Community News & Views
SEEKING COMMENTS ON REBRANDING OF ACTIVIST NETWORK
Since we have a new website named Grassroots Network, it’s probably no surprise that the Activist Network has been renamed. Here’s how and why that happened, and what it means moving forward.
Below is the abbreviated version in three slides. See if full size here.
Here's the more detailed version:
Toward the end of 2012, the board’s Mission Strategy Committee, chaired by director Chris Warshaw, began a review of the goals and strategy of the Activist Network, what has worked and what hasn’t, with the aim of reinventing it to better serve the grassroots.
That process let to a set of resolutions on the Activist Network that the board passed in May 2013. One resolution was to rebrand the Activist Network and narrow/clarify its goals. Around the same time, work began on a long-awaited new web platform.
One obvious reason for the rebranding was that the Activist Network website was flawed and frustrating, and so the name Activist Network did not inspire confidence. In addition, while many users and visitors self-identified as “activists,” we also learned during the assessment that the term “activist” is off-putting for some people who might want to get involved.
A month after the board passed the resolutions, we convened a Rebranding Team, led by Creative Director Peter Walbridge, and including Kirstin Dohrer, Lane Boldman, Tim Guilfoile, Leslie March, John Barry, and Bob Bingaman.
We started by clarifying the target audience —
- Club activists (volunteers and staff)
- potential volunteers, leaders, participants.
- potential funders
- people who care passionately about the issues
- people who want to contribute to a better world
The next step was brainstorming, which we did as a team first, and then opened up to the Activist Network community. We generated more than 150 words, phrases. Some examples: Cat Herders, Swarm, Nest, Incubator, and Leftovers Network.
Then, through a series of straw polls and discussions, we narrowed it to five contenders — Grassroots Lab, Action Cafe, Community Garden, Grassroots Network, and Grand Central — which we put into an online survey. While that survey was not binding in any way, it did show that 63 percent, almost two of every three respondents, chose Grassroots Network as its top choice. The other two top candidates, Action Cafe and Grassroots Lab, got 16 and 14 percent respectively for top rank.
At the same time as this renaming process was going on, we were mapping out, developing, and designing the new website, and because we didn’t have a name, we went with Grassroots Network as the working name.
Now it may seem that the whole exercise was a waste, because we ended up with the draft name, but the process did confirm that default name and help us clarify our audience and our goals. (There’s something to like about Action Cafe and Grassroots Lab, so one idea that we may move forward with is create places within the Grassroots Network called Action Cafe and Grassroots Lab. Action Cafe could be a place to collect actions from all over the network — if you want to do something now, you go to Action Cafe and you might find an alert from the Marine Team or a letter-to-the-editor from Borderlands. Grassroots Lab would be devoted to experimentation as well as metrics and evaluation. That way we incorporate the positives of these other names instead of rejecting them.)
When we set out on this journey, one of the concerns we hoped to address was the fact that the Activist Network referred to both the Club entity that was home to the national and regional teams with approved charges as well as website, which was open to those teams as well as any campaign, chapter, group, or project that wanted to set up shop there.
We didn’t solve that problem. Here’s our suggestion:
- Grassroots Network refers to the website.
- Grassroots Action Teams refers to the “official” teams with approved charges.
- Grassroots Network Support Team refers to the team (formerly known as the Activist Network Support Team) that oversees and coordinates the teams and the website.
While renaming this website/community Grassroots Network is not exactly akin to federal rulemaking, before we truly finalize the name and/or print t-shirts, we want to open this up to public comment for 30 days. The idea is not to reopen this and start over, unless there’s a firestorm of opposition, or some reason we haven’t thought of to scrap the name.
(It’s true that there is a Grassroots Network out there on the web already, but it’s the Sierra Club Grassroots Network, which would be the full name. The web address is sierraclub.org/grassrootsnetwork.
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