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Posted November 20, 2008

Finding Chicago Wilderness

For over a decade, the meticulously restored and protected wilderness areas of the Chicago region have remained something of a well-kept secret. Sure, there are those suburbanites lucky enough to live next door to a prairie, savannah, or forest preserve, but many others (especially inside the city limits) find the concept of “chicago” + “wilderness” hard to fathom. Besides, living next to a prairie doesn’t exactly guarantee appreciation. We’re willing to bet there are many neighbors around those preserves who wouldn’t mind seeing the “weeds” cleared out in favor of turf grass.

So it would probably come as an even greater surprise to millions of folks living within 100 miles the Loop that there is a very large and well-respected organization guiding the restoration and management of these amazing nature reserves. That would be Chicago Wilderness, an alliance of over 230 member organizations throughout northeast Illinois, southern Wisconsin, northern Indiana, and southwest Michigan. The CW alliance is now 12 years old, but they’ve somehow managed to remain an even greater secret than the 360,000 acres that they’ve protected. And that’s why CW’s leadership began working with public relations firm PCI in early 2008 to crystallize their public positioning, core values, and messages. In August, Jell was invited to join the year-long effort and to provide comprehensive branding services. At the end of a very intense three-month collaboration with CW and PCI (including focus groups throughout the region), Jell produced a new identity, tagline, slogan system, Web site, annual report, and myriad other pieces of collateral for the organization, all in time for their Autumn Benefit Dinner and 2008 Congress. We count this as one of our most remarkable rebranding successes to date.