Gaining Traction for New Concepts
Bringing National Standards to Life: BrightStars
BrightStars helps families in Rhode Island access quality child care, early learning and school-age programs. It enables child care providers to learn about and apply best practices in early learning. It also recognizes program quality and gives parents the information they need to make better choices about their children’s care and education.
How do you improve early care and education of young children in Rhode Island? How do you increase family access to high-quality early-care and school-age programs that support children’s learning, development and school success? How do you bring a new idea to life? As a new research-based Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) for child care—the first of its kind in the country—BrightStars needed a professional name and brand that communicated the importance of assessing and improving child care in Rhode Island, while also conveying a friendly, positive energy that would be accessible to relevant audiences, including providers and families.
Identified key project goals:
- Gain widespread visibility for the quality rating improvement systems
- Win parent and provider recognition of the brand (Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval)
- Generate positive regard for the quality rating improvement systems, leading to more providers enrolled
- Garner support from policymakers and opinion leaders
- Recognize providers who deliver quality care and education
- Inform parents about choosing quality
- Define quality
Identified key audiences:
- State stakeholders
- Other organizations in child care/early learning
Created a multi-lingual communications campaign that:
- Introduces and defines quality rating improvement systems
- Explains why quality in child care matters for providers, parents and the state
- Presents quality rating improvement systems ratings
- Recognizes high performers
- Celebrates success
- Complete the Explore and Extract stages of the Orange Square process
- Deliver written marketing strategy brief
Build a strength-based approach of quality rating improvement system, parent education and referrals, and professional development
Marketing strategy brief
In the Explore stage, we gathered all of the information needed to identify what makes BrightStars unique, understand project and organizational goals, external influences and target audiences. In the Extract stage, we focused on outcome, not just output. We delivered a marketing strategy brief that outlines the project objectives, market, competition, and a plan for achieving organizational goals through insight-driven design. All design is initiated from this approved strategy document.
Naming the organization
Identified a name and tagline that succinctly convey the organization’s
Identified a name that is available as a .org URL
Raising the bar in child care standards
Child care centers in Rhode Island must meet licensing requirements to be licensed and participate in BrightStars. Used on the website and in marketing materials targeting child care providers, this graphic was created to communicate not only that a provider has met the state’s requirements, but also the level it has achieved according to BrightStars’ nine quality standards and the program’s overall star rating.
Providing resources online
When BrightStars was established, its initial goal was to reach out to child care providers and early learning programs and gain widespread visibility for being Rhode Island’s quality rating and improvement system. The website was created for providers to give information about the organization, the benefits of joining, and how to participate. In a later iteration, the website was re-configured to be a resource for parents to learn about quality child care and find BrightStars-rated programs in their community.
Getting child care providers on board first
Initial print communication given to child care providers in the state included an introductory brochure explaining the organization and its rating system, as well as quality frameworks booklets, which described in detail the standards and criteria that BrightStars uses to assign programs a star rating. Separate versions of these frameworks were created for the different types of child care programs, such as child care centers, family child care homes, and school-age programs. Stickers and window clings displaying the BrightStars logo were given to providers to show their participation in BrightStars and quality child care.
Spanish is spoken widely throughout Rhode Island. In order to effectively communicate to child care providers and parents alike, many of BrightStars’ marketing communication materials were created in both English and Spanish. A separate but linked version of the organization‘s website exists for Spanish-speaking individuals.
Reaching out to parents
Providers that participate in BrightStars were given rack cards customized with their program name and contact information. These cards allowed each provider to communicate their participation in BrightStars and their commitment to offering quality child care to parents. The cards explained requirements for participating and the areas in which the providers are reviewed to meet or exceed the quality standards. Additionally, a brochure was created—in both English and Spanish—to guide parents and families in choosing child care. The brochure described what quality child care and how to select a quality program, provided information on resources for paying for child care and listed important contacts in the state.
Understanding the importance of identifying and celebrating excellence, BrightStars holds an annual event called “Starry Starry Night,” where it honors child care and early learning programs that have shown their commitment to quality by joining BrightStars. Each provider receives a certificate of recognition.
BrightStars recognized that while a Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) exists in some other states, it was new to Rhode Island. We needed a brand presence in order to establish ourselves with multiple audiences. We engaged Orange Square in 2007 to help us develop a comprehensive strategy that would give us a recognizable and differentiated name and brand, as well as a consistent and effective message that would motivate change across the state. As a result, Orange Square positioned BrightStars as the main source of information and referrals for child care in Rhode Island in a very short period of time. As of October 2012, 15% of all licensed child care programs in the state participate in BrightStars, and of those, 85.7% have increased their star rating through significant quality improvements after only 1–3 years of participation. Orange Square embraced our mission and was instrumental in helping us achieve it.