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What’s in a brand?

By Marc Moorghen, Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, September 23, 2015

What our new branding says about the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation and how we put it to good use on our new website.

In late 2013, we decided the time was right to revisit the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation’s branding. While our brand served us well for a few years, we knew the organization had evolved and it was time for us to re-examine our identity.

A brand is the essence of an organization, the unifying theme that ties together and sometimes transcends all of its parts. In the case of the Hilton Foundation, it encompasses our founder, our people, our programs and even our campus. It is what connects us and gives meaning to what we do, from the smallest detail to the largest initiative.

In the end, we worked on this project for more than 18 months, with false starts and some backtracking, trying to find the right fit for our organization. Working with Threespot Media, we took the time to explore our identity, and we believe our new branding captures the essence of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation.

In early conversations, it quickly became apparent that our founder, Conrad N. Hilton, is still very much present in the spirit and values of the Foundation. We wanted to find a balance between our legacy and our future, as we prepare for the changes that lie ahead. Threespot zeroed in on his personal imprint. While we see his signature on one of our walls under his famous quote (“Think Big, Act Big, Dream Big”) on a daily basis, we had never noticed his penmanship or the particular flourish of the “H” in “Hilton.”

By incorporating Conrad Hilton’s signature into the logo, we feel we are maintaining a personal connection with our past, while embracing a non-traditional and modern look with a gradient blue background and a contemporary font. We think we have found the best of both worlds.

The Evolution of our Brand

We retained the color blue, as it was important to Conrad Hilton, who used “Hilton Blue” in the old hotel logo and even in his typewriter ribbons. However, we also expanded our color palette to align with the vibrancy of our programs and the passion we feel for our mission. This evolution of our visual identity has informed the design of our new website, along with a clear mandate from the earliest planning sessions: keep the user experience simple and the content easy to navigate. The site is designed to be device-agnostic, making it a seamless experience, whether on a laptop, desktop, tablet or phone. While the general look of the site is very image-oriented, with beautiful photos from the organizations we partner with, the menu is designed to stay in place on the left-hand side, to keep navigation simple.

We learned some lessons from our previous site, listening to people’s feedback and analyzing the data, which helped us design a platform with the user in mind. We will continue to refine the site in the coming months and years, improving wherever and whenever possible. In the meantime, we hope you will enjoy the new website experience and our new look, and we look forward to hearing your feedback.

Former Communications Director

Former Communications Director

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