WYSO's new look, designed by Clay + Stan
WYSO’s new look, designed by Clay + Stan

WYSO has been broadcasting from Antioch College since 1958. It’s connected the Dayton community with local news and programs, and connected the community with the nation as the region’s only host of NPR News.

Like all public radio stations, WYSO gets by on listeners’ donations. So the station must not only keep listeners engaged—it must get them excited enough to give to the station year after year.

For years, WYSO has played it safe. Before their annual fund drive, the year’s biggest fundraiser, the station sent out a pre-drive mailing to remind members to give. These mailers were your standard, static, black ink on paper mailers, with no photos and no customization.

“Our community. Our nation. Our world.”

In 2013, WYSO made a change. Working with Yellow Springs creative firm Clay + Stan, they launched a brand-new identity for all of their collateral, from their website and brochures to letterhead and business cards.

They called it the “We” Campaign—and a quick look at what Clay + Stan dreamed up will tell you why. WYSO wanted to create a community around the station’s brand. Says Luke Dennis, WYSO’s Development Director, “Our new brand is more than just a campaign. It’s a state of mind. We’ve always thought of our listeners as a family—but now, we’re expressing that in pictures and words.”

The campaign hit the streets in late 2013. And it made its way into people’s homes just in time for the fall fund drive. Rather than receiving another lifeless mailer, listeners received flyers with WYSO’s new identity. And copy in the mailers was personalized—with the listener’s name and their giving history.

A three-way partnership

How did this all come together? It was the result of close collaboration between WYSO, Clay + Stan, and us at Oregon. WYSO was the product—the one whose look we had to transform. Clay + Stan provided the creative inspiration. And Oregon handled the execution.

This might sound like a case of “too many cooks”—but it’s actually an ideal way for us to work. The three of us each provided a check on the others—with Oregon often acting as the “responsible parent,” taking creative ideas and making sure we could pull them off without blowing our budget.

We gave guidance on what would (or wouldn’t) work in terms of paper, colors, and technical specifications. We advised on postal regulations, database maintenance, and cost containment. In this way, we were more than just a commodity printer—we were a valued partner in helping bring WYSO’s brand to life.

The essential ingredient: teamwork

The result? Thanks in part to the mailer, WYSO’s 2013 fund drive was better than ever. In the next month, WYSO will send out a revamped version of its membership renewal letter. These once looked like standard invoices—but now, they’ll be customized based on listeners’ favorite WYSO programs. They’ll also ask listeners to talk back, sharing their programming likes and dislikes.

Says Dennis, “The message these mailers send is, ‘you listen to us, and we’re listening to you. You’re part of the family. We want to know what you think.’”

It takes cooperation from all sides—brand, creative, and implementation—to make a mail campaign a success. In this case, I think we worked together like a charm.

We’re looking forward to seeing how listeners respond to WYSO’s membership renewal mailers. Stay tuned to learn what we find.

This article is part of the Personalized Print series, a collection of blogs over the course of 2014 exploring the ins and outs of customization in print. We’re following WYSO as they connect with their customers through direct mail, and will share with you what they find throughout the year.