Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA)—the most prominent contemporary arts organization in the San Francisco Bay Area, perhaps the world. Happening here 365 days a year, find the most dynamic array of innovation, the arts, ideas, thinking, events, entertainment, and exhibits with profound relevance for diverse audiences. Under the surface, however, all was not well.
Such resounding successes can come with a cost. YBCA’s offerings eventually became so massive, far-reaching and complex that simply defining the vast organization’s message eluded even YBCA’s internal stakeholders. Curators, events people, executives—no one could agree, despite virtually sitting on more audience metrics than Silicon Valley. 10,000 Big Ideas with no unifying brand personality or story. Marketing fragmented, patronage began to decline.
"We're like an octopus with 10,000 tentacles."
YBCA’s executive director spoke urgently, “We’ve 10,000 Big Ideas, but nobody’s listening, and the Big Ideas are not even that effective for the curators themselves. Our visual arts, film, innovation, science, humanities, events, performances, facilities rentals—what this is all about at YBCA does not hang together. Our relationships are very complicated. We’re a vital influence, recognized nationally, internationally. We’re important to the rest of the world, but Bay Area audiences don’t care.”
Story = Action
When organizations develop a clear unifying story, it also creates a clear path for a unifying brand experience across creative, messaging and actions. Previously complex and misunderstood—we created a clear new YBCA story unlike any other organization that inspires people, syncs the organization across diverse offerings, drives storydoing actions, and improves the business bottom line. Listen to Executive Marketing Director, Kathy Budas, about our transformative YBCA breakthroughs together:
We asked the right questions. We listened—a lot. We distilled volumes of discovery findings. Significant discovery included interviews with curators, events people, managers, building rentals, board members, partners, members, donors, and YBCA executive officers. As well, we performed deep dive analysis and connected the dots—between our own internal and external research, the myriad prior YBCA research, and YBCA’s desired outcome. The resulting strategy created an unbreakable bond across the organization that included all stakeholders.
Brand personality needn’t be monotone, silo’ed or restrictive—however, brands must be cohesive and recognizable to audiences. With YBCA’s greatly diverse offerings and departments, defining brand values and personality were among the organization’s greatest challenges. Jungian Archetypes proved a very effective and powerful tool for YBCA stakeholders to home-in on the most viable and authentic brand personality—and would shape everything from visuals to voice and style of YBCA’s story platform, messaging and outbound marketing experience.
Storytelling + Storydoing
We explored several brand story, brand taglines, key message and brand experience variations that would authentically meet our creative criteria. The final story assets ultimately would play out across a multitude of organizational communications originators—as well as channels and media such as print marketing, signage, social, digital and website elements.
Generating Culture That Moves People
We gave YBCA the insights, perspectives and storytelling tools that would empower them to connect with a diverse array of audiences in new ways that mattered—a story platform and messaging that even this diverse organization could embrace.
Unity in diversity works—but only with putting the work into defining a clear, concise story that poignantly unifies those diverse elements. That’s no easy task.
Big data is helpful, but human conversations are they only way to form context so you can create something meaningful.
Your honesty is just so exactly what we needed.”