In the realm of cause-based branding, much can be overdone: leave-behinds that disgorge a torrent of brochures, complicated booklets, cards, and pages — all of it potentially diluting the campaign’s central message. Wasted resources. Prospective donors feeling confused or besieged.
Yet with a case statement for Cedars-Sinai’s Board of Governors, a group of more than 700 Los Angeles philanthropists, DISTINC achieved precisely the opposite effect. Embracing simplicity and restraint over excess and indulgence, the team worked closely with Cedars-Sinai’s staff and board members to construct a communications architecture branding a $35 million campaign to fund a revolutionary heart stem cell research center where advanced treatments may help reverse cardiopulmonary disease.
MATERIALS WITH HEART
The project required focus and creativity. Building consensus with staff and board members along the way, the DISTINC team wrote, art directed, and developed a compelling visual program capitalizing on empathy and compassionate philanthropy. They knew their final materials had to have heart — concise, passionate, meaningful design; clear, poignant copy; as well as clean, uncomplicated yet sophisticated aesthetics. They needed to convey as directly as possible the need for the donor to get involved.
The final product couldn’t have been simpler: a passport-sized red folio, easily held in one hand, which contains four small brochures outlining the vision, challenges, successes and financial goals of the campaign. Each is printed in a slightly varying hue of red to conceptually reinforce the notion of distinctive DNA — the essence of the individual stem cell. Imagine a medical revolution happening now, one reads; Imagine being part of the dream. Their imagination thus engaged, potential donors connect to something deeper, more intimate, more personal. Empathy awakens. The materials reflect the core mission of the project.
KEEPING IT SIMPLE MEANS FINDING THE SOUL
For DISTINC, simplicity is neither merely an aesthetic choice nor the conscious absence of embellishment. Instead, it reflects the careful distillation of the brand’s essence, the humming spirit of the campaign or organization; the thumping heart of the matter. Simplicity necessitates understanding the project’s soul, its own unique metaphoric DNA — even, in the case of Cedars-Sinai, when that subject matter is the stuff itself.