By Maria Bee
Design and Illustration Portfolio
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San Francisco Foundation

collateral, identity, signage, stationary

With over $1.5 billion in assets, SFF is one of the nation’s largest community foundations, working together with community leaders, nonprofits, and donors to advance racial and economic equity.

I had the incredible opportunity (and challenge) to re-design the San Francisco Foundation’s visual identity as soon as I came on board in-house. It became clear that in addition to being more flexible, the new identity system needed to center community and reflect SFF’s vibrancy and power as an organization.

Evolution of SFF

Evolution of SFF

In the foundation’s 70+-year history, they’d seen several logos come and go, and agendas also changed along the way. The organization made a dramatic shift in 2016 to establish equity as its north star—and the very corporate red box needed to catch up to this message. Rebranding was a natural opportunity to build on the legacy while strengthening outreach in the community and bringing in new audiences.

 We internally evaluated our existing identity system, getting input from staff and trustees, who also shared outsiders’ impressions.  The design exploration phase resulted in nine distinct identity concepts ranging from a slight evolution of the red box to total departures with no box in sight. Aside from staff and trustees, we reached out to grantees, professional advisors, donors, and other partners for feedback and refinements before selecting the final concept, a significant departure from the previous logo.

We internally evaluated our existing identity system, getting input from staff and trustees, who also shared outsiders’ impressions.

The design exploration phase resulted in nine distinct identity concepts ranging from a slight evolution of the red box to total departures with no box in sight. Aside from staff and trustees, we reached out to grantees, professional advisors, donors, and other partners for feedback and refinements before selecting the final concept, a significant departure from the previous logo.

A logo of many layers

A logo of many layers

The name of this concept in our creative review was “Many-Layered,” named so because of the dynamic, interconnected patchwork contained inside SFF. With many pieces coming together as one whole, it embraces the interconnectedness at the heart of a community foundation. We are a thought leader, convener, and partner to nonprofits, donors, and community leaders, who together help us make an impact on the issues we care about most. And most importantly, we honor and uplift diverse voices, all of which are essential to building a strong and vibrant Bay Area.


Creating the system

Creating the system

The identity system includes a toolkit of supporting elements and style cues that define the new look of communications, including a vibrant & expressive color palette, bold typography, dynamic angled layouts, and an exuberant accent pattern.

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 I created robust brand guidelines detailing all aspects of logo usage + elements in the visual identity system and conducted all-staff trainings on the rollout. The process was complete within a year, with all branded materials and items updated to reflect the new look.

I created robust brand guidelines detailing all aspects of logo usage + elements in the visual identity system and conducted all-staff trainings on the rollout. The process was complete within a year, with all branded materials and items updated to reflect the new look.

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 As part of the launch, I wrote two blog posts about the new identity, one for  the public announcement  and one with a  more detailed look  at the process and system.

As part of the launch, I wrote two blog posts about the new identity, one for the public announcement and one with a more detailed look at the process and system.