Housing Opportunities Commission
Evolution of an Affordable Housing Organization
Client: Housing Opportunities Commission of Montgomery County
Goals: Generate awareness and positive perceptions of HOC and its programs, and showcase HOC’s thought leadership around affordable housing and solving generational poverty.
Results: A cohesive and recognizable brand that communicated HOC’s forward-thinking approach, coupled with a successful launch event for stakeholders, partners and public officials.
With a change in leadership and vision at the Housing Opportunities Commission (HOC) of Montgomery County, a new brand was needed to establish a positive perception for the fifty-year old non-profit organization that communicated energy, commitment, efficiency, and effectiveness. The organization provides affordable housing and supportive services to low- and moderate-income households with three primary lines of business: public housing, mortgage financing, and low-income housing development.
The renewed focus of the organization was to deliver leading-edge housing programs that seek to end generational poverty by taking an innovative private-sector approach to solve housing challenges in one of the most expensive counties in the nation. This was more than just rebranding the organization; it was an entirely new philosophy of developing affordable housing that rivals the experience of any high-end, market-rate housing community.
HOC created a series of initiatives that offer a complete life cycle of services for residents, from rental and homeownership housing assistance to credit counseling and scholarships. HOC needed to communicate its new mandate and programs under a single, cohesive brand.
Sagesse worked in tandem with the new executive director and staff to develop the organization brand and assist in launching various initiatives. This was an intensive process to create an image that helped tell the organization’s story with a focus on housing and sustainability, while still being visually engaging and unique.
The logo design process began with a creative design brief where initial concepts soon followed. From there, we presented a series of logo approaches and refined the concepts with the team until a final design was agreed upon and presented with an accompanying style and use guide.
One of HOC’s most significant initiatives was developing a state-of-the art online system to manage housing programs that allow residents the ability to sign up for housing assistance; streamlining housing information and client data for real-time accessibility and program-matching. No more opening and closing of housing waiting lists, something that has been a mainstay in housing assistance programs throughout the country. Dubbed Housing Path , Sagesse worked with HOC to develop a supporting brand for the program and strategically launched it to key stakeholders, public officials, and others.
The new HOC brand identity was deployed across all marketing and communications materials, including staff uniforms, agency vehicles, and property signage.
Sagesse helped develop the name and integrated branding for the new HOC Housing Path program and assisted in producing the launch event. We developed a series of custom-designed graphics and collateral materials, and managed all media outreach to promote the new online tool. We also developed a social media strategy designed to reach beyond their existing customers that included a paid content amplification plan.
In an effort to strengthen the HOC staff’s skills with managing in-house media relations, we conducted a media training that included preparation of key messages, interview techniques, and a taped mock-interview with a former news reporter.
These efforts laid the foundation for building positive brand awareness and perception changes of HOC, supported by their professional, market-driven, and comprehensive approach to affordable housing. The Housing Path online product has been recognized as an important tool in creating a more streamlined system to help those with housing needs.
Our media relations strategy and outreach to targeted industry publications resulted in several story pitch ideas, profile stories, by-line articles, and industry awards.
“Montgomery County Housing Application Moves Online”, The Washington Post
“Affordable Housing Applications Move Online”, Bethesda Magazine
“Housing Applicants Go Digital”, BisNow
“Big Demand for Affordable Housing in Montgomery County”, Montgomery County Media
“Residents can now apply for housing assistance online”, Montgomery County Media
“After the Cuts: How a “For-Profit” Approach is Reinvigorating Our Mission”, Journal of Housing & Community Development