The Story

DevNW is a nonprofit that was created by the 2019 merger of two Oregon nonprofit organizations, Neighborhood Economic Development Corporation (NEDCO) and Willamette Neighborhood Housing Services (WNHS). As a united organization, DevNW hoped to expand its impact, bring people together, and better help Oregon’s communities to thrive in the long term.

NEDCO and WNHS hired Drawn to develop a brand identity that conveyed the breadth and depth of what DevNW does for individuals and communities in Oregon. DevNW also needed a website that allowed clients to schedule counseling sessions and register for classes, as well as capture donations to support the nonprofit.

We quickly realized that this complex organization required more than a simple logo treatment, so we created an entire visual language to better organize and illustrate DevNW’s offerings, as well as attract new clients. It was also important for DevNW to be accessible to Spanish speakers, so we designed everything with translation in mind.

Over the course of 11 months, we developed DevNW’s brand guide (including the brand story) and visual language — building out their logo and patterns. Once we had an approved logo and visual language, we created a web style tile, and then proceeded with the web design and brought all of the brand collateral to life.

DevNW says,

“Succinct with breadth. Simple and complex. Bold, yet whimsical. Durable with dexterity. Drawn molded our new DevNW brand identity into something that represents the diversity of what we do and we look forward to living with it for years to come. The brand identity has provided us new ways to connect our vision and value with clients and partners. Their feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Thank you, Drawn, for collaboratively stewarding the look, feel, and story into something tangible that we can proudly share in our community.”

A visual language that speaks to service

DevNW offers our communities an astounding number of services, and a major part of our job was to clearly communicate all that they do: The Oregon-based nonprofit creates opportunities, creates connections for all kinds of people, helps to open doors for some of us who have struggled to find our footing, cultivates more sustainable approaches to building healthy neighborhoods, and so much more. We knew that the name alone could never do justice to this breadth of services, so we built a visual language, including an icon set, to tell DevNW’s story.

A website designed with users in mind

Websites for nonprofit organizations often present a distinct set of challenges because the goal is to leverage affordable tools while maximizing flexibility and accessibility. DevNW also needed a website that allowed clients to schedule counseling sessions and register for classes, as well as capture donations to support the organization’s continuing work. We created a digital community that would accomplish all of these goals, helping DevNW engage with those in the neighborhoods in which they work along the way.

Hitting the right tone

Since DevNW offers such an enormous array of services to people from all different walks of life, the language on their site needed to speak to everyone. It needed to be clear and accessible without being simplistic or “dumbed down,” helpful without crossing the line into patronizing, and smart without a trace of elitism. Furthermore, the website’s copy and design needed to meet World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) — all while establishing a brand voice and tone that matched the actual voice and tone that the great people of DevNW use to communicate every day. With a lot of listening, we eventually hit just the right note.