We were approached by the Camping & Education foundation in 2018 to do a modern rebrand for foundation, as well as their two summer camps. We were presented with a unique challenge of developing three brands that could stand strong on their own, but also work in the greater design system of the foundation, which is a bit of an umbrella brand. The project also included solidifying the brand voice and strategy, and the creation of a set of modern web experiences that would increase camper signups as well as brand awareness.
The summer camps both operate on two historic properties in Minnesota's Northwoods, on the border between Canada and the United States. So with the immense amount of history that is intimate to campers, counselors, and donors going back in some cases to 1925, paired with the dense, powerful nature of the properties, we had a lot to pull from and build upon.
The Camping & Education Foundation was founded in 1962 by a group of Camp Kooch-i-ching alums. The goal of the organization is to build reverence for the great outdoors with the Ojibwe Law of The Woods as a set of guiding principles. The center image of the logo is actually the image that represents the Law of the Woods in the Ojibwe community. It has beenin the center of the ceremonial fire circle at camp Kooch-i-ching since its founding in 1925, when their relationship with the Ojibwe nation began.
The brand narrative here is a simple, yet deeply important one to the foundation. "The Law of the Woods is your guide." By using a compass, we began the process of aligning all three brands under a foundation of items a camper will encounter or use as a tool during their outdoor experience.
Camp Ogichi Daa Kwe is the Foundation's summer camp for girls. The name is Ogibwe, and translates directly to "Strong Spirited Women." It's the youngest wing of the organization, having been founded in 2005. But the energy and pride inside of "Ogichi" is as vibrant as the other two. We wanted to be sure to capture that.
The history was young, but a lot of marks have been left in that short time. So the goal with this branding effort was to build off of the original logo. We extracted the sun and moon from Ogichi Daa Kwe lore, and used it as the foundation of this narrative. The moon, which is very symbolic to this camp, also represents the O for the camp's name. Then the obvious sun encapsulates the left side of the moon, white the four marks on the right represent the camp's unique way of grouping campers. Rather than the traditional format of ages, the girls at Ogichi are sectioned into four age-agnostic groups; North, South, East and West. A unique approach that allows younger campers to learn from the older ones in a different way than traditional, age-divided camps.
Camp Kooch-i-ching is an American gem of summer camps. As traditional and historic as it gets, this summer camp for boys was founded in 1925 on the land in the Northwoods that they still operate on.
This portion of the project was more of a slight evolution that included a new typography package to anchor down their historic and iconic axe and paddle logo. The experience at Kooch-i-ching has resulted in countless life-long friendships, and who are we to mess with a logo that means enough to former campers that it's tattooed on their bodies? You'll see as we continue on that our impact for Camp Kooch-i-ching was seen more in a wrangling of former assets under a new structure, and bringing those iconic elements into the digital space.
As we established the brand narratives for each of the three brands, we had to keep in mind that a large amount of the time, they would be seen together. Not only through branding and marketing materials like brochures, websites, and digital media. But in many cases over the years, parents would send a brother and sister to camp during the same summer. The girl attending Ogichi Daa Kwe and the boy attending Camp Kooch-i-ching. There was a huge opportunity presented to us in these cases. A design language that communicated through all arms of the organization would allow us to only strengthen all three brand narratives.
We set off to define these styles through a hardback style guideline that would be on site at all three operations. In 2019 and 2020, we began the process of communicating these guidelines through all three arms of the organization, and the results were very exciting. Some of the older campers that had remained active in the organization actually requested copies of the styleguide, and a few copies were even gifted to donors and elder alumni.
Judging by that level of adoption, we don't foresee that buy-in will be an issue in the coming days.
With the branding complete, and the style language set, our next mission was to give each brand a home in the digital space. The camp websites were built in flash when we took the project over. So not only were the organizations business goals hamstrung by their websites, but the sites could not be used by the 80%+ users that use their mobile devices to access most websites. New websites also gave the organizations an opportunity to grow the brand awareness around their newly-launched brand initiatives. We set out to help the organizations accomplish three major goals that we'll extrapolate on below; brand awareness, growth, and community engagement.
The branding work was completed, and it was time to announce the new work to the world. A collection of bold logos and colors were paired with a stronger brand message, and we wanted to provide new homes for this work on the internet.
The websites were created using Squarespace due to the backend needs of the organization. The management of the websites was going to be handled by a staff of varying technological capabilities, so it was a requirement that the websites be built on an easy to manage platform.
We used this as an opportunity to build the websites in a framework that communicated well between each arm of the organization as well. Like the brand style work we had completed, we wanted the websites to stand on their own and tell their own stories, but in the case of a parent sending both a son and daughter to camp for the summer, the websites needed to be easy for the user understand, no matter which site he or she was on.
The boys and girls camps needed to use the websites to increase their camper base and compete with other camps in their space. And the foundation had a unique need of increasing attendees to their urban outdoor programs. The foundation is also heavily funded through different types of donations.
We set out to make sure that each site was structured to help accomplish these business goals through a multi-faceted approach that included brand messaging, as well as an ability for parents or potential campers to connect immediately with the brands and begin the signup process.