Natural Areas Association

A Little Strategic Insight Goes a Long Way

Brand Strategy & Identity

Communication Audit, Audience Research, Persona Development, Communication Strategy


The Natural Areas Association (NAA) is the only national, nonprofit membership organization dedicated to supporting natural areas professionals. NAA’s communications materials had previously been created on an as-needed basis, and as a result, their small staff of three felt that their materials lacked cohesion. NAA’s staff was looking for guidance that would make their communications more effective and strategic.

Tackling the Key Points

NAA’s situation called for a research-driven process to evaluate their current status and provide direction for future action. However, as a smaller organization, NAA didn’t have the capacity to support a comprehensive endeavor a larger organization might undertake. In a scenario like this, a modular approach can be the answer.

We took elements of our signature AMIE process and stacked them in the right order to gain targeted strategic insight. First, we conducted a communication audit to evaluate the current state of their materials and their needs. Next, we worked on an audience focus, culminating in the development of four audience “personas” to help guide messaging and strategy. Finally, we created a full communications strategy informed by the first two projects.

Putting our Work to the Test

Guided by the work completed for NAA’s communications audit, audience focus and communications strategy, we wrote NAA’s next fall annual fund appeal during the height of the COVID pandemic. For the main hook, we helped NAA tell the story about the impact of the initial months of COVID on the parks that their members maintain (more emergency rescues for inexperienced hikers, trampled vegetation, parking problems, etc.) and how NAA helped its members navigate these challenges. (Yes, nature can be the main character of a story if done correctly!)

Surpassing Expectations

Carefully crafted for NAA’s target audiences, the appeal performed significantly better than the previous year — in fact, raising up to 143% more than their previous appeal mailings.