Openlands Conservancy: A powerful new identity

Founded in 1963 as an independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation and enhancement of public open space in the northeastern portion of the State of Illinois, Openlands is one of the country’s oldest and most successful urban conservation organizations. In the course of its history, Openlands has taken the lead in securing more than 45,000 acres in the greater Chicago area for public parks, forest preserves, land and water greenway corridors and urban gardens.

Respected for, and proud of, its success over the years in giving birth to new initiatives that often “spun off” to create separate nonprofit organizations with more specific focus, Openlands had knowingly sacrificed a certain degree of brand building potential for its own organization.

Brand understanding was further hampered by strong recognition for some of the programs and divisions within Openlands that did not translate into understanding of the broader organization.

MG was engaged to assess the current situation regarding Openlands’ brand platform, identify our findings from original research conducted on the organization’s behalf, and provide our recommendations for the development of a new brand strategy and platform for Openlands.

Ultimately, we created a new visual identity and brand architecture for the nonprofit that brought everything under a powerful and unified identity that better reflected its brand platform as a forward-thinking, progressive and engaging organization. MG also articulated a new message framework for Openlands and a 12-month plan to implement the new brand both internally and externally.