Big Brothers Big Sisters Canada unveils new brand identity, PSA

Who: Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada (BBBS), T1, Immediate Group for production, Bain & Co for research, U.S. agency Barkley.

What: New branding and a PSA designed to re-introduce the 106-year-old organization to Canadians.

The brand identity is based on previous design work done for BBBS America by the U.S. agency Barkley. It is built around a three-lined logo, adapted for Canada, that represents the three key elements in helping a young person forge a path forward: Family, BBBS and the volunteer mentors (“bigs”).

The campaign elements from T1 are its first work with BBBS since being appointed  national AOR in June.

When & Where: The new identity was unveiled today (Sept. 18), timed to coincide with Big Brothers Big Sisters Day. The PSA will live on BBBS’s social channels and will also be pushed out via Shaw Media channels beginning in November.

Why: The focus is on bringing “urgency and impact” to the organization’s message around the importance of mentoring, with a particular emphasis on attracting a new generation of volunteers and donors, says Jody Lundrigan, national vice-president of communications and partnership development with BBBS in Toronto.

“It’s saying to younger millennials and Gen Zs that this is an organization you can be part of to make a real difference in this world,” says Lundrigan. “They want to know they’re making an impact with their time and their money, and that’s 100% the case with Big Brothers Big Sisters.”

Research has shown that young people paired with a mentor such as a Big Brother or Big Sister are more likely to go on to a post-secondary education and have stronger social networks, while the relationships have also been shown to stimulate brain development.

By the numbers: BBBS currently supports an estimated 42,000 young Canadians with a network of 21,000 volunteer mentors. The “bigs” dedicate an estimated 2 million hours of time per year. The cost of supporting a mentor/mentee relationship is $1,767 per year.

While not every BBBS agency maintains a wait list, among those that do there are approximately 15,000 youngsters waiting to be matched with a Big Brother or Big Sister. The shortage of volunteers is particularly acute among young males, and specifically men of colour, says Lundrigan.

How: Young adults 17-24 are the fastest-growing volunteer segment for BBBS says Lundrigan, so the video was created with a goal of reaching that particular demographic.

The 90-second PSA blends live-action and animation, and features a series of quick-cuts of actual Big Brothers and Sisters interacting with each other. It is soundtracked by the song “All I Need” from Canadian hip-hop star Shad.

The spot has a decidedly contemporary feel to it that Lundrigan says is by design. “We really want to leave this Leave it to Beaver, clean-cut, picture-perfect image behind,” she says. “We need real human beings with real life experiences to join this organization because those are the kids that are in our program. You don’t need anything special to be a mentor, you just have to be you.”

And we quote: “We’re trying to build a mentoring movement to get people to understand that this is an essential service in people’s lives, and it’s something great and fun that people want to be part of.” — Jody Lundrigan, national vice-president of communications and partnership development, Big Brothers Big Sisters Canada



Chris Powell