Repositioning the ASN Brand Identity for the Next Decade

  • 1 Steve Doran is director of marketing at ASN.
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They say a brand should be revisited every 10 years. ASN last rebranded in 2008 and since then, the society has gone through drastic changes. Membership has increased by 138%. ASN added two publications (ASN Kidney News and e-newsletter In the Loop) as well as launched a new self-assessment program (KSAP). But most important, ASN not only established a foundation during that time, but also created three public-private partnerships with different government agencies. These include:

  • • Kidney Health Initiative (KHI) with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

  • • Nephrologists Transforming Dialysis Safety (NTDS) with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  • • Kidney Innovation Accelerator (KidneyX) with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

None of these five entities (ASN, ASN Foundation, KHI, NTDS, and KidneyX) were connected visually, creating difficulty with relationship and brand awareness. Informally, the collective was referred to as the ASN Enterprise, but the average ASN member wasn’t always aware of that term or the connection. Other members of the kidney community were equally confused.

The goal of the rebranding effort was to resolve several issues:

  • • Create a visual cohesiveness among the organizations.

  • • Formalize a name for the collective (ASN, ASN Foundation, KHI, NTDS, and KidneyX).

  • • Revisit and potentially revise the current ASN tagline (“leading the fight against kidney disease”).

  • • Establish guidelines for any future logo creation.

ASN assembled an 11-person team to draft a request for proposal, interview and select a creative agency, and participate in several brainstorming and discovery sessions. This process helped outline what was important for the creative agency to understand about ASN and the ASN Enterprise as they constructed these new brands and fashioned an overarching brand identity.

The creative agency and staff team agreed to tackle ASN and the ASN Enterprise in the first round, keeping in mind that decisions made at this stage would serve as the building blocks for the subsequent entities. Ideas were generated and recommendations were fine-tuned with participation from the ASN Council.

Together, the council, creative agency, and staff team agreed that the ASN Enterprise would formally be called the ASN Alliance for Kidney Health. This name reflects the five entities working in unison but allows for growth with future partnerships, relationships, and collaboratives. With the tagline, the group thought it was important to shoot for the loftiest of goals, “A World Without Kidney Diseases.”

For the visual aspect of the logo, the initial concepts began with strong colors and a subtle reference to kidneys. The creative agency presented numerous ideas, but the one that kept being revisited was based on a Venn diagram. This design emphasized valuing relationships, identifying similarities, and embracing differences among entities. Venn diagrams originate from mathematics and are used to easily present complex ideas. Such an approach also indicates infinite possibilities, while still hinting at the shape of kidneys.

The quadrants allowed for four colors instead of the two-color limitation from the previous logo. Blue was kept as a callback to the former logo with three new colors being added. In graphic design, contrast is important, so one soft hue is always needed to enhance the three remaining strong colors.

The group agreed that both the American Society of Nephrology and the ASN Alliance for Kidney Health would share the same logo. Subsequent logos for the remaining entities would then incorporate three out of four of the colors in their respective brands.

Once the brands for the American Society of Nephrology and the ASN Alliance for Kidney Health were in place, brainstorming sessions were held with each of the remaining groups. KHI, NTDS, KidneyX, and the ASN Foundation each refreshed their individual brands to create a unified look and feel. This transformation resulted in a new focus for the ASN Foundation, which is now called KidneyCure.

Created with input from all of ASN’s constituencies (as well as the leaders of KidneyCure, KHI, NTDS, and KidneyX), the new brand allows the society to continue its growth and work that began more than 50 years ago. Today, ASN represents more than 20,000 kidney health professionals in nearly 130 countries working toward—and most of all, looking forward to—a world without kidney diseases. The ASN Alliance for Kidney Health is well positioned to start a new 10-year run in 2020.