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National Employment Law Project

Policy Action for a Just & Inclusive Economy Built on Worker Power

Founded in 1969, The National Employment Law Project (NELP) is a recognized leader building a just and inclusive economy where all workers have expansive rights and thrive with good jobs. Working with local, state, and national partners, NELP advances its mission through research, legal and policy solutions, coalitions, and capacity building. In 2016, NELP initiated a process to authentically become an anti-racist organization and more intentional in centering Black and immigrant workers in its goals and outcomes. 6 years later, with a new vision, new strategic plan, and a newly elevated Executive Director, NELP asked Constructive to help them navigate a transition from a wonky research and technical assistance nonprofit into a catalyst for policy action that builds worker power and centers on racial justice.

Brand Research

Understanding NELP’s Past & Present to Authentically Lean into its Future

After 5 years of restructuring to diversify its team and shift programmatic strategy, NELP had become a very different nonprofit than it was a decade earlier. Under Rebecca Dixon’s leadership, NELP’s traditional approach of grasstops advocacy was replaced with a bold, new vision to build Black, immigrant worker power and seed broad, structural change. Activating this vision required transforming a brand known for research, technical assistance, and policy expertise into one also proactively leading new coalitions that unite stakeholders with different worldviews. To align NELP’s brand with its new strategic plan, we dived into their history to connect with the organization’s roots, surveyed staff and external stakeholders to surface current perceptions of NELP’s and aspirations for its future, and explored stakeholders’ hopes, concerns, needs, and motivations. After months of active listening and learning, our strategy team synthesized our findings and identified NELP’s key opportunities and challenges to transforming its brand.

Brand Assessment

How to Unite Racial Justice, Worker Power & Policies That Seed Systemic Change 

When a nonprofit’s strategic plan suggests significant changes to its culture, there’s always a risk that activating it across the organization can feel inauthentic. Through two months of work with NELP’s leadership, equity team, work quality team, and communications team, we identified a key tension to navigate and bridge the brand’s authentic past and its aspirational future. NELP was respected for its research-driven policy advocacy and technical assistance. Now, a nonprofit who often took a “colorblind” approach to engaging grasstops stakeholders on creating an equitable economy would more explicitly move racial justice and gender equality to the forefront of the conversation. While NELP’s mission to increase worker power had long included these issues, the question was how to hold together coalition partners who valued NELP’s objective lens and expertise while asserting a more proactive position centered on identity issues that newer and younger allies saw as a defining issue for building an inclusive economy.

Brand Workshops & Strategy

Defining the Leadership Values Needed to Build Diverse Coalitions

Three days of strategy workshops brought together NELP’s team and provided an open space for dialogue to navigate challenging topics and generational shifts. Through a range of exercises, we explored brand strengths, weaknesses, and key differentiators. We created clear value propositions for NELP’s workstreams, such as research expert and policy advocate. We articulated six core brand values: Dignity, Voice, Justice, Interconnectedness, Abundance, and Leadership. And to help the “new NELP” leverage its authentic past and lead with authenticity and credibility needed to build new coalitions of diverse partners, we asked their team to reflect what leadership means to them each individually, and then be intentional about exactly how this essential core value would show up through their brand.

Workshops & Strategy

Activating Racial Justice in the Brand & Meeting Audiences Where They Are

A top priority in activating their strategic plan was creating a shared understanding on essential questions of how racial justice shows up in NELP’s brand with integrity and authenticity. However, expressing this ideas is but half of the equation. Leadership also requires a brand to be persuasive­— particularly when the strategy calls for broad-based coalition building. To increase our team’s expertise and focus on this key dynamic, Constructive engaged racial & economic justice advocate Kheira Issaoui-Mansouri to join our strategy team as a facilitator. Together, we explored how racial justice showed up for NELP now and how they envisioned it in 10 years. Then, to connect with what matters to audiences, we charted empathy maps that painted a clear picture of how NELP meets the different needs of grassroots and grasstops stakeholders alike.

Brand Messaging

Defining NELP Within Its Impact Ecosystem 

NELP’s new Brand Messaging Framework gives voice to their mission to advance racial and economic justice as interdependent, mutually reinforcing necessities. While the work is complex, the vision is simple—the fulfillment of a promise that most Americans believe in deeply: a country of equal opportunity. To center this national value and connect it to NELP’s mission, we crafted brand messaging that makes clear that the good-jobs economy must inherently be founded on racial and economic justice. NELP’s new platform uses narrative asset framing to celebrate what every worker deserves and help audiences see a more fair America that delivers it. The result is an uplifting message that position NELP as uniquely qualified to lead the way to a just and inclusive economy by bringing the moral clarity and technical expertise needed to transform systems and build a better future for all workers.

Visual Identity Design

A Bold Brand Identity Uniting Authentic Imagery & Research Insights

As the saying goes, “design is strategy made visible,“ and designing how NELP would express itself visually was our opportunity to define how the brand would show up in the world to execute their strategic plan.  We refreshed NELP’s institutional, boxy red logo with a lean red logotype that maintains continuity for audiences that knew them well, while signaling a more collaborative and less top-down organization. And in designing NELP’s design system, we lead with three essential priorities for how they communicate visually. Authentic imagery celebrates worker power, proudly expressed in the workplace and mobilization. A new, robust type system supports the dual needs of delivering NELP’s well-known nuanced, long-form research and speaking boldly in attention-grabbing settings. And a new color system represents the diversity of the communities that NELP stands with, while also providing a rich palette that makes NELP’s extensive data visualizations both vibrant and accessible

Publications Design System

Policy Communications Design to Drive Systems Change

While NELP’s new strategy called for increased engagement at the grassroots level, knowledge mobilization and policy advocacy are very much their trademark. NELP’s influential research on interconnected economic, business, and labor issues is sought after by policymakers and nonprofit leaders—and plays a primary role in designing the bold policies and creating the widespread systems change needed to build a just and inclusive economy that delivers for workers and advances racial justice. We redesigned NELP’s briefs, reports and toolkits, creating an editorially rich environment to deliver vital research insights that point the way forward and actionable solutions to implement the necessary change. Cover design options give NELP the flexibility to set a more rational or emotional tone for their knowledge products to engage audiences differently. And a robust template system of flexible page grids, type styles, and data visualization makes it easy for NELP’s team to produce publications as visually impressive as the experts who create them.

Marketing Communications Design

Marketing Communications to Expand NELP's Visibility, Reach, and Impact.

NELP’s communications strategy is multi-faceted—reflecting the diversity of their grassroots and grasstops audiences, the array of consistent messages and actions to drive bold systems change, and the complexity of the work needed to achieve it. To increase NELP’s visibility, reach, and influence, we designed a digital marketing toolkit and suite of design assets that give NELP’s team the tools they need to sustain ongoing engagement with all audiences across their social media platforms—elevating important news and insights about advancing the movement, mobilizing knowledge by announcing new NELP research, and building coalitions by inviting audiences to events.

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