Authenticity-Driven Creative Communications



YWCA of Greater Portland

During 2009 the YWCA of Greater Portland refocused their critical mission in the community, and chose HELSINQI as their partner to refocus the message. We worked closely with them to create a strategic messaging plan that included unveiling their redesigned "4-in-1" mission, and an ambitious campaign of client stories and photographs called Lives Changed.

Our work encompassed strategy, planning, writing, and design of revitalized brand identity, advertising, print collateral and posters, video consultation, dozens of hours of client interviews, client story writing, photo production, PR consultation, digital communications consultation, and more.

As enthusiastic Presenting Sponsors of their 18th Annual Leadership Luncheon, we provided creative messaging for the event, including our innovative Fortune Teller, a fun and interactive informational print piece.

In addition to external communications, we focused on internal communications to help the new brand messaging take hold among the board and staff. This included special collateral, presentations, and a comprehensive brand guide.

We are honored to have helped this venerable organization fulfill its mission in service to the community — and to have the opportunity to work with the dedicated people who make it happen.

Note: we did not do any work on the YWCA website.

Discovery & Foundation

We began by going deep to really understand the organization, interviewing management, staff, board members, clients, and talking to the community. We sleuthed after not just its stated mission and values, but its history, its current operational and communications realities, and the future it seeks to live into.

Strategy & Concept

From that foundation we moved to strategy and concept, working with the YWCA to define the messaging objectives, forms, and channels. Two anchors of this effort were the Lives Changed campaign and the Universe Graphic.


Universe Graphic

The swift, visionary changes enacted in 2009 had been so radical that the internal stakeholders themselves needed a direct and lucid way to internalize the re-visioned form and purpose. We devised a visualization graphic to accomplish that.

Quickly adopted by staff as the YWCA’s “Universe of Service,” this instrument diagrams the dynamic interrelation of the organization's form — its newly defined 4 Integrated Service Areas — with its purpose: to guide clients through 3 Stages of Empowerment. It maps that field with client success stories chosen from our Lives Changed campaign work.

In our presentations of the “Universe” to executive committees, staff, and the Executive Board, people repeatedly told us that now they “finally, really understand” the mission and purpose of the organization. We couldn’t have asked for better affirmation.

Brand ID

YWCA logo


While maintaining the immediately recognizable essentials of the national YWCA brand, the logo needed a warmer accent for Portland. We therefore designed a local version, now appearing on all visual communications.


Similarly, it was crucial to verbally express the true what & why of the re-visioned Portland YWCA, for which we wrote a multi-tier descriptor for various applications.

The Lives Changed Campaign

YWCA Lives Changed campaign by HELSINQI

The YWCA knew they wanted a messaging campaign based on the actual success stories of their clients, so we developed the Lives Changed campaign. conducted dozens of hours of client interviews, subsequently combing through the transcripts for articulate expressions of client experience and YWCA mission, and wrote extensive client stories. Out of this work we designed a format featuring the clients’ own words and warm, authentic color photography.

The Lives Changed campaign provided the conceptual and content anchor for the Posters, much of the Collateral, and the Ads.

YWCA Lives Changed video by Carol Koon

Lives Changed Video

Additionally, we helped shape the Lives Changed short video produced by Carol Koon, stewarding message consistency and editing the script.



We produced a series of five Posters drawn from the Lives Changed campaign: one for each of the 4 Integrated Service Areas, and one overall message.

YWCA Youth Poster by HELSINQI YWCA Transition Poster by HELSINQI YWCA DV Poster by HELSINQI YWCA Senior Poster by HELSINQI YWCA Overall Poster by HELSINQI

Fortune Teller

YWCA Fortune Teller

You want your messaging to reach people on as many levels as possible, not just visually and verbally. And budget should never be an excuse. We needed a simple, emotionally direct tool to swiftly tell the story of the new, integrated purpose of the Portland YWCA, characterized by unity in the diversity of 4 Integrated Service Areas.

We hit on the idea of those paper "fortune tellers" we all remember from grade school. We turned them into a fun and engaging way to tell a serious story, that playfully opens people up by putting them into a tactile, kid-like emotional space. These popular pieces were distributed at the Annual Luncheon in April, and are now included in outreach packets.


The essential print piece HELSINQI produced is the overall organization trifold brochure. This again tells the 4-part unity-in-diversity story, based on the Lives Changed campaign. We also did a set of 4 one-page info sheets, one for each of the 4 Integrated Service Areas.

YWCA Trifold YWCA Youth Brochure by HELSINQI YWCA Transitional Brochure by HELSINQI YWCA DV Brochure by HELSINQI YWCA Senior Brochure by HELSINQI
YWCA Business Card YWCA Presentation Folder

Plus we did a snazzy new Presentation Folder (with a bit of a retro look, we must say), and new business cards.


Media sponsors Portland Business Journal, 1859 Magazine and Lamar (for TriMet buses) gave the YWCA space for print and outdoor ads, which we designed, drawing again on the Lives Changed campaign.

YWCA Overall ad for 1859 by HELSINQI YWCA Transition ad for 1859 by HELSINQI YWCA DV ad for 1859 by HELSINQI YWCA Senior ad for 1859 by HELSINQI YWCA Youth ad for Lamar/Tri-Met buses by HELSINQI


Every year in April the YWCA of Greater Portland puts on its Annual Leadership Luncheon. At the 18th annual on April 20, 2010, we unveiled the Lives Changed campaign, bringing out our large-format posters, a Lives Changed slideshow, the paper Fortune Tellers, and luncheon-specific collateral including the program book and pre-event notices and invites.

YWCA 2010 Luncheon invite by HELSINQI YWCA 2010 Luncheon program book by HELSINQI YWCA 2010 Luncheon bookmark by HELSINQI

Most importantly, we helped guide the messaging leading up to and during the Luncheon. Besides maintaining consistency, we brought our Integrity Marketing principles to bear and set the town for a message based not on guilt — which is, frankly, the core play for many non-profits — but on inspiration.

At 1300 luncheoneers, the turnout for the 18th Annual was a record-breaker!


We were very lucky to be able to work with a truly dedicated team from the YWCA of Greater Portland:

  • Executive Director Eric Brown
  • Marketing Director Kelly Blunt
  • Board Member Peggy Kern
  • Development Director Sharon Brabenac

Special thanks to all the program directors, staff, Executive Board, and clients who gave us such key input.

We are also grateful to hill2 Executive Coaching & Consulting, who connected us with the YWCA. hill2 were the consultants on the mission refocus in 2009, and HELSINQI had actually participated behind the scenes, designing didactic materials to help with that project. When the time came to develop the new messaging, we already had a deep understanding of the client and their new direction.

Thanks also to Scott Hall at Graphic Arts Center and Carl Perkins at Rhino Digital, who did all the great print work with phenomenal customer service.



Our clients are making the good life genuinely good in industries where style and quality are critical, such as food & drink fine wine gourmet locavore restaurants caterers markets clubs cafes design & home green building interiors furniture fixtures fashion & lifestyle designers clothiers retailers salons art & culture museums galleries theatre books music health & wellness spas yoga massage acupuncture travel & hospitality eco-tourism eco-resorts events & beyond

  • print
  • web
  • video
  • writing
  • editorial
  • websites
  • collateral
  • newsletters
  • labels
  • books
  • catalogs
  • messaging
  • communications
  • design
  • media
  • new media
  • traditional
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  • print