Focusing Compassion

Nonprofit Branding for Embrace Oregon



Embrace Oregon, a nonprofit working with Oregon’s Department of Human Services, connects short- and long-term foster parents with thousands of children in Oregon needing foster care. Demand nearly always outpaces supply.

Together with its initiative Every Child, Embrace Oregon works to boost awareness, educate the community, and recruit highly committed people from both Christian faith-based (Embrace Oregon) and secular communities
(Every Child) into Oregon’s foster program.


To recruit thousands of potential new foster parents, Embrace Oregon needed a strong brand identity and strategy, not just a strong logo. They needed to branch out to the larger state of Oregon and create a vibrant common ground that equally serves both secular and Christian communities. And they needed to sell this idea to DHS and the regional government partners.



We began with their audience, drawing inspiration from one-to-one conversations, interviews and personal stories from foster parents, children and families. From this research, we created fictional personas representing Embrace Oregon’s core audience–potential foster parents and front-line DHS workers. Gaby and Ruth, our primary avatars, put real faces, questions, worries, motivations and speaking points to Embrace Oregon’s audience.

Critically, our brand strategy included entry points for their audience—potential or current or just-thinking-about-it foster parents—to volunteer at various levels of commitment. We wanted to make it easy for people to help kids in need. This demanded a highly targeted, carefully crafted brand launch strategy that identified and spoke directly to Embrace Oregon’s target demographics whether they’re religious or secular, on Facebook or Twitter, at community gatherings or fundraisers.

To lock in Embrace Oregon’s brand, we designed a comprehensive brand guide that could be shared with partner organizations, giving their volunteer teams the right amount of information (and confidence) to effectively broadcast Embrace Oregon across the state without diluting or damaging their message.


We created print pieces, brand pillars, language and messaging guidelines, imagery and a color palette that would be well-received by both audience segments. Embrace Oregon’s voice and logo, influenced by our logo design for Every Child, are designed specifically for Gaby, Ruth, and the demographically broad pool of potential foster parents.

Initial Logo Sketches


Final Logos



Our brand strategy helped Embrace Oregon restructure their relationship with DHS, expand through Oregon, and launch their brand among subgroups, partnerships and remote offices in key locations across the state. We gave Embrace Oregon strategic focus, direction and swagger (as their senior leadership likes to call it).


Brand Guide Sample Pages

Embrace Oregon helped us too.


Our relationship with Portland Leadership Foundation, the parent organization to Embrace Oregon, grew even stronger. This wasn’t just any branding project; each member of our team went in head- and heart-first. We love working with people whose goal is to improve the lives of so many children.

In the first 90 days of 2016, Embrace Oregon’s pool of available foster families increased 300% from this same time in 2015.