Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA), one of the most well known and well loved organizations in the nation, is revitalizing and reenergizing its brand to reach a new generation of girls.
After extensive research and development, Girl Scouts debuted today a long-term, multichannel brand campaign that is designed to reacquaint the country with the iconic organization and communicate the power girls have to change the world through Girl Scouting. The campaign is also keyed to boosting the number of girls and adult volunteers who participate in Girl Scouting annually after a period of declining membership.
“A revitalized and energized brand is absolutely essential for us and our future growth,” said Kathy Cloninger, Chief Executive Officer of GSUSA. “About one out of every 10 girls participates in Girl Scouting and that’s a tremendous number when you think about it. But that also means that we have a great opportunity to grow even after almost 100 years. We have literally revamped our entire organization to appeal to that 90 percent of girls who aren’t benefiting from the Girl Scout leadership experience. And with our new brand work, we think we have the right message at the right time.”
The branding, in the works as part of the organization’s comprehensive transformation that began in 2004, is composed of a striking new visual identity, which includes a distinctive trefoil mark, revised color palette, and refreshed logo that was originally created in the 1970s by the legendary designer Saul Bass. In addition, the initiative also includes plans for a 360 degree marketing program that taps the online, place-based and traditional media.
As part of the new campaign, Girl Scouts also has developed Spanish-language advertising to target the Hispanic market, one of the few girl populations in the country that is growing. GSUSA already has secured more than $10 million in donated exposure in Spanish-language media ranging from Telemundo to People en Español. In its general market campaign, Girl Scouts is working to secure $30 million in pro bono placements from national online and in-mall and airport outlets, as well as traditional broadcast and print media.
“What we’re doing with this initiative is repositioning Girl Scouts with a message that is relevant to girls and the lives they lead today,” said Laurel Richie, Chief Marketing Officer and Senior Vice President at GSUSA. “To some degree, our brand had faded and our research revealed that while many girls and parents knew about us, they had a very limited view of us. While we are proud of our $700 million cookie business run by girls, we offer so much more than that, and this new work is designed to let people know about all the new and exciting things girls do every day as Girl Scouts.
“Our brand promise is that Girl Scouts gives every girl access to life-changing experiences that inspire her to do something big. That’s a promise we keep every day, and you don’t have to look much further than our National Young Women of Distinction and Gold Award earners to see evidence of that.”
Girl Scouts has already implemented major changes in recent years as part of its Core Business Strategy, which was developed under Cloninger’s leadership to turn around the organization amid changing demographics and a gradual decline in membership. In just the past few years, the organization has realigned its federated system of 312 councils to 112. Those councils now operate with bigger budgets and are able to draw on economies of scale. And in 2008, the organization rolled out the Girl Scout Leadership Experience, a program that every Girl Scout will engage in from the youngest Girl Scout Daisy to the eldest Girl Scout Ambassador.
The Girl Scout Leadership Experience also features a series of 15 outcomes, or benefits, that for the first time in the organization’s history will allow Girl Scouts to gauge how well its program is working in terms of developing key leadership skills in girls.
Richie said that Girl Scouting is launching its rebranding from a position of strength because it can draw upon strong name recognition and a long legacy of leadership development. With this new campaign and the projected growth in overall girl population in the United States, Girls Scouts expects to see its membership begin to increase over the next few years. The campaign will also pave the way, Richie said, for a major effort to gain exposure during the organization’s national centennial celebration in 2012.