When you work in community development, you must be able to connect with people at every level of the community. You have to work as a partner with city and state governments, with the foundations and funders who support you, and with other community groups working in your area. And perhaps most importantly, you have to balance that with the needs and wishes of the residents and neighborhoods you serve. As an organization, Near East Area Renewal (NEAR) strikes this balance on an impressive level. But as a brand, they found they were missing some important connections.
For the past decade, NEAR has been working with partners and residents to spur the growth and renewal of Indy’s Near East neighborhoods. They serve as the community’s leader in residential development, from renovating historic homes to developing affordable housing opportunities like St. Clair Apartments.
We recently worked with NEAR (formerly Indy-east Asset Development or I•AD) to help them better share their mission and the stories of their community. Throughout the process, NEAR was very purposeful about making sure everyone had a seat at the table. Our research included numerous conversations with city officials, community partners, neighborhood leaders, and Near East residents.
Out of this came an entirely new name and identity that highlights the Near East’s proximity to great schools, parks, and downtown Indy. The key plate reflects the rich history of Near East homes and neighborhoods, as well as NEAR’s work to renovate homes and unlock possibilities for homeownership on the Near Eastside.
We developed all new marketing materials, including a responsive website, banners and yard signs, updated social media and email, and donor materials. It was important to us that these materials felt very welcoming and personable, just like the people at NEAR. They feature warm colors, artwork illustrated by a Near East resident, and a recurring theme of an open, blue sky.
We also helped update their messaging to emphasize NEAR as an organization made up of residents and neighbors of the Near East, and to better define the organization’s mission as the community’s residential leader and umbrella CDC. We wanted NEAR to speak as an organization the same way they speak as people when they are out doing work in their community.
All of this built up to a big announcement at NEAR’s Annual Luncheon earlier this week. It was an exciting time for NEAR, and we were glad to see the community’s enthusiasm for their new look and direction. We can’t wait to see what NEAR and the Near East community becomes in the decade to come.
Visit NEAR’s website to learn more about their work on Indy’s Near Eastside, and follow along with them at Twitter and Facebook.