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Well-being and reproductive health

Population Council

group of people watching gray laptop computer

Spitfire worked with the Population Council to conduct a reputation and message assessment of the organization to inform an updated brand. At the time, the Council used its tagline and mission statement as its brand. The Council staff often struggled to talk holistically about the organization’s diverse work, which resulted in many stakeholders only knowing a small slice of the many important things it did in well being and reproductive health.

The Population Council is an international, nonprofit, nongovernmental organization that seeks to improve the well-being and reproductive health of current and future generations around the world and to help achieve a humane, equitable, and sustainable balance between people and resources. The Council conducts research in three areas: HIV and AIDS; poverty, gender, and youth; and reproductive health.

To understand external perceptions of the Council, we conducted in-depth phone interviews with members of several priority audiences, including policymakers and funders. We also reviewed competing organizations to determine the Council’s unique niche in the field, analyzed the Council’s current messaging, and explored communications priorities and challenges.

While the stakeholders respected the Council’s thorough and credible research, they weren’t always aware of its impact on policies, programs and technologies in the developing world. The Council’s own messaging typically focused on what the organization did, rather than why it mattered. Additionally, competitors described their activities and impact in ways that were very similar to the Council.

Spitfire presented several brand options to serve as a central theme. The options reinforced core elements of the Council’s identify, including:

  • Focus on conducting rigorous research that generates new and/or effective ideas that lead to progress in the developing world;
  • Organizational personality traits of intelligence, forward looking and dedication; and
  • Beliefs that solving intractable development problems requires long-term investments, on-the-ground experience, and a variety of research tools and perspectives.

The Council ultimately selected this brand promise:

The Population Council changes the way the world thinks about critical health and development issues.

This brand emphasizes the common thread among all the research: changing the way the world thinks. The Council’s research changes the way policymakers think about the best ways to advance health and development, the way program managers think about the most effective ways to prevent HIV, the way girls think about their futures, the way women think about their reproductive choices, and the way scientists think about solving problems and challenges. The brand makes a bold statement about the Council’s work that is distinct from its competitors in the field.

To help the Council introduce its new brand, Spitfire developed strong messaging to reflect the new brand and trained staff and board members to use the new language in their outreach activities. Spitfire also developed an external communication plan to guide the Council’s outreach to priority target audiences. The Council continues to replicate the trainings developed by Spitfire for new staff, and they have seen the updated messaging reinforced by their key spokespeople and in media coverage. 

Spitfire services employed


Ethical storytelling / visual storytelling

Media relations / media strategy


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Issues Covered

Reproductive justice