Creating a Great Branded Environment Through Donor Recognition

Manna Food Pantries completed a recent location upgrade, along with a brand identity refresh that wouldn’t have been possible without the help of steadfast generous donors. As they opened the doors of their bright new facilities, they wanted to humbly honor and display donor recognition throughout the establishment.

A Donor-Driven Organization

Manna Food Pantries is an independent food pantry with over 5,000 volunteers and 8 full time employees. They provide groceries to over 13,500 individuals in need annually. All but 3% of the food is given by donors. However, they aren’t your typical food bank. Every meal passes USDA Standards for a Healthy Diet. So not only are they providing meals, they are providing meals with nutritional value. Additionally, each meal is for an individual, not a family. They have paired with a plethora of programs to provide food for anyone from children to senior citizens who are in need.

Manna is independently owned – meaning they are locally managed and run. Operating independently also means no government funding. “Donations are vital,” states Executive Director DeDe Flounlacker. “Manna wouldn’t exist without them.” Whether it be in the form of food or monetary aid, donors are very important. 

Location Struggles

DeDe has been on staff almost 9 years, and has been through all of the ups and downs of Manna – an organization with humble beginnings. “Right around the start of my time at Manna, we experienced two floods at our previous location. You could say it was baptism by ‘water’.” 

<alt="DeDe standing in flooded room">
DeDe Flounlacker in Manna’s flooded location|Credit Bob Barrett/ WUWF News

The flood of April 2014 destroyed a majority of equipment and food. It was a major setback for the organization. Navigating through those obstacles wasn’t an easy undertaking for a brand new staff member, but DeDe made it through. 

A few years later, and she would find herself moving into a new building from the support of numerous loyal donors along with a generous gift from the Bear Family Foundation. Manna was on the verge of starting its new chapter – the Center for Hope.

The newly acquired location was a mill supply building at the time. Before Manna moved in, DeDe went on a tour of the building with a mill supply worker. “He shared the history of each individual room and what took place there.” Thus, this tour prompted Dede to reminisce on her time gone by with Manna. She didn’t want to lose the rich history of Manna Food Bank. “We wanted to get a proper historical perspective down, so in 10 or 20 years it would be kept alive and well.”

Fun fact: The mill supply worker who gave DeDe her first tour would go on to sponsor a room in Manna’s new building!

<alt="Pensacola Mill Supply exterior">
Credit to Bob Barrett/ WUWF News

Donor Recognition & The Company Values Display

The Manna team wanted to recognize their crucial donors and highlight company history in their new home.  They reached out to Red Iron Design House for guidance and design services on this endeavor. Red Iron designed a donor recognition wall that incorporated company history as the vessel to accomplish these goals. Signgeek jumped aboard for the engineering of said display along with layout support. We would also be the manufacturer of all the signage and donor wall.

<alt="Welcome area signage at Manna Food Pantry">

Manna has a handful of keywords and phrases that are spoken within the organization on a daily basis. “Legacy”, “Generous”, and “Impact” are a few of these key terms. They wanted to incorporate this verbiage into their display, allowing visitors a view into their company values at a glance. These words were the building blocks of their branded environment. Therefore, the key terms played a big roll in the creation of the history donor wall. Essentially, the goal was to exhibit acknowledgment of donors, feature company history, and showcase the types of persons helped, too.

Signgeek and Red Iron collaborated on an additional avenue for donor recognition in the form of room signage. Using the newly designed company logo colors, they applied a keyword or phrase onto each room area sign. Consequently, the combination of brand identity colors and keywords kept the branded environment fluid throughout the room signage and history donor wall. 

How We Did It – The Fabrication Process

Room ID Signs

<alt="Donor recognition room ID signage at Manna Food Pantry packaging area">

Signgeek crafted the donor room signs using acrylic for the signage backer and opaque white acrylic for the dimensional letters. Our craftsmen created the company keywords and donor names with vinyl placed on top of  acrylic. Our team laser cut all of the letters and fabricated all signs in-house.

Donor Recognition Wall

<alt="Donor wall at Manna Food Bank">

We completed the history donor wall plans by manufacturing an acrylic, multi-layered donor recognition wall. Each individual photographic panel, which received a matte overlay, represents the Manna clientele. Stories and letters from previous clients were used on the background panels, the excerpts of writing that can be seen. “We wanted to give our clients a voice in the matter,” said DeDe. The design team paired each individual background panel with a brand keyword.

In the meantime, we gave the donor and history panels a gloss finish, painting them to pair with their newly revised brand logo colors. Kerri Smayda, Development Director of Manna, was the mastermind behind writing the panels copy. She wanted the content to reflect the company’s mission.

<alt="Donor wall at Manna Food Bank">

Our technicians installed the display panels to the wall via a three quarter-inch aluminum standoff system.

Interior and Exterior Lettering

<alt="Lettering signage at Manna Food Bank">

Last but not least, we certainly can’t omit the branded exterior and interior
signage that was fabricated for the Center for Hope. Our technicians CNC routed and painted HDU material for the dimensional lettering. 

Donor Wall & Room Signage Reactions

Manna staff and visitors love the donor recognition wall. The history on the wall involved deep research, and even taught the Executive Director of almost 9 years a few things! “I learned a few things from that wall,” chuckled DeDe. It teaches company history to new volunteers and old volunteers alike. You can find visitors and volunteers standing and reading the wall at any given time.

Furthermore, the branded environment acts as a company values reminder. Take a walk through the Center for Hope and you’ll find keywords and phrases of what Manna believes in peppered all over the building.

More importantly, it is genuine and humble – this point is huge for Manna. “It’s not overpowering. It doesn’t give recognition to one single individual – and showcases over half a million volunteer hours. There’s nothing ‘Fancy Pants’ about it, but we’re proud about it.”

This wall accurately displays what kind of organization Manna Food Bank is – a group of genuine people who humbly serve those in need.

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