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Brand Refresh: An Inside Look at the How & Why

This article is from the March 2024 edition of SDPB Magazine. See past issues HERE.

As SDPB continues to evolve and innovate to meet the needs of South Dakotans, we see an opportunity to refresh our look to better reflect you—our members, viewers, and listeners. Since May, SDPB has been working with Fresh Produce, a marketing agency in Sioux Falls, to help refresh our brand and image. As we reveal the new brand in March, you’re getting a sneak peek in this magazine.

When asked what SDPB means to them, one respondent told us that it’s “programs that enrich my life and leave me feeling that I have learned something.” This was one of hundreds of responses we received when asking people about South Dakota Public Broadcasting. Listening to our audience was the centerpiece of the work Fresh Produce and we did during this process.

"It's been over twenty years since the current version of our logo was adopted. A lot has changed in that time, both inside and outside our organization. Just as we have updated SDPB to take advantage of new technologies, we felt it was time to update our image to better reflect who we are as an organization."
Julie Overgaard, Executive Director of SDPB

Heidi Marsh, Fresh Produce Account Executive, worked directly with the SDPB team to help identify who we are as an organization, and who our audience and future audiences are. She shares what Fresh Produce’s mission was during the process.

"We work with lots of different groups that are sometimes complex," says Heidi, "but everyone we approach is very different because we take time to listen and understand the organization. The results are always really unique and diverse. We walk alongside the organization and try to become part of the team. SDPB walked alongside us the whole time; they were open and inclusive and wanted other members to be a part of it. We anticipated that we would enjoy it, thinking, 'These guys are going to be great to work with,' and they were! Everybody was full of energy and excitement going into this."

Part of their technique is talking to a brand's audience and seeing what the brand means to them. During their research, Fresh Produce conducted a survey that 581 people responded to. They traveled across the state and spoke to over 60 people to ask what SDPB meant to them. Ted Heeren, Creative Director and Founder of Fresh Produce, talks more about this process.

"One of the most exciting and rewarding steps is the discovery phase," says Ted, "where we spend a lot of time with the audience and organization. It's all about listening for us. The interviews helped us to visualize what the brand should be. Public Broadcasting has always been an organization that most of us at Fresh Produce grew up with, enjoyed, and valued. When we started, this was the kind of work that we always dreamed we could do, where you're collaborating with passionate people and doing important work for our state. It's also a chance to honor and celebrate this place, and getting a project that does all three is rare. It was a pleasure. "

Tom Bates, Senior Graphic Designer, continues this conversation from a design point of view. "As with any design research, it tells you exactly what to do. We listened to people who care about and associate with SDPB, and those conversations told us exactly what kind of colors we needed to look for, what kind of energy to incorporate, how it needed to sound, how it needed to be written, and what it needed to evoke. It was almost seamless and a complete joy to work on. From a design standpoint, it fell onto the page perfectly."

The team at Fresh Produce spent months getting to know you, our readers, and our supporters. SDPB could never describe our audience in just one word, so the group found many words and ways to represent our diverse and loyal supporters.

SDPB talks about inclusivity," explains Tom, "and we felt that during the process. We felt like partners. When building the brand, we represent South Dakota and the different types of people who see themselves as SDPB. One particular design element that enforced that was the color palette. We chose a vibrant color palette to evoke a sense of mischief and also a sense of pride and seriousness. The choice of color representing the whole state allowed us to use pinks, blues, greens, yellows, and bright oranges. It made everything so much nicer."

"Curious" and "affectionate" are words that also stuck out to the team at Fresh Produce.

"When breaking down the audience's values, says Ted, "one word that I keep thinking about is curiosity. There was this deep curiosity and this desire to continue learning with most of the people we talked to. There was also affection for this place. A quote from the survey talked about how SDPB helps them be a better person. It's a pretty great organization when people look to you to help them improve and to be a better person. That's pretty rare.

Heidi tells of a couple more attributes that describe our audience and helped guide their process of our re-fresh. "There was one quote from the survey that we just kept returning to, and it helped us visualize an audience: 'Eager and articulate person, excited about living.' That seemed to capture an audience who loves SDPB and wants to be a part of it. The audience is also active, resilient, and courageous. My favorite is the teacher, questioner, and trickster."

The process not only helped us learn more about our supporters, but it also helped us create another valuable partnership with a South Dakota organization. Fresh Produce reflects on what the process was like for their team and perspectives.

Every time we shared ideas with the group," says Heidi, "it got more exciting, and the momentum built. It never lost its excitement. The more people you involve in a project like this, the more momentum it gains, the more you listen to people, and the more questions you ask. It does good for the brand in the end.

Ted explains how our teams meshed so well because of our mutual curiosity. "Anytime you're meeting new people, you're learning new things. One of the things that I think our team has in common with SDPB, and probably a lot of South Dakota, is that we're a curious team. We love to experience and learn new things, so traveling around the state and hearing from other people was great. Something that we always learn in these processes is where people connect. We can identify what we all have in common as South Dakotans, the things we share. We had assumptions going into the project because, being from South Dakota, we think we know it, but we learned a lot of new things.

"We've done branding projects with a similar process," concludes Tom, "and each one of them is unique, but this one emphasizes the importance of listening and being engaged with the people we're talking to."

SDPB’s mission continues. We desire to inspire, connect, and entertain South Dakotans with trusted journalism, quality education, and compelling storytelling. This refreshed brand helps us examine ourselves and our audience; keeping you as the focus of our work. It is dream work that makes a serious impact. Celebrate SDPB, an uncommon place.