Maybe you’ve heard—after more than sixty years of service, Indian Trails Camp is now a part of IKUS Life Enrichment Services. But what does that mean for the organization and the people it serves, and how was Black Lake Studio involved?
For decades, Indian Trails Camp has expanded the opportunities available to individuals with disabilities in the greater Grand Rapids area. Over time, the organization developed a wide variety of programming, and in 2016, the “camp” label no longer accurately describes ITC’s overall mission. Several months ago, ITC’s leadership team brought Black Lake in to help chart a way forward, beginning with a series of in-depth mind mapping sessions. We dug into the “Thing” that makes the organization unique, that ties everything they do together. We also discovered the audiences with which the new brand would most need to communicate. Through this discovery process, we came to several key insights about the brand:
- Indian Trails Camp wasn’t just a camp anymore—they also provide skill building, supported employment, and community living services to individuals with disabilities.
- ITC needed a new parent brand that would encompass all of its services, including the camp, and leave plenty of room for growth and expansion.
- The “Thing” that animates Indian Trails Camp is helping individuals with disabilities attain greater freedom and independence.
- ITC needs to reach out to CMHs, clients and families, philanthropists, and the higher education community.
Based on these insights, we recommended that Indian Trails Camp adopt a new parent brand, IKUS Life Enrichment Services, that would encompass all of its programs, including the camp. Each service would have its own brand subordinated to the IKUS parent brand. We helped name the new brand, and we did the writing and design work that was needed to give it a clear, compelling identity. Black Lake then produced digital and print materials that would communicate the new IKUS brand to their audiences.
You have to account for a lot of variables when transitioning a brand, but we have guided IKUS along the way. Black Lake trained the organization’s leaders and staff on how to articulate and embody the new brand, and we designed marketing materials around the need to communicate a new identity quickly and clearly. For example, the new IKUS home page is designed to explain the organization’s new identity and reassure existing audience members that the camp they know and love isn’t going anywhere.
Now the IKUS team is navigating the process of unveiling their new brand, and the Black Lake team is looking forward to continued work with the organization as it continues to serve and grow.
Today, Bella Ferlaak job shadowed our two designers, Ashley Helminiak and Caraline Visuri (I tagged along a bit). Bella is thirteen years old and wanted to learn more about what it would be like to work as a graphic designer.
The Black Lake team walked her through some of our recent projects, answered her questions, and let her sit in on our creative sessions and a training session with a client. Ashley and Caraline even gave her some advice on degree programs she might want to look into. Thankfully, we didn’t bore her! It was fun to have her shadow us for a day, and we wish her well as she continues looking into design as a career path.
Bella’s brother, Brock, interns with us and is currently working on a video project that we’ll reveal soon. We also work with Bella’s and Brock’s dad, Chip Ferlaak, since he operates Macatawa Legends Golf & Country Club, which is a client of ours. I wonder: Which Ferlaak we’ll see in our studio next?
Brian Bosgraaf of Cottage Home stopped by Black Lake Studio today with some of the first copies of Life on the Lakeshore, the coffee table book we created together. After all the work that both of our teams put into producing the book, it’s incredibly exciting to finally see it in print! We’re proud to have it on display in our studio, and Brian was even gracious enough to give each of us a personal copy! Thanks, Brian!
Cottage Home specializes in building custom private beach homes on Lake Michigan. Last fall, Brian, Stephanie, and Jeremy, leaders at Cottage Home, met with us to start brainstorming how to create a book that would tell the stories of Cottage Home’s clients, paint a vivid picture of the lakeshore lifestyle, and be intriguing and helpful to everyone from prospective clients to seasoned lakeshore enthusiasts. After weeks of brainstorming, storytelling, interviewing clients and staff, designing, writing, editing, and making final changes, we sent the files off to Color House Graphics for printing. Now we’re all very pleased with what came back!
Here’s the text from the back cover of Life on the Lakeshore. Keep an eye out for copies in local West Michigan bookstores!
Every Cottage Has a Story
Nowhere in the world is quite like the Lake Michigan coastline. There’s a texture and rhythm to life on the freshwater lakeshore that is utterly unique, and the jewels of the coastline are its cottages. These homes are extraordinary portals to the richness and beauty of the Big Lake. But how do families come to own a Lake Michigan cottage? This book tells their tales and invites you to begin your own lakeshore story.