Chambers of commerce are nearly as old as commerce itself. For centuries, these organizations have served to support and connect businesses. Broad participation is what makes them valuable — they are comprised of and for local businesses. Essentially, they have been an analog social network. Many chambers have successfully adapted offerings for an increasingly digital world. But, they have not done a great job of communicating this. Or, of breaking out of chamber stereotypes (primarily men and predominantly white). Chambers are powerful tools for advocacy, leadership development, small business resources, and more. To put accessibility at the forefront of their actions, they first need to speak to their purpose — with confidence and clarity.
This is true for Commerce Lexington, the chamber of Lexington, Kentucky, and surrounding communities. Its constituency is comprised of small businesses and big corporations, nonprofits and for-profits, community leaders and young professionals. Some have been involved since it was called ‘the Chamber.’ They do a lot for Lexington’s business community: grants, leadership programs, advocacy, and mentoring. And when the world paused during the pandemic, Commerce Lexington kept serving the business community. They diverted their attention to distributing PPE, facilitating grants, and connecting members with resources. More than ever, it was time to communicate their purpose and breadth.
We (virtually) interviewed over 100 stakeholders, including members, leadership, program participants, and community members. We surveyed members and staff. We even talked to non-members. We learned that Commerce Lexington excels at connecting people, but they needed to better include minority businesses. They host creative and invaluable programs and events, but people often did not associate those offerings with Commerce Lexington. There was a sense of momentum, especially coming out of their adept response to the pandemic, and people wanted to see that reflected in the identity.
We provided a visual identity and brand strategy to carry this momentum into a bold, inclusive new chapter. We recommended streamlining the naming convention, bolstering the new chapter of Commerce Lexington — not ‘the chamber.’ We recommended an approachable, straightforward brand position that put the purpose at the fore. And, we designed a bright identity that unified all Commerce Lexington offerings and set the tone for an energized future. An identity that still feels like Lexington at its core but lights the way to whatever comes next.
Role: Creative Director, Design Lead
Photo Art Direction