Building Global Citizens.

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After a huge effort to profile our own organization, CISV International decided in 2006 to update our logo, drop the long version of our name, and add the tagline "Building Global Friendship". The logo update caused an uproar, of which the most hilarious one was an e-mail list of opponents of the new logo started by a 1951 delegate. Meanwhile most people I know like the new logo, and perceive the old one as "out-dated". Getting rid of "Children's International Summer Villages" on our websites and public documents followed a general trend, but none that I ever really liked: Anybody confronted with an acronym will automatically be curious on what it stands for. I think it would have made more sense to come up with a new name altogether, but I guess no majority would have ever agreed to that.

Now, among the AIM 2010 documents is a motion brought forward by Argentina, Brazil and Italy to change the tagline "CISV Building Global Friendship" into "CISV Active Global Citizenship".

This is interesting, because wheras there's a lot of "Doris Allen" and "Village" in the global friendship notion, I can see "Mosaic" and "CISV Passport" in the suggested one.
I very much the rational behind this motion, but in the end, I would reject it. Here's why:

A tagline is a tagline is a tagline. It's not our educational content summarized in three words. It must be flashy and not intellectualized. And even if I wish this were different, hosting international programme is still 90% of what we do. A tagline can only reflect who we are, and not be the spearhead of a new trend. If someday, we do all agree that "Active Global Citizenship" is what we are, then we should go the full way of getting rid of our silly acronym "CISV" as well, and find a new name that is both flashy and reflecting our educational core.

Finally an anecdote, that is a bit cheesy, but illustrated why our current tagline is not so bad after all: I visited a wedding in Norway last week, where a bunch of CISVers were present - most notably a family from New York, who had become close friends with the Norwegians, after the kids had attended a village together. During the wedding dinner the New York dad got up and held an emotional, very moving speech on how this "mysterious organization called CISV" had brought their families together - and all I could think, was: "Building global friendship".

(This post is the first one in a series commenting on the motions submitted for AIM2010.)

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Any rename must be considered carefully; Active Global Citizenship would become AGC within about 2 minutes.

Some side effects; AGC (as well as almost all other three letter acronym) is taken by others, as is the associated domain names world wide.

CISV we only share with the flag-guys in Italy...

Branding is not always about being named the right thing, but actually being known. And as you say; the majority of what we do is anyways summer villages (in the broad interpretation of village) for children (and youth - which are by definition children in most of the world).


I would suggest that you all subscribe to the AIM Documents RSS Feed to get the AIM documents the minute they are published:

Interesting but dangerous motion...

A tagline is a tagline, true. But it can also make a difference on whether we are seen (from an external point of view, because it's the only use I see for a tagline) as a "Friendship organization" or an "Educative organization". Rather than reflecting what we do, it must reflect what we aim, which is why in principle I would agree with such a change.

However, in practical terms, I must agree with some stuff that was said before. It is too soon to change a tagline that has just been implemented. We did not leave much time for the current tagline to be introduced. If this motion passes, we might as well change tagline every 5 years, because CISV is now evolving very fast and constantly changing. And I totally agree that if we want to change our identity, our acronym-that-is-not-an-acronym is out-dated too. I hate when I tell people about CISV and people ask what it stands for.

A final note to say that putting more time (and money) into discussing this can distract us from discussing things that may matter more to the organisation. I remember when Nick posted about the brand guidelines being dead, thinking "does this really matter?". And many times when people use the CISV logo, the tagline is even erased, so why bother?..

Mixed-feelings about the motion, I'm mostly curious to see the outcome.....

i also disagree with this motion.
mainly beacuse of most things that ave already been said but also i dont see "active global citizenship" as very catchy. building global friendship is not my favourite tagline either but at least it is understandable right away because its easy. but active global citizenship is rather something you would need to explain to many a village kid or his/her parents. at least in germany i think a lot of people woldnt really understand what that means (it took myself quite a while...)

i think active global citizenship is a trend. but trends come and go so i agree that we should be careful with changing the tagline every 4-5 years...

Most of the points above are well formulated, so I want to add a slightly different point of view: the procedural flaw we had with re-branding was to do that before seriously looking into our educational content. If we did so I am sure the results would have been different.

In a way not it is a controversial topic and I expect a very polarized discussion as was in the past, but still constructive.

I think a tagline should be catchy but it should also represent you.
BGF to me it's like having "let's have fun" as a tagline. We want this organization to move forward and be progressive and we select something that just represents one Programme, and it's the most ancient we have. We still love to picture CISV as it was 60 years ago.

The tremendous mistake here was made when we started a whole rebranding process that should state who we were, and after that we suddenly noticed that we didn't know who we were. So, first we came out with 3 words that should identify CISV, and then we came out with PDPEF, Passport, Big Ed, Mosquito... And I don't see BGF anywhere in the Passport actually.

Waiting years to fix this would be a great mistake. I think the time and place to get rid of the whole rebranding process is now, so we can start the next phase which is stabilizing, growing and showing our brand and ourselves better to the world.

We did waste a lot of time and money, but this time it is not a waste. Doing the thing how they should have been done would have saved us most of the money we spent in the first place.

