Benevolence Gets a Makeover


Restoring Hope with the National Benevolent Association

National Benevolent Association has supported the mission of mercy and care for the Disciples of Christ since the 1880s. After more than a century of compassion and care, NBA has transformed hundreds of lives. How do you put a new face on a brand with such a rich history?


13 People, 24 Hours, 1 Process

NBA looked to us as a partner to help them make a full transformation. They thought of this creative process as more of a restoration of hope than a re-brand. We really liked the way they looked at things – it was a perfect match for a discovery engagement. But first we needed to solve one little location problem.

With the NBA team spread out in cities across our great nation, we needed to work a little differently to be sure all of their leadership could weigh in.

When developing a brand we ask ourselves ‘What are the brand’s unique attributes? What benefits does the audience get from them? How do those audiences feel about them?’ in order to get at the brand’s emotional core.
Leigh Marino, Creative Director
Leigh Marino, Creative Director


Called together. Called to Care.

We called the NBA team together for a two-day sprint in Indianapolis. We knew we had limited time to complete some collaborative exercises, stakeholder interviews and to learn as much about the brand’s history as possible.

Leigh facilitated a wordplay exercises to uncover phrases that had meaning for NBA. We re-arranged and edited these together with the client. After some reflection, we polished final drafts and landed on a new tagline:

Called together. Called to Care.

To get visual inspiration for the site, Lydia facilitated a collaborative collage exercise. With a timer running, we had 20 minutes to tear out photos, fonts, textures or colors that we felt represented the brand.

Each of us arranged our images into a spread and described why we selected these choices. The rest of the group had an opportunity to react to what they liked or didn’t like about them.

Commonalities began to emerge in what the team felt best represented NBA. This exercise gave our team a great start on creative direction for the brand.

Iteration is Everything

Did we mention iteration is important to us in our creative process? From the tagline to the logo, everything gets the full exploration treatment. This exploration begins with hand drawn sketches, followed by digital comps.


Presenting the New NBA

From the rounds of iteration and client feedback arose a new National Benevolent Association. The modern brand doesn’t just live in one place, or in full color, so we asked: how is this brand going to be used? Where all might it live? and set to work on multiple versions.

Some Fancy Collateral

Branding doesn’t just stop at a logo. We approach branding as a long, thoughtful process, starting with digging into the feel, understanding what emotions best represent the brand. Then, we get practical, dreaming up all kinds of applications and collateral that help bring the brand into the world. NBA had a major assembly planned for their members, which was the perfect opportunity to unveil their new brand. Our team envisioned everything from business cards to print brochures to banners to display at their big event.

But Wait, There’s More!

We developed a brand guidelines booklet for NBA to make sure they were empowered to consistently carry the brand forward - with or without us.

Our NBA team had a great experience collaborating with the SmallBox team on our ideas and hopes for our brand.
April Lewton, Vice President of Development & Marketing
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