King Boston, now named Embrace Boston, is an organization that seeks to “reimagine what’s possible.” The name change was intentional, meant to highlight the iconic monument the nonprofit brought to Boston and to signal the next phase of its vision: a radically inclusive and equitable Boston where BIPOC thrive, grounded in joy and well-being. The Boston-based racial justice organization plans to dismantle racism and accelerate meaningful change and the monument “The Embrace” is one big step Embrace Boston is taking to remind us all that the lines of segregation in our city and beyond are still deeply etched.
With a mission so strong, came the need for a brand identity that is both recognizable and relevant. Our approach to branding had to generate real value by being intentional and thought-provoking in order to build a network of supporters, activators, and volunteers working towards a common mission.
History has taught us that movements have turned names into actions, causes, and conversations. A strong name can be an opportunity to exhibit beliefs, asks, and expectations. We knew that the initiatives and plans that Embrace Boston had for the Boston community and for the world, would be very impactful. They address issues of equality and social justice therefore their name had to be recognizable and strong. A name that would become synonymous with advancing Boston as it spurs public awareness, community engagement, and thought leadership.
Some challenges we came across were how can we celebrate a legacy through ongoing and meaningful change and how do we honor their achievements while maintaining urgency about the work still to be done. From a strategic perspective, our team's discovery of the new name, “Embrace Boston '' was unveiled from a quote by Coretta Scott King who said “Love is such a powerful force. It’s there for everyone to embrace—that kind of unconditional love for all of humankind.” The new Logo was inspired by the bird's eye view of the monument and a heart. It is a symbol of connecting all people with an “embrace.”
We conducted both primary and secondary research through stakeholder interviews and desktop research. Our findings revealed that there are some harsh disparities between the black and white communities in Boston. The median net worth of Black Bostonians in 2015 was only $8 compared to $247,500 for white Bostonians. Another alarming fact is that the average lifespan for the Back Bay zip code was >90 years while that of the Roxbury zip code was >60.
Following our research, we worked to produce a brand strategy, new logo, and visual/written identities including positioning and messaging documents that would be used in various ways throughout the life of the new brand. In the development of these core brand assets, we kept close to the overall brand truth: Always fight with love. We were looking to connect with EVERYONE- needing to help our audience understand what racial equity looks like. Pitch materials were developed to catch attention in a concise way, and most importantly, as a foundational element for future opportunities.
To develop a digital home for the new brand, came the need for a new website for the overall organization that would serve as a hub for information, donations, news, and events. We also helped the nonprofit develop a new microsite to promote its Embrace Ideas Festival, an annual week-long celebration of ideas. Grounded in arts, culture, and public scholarship, the festival was designed to bring together local, state, and national leaders to amplify anti-racism and promote equality throughout Boston.
The creation of a memorial tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King started with a $1 million donation from local entrepreneur, Paul English. Our role in this project was to develop the brand and supporting materials to increase awareness and gain public interest. Since then, the project has received $10 million in funding from private donations.
On January 13, 2023, the world welcomed The Embrace monument in America’s oldest public park, the Boston Common, gaining national recognition. During its unveiling, viewers both virtually and in person got to hear from many influential people, including the King Family. The 22-foot tall bronze monument will withstand the test of time as a public centerpiece inspiring visitors to reflect on the Kings’ social justice values and consider how we can contribute to realizing an equitable and fair society. The unveiling was featured in many news outlets such as WGBH, The Boston Herald, The Denver Post, CNN, The New York Times, CBS Sunday Morning, and many more.
The dedication of Embrace Boston will not stop after the unveiling of “The Embrace.” They are behind the construction of King Center in Nubian Square, the geographic heart of Boston’s Black community. It is intended to be a museum, events space, small-business incubator, and research hub dedicated to racial and social justice.
The opportunity to build The Embrace brand was not one we took lightly. We are so appreciative and proud to be part of such a significant moment in Boston’s history and to contribute our expertise to a monument that embodies the values we hope to uphold.