The new SERG logo (right), and a detail close-up of the text (left).
In late 2009, I was contracted by a Calgary museum organization to perform a full rebranding of their identity, including creation of a new website that would be more relevant to teachers and their own members. The Society of Educational Resource Groups, or SERG, is “a consortium of Alberta organizations and agencies which provide school and community educational opportunities, through extension activities and visitations to member sites.”
SERG’s mandate includes offering a single place where teachers can learn about the educational field trip opportunities in Calgary and southern Alberta. Unfortunately, SERG was falling short of this goal, and their old website had become very outdated. The program listings on the site were no longer up-to-date or relevant to teachers. It was clear that having a site where SERG’s member organizations could maintain their own programs would be critical to SERG serving this mandate.
I worked closely with the board leadership of SERG to help them nail down what they needed in a new brand. Several things became clear through this process. The new brand needed to be modern, recognizable to teachers, and strong enough that they could build on it for years. Based on feedback, most teachers had no idea what SERG was, and probably wouldn’t recognize the acronym. We concluded that the new logo should contain the full name of the organization as well as the acronym. SERG’s previous logo contained an image of an apple, and this was an element they wanted to maintain.
Based on all of this prep work, I sat down with a pad and sketched out some ideas for the new logo, and the new brand, then booted up the computer and did some work to be able to present SERG with some options for their logo. The logo is often the centrepiece of an organization’s brand, and the new SERG logo, once approved, became the basis for the other web and print work.
Web Design – SERGalberta.org
SERG’s old website was created and provided by a Calgary web company built on the old model of web design. Every time SERG needed to make a text change to the site, they had to contact this company to do it for them, at an expensive hourly rate. Since SERG is comprised of several member organizations, this became very problematic, as each organization had lots of changes over time. Consequently, the old site quickly lapsed into irrelevance. The old site was also getting buried in Google search results, lost behind several other organizations that use the acronym “SERG.”
The new SERGalberta.org. The site has two major features: a searchable program database and blog.
The web project had two main goals: 1) to promote the organization itself and offer new promotional opportunities to its member groups; and 2) to provide a searchable online database of educational programs for Calgary and area teachers.
I spent a significant amount of time creating site-specific instructions for the members to update their own content and start blogging, and then had a teleconference call to walk SERG’s executive leadership through the site so they could train member groups in the future.
Searchable Program Database
I’m never ashamed to admit when I don’t know something, so when SERG asked that their new site include a searchable program database, I knew I’d have to get some additional help on the project. I’m a designer and communicator, but coding custom web applications is beyond me. Luckily, I know a lot of capable people, and without a doubt one of the most talented is Ben Li.
I’m really happy to say that a year in, the SERG members seem to have really taken to the new site. The program database has dozens of programs in it, and the blog is active.
Also, SERGalberta.org now comes out on top as a search result for “SERG” in Google and other search engines.
The print graphic design portion of the project was meant purely to complement and promote the new, rebranded website.
To that end, I designed some bookmarks for SERG to give away at the 2009 and 2010 Calgary teacher’s conventions. As a non-profit, SERG’s budget was not huge, so we settled on a design that they could print themselves in order to get the most bang for their buck.
The bookmark design was created to help promote the new website and brand.
In early 2010, I was hired by SERG again to create a few additional materials for teacher’s convention, including stickers, an updated bookmark, and a banner for their tradeshow booth. Someone over at SERG had the brilliant idea to hand out apples to all of the teachers, so I designed some small SERG stickers they could put on the apples pointing teachers to the site.