Branding Project FAQs

1. Why is it important for CNCS to strengthen and simplify its brands and messaging, and why now?
Research has shown not enough Americans know about their opportunity to serve through national service programs; meanwhile, grantees and sponsors continue to find it difficult to communicate about our programs. CNCS currently supports over fifteen different brands, making it difficult to break through to the American public. Limited resources get spread thin across those many brands instead of concentrated for greatest impact. We need to make it easier for the general public to understand the opportunities available through national service. We are also putting together a fuller promotion plan for when the new brand launches. Our goals is to leverage our new brand to raise awareness across the country.
 

2. What is the timeline for the new brand identity?
CNCS will launch the new branding in late summer 2020, including an updated brand architecture, logo, and messaging. Organizations will have three years to transition to the new AmeriCorps or AmeriCorps Seniors brand identity on a timeline that works best for them. Informed by ongoing feedback from stakeholders, CNCS will develop detailed implementation instructions to replace existing brand application instructions, as well as updated terms and conditions. Additionally, CNCS will provide tools, templates and other resources to support grantee and sponsor adoption of the new identity.
 

3. What is happening to the CNCS name and mission?
The Corporation for National and Community Service will continue to be the legal name of our agency. However, beginning in late summer 2020, the agency intends to begin operating as AmeriCorps. Federal agencies, including CNCS, have the authority to adopting operating names for their agency or program. In fact,  upon its initial creation and for a number of years, CNCS operated under the shortened name “Corporation for National Service”  (The continued use of “cns.gov” as CNCS’s email domain name is a vestige of having operated under that assumed name). One example of the many assumed names that CNCS utilizes for its programs is the AmeriCorps State and National program, which has always operated under that name even though its formal statutory title is the “National Service Trust Program.”

Under this new brand, the agency’s mission and mission statement will remain the same – AmeriCorps will work to strengthen communities and improve lives through service and volunteerism.
 

4. Does this change the programs and their names?
No, CNCS does not plan to change the names of its programs or CNCS-led initiatives like the Volunteer Generation Fund or days of service promotion. While the agency will simplify its promoted, public brands to AmeriCorps and AmeriCorps Seniors, all of the programs will continue to exist, the mission of the programs will stay the same, and the program names will continue to be used to distinguish the opportunities available to both organizations and people. However, each program will no longer have a separate brand or logo – rather, the programs will utilize the applicable AmeriCorps or AmeriCorps Seniors logos as part of a unified banner of service. 
 

5. What happens to the Senior Corps brand?
The opportunities that are specific to Americans 55 years and older will be promoted with the AmeriCorps Seniors brand. This will position us to grow awareness of those opportunities available to the senior population, by building off the greater brand awareness that exists for AmeriCorps.
 

6. Will there be a new logo?
Yes, as part of the branding project we anticipate the visual identity including logo, typography, color palette, and photography use will be updated. The visual identity will follow the simplified brand architecture so that all programs will have the same logo moving forward. The new logo will be released in late summer 2020, as part of the new brand identity. However, we anticipate providing up to three years to integrate the new logo.
 

7. What is the cost of implementation for the agency and individual grantees/commissions?
The agency anticipates one-time expenses to implement the change to updated materials. Importantly, we anticipate cost efficiencies – for example, the agency spends funds (much of it statutorily required) each year on program promotion, yet those efforts are diluted by spreading the resources across the current 15 brands. 

The impact on grantees will vary depending on the extent they use the logo and program names throughout their content. This could mean making updates to their website content, updating gear, updating signage, and changing how they message themselves as a grantee. CNCS is providing up to a three-year transition period for grantees to provide the greatest flexibility.
 

8. How will grantees and sponsors co-brand with the new brand?
We are still developing our new visual identity, including how our partners will use these logos and cobrand with us. Brand guidelines will be shared with stakeholders when the new brand is launched in late summer 2020. Within these guidelines there will be clear guidance for co-branding with AmeriCorps and AmeriCorps Seniors. In addition, trainings and resources will be provided to make co-branding and the implementation successful.

We welcome your feedback at transform@cns.gov as we further develop cobranding guidelines. 
 

9. Will we call people who serve in AmeriCorps Seniors volunteers and people who serve in AmeriCorps members?   
As we implement the new brand architecture, we are seeking to simplify how we publicly talk about the opportunities to serve. Currently, AmeriCorps uses the term member and Senior Corps uses the term volunteer to describe those who serve in our programs. Our agency has acknowledged we need to come to consensus on the use of members vs. volunteers in the branding project. There is not a decision at this time; we are continuing to assess the best terminology and will announce a decision on this by the brand launch in late summer.

 

10. What do I need to do today? What should I do with gear and items with our current branding?
No actions are necessary for our agency’s grantees and sponsors today. We wanted to give you as much notice as possible on the direction that we are moving. Continue to use your branded materials as they are and in late summer 2020 updated resources will be available should you be ready to use them.
 

11. What does the new branding mean for the Volunteer Generation Fund and the Days of Service initiatives?
General volunteerism remains an important part of our mission. Branding will not impact the operation or funding of our Volunteer Generation Fund or Days of Service initiatives. We are still determining branding requirements for these initiatives based on their unique mandate and role.

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