Prime Chuck Creative | Acknowledge Alliance
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Acknowledge Alliance

(formerly the Cleo Eulau Center)

The Challenge

The “Cleo WHO Center?” This unique group of social and emotional learning experts had been empowering teachers and helping them and their students become more resilient since 1994. The CEC was ready for further growth, but it was held back by the unpronounceable name of its visionary founder. The group wasn’t sure how best to express its identity through its appearance, its messaging, and, most fundamentally, its name.

The CEC’s executive director informed us that the leadership recognized a new name was needed but that some important stakeholders, including long-time board members and donors who knew the late founder personally, were understandably reluctant to let go. The CEC wanted a new name that expressed who they are and what they do — a name that would connect them to new partnerships (and new funding), a name that they could grow with.

The Process

Step 1: Determine Fundamental Concepts

The CEC had already formed a rebranding committee, which was working with brand consultant and designer Chris Catlin to articulate and formalize their brand and develop a new visual ID. We asked that this committee also serve for the renaming to

  • represent the organization’s primary stakeholders
  • serve as an internal focus group
  • approve and champion the resulting work

We also consulted with the executive director on developing a roll-out plan that involved key stakeholders as early as possible. (With nonprofits, particularly, success in renaming hinges on a well-planned rollout as much as on the new name’s virtues.)

Chris Catlin guided the group through the brand investigation to determine elements such as values, personality, and core message. Her research concluded that effectiveness, support, and power were the most fundamental aspects of the organization. We determined that the context of learning was also a critical concept for communicating the CEC’s purpose.

Step 2: Round 1 Name Generation and Presentation

With these four concepts in mind, we brainstormed hundreds of names, then narrowed to about a dozen primary candidates and a dozen “also rans” we thought worthy of consideration. We hosted an independent focus group of public school educators to identify the needs of the CEC’s served population, understand how the CEC might play an essential role in their professional lives, and document the relevance of potential brand positionings. We used their feedback to refine the Round 1 candidates.

The Round 1 presentation included names, taglines, rationales, and a quick check of domain availability. The entire list was put into a Naming Cloud, a sort of Venn diagram that illustrates how each name fits into the four concept areas. (In general, names can’t effectively convey more than three distinct ideas.) We walked the commitee through each candidate and noted their feedback for cuts and additional exploration.

Step 3: Round 2 Name Generation, Presentation, and Selection of Finalists

Based on the committee’s feedback, we further brainstormed and refined. Round 2 included new names as well as several survivors from the first cut. We guided the committee through discussion of each candidate’s strengths and weaknesses and facilitated the selection of two finalists, ensuring that everyone was heard. It was critical that the committee members be comfortable with both names and be able to enthusiastically champion either during the rollout.

Step 4: Presentation to the Board

We presented the two finalists, and the board unanimously chose Acknowledge Alliance.

Original website and logo



The Result

The new name, visual ID, and website were successfully rolled out in 2013.

In the course of name and brand development, we often create taglines, headlines, and other copy bits that can be well used in marketing, development, and other communications but don’t have a place in the project at hand. In support of our nonprofit clients, such as Acknowledge Alliance, we provide a summary of these materials with suggested uses as part of our naming package. Acknowledge Alliance incorporated a number of these into their new site and marketing materials.