Case Study: CAA

Case Study

CAA Gets a New(ish) Name

Founded in 1911, the College Art Association is the largest and most influential membership organization for visual art professionals — but they’d long realized that their name and visual identity didn’t accurately reflect who they are or whom they serve. In 2017, they partnered with Briteweb to create a brand identity that reflects the diverse, dynamic organization they are.

Services

Brand Strategy & Communications , Naming & Taglines , Content Strategy , Logos & Visual Identities , Brand Guidelines / Style Guides , Print Collateral

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Old New

Before & After

ABOUT THIS PROJECT

A More Inclusive Identity for a Diverse Organization

By 2017, the College Art Association (CAA to its members) knew it was time for a change. Though their existing brand—and particularly their name—resonated with some, its focus on college and art excluded and even alienated many members. CAA engaged Briteweb to explore the possibility of a new, more inclusive name, and to create a new visual identity that reflects the spirit of their organization and its members.

Briteweb’s highly consultative process is designed to include input from a diversity of stakeholders, but our collaboration with CAA incorporated an unprecedented number of voices—including the organization’s 20-person Board of Directors, a number of key decision-makers within the organization and nearly 800 of CAA’s members.

By inviting this multitude of stakeholders into our strategic process, we were able to get a full and accurate picture of ‘who’ CAA is. The voices of those stakeholders led us to the conclusion that the best name for the CAA was…CAA. Not “College Art Association”, but simply the letters “CAA”—not entirely new, but not the same either.

We could not have been more pleased with the decision [to work with Briteweb]. From the deep research to the comprehensive strategy and presentations, Briteweb led our project with a full understanding of our needs. Since the completion of the project, several of our fellow organizations have mentioned they now have logo and branding envy.

— Hunter O’Hanian, Executive Director, CAA

Design Process

Designing a New Identity

Old Logo

  • A Polarizing Visual Identity
    Like their name, CAA’s logo was polarizing. While some loved it, others did not, like one survey respondent who said it had “all the visual pizzazz of a high school newsletter.” Other stakeholders commented that an organization representing artists and designers needed a more innovative and creative logo.

  • Common Ground
    Our creative team explored several logo options, but one stood out: a logo system representing the frame and the page—two media with which CAA’s members express themselves and share their ideas. The logo also speaks to the concept of perspective that is central to both the study and practice of the visual arts.

  • Framing Art and Design
    Like its diverse membership base, CAA’s new visual identity is dynamic, with countless configurations. A broad color palette and the option to use the logo to frame works of art and design make for a logo system that’s consistent and recognizable while leaving room for creative expression.

  • An All Encompassing Tagline
    With CAA as their new name, it was critical to add a tagline that communicates the organization’s purpose and value. After considering a range of options put forward by Briteweb’s strategists, the project team chose ‘Advancing Art & Design’ — a tagline that speaks to CAA’s influential role in shaping the future of the visual arts.

A Brand Is Reborn