National Archives (Office of Regional Records)

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) Office of Regional Records had a problem. With 13 facilities spread throughout the United States (each with unique holdings and identities), NARA had no unified brand. They needed to find a way to communicate the mission and value of the regional system to four distinct markets: the general public; partnering organizations within the Archives; Congress; and internal staff in regional and national offices.

Leveraging Understanding to Unify a Brand

To address this challenge, we needed to uncover what the agency saw as its value to constituents, and articulate its differentiation from other agency offices, such as the Presidential Libraries. But we also needed to determine the existing level of awareness these facilities enjoyed and explore the unique drivers and needs of a highly segmented audience. Based on our findings, we would be able to develop the brand position, recommend a naming structure and create new key messages that would translate into new creatives.

MarketPoint led internal assessments to define current staff perceptions, and then conducted market research to test external perceptions. We used a mix of research methodologies, from informal small group discussions and one-on-one interviews, to intercept surveys and formal focus groups in various regions. After analysis of these findings and some additional testing, we were able to define a brand position that was relevant to the target audience groups, and create key messaging that resonated with the audiences’ very specific needs.

Although NARA’s initial focus was to define a separate brand identity for the regional system that would distinguish it from its various agency offices, our research indicated a greater value in leveraging the overall agency brand in an umbrella strategy. And so, armed with a better understanding of public perception and values, the regional system simply shifted from a differentiation strategy to a strategy of stronger alignment.

From the research, we established a naming framework and key messages for the 13 regional offices. This framework leverages the equity of the legacy brand. Working with target market populations, we tested new logos for the division as well as the individual locations, and delivered brand guidelines for implementation.

As evidenced by their new website, the regional system has begun to employ a more cohesive and audience-driven message that effectively removes the internal and operational distinctions which once created confusion among its key audiences.