Goal: Rebrand organization to reflect its evolving culture, diversity, and relevance.
Need: Bike Works began as a boot-strapped non-profit over two decades ago serving youth by empowering them with the metaphors and practicalities of building a bicycle. The original “Pig Boy” logo was drawn on the back of a napkin as a young white male with a turned-up nose, reflecting the “scrappy” spirit of the organization (think Little Rascals). While Pig Boy was beloved, program services expanded to include people of all ages and ethnicities. The young white male logo image no longer felt appropriate or reflective of the overall composition or target audience of the organization. It also did not reflect the fun and excitement behind everything that happened there. We found two almost juxtaposing, but equally important needs:
“Bike Works is growing up. We need to communicate that this is a multifaceted organization with stacked development options for more than just little boys.” – Tiffany, development director
“Growth has brought some challenges. We need to preserve the magic and fun that brings people in and builds community.” – Glenda, board member
Approach: We interviewed dozens of stakeholders from founders, donors, and board members; to admin, educational, and bike shop repair staff; to youth and adult program participants and volunteers. Throughout the process, we learned that Bike Works was about bikes, but not about bikes. It was about the sense of the organization as an intentional social change agent. We learned:
“We do bikes, but there are other lessons packed-in that reverberate with social justice and a fair and equal classroom that includes all genders, races, classes, and cultures. We are interacting in a way that is intentional.” – Will, college intern, former youth program member
“It feels exciting to be here, like anything can happen. But while you are going out and having fun, you are helping other people and yourself.” – Corey, youth program member
“We are breaking down the barriers to accessibility in a way that people are most comfortable.” – Lindsey, volunteer for adult programs
Seizing on the themes of social justice, empowerment, and help individuals become better versions of themselves through community, we drew upon early 20th century socialism and union propaganda and comic book “anything is possible” sensibilities. We considered the wide variety of clientele and researched the imagery used by similar organizations throughout the country and flipped through hundreds of photos of people interacting with their bicycles.
Results: We created a powerful superhero that is ethnically ambiguous and androgynous (at the request of leadership), hoisting a bicycle upright above their head by holding the wheels (a concept which Daimian tested and proved), while being cheered on by a silhouetted crowd of young, old, male, female individuals of various cultures punching at the air with bike parts and tools in their fists. A sense of empowerment and youth combine with the strength of community to cheer on the fact that the bicycle is not just a literal vehicle leading to freedom, but a metaphor for positive transformation.
This branding was embraced and celebrated across constituencies of the organization and has been rolled out on all their materials. The superhero theme and has served as the motif for design for existing events and has been the foundation of new events. Since the roll out of the new brand 5 years ago, the organization has leveraged the image to show a sense of strength, unity and purpose that has allowed an exponential rise in funding putting Bike Works into a stronger position than ever, despite political climate and pandemic. Plans are in the works for morphing the superhero into a variety of diverse heroes as a part of this year’s 25th anniversary celebrations.