Dominican Friars Case Statement Part 1

Our case statement increased donor retention by six points! When you hold a piece of marketing collateral, it’s so polished that you can’t tell what it took to get there. Such is the case with the fundraising brochure that we created for the Dominican Friars. In this part one of four, behind-the-scenes look at a project, find out how the Creative Brief is the roadmap to success.

Background: Chris Hanzeli, the Director of Institutional Advancement, hired us to help clarify and streamline the Western Dominican Province’s branding. With that project under our belt, he called us to talk about a case statement. He needed a “case-for-support” statement to use in meetings with prospective major donors.

Chris wanted an 8-page brochure with a pocket to hold datasheets and a smaller tri-fold that would fit into a #10 envelope. The smaller tri-fold would take snippets of content from the larger one. It would be used at events and conferences. With this information, we wrote our proposal.

What Happens at a Kickoff Meeting: Proposal, Content and Theme Download

At the kick-off meeting, we presented the proposal, walked through the project milestones and the cost estimate. We like to present the proposal in person rather than by email so that we’re there to explain and answer questions. Our proposal outlined the basics of the project broken out into phases. We answered some questions, agreed on the timeline, and they accepted it.


The Proposal

Getting to the Content

Our client had a good idea of what the content would be, but at this point, the ideas were in his head. To help us get more clarity, we discussed the purpose and goals for the brochure:

  • Want the reader to connect emotionally, incite a feeling of “I want to be a part of this”
  • Discuss the social problems that Dominicans are uniquely equipped to address
  • Content should be easily digested with multiple “points of entry”
  • Inspire Catholics—why they should invest their money in the Western Dominican Province
  • The Dominican Friars is a strong order poised to strengthen and revive the Catholic Church
  • We discussed possible metaphors of vine, or tree (in particular St. Dominic’s orange tree)

Challenge: Our client’s biggest concern was making a clear connection between what the friars do and what the friars need. The friars lead all the various ministries which are self-explanatory. But the friars need funding for things like eldercare and retirement. We needed to create a connection between the two that would make it easy for donors to understand that the one can’t exist without the other. We discussed the vine or tree as symbols of the donors’ role in supporting the friars.

Additionally, we knew from our branding work, that we had to dispel a common misperception that dioceses give money to the friars. They are in fact supported wholly on donations. Rather than using text to explain, we talked about a simple infographic to show this.

The meeting had been productive and we now had a better idea of the goals for this brochure.

Don’t Start a Project Without This!

Before we look for images, before we start designing anything, we want to be sure that we’re all on the same page. Do we understand and agree on all aspects of the project? The creative brief is the document that cements it.

What’s in a Creative Brief?

We write a brief that distills the essential information of the project onto one page. The clients themselves sometimes give this to us and they may have their own twist on it. Early in my career, I used a questionnaire, but that felt like homework for the client. I’ve found that discussing all the points in person and taking notes is more natural.

The brief answers:

  • What is this project?
  • What are the deliverables?
  • Who is the client?
  • Who is the audience?
  • What are the benefits to the audience?
  • Who are the competitors?
  • What are the challenges?
  • What are the design goals?
  • What is the main message of the piece?
  • What are special considerations, if any?

The Creative Brief

The Creative Brief is the Roadmap and the Measuring Stick

By answering the essential questions, the brief gives direction to the project and:

  • documents the agreed-upon scope
  • names a specific target audience to direct the content to
  • defines the look and feel
  • lists brand keywords
  • states the primary message to convey

It also becomes the measuring stick as the project progresses. When we can’t decide among possible design solutions, we can look to the brief and ask, “Does this design choice fulfill the objectives on the brief?” Sometimes a new person joins the team and wants to go in another direction. The brief can help keep everyone on track.

The creative brief went back and forth a couple of times with changes before getting the thumbs-up. We were very clear on where we were going.

Message: The Dominicans are the answer to the decline of faith and they are successful at bringing people to the Church.

Benefit: Share in the prestige associated with the Dominicans

Image Brainstorm: We discussed images that symbolized support, foundation, strength—tree trunk, roots of a tree or vine, the legend of St. Dominic’s orange tree. I planned to research these image possibilities as illustrations. I could already imagine some very graphic, black and white woodcut style pictures of vines and trees being a strong element on the cover.