NYC was heavily impacted by the global pandemic, economic downturn and social unrest. Erosion of the tax base, catastrophic downturn in business revenues and a population migration resulted in one of the World’s Great Cities facing unprecedented challenges. Yet while the city was already working toward solutions, the media was quick to paint a picture of a city on the brink ©.
Combo was brought on at the earliest stages of the organization, when NY Forever was little more than a napkin idea and a handful of committed and powerful business leaders in the city. Combo’s first task was to help define what role NY Forever could play in its goal to be a catalyst of the city’s rehabilitation. While the natural inclination is often to tackle everything, Combo strategists quickly realized that NYC had many organizations already doing great work; what was missing was the ability of these organizations to amplify their work, draw in donations and motivate civic engagement on a citywide level. These three areas thus became the core foundations for what NY Forever would be built on.
The Combo team knew from the outset that to be successful, NY Forever had to feel born of the city as well as created for the city. Combo designers (all native New Yorkers) created a system that offered enormous flexibility to ensure that the brand in all its components was usable for everyone, by everyone.
NY Forever was never a brand that would stand alone. Given its role as a bridge between donors and organizations most in need, as well as the need to motivate civic engagement, the brand needed to serve as a connector and not an end point. The strategic and design approach therefore had to recognize that the presence of NY Forever would need to flex from messenger role to a sub-brand amplifier of others. One example Combo developed was a summer camp partnership with the NYC YMCA focused on providing scholarships to 500 NYC youth.