Background- Autism Friendly Spaces (AFS) transforms minds and places to accommodate people with ASD. AFS was founded in 2011 as an LLC. This structure created concerns, however, and the following year the founders called in Counterpoise to help with roles, responsibilities and compensation issues. Initial discussions quickly exposed the need to completely overhaul the business model and strategy.
Challenge- To invent a new non-profit, soup-to-nuts, introduce its revolutionary concept to a tight community of stakeholders and both corporate and institutional giving sectors that had never considered it before. AFS was new, but already starting fresh. They needed everything: structure, product development, processes and procedures, and branding and positioning to enable fundraising and also to market and deliver everything from business seals of approval, to multiple-level professional certification, B2B program delivery and consulting. In addition, AFS had an “ambassador” cartoon character, Ottie, who needed to be re-envisioned along with everything else. Most importantly, all of the branding had to be Autism Friendly!
Solutions- In 2013 Counterpoise helped AFS convert to a 501(c)-3 non-profit organization, revise their products and services, create a train-the-trainer program, and fundamentally change the way they did business. That done, Counterpoise helped them rebrand and reposition to pursue diverse funding and revenue streams. To unite the disparate consumer and business strategies in a cohesive and powerful way they created an institutional look and feel, and then illustrated Ottie with a lot of personality. Instead of stars for credentials or seals of approval, AFS would have keys, which Ottie would carry and bestow to places that had been “unlocked” for people with ASD. The new AFS brand was thus both completely professional and very personal. AFS is now poised to capture substantial programming revenues, approach funders and be a force for advocacy.