Carolina Small Business Development Fund (formerly known as The Support Center) is a nonprofit and Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) that provides small business loans and financial training to startups and small businesses across the Carolinas. Since 1990, the Carolina Small Business team has been dedicated to helping small businesses in rural and historically-underserved communities bring their dreams to life.
The impact of Carolina Small Business spans the region. Since 2010, the organization has funded 449 loans (and counting), which have helped create or retain 1,081 jobs in the state. They’ve provided business and financial education to over 1,200 entrepreneurs to help them strengthen the skills they need to grow their businesses. Carolina Small Business knows that when small businesses succeed, everyone benefits.
Over the years, the team kept hearing outside of the office that people didn’t know what The Support Center was or what they did—there was a disconnect between the name and the mission. In order to scale their impact, they needed a name and brand that was clearly aligned with their mission to truly reflect their great work.
Our journey began with research to uncover perceptions of The Support Center brand, both with employees and in the community. We conducted surveys and completed a brand audit to better understand the current state of the brand, and explore opportunities for growth. After analyzing the data, we brought the team together, including employees and board members, to share the results and work together to make the first strides toward crafting a strategy for the future.
Our research gave us a firm understanding of the brand, and our workshop brought together key stakeholders in the process to give us a clear vision for the strongest path forward. With this knowledge, we worked together with the Carolina Small Business team to develop a brand story and positioning framework that clearly articulated the organization’s purpose and impact and the differentiators that would position the Carolina Small Business brand for future growth.
DISCOVERING A NEW NAME
It became clear during the process that the organization might benefit from a new name that would even more clearly bring their story to life. We hosted exercises to capture ideas from the entire team, and narrowed down the options with an internal survey. We helped vet the names based on trademark searches, searched for brand conflicts, and ensured web domain availability. Through extended conversations with the team and the Board, they chose to update the name of the organization from The Support Center to Carolina Small Business Development Fund.
BRINGING THE BRAND TO LIFE
Excited about their new brand story, brand strategy, and name, the Carolina Small Business team was ready to share their new identity with the world. We supported them as they shared their progress at their annual fundraising breakfast, and soon after launched into the next phase of the project—redesigning their visual identity and updating their digital presence to align with the new name and brand story.
We started with a visual survey to better understand from the team what they liked about the current visual identity, and where they thought it could be improved. Using their feedback and the Carolina Small Business story as a guide, we explored visual concepts that illustrated how the organization gives their clients the support and resources they need to achieve the success they seek for themselves and for their businesses.
We used design elements that evoke leadership, triumph, and success, to position Carolina Small Business as a support system that will see the job to completion and help its partners to be successful.
We brought this new visual identity to life by redesigning brochures, business cards, report templates, social media images and banners, email newsletter templates, and event flyer templates.
We also redesigned the Carolina Small Business website to incorporate the new brand story and identity. The website clearly articulates the work that Carolina Small Business does for the communities they serve, and creates an easier experience for all visitors to their website. The vibrant visual style reflects the alignment of their work and mission.
Website: carolinasmallbusiness.org // Photography by Amanda Olson Photography
THE ROAD AHEAD
Carolina Small Business Development Fund is stronger than ever, and better positioned than ever before to broaden their impact across the region. We look forward to collaborating as Carolina Small Business continues to work toward their vision of creating economic opportunity for all people.
“ New Kind facilitated a process that brought our team together to accomplish something that none of us could have done on our own. We are excited about our new brand, and feel like our organization is stronger than ever as a result of our partnership. ” Lenwood V. Long, Sr. - President/CEO