The Hamilton-Burlington Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) is a registered charitable, not-for-profit organization that operates in Hamilton, Burlington and surrounding areas, and is dedicated to preventing cruelty to animals. In 2012, the Hamilton-Burlington SPCA celebrated 125 years of protecting and caring for animals in our communities. With this great milestone coming close, the SPCA wanted to transform their brand, updating their look and their outreach both online and in person. In this same year, the SPCA wanted to unveil their “Wiggle Wagon”, a mobile information, awareness and education truck that reaches out to communities at special events, fairs and SPCA- sponsored functions. To commemorate 125 years and introduce a new feature of the SPCA’s already active services, kitestring was tasked with helping communicate who the SPCA is, what their brand means to the community and how they provide care for homeless, abused or neglected animals. kitestring recommended a thorough refreshing and updating of the brand’s visual identity, designing and naming of the mobile adoption unit, and creating a story the SPCA could tell and share with people in the community they serve for years to come.
We started the rebranding project by conducting primary research, surveying nearly 300 people, asking “What do you think the SPCA does?“ and “If you were thinking about a family pet, where would you go (pet store, breeder, adoption)?” We also looked at the demographics of who has, is or would use the SPCA services in Hamilton-Burlington and any relationship those surveyed had with the organization. The primary research aimed to discover who was engaging with the Hamilton-Burlington SPCA, and what this engagement looked like.
Our secondary research included a thorough review of other SPCA organizations and similar non-profit animal protection agencies or shelters and how their brands interacted with their audiences. This research also looked at organizations with recent rebranding and potential issues or challenges related to their needs and the needs of their clients or customers. Some of our inspiration came from the rebranding of The Bay Co, and their move back to a historical brand and appeal. Lastly our research brought us to the SPCA’s competition: breeders and pet stores. We also assessed this research looking to our survey to see how respondents would find their family pet, via a pet store or through a breeder, or whether they would look to the SPCA or a similar organization to adopt.
Strategy Meets Creative
As our research found us looking towards historical and iconic Canadian brands, like The Bay Co. their crest was one inspiration behind the creation of “Part of Our Society” – where the adopted pets, once integrated into their family homes and their community have joined an elite club or “Society” of members who were once in the SPCA’s care. This nostalgic and historical approach to the SPCA’s new brand identity appeals to the celebration of 125 years in Hamilton-Burlington, and to the organization being a brand that has stood the test of time. While we wanted to keep the rebranding light and contemporary, we also took inspiration from the historical value of the SPCA and their legacy as an animal welfare organization. We wanted to speak to the future of the brand, and celebrate the brand’s place in time after 125 years.
The “Part of Our Society” idea was inspired by the idea of a club, or membership and the sense of belonging that comes with becoming part of a family, a community or “Society,” generally. The SPCA is a part of our community, serving all areas across the region, for animals large and small – they aim to find a place for these animals to belong. This belonging and integration into the community paired with the historical, society qualities of the SPCA were combined to create a fictitious and humourous “Society” that adopted pets join once they have found their forever homes. With the animals speaking from “their own” experiences, we thought of using this to provide a creative, fun opportunity for the SPCA to interact with past clients and their pets. Once adopted, the pet (the owner) can write back to the “Society” (the SPCA) about finding their family and becoming a “Society Member.” Creating a new type of interaction across different social media forums and with SPCA supporters would build awareness of the brand, their presence in the community and help promote the “Wiggle-Wagon”.
kitestring created a video to introduce “The Society” with actual SPCA-adopted pets who had found a special home in Hamilton communities. These proud pets, some of which were victims of abuse or neglect, found their homes, their health and their place in society thanks to the SPCA; “Society Member Since” was displayed under the pets’ name. We used a local artist to perform a catchy, light-hearted remake of “Song of the Wanderer” to accompany images of dogs, cats and a guinea pig in their new home or enjoying a day at the park with their owner.
Results and Reaction
The SPCA unveiled their new brand on June 20th with the launch of their Wiggle Wagon truck, a new look and video, and a celebration of 125 years of service. The launch reached an audience of supporters, adopters and local media both online and at the Hamilton-Burlington SPCA launch festivities hosted at the SPCA Hamilton location. The client was thrilled that the project was on time, on budget and well executed. The video reached 1000 views in only one week, and social media engagement saw a large spike in the sharing of adoption success stories and sharing of SPCA content on the Facebook page.
Their custom content calendar for events, how and when to share as well as social media outreach guidelines has been tailored to their busy schedule of community activities. The client looks forward to a fun-filled summer of SPCA events, creating awareness and interacting with adopters, community members and animal lovers. Events include the Adopter Reunion, July 21st, the Adopt-a-thon August 17-19th, the Pooch Pool Party at Wild Waterworks, and the Wiggle Waggle Walk-a-thon on September 9th. The SPCA has successfully launched their new brand, unveiled their new community engagement platforms and introduced their “Wiggle Wagon” to the Hamilton-Burlington area with rave reviews and an audience moved by their exciting new direction.