Energizing Portland to end childhood poverty

Branding for United Way of Columbia-Willamette

In the Portland metro area, one in four kids wakes up uncertain about their next meal, or where they’ll sleep that night.

Under a galvanizing new leader, United Way of the Columbia-Willamette had just developed an actionable new plan to break the cycle of childhood poverty and change the trajectory for kids living in their region.

Their challenge was two-fold: First, childhood poverty is a weighty issue. They needed to find the words to make a difficult issue feel feasible and achievable. Second, they need an updated story, one that would distinguish their organization and shatter the mold of what audiences expected from them.

Not your grandfather's United Way

We began our work by helping United Way understand what their community wanted to see from them. Then, we worked with leadership and staff to wrestle to the core of who they are, what they do, and why it matters. We created a new brand and positioning that honored their driving vision and values, while inspiring their audiences.

The new position centered around community—our home, our ideals, our success. Together, we have what it takes to make our home the great for everybody. Emphasizing inclusivity offered a message that everyone could be a part of.

This vision translated United Way’s strategic priorities, which were broken down into three clear ingredients for ending childhood poverty: Successful kids, stable families, and connected communities.

New visual brand guidelines gave a refreshed look to their materials. While still recognizably part of the United Way national brand, they distinguished Portland’s United Way from the pack.

Brand materials.
Mood board.

And launch!

With the message in place, they needed to make sure the community knew about it.

Our team developed a 24-hour brand awareness campaign designed to reach new audiences through trusted messengers and common friends—most notably the organizations United Way supports—to drive engagement with United Way. Participants pledged their time or money. And United Way engaged new supporters, while energizing existing supporters, in their ultimate goal: ending child poverty.


Volunteer hours donated


New donors


raised in one day


Who was involved

See more of our clients in Social Justice

Beacon Development Group
Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County
Committee to End Homelessness
King County Family Homelessness Initiative
United Way of King County
United Way of King County / Washington State Census Alliance
United Way of the Columbia-Willamette
Yesler Community Collaborative

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