Case Study – Transforming a Community


In 2010 something of a revolution in our local technology community commenced. Two organizations that seemed to be duplicating effort while being weighed down by overly complex governance and ever-changing leadership embarked on a restructuring that would eventually lead to a merger and a new, lean, effective organization.

To say that a brand transformation was also required is something of an understatement. The names ‘Okanagan Science Technology and Enterprise Council’ and ‘Okanagan Research and Innovation Centre’ neither rolled off the tongue, nor had appeal with young technology entrepreneurs in a University city.

The Beginnings

As a rule, rt Strategy does not look for, or respond to, open RFPs (i.e. those that are issued publicly and to which any company may respond). We find that it is simply not an efficient approach to business development. There is, of course, an exception to every rule and when the newly named Accelerate Okanagan began the search for an agency to put a brand to their new name we liked our chances – for a few reasons: (i) our team has a strong pedigree in the technology sector (ii) we have strong passion for building community and (iii) we had contributed to the renaming of the organisation.

rt Strategy was first placed on a shortlist of 6 from the 30+ respondents and we were thrilled to be selected from that shortlist and become Accelerate Okanagan’s agency of record..

Exploring the Brand

The first deliverable was a basic visual identity to include logo, logo variants, colour palette and typographic guidelines. But before work on this could begin, an exploration of vision, mission, values and target markets was required. Some of these elements had been addressed during the merger of ORIC and OSTEC to form Accelerate Okanagan. Other elements needed thought and discussion with stakeholders. After some sharp decision making and plenty of shaking out of the ‘nice but unnecessary’ a focused set of parameters and personas were created for the new brand and a simple, 3-word tagline of Entrepreneurs – Technology – Community was agreed.

Logo, Colour Palate & Typography

The development of the Accelerate Okanagan logo saw 6 initial internal concepts pared down to 3 designs for presentation to a very happy client. ‘We have a problem‘, we were told. ‘You’ve given us three very strong designs, any one of which we could run with. If you’d brought just one of these, with two mediocre designs, this would be a lot easier’. We like causing such problems.

After a couple of rounds of revisions and some exploration of how initial implementations of the different logos may look, a ‘winner’ was selected.

The abstract shape for Accelerate Okanagan’s icon is inspired by traces on a circuit board with each circle representing a company or individual in a connected community. The overall shape has elements of a compass with four points, reflecting an organisation’s that represents the North, South and Central Okanagan, as well as having connections West to provincial partners in Vancouver and Victoria and East to federal partners in Ottawa.

A vibrant colour palate was developed to set the tone for the development of sub-brands that were to follow.

Typography that gave a clean-cut, fresh, modern feel with a nod towards technology was chosen.

FS Sinclair is a typeface that is characterised by its designers as ‘Technical type; Inventive, with a geeky character’. Lato is a font that brings a fresh, light and airy feel to the body of designs, while having complementary heavy weights that allow the viewer’s / reader’s eye to be drawn to headlines. A serif font for use in lengthy written documents and a monospaced font for use in footers at small sizes were also specified.

The Sub-Brands

Following the development of the main Accelerate Okanagan brand, and in parallel with its roll-out, a number of sub-brands for various programs and facilities were created. Each of these incorporate a visual representation of initials using an adapted version of Morse Code (circles for dots, horizontal lines for dashes, elongated v’s to separate multiple dashes and inverted elongated v’s for spaces between letters).

Sub brands were created for:

  • The Venture Acceleration Program – an in-depth mentoring, coaching and general incubation program for start-up and early stage technology companies;
  • The KIC:Start Program – an entry level program for technology entrepreneurs and related service providers;
  • The Kelowna Innovation Centre – the ‘incubator’ building operated by Accelerate Okanagan;
  • The Jump:Start Challenge – an investor ready pitch competition.

The Brand Roll-Out

Over the course of 2011 worked with Accelerate Okanagan to roll out dozens of implementations of their new brand and sub-brands. These varied in scope from a new website incorporating community features such as Job Board, Company Directory and Event Calendar to pens, mugs and name tags!


rt Strategy has a strong pedigree in event management and promotion. Accelerate Okanagan took advantage of this experience in asking us to plan and manage their ‘official launch’ event in November 2011 as well as their end-of-year holiday party – which took a real pivot. See Opening the Doors to Accelerate Okanagan and Accelerate Okanagan New Year Kick Off 2012.

Portfolio Links

See the following portfolio links for examples:
Accelerate Okanagan – Brand Development
Kelowna Innovation Centre Sub-Brand
Kelowna Innovation Centre Signage
KIC:Start Sub-BrandVenture Acceleration Program Sub-Brand
Jump Start Challenge Sub-Brand
Jump Start Challenge Promotion
Accelerate Okanagan – Email Templates
Accelerate Okanagan – MerchandiseAccelerate Okanagan – Name Tags
Accelerate Okanagan – Podium Signage
Accelerate Okanagan – Social Media Graphics
Accelerate Okanagan – Stationery
Accelerate Okanagan – Redirect Pages