Using Heartwired Research to Rebrand Your Organization
It seemed like everywhere you looked in San Francisco, more people were living on the streets. New tent encampments were springing up, human misery was everywhere, and news coverage called the city a failure.
Meanwhile, Community Housing Partnership had a different story to tell. For 30 years, they provided people experiencing homelessness a real home — combined with support services like health care, counseling, and job training — and the stability to escape homelessness for good.
With support from the Tipping Point Community, Community Housing Partnership came to Wonder and asked: How can we inspire greater support to make more progress, even though some people are still living on the streets? How can we inspire San Franciscans not to give up?
Heartwired Insight and Strategy
Wonder’s research revealed a deep sense of frustration and hopelessness among their audiences. The same people who felt a strong duty to help their fellow citizens — “We’re the city of Saint Francis; we help people,” as one donor noted — also expressed a lot of sadness and anger. Homelessness felt too big to fix.
We recommended a shift in brand and messaging to empower everyday San Franciscans. Of course homelessness is too big for any one person or organization to solve. Acknowledging the frustration audiences feel is an essential starting point. We can make a difference if we each step up and play a part: talking to a neighbor, donating supplies or money, volunteering as an individual or business, or supporting homelessness prevention policies.
We also recommended highlighting their wraparound services and community organizing among their residents who experienced homelessness. Not only does this differentiate them from organizations providing temporary shelter, but it reinforces their broader vision of lasting, systemic change.
The final piece of the puzzle was to bring their name, Community Housing Partnership, in line with their updated brand. Their audiences often mixed up the words in their name, choosing to use the abbreviation CHP. This created confusion with the California Highway Patrol and hid their name’s deeper meaning.
In May 2021, Community Housing Partnership unveiled their new name: HomeRise. In their words:
HomeRise is our antidote to lost hope. HomeRise is the power of a stable home to help a person rise up from their circumstances. HomeRise is the resilience of our residents, who rise up after life has knocked them down, and rise up to advocate for laws that prevent homelessness. HomeRise is when everyday San Franciscans rise up to play their part to make a difference. If there’s one thing we’ve learned from our past 30 years, it’s that rising up and working together is where hope comes from. It’s why so many people who experienced homelessness now have a safe place to call home.
Their new name, logo, and tagline, developed by Wonder and design partner LOGOMAN, was informed by input from staff, residents, board members and supporters alike. One resident who overcame homelessness said proudly, “I live in a HomeRise building.” A series of brand and message trainings for staff, board and volunteers ensured everyone was empowered to talk about the organization, and detailed planning ensured the name launch engaged all their stakeholders.
“Our new name serves as an inspiration for both our staff and residents,” said Rick Aubry, CEO of HomeRise. “For our community, it evokes a vision that immediately is understood of where we are going together.”
With a new name and message, HomeRise is poised to continue their life-changing work on homelessness — with a movement of hopeful San Franciscans at their side.
Photo credit: Ariel Bowser, HomeRise resident, Courtesy: HomeRise