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Protecting Inclusive Democracies

Charles F. Kettering Foundation


With democracies around the world under attack, Charles F. Kettering Foundation recognized its need to evolve and meet the moment to protect and advance democracy. After a comprehensive strategic planning process, Kettering engaged Spitfire to help the nearly 100-year-old foundation reimagine its brand identity, redesign its website and create a communications plan that supported Kettering’s vision for a world of thriving democracies. 

Spitfire kicked off the work by undertaking an extensive rebranding process. This included conducting research to understand Kettering’s existing brand, audiences and communications efforts; a landscape analysis of the democracy space; and an assessment of Kettering’s peers. We synthesized our research to recommend how best to position the organization; highlight its distinctiveness; and make the significant shift representative of its new purpose, approach and perspective. Developing the brand was an engaging exercise that involved staff, leaders and key stakeholders who had valuable insights and a stake in the success of the rebrand. In a series of branding workshops, we explored the organization’s key values and character traits and what visuals would help bring them to life. The final logo design, coined the “Democracy Rising” logo, and brand reflect Kettering’s commitment to bold action and collaboration.  

A new website was also essential to Kettering’s rebrand. Spitfire led a website redesign process to modernize a digital home that represents the energy and engagement Kettering sought for its new identity. As part of the redesign, we partnered with Kettering’s communication team to reimagine the way the organization talks about its work, why the work matters and how it interacts with its audiences, emphasizing the role that individual citizens play in making the promise of democracy real for everyone. 

KFKFLast, we drafted a comprehensive communications plan to support Kettering’s implementation of its new overarching strategic plan. Much of the plan outlined how the foundation can build a culture of communications that will advance Kettering’s efforts to help others build and preserve resilient democratic systems. In addition to outlining SMART objectives, core audiences and key messages, Spitfire identified high-impact communication activities for the foundation to pursue in 2024. 

As part of activating Kettering’s voice in new ways, the foundation decided to launch a podcast and asked Spitfire to help outline a strong promotional plan so that the podcast reaches priority audiences and supports the foundation’s larger partnership efforts. Spitfire partnered with host Alex Lovit, senior program officer and historian, to draft overarching messaging about what the podcast is about and how it is unique from other podcasts about democracy. We also developed a promotion plan that included digital ads and social media promotion to help create a buzz around the podcast at launch. The new podcast launched on Jan. 30, 2024.   

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Communication planning and execution

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