PUMP Brand Refresh: Elevating a Storied Brand

Shift CollaborativeBranding, Communications, Design, Market Research

PUMP logo

At Shift Collaborative, we love creating brand identities because it’s a chance for our whole team to get together and contribute to something meaningful that will be visible in our community.

We were especially eager to work on a new brand identity for the Pittsburgh Urban Magnet Project, or PUMP as it is known to most in the Pittsburgh community. The PUMP brand is something that many people will see and interact with in the future as the primary audience for membership is people in the 20-35 age range. The brand also holds personal significance for those who, through the organization, decided to put down roots in Pittsburgh. We are always excited by the chance to work on revamping a brand with such a rich history.

An Organization with History

PUMP is a visible and involved organization in our region. Their best-known program is the Pittsburgh Sports League, or PSL, which engages nearly 30,000 people annually. Many people connect first through PSL and then learn more about PUMP.  This great asset is also the organization’s greatest opportunity. The PSL is nearly ubiquitous in the region, thanks to word of mouth, the variety of leagues, the camaraderie created, and the iconic t-shirts that at any given moment can be spotted on a sports field, in a gym, or in a pub in Allegheny County. But, as we learned, fewer people in the region are as familiar with PUMP itself. This is an opportunity to share with a very large audience that PUMP does way more than just sports; PUMP is a platform for community discourse on important issues, and it plays an active role in the lives of young people in the Pittsburgh region. PUMP engages the community by being a connector, giving opportunities for its members to be active, and ultimately by giving its members a platform to create change.

So, it was up to us to find a way to bring the true value of PUMP to light.

PUMP’s Former Logo

PUMP was founded in 1995, and they were the first to tell us that their old logo looked dated. You might say it was a ‘90s vibe, retro, and maybe had a bit of a Fresh Prince of Bel Air look. But, for an organization trying to reach people as young as their early 20s, a logo reminiscent of an era from before these people could walk wasn’t going to cut it. Since the PUMP board had just decided to refocus their efforts, organization wide, on advocacy and policy, this seemed a good time to build a brand identity that could stand the test of time

The Redesign Process

Just because the PUMP staff thought the brand needed to be updated and the Shift team agreed didn’t mean that we skipped the research stage. The key to getting a brand to resonate with a large audience is to get out there and hear from the people the brand is supposed to resonate with (or for you English teachers out there, the people with whom the brand is supposed to resonate). We did a lot of research with a lot of different people. We conducted our signature reconnaissance activity, exerciseShift, with the PUMP staff and board (this activity consists of a number of modular activities hand picked to get the most out of the participants. In this case we did a group card sort about who we are, who we are not, and who we want to be; we wrote 6-word stories about the PUMP brand; and we held a SWOT analysis discussion. 

Then we sent a survey out to the entire PUMP membership base, inviting them to give thoughts on the old brand, asking them to tell us what they know about the organization, and to share their perceptions about the brand. And finally, we reached out to a dozen PUMP “stakeholders,” (community members, board members, funders, people with vested interest) to have frank conversations about their hopes for the direction of the brand. The research confirmed our hunch that most people were not as aware of PUMP and its role in the community as they could and should be, in spite of the universal adoration of PSL, and that the logo was in need of some refreshing.

Early sketches from the PUMP logo redesign process

Then it was time to get to work. Our design team began turning the key themes and ideas from the research into sketches. Trying to create a concrete logo out of an abstract idea of what an organization represents is no easy task. We approached this challenge by asking two different designers to develop their own logo concepts, completely siloed from one another to avoid bias. This way, we could show the PUMP board members two totally unique ideas of the direction of their brand. They started with hand-drawn sketches, and eventually moved to computerized concepts ready to share.

Meanwhile, our writers had been hard at work coming up with a message framework and a tagline. Our goal was to come up with a succinct, memorable tag that highlighted all three of PUMP’s core areas of focus: building connections with other members of the community; recreation and competition through various sports and activities; and impacting the community through public policy efforts. We honed and refined the concepts until we had some polished taglines worthy of sharing.

Once we had the brand visuals and tagline developed, we were ready to present the concepts to the PUMP staff and board of directors. This is a tricky stage of the process every time because change is hard. We want to present a brand that is refined and ready for the client to review, but we also want feedback from the client. A valuable part of the process is the back and forth as this is where some of the best insights arise. We got a ton of smart feedback from the staff and board on the logos and the taglines we provided. Every client is different in the way they feel about their brand and the way they articulate feedback, but the constructive insight from the client is always something that we welcome. They’re the ones  who know the brand best, they’re the ones that have to look at the brand every single day, and they’re the ones that the brand is supposed to represent. In the end, client feedback really helped us to turn the brand and tagline into the final concepts that will represent PUMP in the community for years to come.

Introducing the New Brand

Here is the explanation behind the different design and textual elements in the new PUMP brand:

  • The elevated “u” is a literal treatment of the metaphorical idea that PUMP elevates the “you” in the Pittsburgh region by giving members of the community a platform
  • The new tagline “Get Active. Be Connected. Create Change.” is designed to highlight the three main pillars of PUMP’s programming. After kicking around a lot of different types of tags, this is the one that we liked the best, and the one that the PUMP staff felt the strongest about. They felt it was the simple, clear, authoritative approach.
  • The primary colors, navy blue and kelly green, are a tribute to PUMP’s past and a nod toward its future. The beloved old logo featured the same shade of green, so continuing to use it is a link between the old logo and the new one. The blue was chosen as the color of the future of PUMP, representing stability, strength, integrity and success.
  • The rest of the colors are a blend of youthful energy with a strong and serious backbone. This blend between vibrancy and seriousness mirrors PUMP’s own mix of efforts that help them as they engage young Pittsburgh and tackle some of the serious issues facing the region.
  • The font that we selected is friendly and approachable, because the goal of PUMP is to be accessible to all.

This whole process was a great learning experience for our team. We’re thrilled with the end result, and we’re…wait for it…PUMPed that the client is excited as well.

What do you think of the new PUMP identity? We’d love to hear your thoughts and feedback. Share with us on social, just be sure to include #PUMPedForAll.