Polco & NRC

Polco is a civic engagement platform that allows community leaders to seek input and feedback from the residents they serve. The National Research Center is the leading research and evaluation firm for the public sector. The two leaders in the GovTech industry joined forces around a thoughtful yet simple idea: that all voices should be heard.

After Polco and NRC merged, the joint company approached Focus Lab to help communicate the power of their combined strengths, while also maintaining separate identities. Our goal was to develop two brands that would live harmoniously together.

We helped Polco and the National Research Center create harmonious yet separate identities following their merger.

Polco and NRC came together with a collective wisdom to serve clients of the GovTech industry for the good of all. Polco’s agile platform and real-time analytics married with NRC’s gold standard in public opinion research solved for our apathetic political climate by building a bridge of communication between cities and organizations and the verified public of those communities.

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Our goal was to seamlessly unite Polco and the National Research Center for new and existing customers. Messaging for the new joint company needed to retain equity, speak to benefits, and most importantly, highlight the singular value they offer when combined.

The merger of two companies with individual strengths and aligned missions is something to celebrate! We aimed to generate excitement and momentum surrounding Polco and NRC.

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Tackling two identities at once presents a challenge. First, we explored the more subtle approach of a “visual refresh.” We tweaked existing marks to align visually but without making them unrecognizable from their previous identities.

However, the merger of Polco and NRC posed an ideal time for a more dramatic rebrand. We wanted to rethink both logos from the ground up, focusing on the long term and what it could represent in a more “divergent rebrand.”

We explored a brand refresh for the joint company before pivoting to a more dramatic rebrand to capitalize on the exciting momentum of their newly combined strengths.

For Polco, we’d fallen in love with “representing every voice” from our Strategy phase and pushed that forward visually with quotation marks.

The National Research Center gives communities the confidence to enact a plan by filling in the gaps through data and analysis. An abstracted N feels very strong and institutional, while the central hole highlights the unknown that NRC fills in with research.

The final mark for Polco combines those quotation marks with a compass, representing communities guiding their future. One of the original intentions behind the name Polco was "Policy Compass,” so it felt great to tie in their history visually.

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Polco and NRC help decision-makers hear all the voices of their community; a unique and powerful differentiator. We needed a colorful system to represent the diversity of the communities Polco and NRC serve.

Not only are the quotes different shapes, they are also different colors, bringing an added layer of richness to the visual language.

Framing the enlarged quote marks in squares abstractly suggests a quilt, and just like a quilt, Polco weaves together the opinions of a community in a beautiful fabric of data and analysis.

Combining the quotes in a larger system creates a vibrant and fun pattern. It feels youthful, hopeful, diverse, and interesting. The quarter circles and additional angles are abstract representations of pie charts or splines.

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The compass from Polco's logo was carried throughout the system in layouts: text is aligned with the North, South, East, and West areas of the page. This creates a purposeful yet dynamic layout to collateral.

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After thorough research into the joint company's audience and value, we had a strong foundational understanding to bring to interactive design. For this client, we designed Polco's homepage to help further establish brand elements and execution for the Polco and NRC teams going forward.

Polco's primary audience is City Managers, so we were able to design the homepage with them in mind. City Managers are a close community, often connecting at industry conferences, so highlighting other cities happily utilizing Polco was important. Mapping the 500+ cities using Polco would look visually cluttered, so we created a simplified map and highlighted select case studies. The navigation could be simplified to "For Communities" and "For Residents" along with links to log in or sign up.

By establishing the positioning statement and customer early on, we were able to design the best interactive solution for our client's needs.

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You guys really stepped it up. I appreciate that you let us shift that gear [from refresh to rebrand]. You really went with it and made some really great stuff.

Sonya Wytinck, COO, Polco/NRC
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