Otherwise is proud of our rebranding work with Chicago Artists’ Coalition. I had the opportunity to speak with their Executive Director, Carolina Jayaram, about our process and collaboration:
EN: What inspired CAC to pursue a rebranding? What do you hope to achieve through the process?
CJ: I took over as Executive Director of Chicago Artists’ Coalition three years ago, and even though the organization is 39 years old, we have a new location, new staff and all new programs. This rebirth called for a fresh visual identity. Our brand was not cohesive, there was no rhyme or reason, and as a growing organization it was a problem. We needed to convey the message of who we are now compared to who we were then. With our recent acquisition of the Chicago Artists Resource (CAR) website, we knew we wanted to be a national organization. This was the push that we needed for a rebranding.
EN: What did you see in Otherwise that resonated with your vision and led you to seek our partnership?
CJ: With Nancy Lerner and David Frej at the helm, Otherwise has so much experience in the art world, as avid collectors and strong supporters of the arts. You understood, at a deep level, the importance of supporting artists. Looking through Otherwise’s portfolio, I felt aesthetically connected to the work. Otherwise taught us that nonprofits don’t do a good job of owning their work, and that we need to be proud of what we do. It installed a sense of confidence in our work.
EN: How would you describe the experience of working with Otherwise? What have you learned from Otherwise through the process?
CJ: I learned how visual identity works and what I like in it. I learned that marks become boring over time, and it is more interesting to use words as a mark. Otherwise pushed us to reimagine our organization five to ten years from now and what we want to represent. We thought about how to scale our programs in the future. Otherwise challenged us and informed us.
In the process of visual identity, we were shown so many logos and I chose one that I never would have expected to choose. It was irritating in a good way and I kept going back to it. I learned that a good logo needs to capture your attention and make you think. Too often logos are dumbed down so that people don’t have to work for it. We wanted to challenge people and assume they are smart, and our new logo allows people to be clever.
EN: What role do you expect the rebranding will play in fostering growth and success for CAC?
CJ: Our rebranding is absolutely at the core of the next phase of Chicago Artists’ Coalition. Our new tagline, “building a creative marketplace,” is the eye of the storm. A new visual identity, logo and tagline were so important to us because this rebranding allows us to introduce who we are now.
Emmaline Niendorf is a Content Manager for Otherwise Incorporated.