The Matchstic team, from left, Christina Ketmayura, Brian Nelson, Craig Johnson and Mackenzie Brookshire.
The Matchstic team, from left, Christina Ketmayura, Brian Nelson, Craig Johnson and Mackenzie Brookshire.

By Clare S. Richie

Now in its sixth year, Matchstic’s On the House initiative helps deserving nonprofits develop a strong brand to make a bigger impact. Guided by the principle of “giving back to the city they love,” Matchstic – an Atlanta brand identity house located in Grant Park – rallies around a nonprofit to give brand strategy, message, print pieces, and website design free of charge.

“Nonprofits are the real heroes on the front lines – providing shelter, healing women in crisis – we want to help using our unique skill set,” said Blake Howard, co-founder and creative director of Matchstic and leader of Atlanta’s Creative Mornings lecture series.

Rather than do piecemeal pro bono work, On the House is “one big yes.” Matchstic treats selected nonprofits as paying clients and teams up with partners like Courtney Miller for web development and Claxton Printing to provide a full suite of products.

Since 2009, Matchstic On the House has served City Church Eastside, Swift School, Atlanta Mission, Bearings Bike Shop, Day League, and most recently WonderRoot.

New branding created by Matchtic for nonprofit arts group, WonderRoot.

Matchstic began working with WonderRoot, Atlanta’s leading nonprofit for arts and community empowerment, in spring 2014. This was a time of tremendous growth for the nonprofit with the addition of the WonderRoot Center for Arts & Social Change. A former school, the center will house private studio space, a visual arts gallery, performance venue, educational spaces, and a series of production facilities for artists.

To understand the community’s perception of WonderRoot, Matchstic conducted a brand audit that included stakeholder interviews and qualitative research. Using that input while working alongside WonderRoot’s leadership, the team developed a comprehensive brand strategy for operations, communications and organizational growth.

“We gave them an updated look that would resonate with artists,” said Mackenzie Brookshire, graphic designer at Matchstic. “We created a new font, “WonderType,” with letters in four different styles – each with unique personality.”

They also created custom colors, website and and illustrations to represent the new brand.

“With Matchstic’s partnership, we have a brand that positions us to reach Atlanta’s creative community and bring positive social change,” said Chris Appleton, co-founder and executive director of WonderRoot.

Previous On the House nonprofit participants were equally thrilled with their results. In 2011, Matchstic chose Atlanta Mission (Atlanta Union Mission at the time) because it was a “sleeping giant in the community with a dated brand and a new CEO,” said Howard.

A new logo, scene above, was part of the rebranding of the Atlanta Mission, which helps the homeless.

Atlanta Mission’s yearlong project resulted in a new name, new logo (lamppost to lantern), collateral materials (letterhead, brochure, signage), updated website, newsletter template and more.

“The new logo perfectly represented the organization’s desire to increase our outreach into the community,” shared Jim Reese, Atlanta Mission President/CEO. “A portable lantern could be carried into the streets, under the bridges or anywhere people need assistance. The branding work done by Matchstic, truly was a fire starter for us moving forward as an organization and driving our work to end homelessness.”

 For the 16 Matchstic team members, On the House transcends work. They become personally involved with their pro bono clients. In fact, Howard served on Atlanta Mission Board of Directors for 5 years after the re-brand.

“We could just write a check, but we donate our time and skills to passion projects that align with or chosen by our teams,” reflected Howard.

Follow Matchstic on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram for an announcement this summer about the selection process for the next pro bono nonprofit client.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.