Actra Fraternal Benefit Society
Rebrand for an Insurance and Investment Company, owned by Actors and Screenwriters.
AFBS was at a crossroads. Although the not-for-profit was an insurance and investment organization, as a fraternal association it served a creative Membership—actors and screenwriters. Moreover, it was actually owned by those Members. And its Members did not feel the public persona of AFBS reflected who they were: friendly, accessible, helpful and dependable. Overdrive’s mission: nothing less than overhauling the way AFBS communicated to its members. AFBS had recently had an overhaul of its logo and was not in a position to change it. However, there were no brand standards associated with the identity, and many issues had not been reconciled, such as the use of the logo in reverse. So each of our tasks involved retroactively establishing brand expression for the identity in order to ensure all the materials were cohesive.
Our first major assignment was to brand the 2013 Annual General Meeting, “Creating Possibilities” and begin the process of giving a face to AFBS, one that reflected the marriage of its Membership and its purpose. A full library of new photography was commissioned to aid this. Part of the AGM involved designing an Annual Report that could be an ongoing template. Redesigning the AFBS website was a gargantuan task that was a constant balancing act between creativity and function.
Branding, Collateral, Brochures, Videos, Website, Annual Reports, Emailers
Overdrive Design Limited—Creative, User Interface Design, User Experience Design, Graphic Design, Illustration, Art Direction, Programming, Project Management
Creating Possibilities Creative Director—Michael Clancy
Sound—Mach Sound Studios
Creating Possibilities Music—Retriever Sound
Additional Video—Ruth Lawrence
Additional Music—Duane Andrews and Craig Young
Visit the AFBS website: afbs.ca
Writer’s Coalition website: writerscoalition.ca
Arts & Entertainment Plan website: aeplan.ca
When it came time to re-design the AFBS website, in addition to the UX and UI demands of a gigantic website, Overdrive needed to create an aesthetic that reflected the creative spirit of the user/Members. The site needed to express a sense of friendliness, accessibility, and dependability—but above all, it needed to be easy to use. With a hierarchy that prioritized finding information easily, the search field was positioned prominently on the home page.
We used an illustrative type style in headers to infuse personality, as well as background videos that featured Members pursuing their craft. An additional requirement was to express AFBS’ desire to promote financial literacy amongst its Members. A number of interactive tables were designed to give Members personalized tools to visualize their financial investments.
Reaching and providing orientation to new Members was a key requirement, so one of the most important sections on the website was the 8 step “Set up your Profile” featuring the organization’s Orientation video.
The site is gigantic and detailed. Every possible approach to control navigation, hierarchy, and readability was used including last but not least, colour coding.
In addition to AFBS’ main focus, providing extended health insurance and investment products to ACTRA and Writers’ Guild of Canada Members, AFBS has branched out providing the same insurance services they excel in, to creative people who are not members of ACTRA or WGC. We developed an additional website to service these clients.
AFBS services two different markets, one for writers through the Writer’s Coalition Programme and one for artists and performers through the Arts and Entertainment Plan. Because each market has a unique identity, AFBS wanted to provide each with their own website. The information required for those sites was essentially identical, however. Therefore we created one template, that could be customized with market specific images, and a colour scheme that reflected the specific plan.
Although the look and feel of the Associate sites are intended to be part of the AFBS family, they are more retail oriented. WCP and A&E provide pay per service products while AFBS Members receive their extended health plans as part of their ACTRA or WGC contracts.
Because AFBS is both owned by and serves performers and writers it was important to depict actual Members. Actors and writers wanted to see themselves in marketing materials and their website, not stock models.
Photographing a broad representation of the Membership practicing their craft was a complicated undertaking. Actors and Screenwriters are finely attuned to visuals that are forced or staged, and we knew we needed to use care in the way we depicted Members. We decided to use an editorial photography approach, shooting real life on the fly, without additional lighting.
Thousands of photographs were shot, which all had to be reviewed and the selects often required photoshopping. Moreover, all the subjects needed to be credited, which required meticulous record keeping.
Summarized Financial Statements
The challenge for any Financial Statement is that the span of time between the arrival of final copy and the delivery of files ready for print is notoriously short. We designed the AFBS SFS based on unfinalized details. Although the design is meant to reflect the aesthetic of the website, they are two distinct entities. Our brief: design a SFS that was elegant, but above all simple to read. Accounting practices always trumped what seemed to be logical design rules. White space was balanced with keeping the SFS to a manageable size. The result was a SFS template that could be reused in subsequent years.
AFBS regularly needed to inform their Members of the status of their investments, which required a clean and engaging format that could be easily updated from month to month, and also be animated for the online versions.
Other regular correspondence included an annual Insurance Statement and postcards for a variety of purposes from AGM reminders to RRSP deadlines.
The Creating Possibilities DAR featured prominently in the 2013 Annual General Meeting. The Creating Possibilities video, in particular, was a highlight and subsequently used as a profile builder for AFBS at the 2013 UBCP Annual General Meeting.
The theme of Creating Possibilities was well received for the way it integrated the ability of AFBS to help Members make their own possibilities. Financial security and knowing health insurance is taken care of left members with the freedom to explore their own ambitions.