One year ago today, The Blood and Tissue Center of Central Texas officially became We Are Blood. Actually, we didn’t just wake up on October 20, 2016 and “become” anything—we’d been evolving for some time.
The process officially started about a year earlier in the warm glow of reflection on our 65th anniversary. Since 1951 our blood donors, hospital clients, neighbors and friends had relied on us, known us well and become our family. We were the sole blood provider to our region and we’d always considered it a given that everyone would at least recognize The Blood Center as one of our community’s essential life-saving services.
But as we looked more honestly at how fast and profoundly the community was changing around us, the warm glow of our anniversary reflection morphed into a cold, uncomfortable realization. Not everyone knew us anymore.
Because Greater Austin had become one of the fastest growing areas in the country, not everyone who now lived here . . . was from here. We were fast becoming unfamiliar to people in our own community.
Over time, this growing lack of recognition had been compounded by constantly morphing iterations of our name, logos, taglines, and the rainbow of colors and changing designs on our buildings and buses. Our identity had become inconsistent and confusing to the public. In the midst of an epic population explosion, The Blood and Tissue Center of Central Texas had become difficult to recognize and easy to forget.
OUCH. We knew we had a problem and, more importantly, we knew we needed help.
Fortunately, we found The Butler Bros, a local brand studio founded by Adam and Marty Butler whose creative teeth had been cut at the iconic local agency of GSD&M. They guided us through a disciplined, year-long process of discovery, goal setting, development and evolution. They helped us outline and implement a Big Hairy Audacious Goal:
To create a new “brand identity” that would
- Be consistent, recognizable and memorable
- Be bold, distinctive and ownable
- Inspire pride in, and ownership of our local blood supply
- Foster a sense of community within the Greater Austin Area
- Speak to both our local heritage and our values
We didn’t want much, only the moon.
One of the largest parts of building our new identity meant deciding on what exactly we’d call ourselves.
We wanted a name that clearly speaks to our mission to provide and protect the community blood supply, to inspire Central Texans to save lives locally, and to always treat everyone we serve as family. We wanted a name that makes a statement.
The process was long and arduous. It’s tough to rename a 65-year-old organization. And it’s even tougher to find a name that pleases everyone. But I tell you what, we sure are happy with where we landed. By October of 2016, we were ready to become We Are Blood.
As a name, We Are Blood has achieved all of the objectives we’d set and more. It’s memorable. It’s ownable. It’s distinct. It’s a literal description of what we do and a figurative declaration of what we believe—that our local blood supply is something that bonds our community together like family. Most importantly, it’s become who we are.
One year after reintroducing ourselves to the community, I expected the name to still feel new—like a lingering hint of “new car” aroma. But oddly, it feels . . . I don’t know, more well-worn than new, more comfortable. The longer I sat and reflected on that feeling, the more I realized that We Are Blood is essentially who we have been for more than 66 years now.
Like our mission, we didn’t change; our name did. Our brand identity – those outward expressions of who we are – finally evolved to more clearly and consistently reflect what has always been our nature, our essence.
Thank you all for welcoming us—and our new name—into your lives with open arms over this past year. Here in Central Texas, we’re ten counties, but we’re one family. We Are Blood.
Marshall Cothran, CEO
*images 1 and 3 are courtesy of our wonderful friends at The Butler Bros.