Roots of social agency’s rebranding reach across College

June 28, 2016

A grant of $10,000 through a unique student-funded Saint Michael’s College program, “Fix It with Five,” contributed to a recent improved rebranding and name-change for a Burlington-area social service agency.

So, too, did two summers worth of work by students in successive Accelerated Summer College (ASC) marketing classes, the first taught by Kellie Campbell, ASC director, (below right photo) in 2014, and the second by Karen Popovich of the Saint Michael’s business faculty (below left photo) in 2015. In Campbell’s class, the students took the agency on as a client to learn marketing principles first-hand. Women Helping Battered Women (WHBW) was the longstanding name of that local client, which is changing its name to “Steps to End Domestic Violence,” better reflecting the work of the domestic violence organization serving Chittenden County — Vermont’s largest such agency.

Because of the extended productive partnership with the College, the organization revealed its new name and branding “look” at a special event the evening of June 23, 2016, at the Dion Family Student Center on campus. The new name took effect on June 27.

In addition to the new name, the organization will have a new logo and an overall new image designed to communicate a more modern and inclusive feel through their website, literature, and use of language, according to a press release from Janice Santiago, Community Engagement specialist for the organization.

“Some people think we only serve women and only employ women, which is not the case,” explains Executive Director, Kelly Dougherty in that release. “Also, the term ‘battered’ – in addition to being an antiquated term that does not resonate with younger people – implies that we only address physical abuse, which is also not the case,” says Dougherty.

The organization addresses all forms of abuse between intimate partners, including psychological, emotional and economic abuse, in addition to physical violence, regardless of gender identity or age.

Campbell’s class researched and produced a marketing plan that advised WHBW — which has worked closely with Saint Michael’s staff and students for many years – about the potential benefits of investing in a rebranding and name-change, in order to reach more clients and better reflect its mission since the agency serves men and children as well as women.

To build on that momentum in ASC’s 2015 marketing class, Popovich undertook a project with her students to produce a video for the organization, more targeted to defeating stereotypes of domestic violence against men. Another important factor in encouraging the service agency to move forward with any number of initiatives, including branding improvements, was that in spring 2014 the organization was awarded the $10,000 grant through the College’s Fix It With Five program – a unique signature Saint Michael’s program that takes $5 from each student’s Activity Fund each year to support a local social service agency, after students vote on the top nominees.

The June announcement of the branding change brought a successful and enduring collaboration full-circle, advanced by the special possibilities of courses delivered in the ASC format. This is an approach to learning where technology helps instructors deliver important content, pre-class, “accelerating” student progress so that any actual class time with an instructor can be spent in discussion and experiential applications — thereby “flipping” structures and class-time priorities of traditional college lecture courses.

Popovich spelled out the advantages of the approach in this recent case: “The flipped-classroom approach of the Accelerated Summer College allowed us to apply theory to practice and the students developed a powerful and lasting message that was directly experiential-based for their academic and professional goals,” she said.

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