Karo says ACG needs to be explained. I have usually an hard time when I have to explain CISV now to someone that sees our logo: "CISV is the name but is stands for something we are not, and this tagline stands for something we do but we do a lot of different things..."

CISV is always to be explained to people. Or do we really want our image to be seen as a giant train of love and that's it?

Max: Where does the "CISV is the name but is stands for something we are not" concept come from?

C = Children, a vast majority of our participants are Children as per the UN definition of Children.

I = International, a vast majority of our programmes and acitivies are again International. This is our core, and this is where we make our money to run the organisation.

S = Summer, a majority of all activities do take place in summer (even though summer does vary around the globe).

V = Village, a majority of the activities are camp based one way or the other, including IPP and Mosaic to some extent.

From a straight forward, objective view CISV describes rather well what we do most of the time. That it is an issue for Mosaic and IPP is well known, this is also why we are now primarily CISV and not Chi.. Int.. Sum.. Vil..

On top of it all it seems like there is a lot of general sabotage against the agreed logo and tag-line. As you said big-ed and passport hardly references neither logo nor the tagline, and the general branding guidelines seems to have gone lost somewhere in the process as well.

Personally I would not have a big issue changing the tag line - maybe it is needed given that people seem very reluctant to use it, and given it is hardly used anyways it should be rather easy to change. Removing CISV on the hand I think would be too drastic. It would we wasting 60 years of branding, which in many local communities is rather strong, and would also cut the ties to all of our alumni (who we don't know who are).

On top of that; with a full re-do of the branding discussion we would spend another 2-3 years discussing nothing else, which is probably what would be the most destructive part.

Maybe I made my point unclear, and I apologize: I would never change CISV as the name of the organization. Because it's CISV, it is always been CISV and I can easily spend some time in explaining what CISV does even if it is not just CISV. The name is 60 years old, we all love it. No change there. We just moved on from being just CISV. That's why we need a tagline. BGF is a tagline that explains no further what the letters C.I.S.V. stands for

What I was saying is that I also have to explain the tagline. I have to explain it today because it does not reflect what we do in my mind, and I would have to explain it if it's AGC.

But I'm confident that AGC is more catchy for NGOs, for sponsors, for media. And it will be more and more catchy since the consept of AGC is gorwing areound the globe and more and more people are getting familiar with it. Way more than BGF that seems so much "we play games".

I just want to throw two things in.
Firstly I think, that if the motion passes, a big majority of the volunteers at the local level will think "Now the people up there are totally crazy!". Maybe the chaper of Hamburg is different from others, but here a lot of people might not have get so far why the rebranding process took place at all. They will not understand the reason for the changing again. For people who have the finger on the pulse of CISV the idea of changing the tagline might be evident, but for the others... That's not necessarily an argument against the motion, but we should try to be down-to-earth.
Secondly I think, that AGC doesn't interpret CISV better or worse than BGF. Is the tagline about what we want, like our goal, aim, whatever, or is it about what we do? BGF is about what we do, AGC is about what we want in my opinion. Don't we need to build global friendship to be an active global citizen? For me it's a distinction without difference.

Hey all, me again.

Did anyone read this report from Resources? I find it very interesting, specially from page 7 on.

It seems that the discussion has just started.

Looking forward for more.

I'm a bit worried, that this motion draws so much attention, when it's *only* about a tagline. I'm unsure that changing a tagline will really change the way people perceive CISV - this is where I tend to agree with Manu, that the grassroots level (i.e. chapters) will be more irritated than guided towards a new direction by this move.

On the other hand I do agree that there has been a significant development within the last 5 years since the old tagline was developed - but it's really a top-down approach: People at the heart of the international level are making a great effort to edge CISV towards a better definition of its educational purpose, but I think it needs other means to transfer these ideas to all levels of the organization, and changing the tagline should not be the main move.

CISV has been "peace education" for decades, then "intercultural competence" took over, now it's "global citizenship". I hate to be conservative here, but maybe it's just a trend, or a flavour or even a rebranding of the same thing?

(People who know me, know I'm the #1 devil's advocate, so deep inside me, I do agree with the motion, but you guys really need to try harder to convince the skeptics, that this is the right move.)

Many companies use a tagline not for a "forever identity" but to refresh their brand, enhance a campaign, and re-direct attention to their product. In those cases, a stagnant tagline is readily replaced by a new one and just the change brings attention to the product. How many taglines have you seen over your lifetime for Coke or McDonalds? And they're not about a specific product or characteristic, but about the overall atmosphere of the company (or at least the one they want you to see). Granted, we're no Coke, but if we simply saw the tagline in this manner, it would make be a good PR move for our tagline to change every 3-5 years with the "trends" in our identity to draw people in.

Sarah: I don't disagree. The question then boils down costs and benefit:

- What is the overall cost to CISV to change the logo/tag-line every 5 years? This should cover money, and volunteer effort.

- What is the benefit from changing the Tagline; Does it at all make a difference? (And what is the alternate benefit - what would we get if we invested the money and effort elsewhere?)

And a risk: are we able to keep some degree of consistency, or will we be the organisation with 3 parallell tag-lines because we can't afford do to it properly (so there will be letterheads, t-shirts etc. left over with the last tagline)?

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This page contains a single entry by Nick published on July 8, 2010 8:11 PM.

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