Branding Project FAQs

1. Why is it important for CNCS to strengthen and simplify its brands and messaging, and why now? 
Research has shown not enough Americans know about their opportunity to serve through national service programs; meanwhile, grantees and sponsors continue to find it difficult to communicate about our programs. CNCS currently supports over fifteen different brands, making it difficult to break through to the American public. Limited resources get spread thin across those many brands instead of concentrated for greatest impact. We need to make it easier for the general public to understand the opportunities available through national service. We are also putting together a fuller promotion plan for when the new brand launches. Our goals is to leverage our new brand to raise awareness across the country.
 

2. What is the timeline for the new brand identity?
CNCS plans to formally begin using its new brand identity on September 29, 2020, including an updated brand architecture, logo, and messaging. Informed by ongoing feedback from stakeholders, CNCS will provide detailed brand conditions and guidance including the effective dates for grantees to implement the changes.  In all cases, existing grantees will have at least one year to make changes to printed material, with longer timelines for some due to the nature of the program.  Additionally, CNCS will provide tools, templates and other resources to support grantee and sponsor adoption of the new identity. 
 

3. What is happening to the CNCS name and mission?
The Corporation for National and Community Service will continue to be the legal name of our agency. However, beginning in late September 2020, the agency intends to begin operating as AmeriCorps.  Federal agencies, including CNCS, have the authority to adopt operating names for their agency or program.  In fact, upon its initial creation and for a number of years, CNCS operated under the shortened name “Corporation for National Service”.  (The continued use of “cns.gov” as CNCS’s email domain name is a vestige of having operated under that assumed name.)  One example of the many assumed names that CNCS utilizes for its programs is the AmeriCorps State and National program, which has always operated under that name even though its formal statutory title is the “National Service Trust Program”.

Under this new brand, the agency’s mission and mission statement will remain the same – AmeriCorps will work to strengthen communities and improve lives through service and volunteerism.

4. Does this change the programs and their names?
No, CNCS does not plan to change the names of its programs or CNCS-led initiatives like the Volunteer Generation Fund or days of service promotion. While the agency will simplify its promoted, public brands to AmeriCorps and AmeriCorps Seniors, all of the programs will continue to exist, the mission of the programs will stay the same, and the program names will continue to be used to distinguish the opportunities available to both organizations and people. However, each program will no longer have a separate brand or logo – rather, the programs will utilize the applicable AmeriCorps or AmeriCorps Senior logos as part of a unified banner of service.

Unified banner of service, leading with AmeriCorps

 

5. What happens to the Senior Corps brand? 
The opportunities that are specific to Americans 55 years and older will be promoted with the AmeriCorps Seniors brand. This will position us to grow awareness of those opportunities available to the senior population, by building off the greater brand awareness that exists for AmeriCorps. 
 

6. Will there be a new logo?
Yes, as part of the branding project the visual identity including logo, typography, color palette, and photography use will be updated. The visual identity will follow the simplified brand architecture so that all programs will have the same logo moving forward. The new logo will be released publicly when we launch the new brand on September 29, 2020, as part of the new brand identity. Along with the new visual identity, we will preview the updated Terms and Conditions related to branding and the implementation timeframes for each program.
 

7. What is the cost of implementation for the agency and individual grantees/commissions?
The agency anticipates one-time expenses to implement the change to its materials and systems.  Importantly, we anticipate cost efficiencies – for example, the agency spends funds (much of it statutorily required) each year on program promotion, yet those efforts are diluted by spreading the resources across the current 15 brands. 

The impact on grantees will vary depending on the extent they use the logo and program names throughout their content. This could mean making updates to their website content, updating gear, updating signage, and changing how they message themselves as a grantee.  In all cases, existing grantees will have at least one year to make changes to printed material, with longer timelines for some due to the nature of the program.
 

8. How will grantees and sponsors co-brand with the new brand?
We are still developing our new visual identity, including how our partners will use these logos and cobrand with us. Brand guidelines will be shared with stakeholders when the new brand is launched in late September 2020. Within these guidelines there will be clear guidance for co-branding with AmeriCorps and AmeriCorps Seniors. The branding toolkit that will be released at brand launch will include: messaging and media guidance, elevator pitch examples, cobranding guidance, boilerplate copy, our new color palette, and more.

We welcome your feedback at transform@cns.gov as we further develop cobranding guidelines. 
 

9. Will we call people who serve in AmeriCorps Seniors volunteers and people who serve in AmeriCorps members?  
We analyzed this terminology in great detail and gathered feedback from communication experts, our staff, and stakeholders. Moving forward, AmeriCorps will continue to use the term member and AmeriCorps Seniors will use the term volunteer to describe those who serve in our programs.
 

10. What do I need to do today? What should I do with gear and items with our current branding?
No actions are required for our agency’s grantees and sponsors today. In an effort to provide as much notice as possible, grantees were invited to join a preview of the visual identity reveal in August. Grantees will have access to the new logo and interim cobranding and printing guidelines in August. In addition, the National Service Gear Store will provide access to pre-order uniforms and apparel prior to the brand launch.

The links to access the logo files and the National Service Gear Store were sent to grantee and sponsor point of contacts. If you need access, please email transform@cns.gov.

Legacy gear and materials with old branding should be phased out in accordance with the implementation timeline outlined here. We encourage organizations to incorporate the new brand messaging and logo as soon as possible.
 

11.  What does the new branding mean for the Volunteer Generation Fund and the Days of Service initiatives?
General volunteerism remains an important part of our mission. Based on our new brand architecture, the Volunteer Generation Fund (VGF) will no longer have a separate logo and visual identity. Like our other grant programs, VGF will utilize the AmeriCorps logo as part of a unified banner of service and volunteerism. VGF will continue to exist, the mission of the program will stay the same, and its name will continue to be used to distinguish the opportunity available.

Given the unique nature and high awareness and visibility of the days of service, they will have a unique visual identity. The day of service logos will be cobranded with AmeriCorps and guidance will be provided to grantees on how to follow these guidelines.

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