Rebranding a Co-operative Identity
Rebranding a Co-operative Identity
The United Housing Co-operative provides affordable, sustainable, and well-maintained long-term housing options for low income individuals. Since 1983 the co-op has grown to include over 90 properties in north and west metropolitan Melbourne. Housing group members are involved in all aspects of running and maintaining the properties. They also provide housing support services, a social club, and advocacy.
In recent years, United Housing has seen significant membership and property growth. United Housing Manager Rob Wardell recognised that members had been subject to a lot of change and saw a need to refocus the co-op identity and foster a sense of community. Rob wanted to be sure that United Housing had a unified identity and the appropriate communications in place to inform and empower members.
The first step along this path included a name change, from Footscray Rental Housing Co-operative to the more inclusive United Housing Co-operative. Next, Rob contacted goodcompany, and in April of last year initiated a project request for rebranding and strategic communications planning. He found two “consummate professionals” in volunteers Anu Srinivasan and Meera Jethmal, with the skills, interests, and commitment to help. Anu, a National Australia Bank (NAB) employee and first-time goodcompany volunteer, was excited at the opportunity to apply her change management skills while completing her annual NAB volunteer commitment. The three met and established a project plan which outlined specific milestones and key decision points and provided a timeline for the project. Anu and Meera conducted a series of information gathering and assessment activities. Anu documented the current environment and culture of the housing co-operative and developed a communications plan. Meera's branding strategy work included crafting a brand value message and conceptualising a logo for future development to be used on the website.
In September the United Housing board members were presented with a final report of branding, change management, and communications strategy recommendations, including a “framework” to follow. Now, almost a year later, Rob continues to see the positive impact that these activities have had on United Housing. He knows there is long-term value in the strategic activities they undertook, and is interested to look back again in a few more years, to see what else has come to fruition.
Anu identified Rob's “flexible and considerate” approach as key to making the volunteer project a positive experience. Rob attributed the success of this project to several factors including:
• Clear goal setting with tangible outcomes
• Access to professional volunteers with the right skill set, availability, and interest
• Ongoing time and ability to direct volunteer efforts coupled with good judgement regarding their capacity to help meet organisational needs
• Ownership and understanding of volunteer contributions for purposes of future application or reuse (such as being able to apply the branding strategy to upcoming website development)
Moving forward, the United Housing Co-operative will continue to lobby for change, be a model service provider, and develop projects and schemes aimed at meeting the needs of their members. Accessing skilled professionals via goodcompany and the NAB skilled volunteer program helps keep costs down and may bring fresh insight to some of these challenges.
If you are interested in learning more about how you can help the United Housing Co-operative you can reach Rob at firstname.lastname@example.org.