Becoming Humentum With Elizabeth Walsh

In the last few months, four of Independent Sector’s members announced rebranding of their organizations. One such announcement came from InsideNGO, which will be merging with two organizations also serving the international development community, then operating under the new name, Humentum later this fall. To share more about their merger and brand refresh, and help us understand what a spate of rebrands might signal for the sector at large, we spoke with InsideNGO Director of Communications and Marketing, Elizabeth Walsh.

JB: Most basically, why rebrand?

Elizabeth Walsh, Director, Communications and Marketing, InsideNGO

EW: In our case, with the merger of three separate, successful organizations—InsideNGO, LINGOs, and Mango—we chose to move forward under a new name, Humentum, to underscore that we are a new organization with a broader mission, as opposed to one organization keeping its name and absorbing the other two. This name captures the importance of people in advancing development and the idea of moving social change forward (humanity + momentum = Humentum).

JB: When and where did the rebrand process begin? Did any external or internal factors expedite or delay the process?

EW: We are just at the beginning of this process, at least externally. Our merger was announced in mid-July, so there was a lot of activity within the organization leading up to the announcement, including the naming process itself. We’re beginning our roll-out now, and will be transitioning from the three separate former logos to the new Humentum logo over the coming months—refreshing our website, social media channels, and collateral materials—as well as refining our messaging. One important part of this is ensuring that our team has the opportunity to ‘bring to life’ the new brand in their work and interactions.

JB: Do you think the season of rebranding is a trend unique to DC-based groups? What, if anything, do you think a rebrand might signal for the broader sector we work in?

EW: This isn’t unique to DC-based groups at all. The organization formerly known as International Development Exchange (IDEX), based in California, rebranded itself earlier this year as Thousand Currents. And North Carolina-based Stop Hunger Now rebranded this year to become Rise Against Hunger.

As a communications and marketing person, I think organizations in our sector mostly have the same sort of reasons for rebranding as private sector or commercial enterprises do, one of which is that we want to ensure that we stay relevant to our constituencies. This actually isn’t our first rebrand—InsideNGO was founded 40 years ago as the Association of Private Voluntary Organizations Financial Managers (APVOFM) and a sister organization, the Personnel Co-op. But by 2008, we were working with practitioners from across all NGO operational areas, beyond just finance and HR, to include IT, legal services, business development professionals and more. And so we became InsideNGO. We had outgrown that first identity and needed a name that better reflected what we did—that we were “inside” the NGO community, supporting operations professionals. And so, getting back to your question about what does it signal for the sector: we are a complex, evolving sector that is going through perhaps a more intense cycle of change than we have seen in recent years. And this creates opportunities for organizations in our space to evolve so that we can have greater impact in the communities and people we serve.

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Global Topics: IS Member, Organizational Relationships