What’s in a name? Discoveries from a Brand Equity Analysis

How to know when rebranding is right for your nonprofit…


More than 100 years ago, Lakeview Mission opened its doors in West Michigan. Over the years, Lakeview began to be more widely used in the market, and seemed to diminish in brand value for the Mission. In response, the Mission took on their current name, Holland Rescue Mission, to identify the area in which they served. Recently, as the Mission’s service area expanded and their enterprise program, branded “Gateway”, gained community recognition, the Mission began considering rebranding.

The Mission’s leadership faced a complex decision – and turned to BDI for counsel as they considered a rebrand. Was a new name in order? And what name would best speak to their ministry… their donors… and the community at large?


Via a series of online surveys, BDI and our analytics partners conducted a Brand Equity Analysis to a sampling of the Mission’s donor file, ministry stakeholders and perspective donors with three brands to consider:

  1. The name of the Mission at its founding (Lakeview Mission).
  2. The current name (Holland Rescue Mission).
  3. A name that had been introduced through the Mission’s enterprise program (Gateway Mission).

Those polled in the survey were asked a series of aided and unaided questions about their perception of the above names, and shown corresponding logos within a direct mail appeal – the design remained the same, but the Mission name changed. Participants were asked first, whether they would open the envelope, and second, whether they were likely to make a gift to that organization.


Gateway Mission won! Survey participants agreed that it best communicated the life-changing work of the Mission, and it was chosen by:

  • 39% of the Active Donor file
  • 43% of the Lapsed Donor file
  • 57% of the Friends and Community Stakeholders file

Another pivotal component of the Brand Equity Analysis was to explore the impact of removing the word “Rescue” from the brand.

  • 40% increase in gross revenue in one year
  • 150% increase in responses in one year
  • 212% increase in their gross revenue over two years

This study gave Holland Rescue Mission the confidence to step forward with the new brand of Gateway Mission.

More of the story…

Your Brand is Your Promise

Your brand should clearly and consistently communicate who you are as an organization – your vision, your direction, your purpose. When Holland Rescue Mission first approached BDI asking about a potential rebrand, we asked them these questions:

  • Has the vision or the mission of your organization changed over the years? 
  • Have your service area or the services you offer expanded? 
  • Has something about your community changed? 
  • Has your audience changed or are you looking to expand into new audiences? 
  • Are you about to do something extraordinarily new? 
  • Have you encountered media difficulties as an organization that you cannot shake off? 
  • Is your audience experiencing any brand confusion? 
  • Does your name reflect who you are? 
  • Have you outgrown your brand?

It was critical to have the Mission’s key stakeholders answer these questions first to determine whether a rebrand would be possible… and ultimately successful.

Moving Ahead with Confidence

Brand Equity Analysis

In addition to performing the brand equity analysis, BDI provided the Mission with the confidence to proceed with their rebranding. We offered support, consulting and guidance on the all-important next steps – as well as creative and strategic marketing services to usher in the shift to a new brand.

To help Holland Rescue Mission announce their transition to Gateway Mission, we developed a comprehensive multi-channel campaign for the months leading up to the switch. Marrying strategic insights with bold new creative, BDI provided all the rebranding materials the Mission needed, such as:

  • A new website
  • Press releases and talking points
  • Email communications
  • Billboard art
  • Newspaper ads
  • Newsletter inserts
  • A series of organic social media posts and Facebook ads
  • Display ads and YouTube ads
Darryl Bartlett, Executive Director Gateway Mission

“Our new name, Gateway Mission, captures what we hope to inspire within the hearts and lives of everyone who comes to the Mission – serving as a gateway to a whole new life here on earth and eternal life in the arms of a loving God. It’s a more picturesque metaphor of what we hope to accomplish with our guests as they move toward a new future.”

Darryl Bartlett, Executive Director, Gateway Mission

Click here to download this Case Study as a PDF

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