonton photography, which allowed us to use unique imagery for each page of the site. This image bank became a large part of the new visual identity, with these images being used across all printed materials as well.

Migrating Blog Posts from Craft CMS to WordPress

There were sixty blog posts on the old site that needed to be moved to the new site. Rather than copy and pasting several fields for each blog post we came up with a solution that would automate the blog post migration. We saved a lot of time (and budget) by building this method!

Brand Design

ECF called their old logo bland and said they got a “cruise ship” feeling from it. On the functionality side, the thin strokes of the serif font made it hard to read on desktop computers and it was basically unreadable on mobile devices. They needed a modern mark that commanded respect, would hold up over time, and meant something to their audience. After presenting several options, they chose a simple but strong wordmark that put the emphasis on “Edmonton Community.”

Top: ECF's previous "cruise ship" style logo. Bottom: New logo design, full and reduced versions.

A reduced version of the logo that features just the “ECF” initials was also created to add more flexibility to the brand;at smaller sizes, such as on the mobile version of the website, the ECF logo is switched out for the reduced version to maintain readability while still being a clear representation of the organization.

It was important to ECF to continue to use their existing blue, but we revised the colour palette to include teal, which is used as one of the main secondary colours in both the website and printed materials. Working on the website and visual identity concurrently meant that decisions made for one often directed the other. The linear shape of the logo led to strong lines and geometric shapes being used as defining features of the visual identity. Alongside these, the overall style for the brand focuses on vibrant images of Edmonton, strong typography, a minimal colour palette, and ample white space. The rebrand was applied to the many printed materials that ECF needed to have redesigned to reflect their new brand.

Results

ECF has a visual identity that is modern and respectable — without being too ostentatious — and is immediately recognized as representing their organization. Their new website embodies the new brand while giving their audience easier routes to find the information they need.

The communications team has a comprehensive set of guides that they use (with our coaching and assistance) to execute the marketing strategy we built with them after their initial RFP. Over the course of two keynote style presentations, we trained their entire organization to communicate using their brand voice and continue to work with the ECF team on print pieces, digital advertising, and coaching and training opportunities as they arise.

While we are still in the process of working with ECF to implement their digital strategy, we have already seen some exciting results:

  • Social Media visits up 101%
  • Organic Search visits up 13%
  • Granting page visits up 11%
  • Grant applications have doubled since 2016
  • Donor page visits up 34%

Limitations

Although ECF had many Edmonton-centric images for us to use on both the website and their printed materials, all were taken during the summer! At our suggestion, ECF is building a portfolio of winter-based images for their collection, in order to reflect the lengthy winter we enjoy here in Edmonton.

Reflections

Consistent communication with the project managers on ECF’s end (Carol and Andrew) helped keep our work process smooth — you don’t always get a client that is open to bold suggestions such as “maybe you need a rebrand!?” We enjoyed being part of a project that had so many different components that were completed over a longer timeline. It gave us the opportunity to learn deeply about ECF and build a strong relationship with them, which extended out into our current coaching and training project with them.