Columbia Basin Trust

Brand Discovery, Brand Strategy, Collateral, Communication Design, Identity, Logo Development, Marketing Communications

Creating flow for the Columbia Basin Trust: Respecting a legacy treaty, and mapping out a brand new identity for the future of an integral regional organization.


Created with an endowment as a result of the Columbia River Treaty, The Columbia Basin Trust (CBT) manages a complex range of services, programs, initiatives and opportunities, responding to the diverse needs of residents in all of the communities of this region of British Columbia.

As a BC Crown Corporation, and a mandate to always act in service and support of the community, there were large and various numbers of people and governance involved with this project.

With so many varied and broad interests, the challenge was to create clarity around communicating the role of the CBT to their audiences and the general public—visually and in writing. There was a need to simplify the complexity of the organization reflected in messaging, and bring a consistent approach for brand exposure and the role of CBT related to the various agents, partners, initiatives and programs.



On the surface, the identity of the CBT was dated and lacked resonance with the groups it serves and interacts with. However, our first hand research led us to additional insights that allowed us to manage a very broad stakeholder group to strategic alignment.

A tour of areas of the region, in-person interviews with a wide cross section of people including staff, management, board of directors and regional leadership, immersion into CBT activities and a complete brand and identity audit were the first steps. Next, we undertook a series of workshops intended to develop the insights gleaned and alignment around what the CBT stands for, and needs to be at all levels.

The strategic brand work included delivery of a brand essence, brand story, elevator pitch, brand filters/guiding principles and the brand architecture.



There were 12 key insights that developed out of this process. Key amongst these were: An understanding of a concentric circles of interest related to how people see and use the CBT; a need to not focus on overall awareness as much as developing stronger direct relationships; a requirement to develop a brand architecture to simplify communications; that ‘trust’ is much more that a part of the name and really the basis for how the organization was formed and its role in the future well being of the Columbia Basin; and a need to create a new identity to assist with these things, and invigorate the CBT in the areas it operates in.

Our new identity leverages the word “Trust” in the organization’s name to great effect. Rather than play up the mountains and river of the old logo, we shifted focus to what the CBT is and does. Using similar colours with added vibrancy and some additions to the pallet, we were also able to retain some of the brand equity.

We devised a system, based on the brand architecture, to help CBT better communicate the various and complex arrangements they have with their various partnerships, programs and relationships—focusing on the relationship the end-user/audience makes, rather than the complex business and organizational one.

After a successful internal launch to over 300 community leaders at the annual symposium, and approval at committee and board levels, we rolled out the new brand with a complete identity system. This included all stationery, trade show display materials, multimedia presentation and internal staff launch presentation, promotional items, marketing and communications collateral, advertising, ManagedBrand and more.

More Case Studies