Client Spotlight: IBVI
A Partnership Driven By Purpose
Life at an advertising agency can be a balancing act—at any given time, you may be working on 10+ clients with very different needs and goals. Since my beginning days at EPIC, one client has been a constant in my roster. And they happen to be one whose mission I am proud to promote.
Industries for the Blind and Visually Impaired (IBVI) is a Wisconsin-based nonprofit organization whose mission is to create meaningful employment opportunities for those who are blind or visually impaired. They do this through the AbilityOne program, which you can learn more about here.
EPIC Chief Creative Officer Joe Rogge has the longest-standing run of working on this client, dating back to when they were called IB Milwaukee.
How The Partnership Started
“We had worked with them for a few years in the early 2000s, and the CEO, CJ Lange, felt that we understood and were familiar with their mission. This led him to reach out and see if we were interested in working with them again to help take the organization through a complete rebrand exercise to refocus the brand and reaffirm their mission.”
Starting in 1952 as Industries for the Blind, Inc., the organization evolved several times over the years and found themselves in a place where they felt they’d lost focus of their mission: providing meaningful employment to the blind and visually impaired. IB Milwaukee was being confused with other blind employment agencies in the
National Industries for the Blind (NIB) network, which is how they realized their need for a rebrand.
“When we first started, we didn’t have a lot of marketing we were doing on a large scale, but as IBVI kept growing, we’ve needed more and more marketing to support our efforts,” said IBVI President and CEO CJ Lange. “During that time, we had our own marketing team, but EPIC was growing too and ramping up their services. That’s what made it a simple decision to get back to working with the EPIC team.”
The rebrand was nearly a complete overhaul, including a new name and logo. IB Milwaukee transformed into IBVI, but the organization still needed to redefine who they were. The team at EPIC got to work creating a brand book with an updated brand voice and story to help drive the new identity for the rest of the work we’d be doing through the website, advertising, and recruitment efforts.
Staying Focused On The Mission
That foundational brand work now guides the ongoing development of marketing and communication strategies to drive awareness and engagement across IBVI’s business units, from e-commerce, to brick-and-mortar military Base Supply Centers, and beyond.
“Our market research strategies helped us determine IBVI’s new brand voice and test our messaging strategies with key influencers in IBVI’s markets,” Rogge said about the rebrand. “On a daily basis, our creative, copy, PR, social and digital media, video, and photo teams contribute to crafting and communicating the IBVI story and driving awareness of the mission. Increased awareness and understanding of IBVI’s mission has resulted in increased employment applications, deeper engagement with their customers, and increased sales across their business units which means more opportunities for blind employment hours. It truly is cyclical.”
IBVI has two main goals that EPIC helps them achieve through a fully integrated marketing plan that touches every department in our agency. These goals are recruitment and sales. To keep creating job opportunities for the blind and visually impaired community, IBVI manufactures, assembles, and distributes products for the U.S. government and military.
Having A Partner Who Understands
With such a unique mission and complex customer base, anyone who touches the IBVI brand needs to understand exactly who this client is, which comes from being immersed in the company’s many different business areas. EPIC has traveled all over Wisconsin and the country to see what the day-to-day operations look like at all of IBVI’s locations and meet the employees who make IBVI who they are.
“The EPIC team has such a deep understanding of our mission—they’ve met our people, toured our facilities, seen our Base Supply Centers—and that shows in the marketing pieces, whether through the website or campaigns,” Lange said about the partnership. “I feel like EPIC has such a unique awareness of who we are and what we are trying to do, and I think we’ve accomplished more than we ever have in the last three years because of it. EPIC doesn’t provide a cookie-cutter approach. They spend a lot of time getting the right message out. Again, results speak for themselves, and it’s been phenomenal—EPIC is doing great things for us.”