Work: Case Studies

Magic happens when people come together around a shared purpose and use their passion and talents to make a difference. Also, things get done.

Chicago Allies


Chicago Allies was a collective impact initiative with a mission to increase the combined positive impact of youth development services in Chicago by facilitating a common agenda, shared measurement and ongoing leadership for providers, funders and government. Our charge: help align their dozens of partners around a common brand narrative and help them communicate their value to stakeholders.


Because this organization was a collective, we knew we needed to build the brand from the ground up. Our approach was to begin with significant discovery. We needed to listen. We conducted in-depth qualitative interviews with key partners, in addition to fielding a quantitative questionnaire. We summarized this data, and reflected back to the larger group what we were hearing, highlighting common themes. With the group, we gained alignment around these themes, and consensus around the primary stakeholders of the organization. We then began to draft the components of a brand narrative, outlining the vision, mission, value proposition, positioning, and point of view. This draft positioning was brought before the Board of Directors for feedback and refinement.

Next, we took this platform and built out a recommended connection strategy, outlining the approach and tactics and tools needed to connect their brand story to their stakeholders. We charted a clear plan, with timetables and budgets.


In the end, the brand narrative was so compelling that one of the key stakeholders - the City of Chicago - decided to adopt the approach in its own work and the Chicago Allies collective was brought into the Mayor’s office under the leadership of his Chief of Staff for Education.