Rebranding a Large Nonprofit to Reveal its Heart and Soul

How does an organization capture and communicate the essence of its brand? Learn how we helped Merakey (previously NHS Human Services) more clearly define its vision, approach and culture—then partnered together to bring that essence to life by creating a holistic new branding platform, including a new name, brand story and visual system to unite over 10,000 employees and multiple divisions of the company.


Having opened its first center in Northwest Philadelphia 50 years ago this year, Merakey today operates over 700 locations across multiple states. The organization provides integrated services to over 50,000 individuals and their families annually through its divisions covering behavioral health, intellectual and developmental disabilities, and education and autism. As NHS Human Services, the organization had grown dramatically—both geographically and in the range of solutions it provided—yet faced a major hurdle when it came to communicating its brand and its values to the world.

The organization’s senior leadership partnered with Bailey to address these fundamental issues and strongly reposition itself for the future.

  • Over a period of months, Bailey conducted exhaustive research, workshop sessions, surveys and in-depth interviews with key stakeholders in order to form a clearer understanding of the organization from the inside out. Key questions answered during this stage of the initiative ranged from pragmatic (“What makes us different from other providers?”) to introspective (“What does the company truly stand for?”). The insight we uncovered revealed the core characteristics of the organization—the inextricable essence that distinguishes it from other providers: its holistic, integrated approach to health and its willingness to develop new models of care.
  • Our findings suggested an opportunity to better integrate the various areas of the organization and to unite its employees around a shared vision for the future, including a new name. This dramatic repositioning would help break down internal silos and better clarify and convey the brand story, i.e., Merakey’s unique ability to provide holistic, integrated services and new models of care at speed and at scale, all with passion and compassion for each individual.
  • Bailey embarked on a comprehensive naming initiative, vetting hundreds of possibilities. After weeks of collaborative ideation and iteration, a clear favorite emerged. “Merakey” is inspired by the modern Greek word “Meraki,” meaning to put something of yourself into your work; or to do something with soul, creativity or love. The new branding illustrates the compassion and integrity that underscores everything the company does, while the inclusion of the suffix “key” also positions them as a key to helping individuals and communities unlock doors to their future.
  • In addition to the renaming, Bailey brought the new brand positioning, vision and core messaging to life by creating a brand new visual identity for the organization. The new logo, abstractly formed of interlocking hearts, reinforces the meaning behind the name and speaks to the integrated services Merakey delivers. The new color palette is vibrant and contemporary, and is used to color code the different divisions of the company—which now have a more credible, consistent and united presentation to the communities they serve.

Merakey’s new branding was formally launched in spring 2018. The new brand has helped to unite each division of the organization behind a clear and empowering sense of purpose, and provides a compelling brand story to guide the company—and its 10,000+ employees—forward as it expands its reach into new states across the country, and to new individuals in need.

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