case studies | housing catalyst
Building community. Inspiring change.
Housing Catalyst Logo Design | Toolbox Creative
Housing Catalyst

The Fort Collins Housing Authority needed a brand identity that would better reflect the breadth of their offerings and start to change the perception of affordable housing.

We conducted extensive research to uncover what makes the organization truly unique.
We helped build consensus for the new name among staff and board.
The rebrand was embraced by agency partners, residents and the community at large.
Reinventing how people access, experience
and perceive affordable housing

The Fort Collins Housing Authority was a classic case of an agency not looking as good as it really was. For years, they worked quietly developing premier properties, managing and serving multiple affordable living communities, administering federal Housing Choice vouchers (formerly known as Section 8) and connecting community residents with family services.

As a quasi-municipal corporation not related to the City of Fort Collins, the name Fort Collins Housing Authority was limiting, confusing and not representative of the breadth of work they do.

What’s working

The Fort Collins Housing Authority had recently launched a new color palette throughout their offices and communities. Staff and residents loved the fun, vibrant colors and didn’t want to lose them. Integrating the palette into the new identity worked beautifully.

Housing Catalyst Fort Collins Logo Design | Toolbox Creative
New logo
Old logo
Building consensus

It became clear that Housing Catalyst, a name they were using for a specific department, was the perfect foundation for a reimagined brand identity.

The branding committee brought in Toolbox to develop, launch and manage the rebrand. Work included a new logo, website, messaging and outreach materials for Housing Catalyst, along with a web identity and messaging for the Villages affordable living communities.

Before we could launch the brand externally, we needed to sell it internally. The process of building internal consensus among board members, staff and supporters was critical to the success of the rebrand.

The process

Toolbox dove right in—interviewing all five department heads and conducting extensive research into the industry environment, local perceptions and competitive mindsets. We documented where the agency currently was, where the brand could go and how to get from point A to point B. Before starting design, we articulated Housing Catalyst’s voice, tone and visual style. We even presented to the board of directors to help win approval of the name change.

Next, we developed a positioning roadmap and visual identity campaign that was implemented through a variety of brand touchpoints: website, infographics, e-newsletters, stationery and print materials.

Housing Catalyst Website Design | Toolbox Creative
The results

The Housing Catalyst brand was launched to a glowing reception internally and externally. Department heads were excited, and the community more clearly understood the value of Housing Catalyst and the breadth of services they provide. Web traffic increased dramatically.

Housing Catalyst has been doing what they do really well and creating compelling stories for a long time. Their new brand clarifies and amplifies those stories.

We’re big believers that a strong NPO brand increases the capacity of an organization—building a bridge between program strategy and external communication. Housing Catalyst’s brand identity now matches their external image, and they both support the mission.

It takes a village

As a result of the Housing Catalyst rebrand, other departments in the organization became excited and engaged in the process and wanted to up their branding game. The Villages, locally owned living spaces developed by Housing Catalyst, needed a website to better serve the community, more accurately reflect their offerings and compete with the web identities of other apartments.

Making affordable housing easier to find

The new website isn't just beautifully designed; it also greatly improves operational efficiency. We integrated and branded their existing RENTCafé interface, made available homes easier to navigate and digitized the application process. The result: countless staff hours saved and a user experience on par with any for-profit market-rate rental housing option.

National recognition

In 2017, the Housing Catalyst rebrand received the Award of Merit from the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO) — some well-deserved recognition from the agency’s peers nationwide.

The takeaway
A well-run NPO deserves a brand as compelling as its mission. A strong brand builds a bridge between program strategy and external communication.
Housing Catalyst
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