Brand Identity Design

CRF Behavioral Healthcare

CRF is a San Diego-based not-for-profit corporation that treats, educates, and rehabilitates individuals with mental health challenges. They are a parent organization to 30+ behavioral healthcare centers across the San Diego region. They contacted us in mid-2021 with the need to update their 11 year old website. After talking with their team, it was decided that we should start with a rebranding project preliminary to the website project.

We started by conducting a half-day strategic workshop with their leadership team. It was decided that their existing name “Community Research Foundation” no longer reflected the organization. They are no longer specifically research focused and also not a foundation. Their clients actually know them simply as CRF. We decided to drop the full name and move forward with the acronym and descriptor “Behavioral Healthcare”.


“CRF determined that we wanted to outsource our marketing needs. After research and a recommendation, we determined that Noble Intent Studio was a great fit for CRF. They came highly recommended and were neither too big or too small for us. The team is knowledgeable without being condescending. Through organization, preparation, and documentation of decisions, they were able to keep the project moving. We have been trying to come up with a new look, color and/or brand for about 10 years. Angela and the team were able to clear the obstacles we had put in front of us while remaining respectful and accommodating.”

— Donna O’Brien, Director of Business Services at CRF (client since 2021)

In our strategic workshop, we got to the heart of what the organization stands for and is known for. CRF is rooted in San Diego and committed to the community. They provide a foundation or “roots” for client patients and the interns they train. Words such as supportive, compassionate, advocate, inclusive, honest, and time-tested describe the ethos of the organization. The organization has a history of using tree iconography and tree names. It wasn’t a requirement to keep with the tree theme, but we wanted to at least provide a subtle nod to this history.

In this branding project and in the future website project, we knew we had to speak to two key audiences—the client patient and the potential hire. During the strategic workshop we created personas for each audience to ensure that what we created resonated with each. Another challenge was to consider how the parent brand would interact with CRF’s 30+ healthcare centers, or programs.

Logo Concept 1

Our first concept was inspired by the Jacaranda Tree, San Diego’s official City tree. This design portrays problem solving, putting the pieces together, and the many different components of comprehensive care.


Logo Concept 2

Our second concept was inspired by more traditional healthcare visual cues, but still includes leaf/floral iconography. It includes an evolution of their former logo color. The typography used is friendly and approachable.


Logo Concept 3

The third concept we proposed was inspired by growth and forward movement. The letter forms symbolize evolution. The design is minimal and approachable and includes a subtle leaf shape. The accompanying pattern, taken from the “c” letterform, can be interpreted as ocean waves or happy and/or sad faces depending on the feelings of the viewer.


The Decision and Refinement

The leadership team had varied personal preferences for which concept they liked best. In a circumstance such as this where there is a large team of decision makers, we use feedback sheets to remove personal, subjective preferences. This allows us to get to the heart of which concept resonates best with the brand’s target audience and brand traits. When evaluated this way, concept 3 was the clear winner according to the leadership team.

We then moved into the refinement stage where we made minor revisions to the logo based on the feedback from the team.


After the logo was finalized, we moved on to create logos for each of the 34 programs CRF manages across the San Diego region.


We then moved on to create a comprehensive branding guidelines document. This document outlines the importance of standardization and consistency across all brand touch points. The branding guidelines document is meant to be used by internal staff and external vendors—anyone using the logo or creating marketing materials. It outlines how and how not to use the logo, a color palette, typography system, and brand collateral templates.

crf branding guidelines

Once the branding guidelines were complete, we created a stationery system including business cards, letterhead, envelopes, and email signatures for both the corporate brand and the programs.


Now that we’ve completed the brand identity redesign, we’re hard at work reimagining the CRF website which will launch later in 2023. Stay tuned!

Ready to talk about your design and digital marketing needs? Schedule a complimentary consultation with us today.

Let’s Talk