The Hear Foundation
Launched in June 2022, The Hear Foundation was co-founded by activist Leon Ford and former Pittsburgh Police Chief Scott Schubert. These Pittsburgh natives built their friendship on a shared passion for creating safe, thriving communities strengthened by authentic personal relationships between local police and the public. This mutual goal is also a key part of the vision and mission of The Hear Foundation.
Even before the organization officially launched, this small nonprofit had big long-term goals. It aimed to regularly organize events that bring police, the community, local leadership, and national experts together in meaningful ways to address the challenges of gun violence reduction, trauma, and workforce development.
Before this work could begin, The Hear Foundation needed to announce itself to the public, as well as share its story and goals with the City of Pittsburgh at large. In April 2022, Shift and The Hear Foundation began the collaborative process needed to convey this messaging in a consistent and distinctive way.
Building a Brand and Website
As a new nonprofit, The Hear Foundation needed a brand identity that would highlight its unique nature and help to tell the story of the organization and the people behind it. They also needed a website to share this story, explain the community issues they want to address, and highlight the programs being built to address these issues.
The Hear Foundation worked with Shift to develop a unique brand identity where the colors, design, and logo would catch the public’s eye and help the organization stand out as a distinct nonprofit in the region. After developing their brand, Shift went on to design the group’s website, as well as branded materials to support their daily operations and communications.
Shift’s Brand Design and Development Process
In addition to researching the organization, its founding story, and similar organizations around the country, Shift brought together The Hear Foundation’s key stakeholders to uncover the specific priorities of the individuals involved in the organization.
We held a virtual exerciseSHIFT session over Zoom with Leon Ford, Chief Schubert, and members of the organization’s advisory board. Activities in small groups helped the participants share their unique perspectives and find common themes in their visions and goals.
The Shift team used the resulting collections of ideas, as well as notes from the discussions during the activities, to develop a brand ethos—helpful in framing messaging and in guiding brand visual design.
Brand Identity Development
Strong brand identities are built with the knowledge that every decision made in the development phase will impact how the organization is perceived by the public. To help The Hear Foundation build its brand, Shift workshopped with the organization over the course of multiple weeks.
Our workshops initially focused on logo concepts for the nonprofit. From the beginning, we knew that the visual representation and typography choices for the logo would be critical. A logo is used across multiple communication channels and offers a first impression to prospective audiences. As a new nonprofit organization, The Hear Foundation’s first impression needed to be just right.
The workshops and discussions surrounding the logo solidified how The Hear Foundation team wished to present itself to the City of Pittsburgh. With this information, Shift was ready to work through the logo development process, starting with numerous potential marks and carefully narrowing down options based on specific details and goals.
Using both the positive and negative feedback received during sessions, Shift was able to build a full brand identity package, complete with a flexible logo, color palette, and typographic system.
This information was then built into an At-A-Glance Identity Guidelines file—a guide on how to use all established visual guidelines to accurately depict The Hear Foundation. Finally, we built brand-aligned templates for the group’s presentations and reports.
Together The Hear Foundation’s brand identity system, templates, and guidelines help to tell the organization’s story consistently in all of its events, activities, and communications. Their cohesive visual identity works together to depict the organization in a fresh, strong, honest manner.
Once Shift designed and defined the brand for the organization, we got to work on building their website. Or rather, we began creating the plan to build the website.
By now we had engaged in multiple conversations with The Hear Foundation about who would be using the website. We knew it would be visited by members of the Pittsburgh community as well as by grantmakers and grant seekers.
We also knew that after The Hear Foundation’s launch, they would need ways for community members to engage with their information and programs. This meant they needed a functional event calendar, as well as an email sign-up form for people who wanted to stay in contact with the organization.
With these functional needs in mind, Shift got to work on designing a website that made an impression and makes it easy to connect with The Hear Foundation. The final results are easy to navigate, consistent with The Hear Foundation’s newly established brand, and help convey the organization’s story through memorable visuals and high-quality photography.
Launching the Organization
The Hear Foundation organization officially launched on Wednesday, June 22, 2022. In the weeks leading up to the big day, both teams worked together to complete the development of the website and the most essential brand components.
As Shift built the WordPress site, The Hear Foundation worked to finalize the site’s content, ensuring that it properly conveyed the history and goals of the organization, as well as communicated its vision and mission for the future.