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Rebranding Girl Scouts Girl Scouts of the USA

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The Girl Scouts of the USA is the nation’s preeminent organization dedicated solely to girls. More than 3 million strong, GSUSA builds girls of courage, confidence and character, who make the world a better place.

GSUSA recently revised both their programming and advertising to better engage girls today. To support this shift, Laurel Richie, GSUSA Senior VP / Chief Marketing Officer, approached OCD to reassess their identity.

Since 1912 Brand History

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GSUSA is an iconic institution. Any work on the identity had to be sensitive to its rich history. Digging through the archive, we discovered that the trefoil has always played a key role in the GSUSA official seal. In 1978, legendary designer Saul Bass brilliantly redrew the trefoil. He softened the shape and transformed it into the now familiar positive-negative faces. Our challenge was to capitalize on the existing brand equity but make it even more relevant to girls today.

Girls today saw the mark as a symbol of diversity and sisterhood, but not leadership or empowerment. They asked for a mark that represented the best of what they could be by reinforcing their young, energetic and girlish strength. In 2012, GSUSA will celebrate their 100th Anniversary. Given the new programming and advertising, and the feedback from the girls, could there be a more appropriate time for a facelift?

“Trefoil” means three leaves. Each leaf in the Girl Scout trefoil stands for a part of the Girl Scout Promise.

Noses, Necks, and Hair(un)styling The Profiles

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The original pointed trefoil was never fully abandoned by GSUSA; it co-existed with the softened trefoil. For consistency, we needed to create one shape that worked across the whole system and, for meaning, we needed to infuse youth and power into the profiles. We collaborated with two illustrators to get it right: Joe Finocchiaro and Jasper Goodall.

The Profiles:
1. Bangs help differentiate and age down the three girls.
2. The more perky nose is also more youthful.
3. Adding tension to the lips brings the girls alive.
4. And simplifying the neck makes the mark stronger.
5. The pointed trefoil begins to setup a unified system.

Leading the Charge The Servicemark

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The revisions to the mark were subtle, so the typography had to go even further to reinforce the key characteristics of the new GSUSA. We created a modified version of the typeface Avenir to sync up with the angle of the Profiles. Then we set “girl scouts” in all lowercase which had two advantages. It made the wordmark more approachable. And, the lowercase “g” offset the Profiles, which we placed at the forward end of the lockup, proudly leading the way like the prow of a ship. It is important that the Profiles always move forward, so a few layout guidelines were set forth to help inform deliberate placement on the page.

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Few Rules Held Closely Brand Properties

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Empowered by new technology to quickly, easily and affordably self publish and having only a narrow graphic tool kit, GSUSA’s brand properties became fragmented. For a new identity system to effectively take hold in such a climate, it had to live and die by just a few rules held closely. The rules had to inspire creativity and thereby harmonize hundreds of unique voices. And they had to be both tactical and meaningful; anything less would be hollow and quickly forgotten. If the brand properties could be unified, they could power a resurgence within GSUSA. The public would take notice that GSUSA is up to something, and that they’re everywhere.

Trefoils-Trefoils-Trefoils Brand Icon

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Now fully consolidated to one iconic trefoil shape, GSUSA can leverage the solid trefoil as an ownable secondary design element. It inspires limitless expression from patterns and textures to abstract compositions and meaningful visual metaphors.

The advantage of the solid trefoil is that it creates recognizable consistency without monotonous repetition.

The Corporate Side The Business System


Finding a Voice Omnes

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The everyday GSUSA workhorse typeface is Omnes. The letterforms share several characteristics with the trefoil and the ital is just delightful.

1. The dense letterform echoes the solid trefoil.
2. The curve of the valleys are mirrored.
3. And the peaks are common to both forms.

Brand Experience The Grade Levels

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Girls graduate through the grade levels of Scouting. Because Daises and other Scouts are already initiated to GSUSA, we dropped the workmark and used just that grade level name to communicate Scouting at a particular level.

This maximizes differentiation and really leverages the grade levels, which have become commonplace vocabulary.

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Eight Key Questions Brand Cheat Sheet




Design Partners: Jennifer Kinon, Bobby C. Martin Jr.
Illustrators: Jasper Goodall, Joe Finocchiaro
Client: Girl Scouts of the USA

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