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Organizational Positioning and Rebranding

Organization background

Hennepin Theatre Trust (the Trust), a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, drives cultural and economic vitality in Minnesota through leadership of the Hennepin Theatre District (the District) in downtown Minneapolis and education programs that reach every corner of the state. Our historic theatres — Orpheum, State and Pantages — light up Hennepin Avenue with top-tier entertainment, including the best of Broadway and a wide variety of arts programming.

Outside our theatres, we connect people to arts and cultural experiences such as the iconic Bob Dylan mural, large-scale banners and live arts and cultural events throughout the District. The Hennepin, our new arts and cultural event center, provides affordable space to nonprofits, community groups and visual and performing artists. Our newest theatre at 824 Hennepin Avenue is home of The Brave New Workshop, the nation’s oldest continuously running sketch comedy and improvisation group.

Read more here:

Read more about our commitment to diversity and anti-racism here:

Project overview

Hennepin Theatre Trust creates a wide variety of content for various audiences across a plethora of platforms—including 17 social media accounts, three websites, e-newsletters, didactics, out-of-home advertising for Broadway shows, videos and print collateral—to highlight our diverse array of programming—large-scale artworks, Broadway shows, murals, events, parade floats and more.

However, there is little cohesion in the message and visual identity of communications materials, which often leaves audiences of our events, exhibitions and programming confused about the mission, scope and impact of the Trust.

The Trust seeks to understand its perception within the community as both a civic institution and performing arts center.

The Trust has all the components to be a major performing arts center with national recognition, yet we lack a cohesive brand and visual identity to unify our message and illustrate a strong direction for the organization that audiences can recognize and support.

Ultimately, the Trust seeks to develop a redefined brand identity that communicates and advances the Trust’s vision for impact.

Additional brands of Hennepin Theatre Trust

In addition to the institutional brand of Hennepin Theatre Trust, there are a few programs and organizations that live within the Trust that have their own identities. The rebranding firm should include guidance on how to integrate these identities (perhaps fully) into the brand of Hennepin Theatre Trust, or not. These identities are:

  • Brave New Workshop
    • In December 2021, Hennepin Theatre Trust purchased the assets of the Brave New Workshop (BNW) comedy theatre as well as the theatre space located at 824 Hennepin Avenue, in the heart of the Hennepin Theatre District in downtown Minneapolis. The Trust carries on BNW’s long-standing legacy of world-class sketch comedy and improv.
    • BNW has its own brand. The theatre has its own history, logo, tone, social channels and website:
  • Spotlight Education
    • Hennepin Theatre Trust’s Spotlight Educationprogram is an essential part of arts education in many Minnesota schools. Annually, we help nearly 8,000 students in more than 100 high schools build confidence, critical thinking, empathy, a sense of community, knowledge and appreciation of theater. The program supplements and enhances arts curricula through production assessments, workshops and arts journalism, increasing equitable access to quality theater education.
    • While the brand of Spotlight Education follows overall Trust branding, the program has its own logo, look, design and social media channels. For example, Instagram:
  • The Hennepin
    • The Hennepin is a nonprofit event center located in the heart of the Hennepin Theatre District in downtown Minneapolis. All profits from events at The Hennepin support Hennepin Theatre Trust’s artistic and educational programs.
    • The Hennepin has its own social media channels and website, which does not follow Trust branding and adopts its own look, to attract event planners or rental agencies:

Desired outcomes for new brand

As a result of this project, the following positive changes will occur:

  • Hennepin Theatre Trust’s programs, venues and communications are brought together visually as one organization, with one unifying message and direction.
  • Hennepin Theatre Trust is instantly recognizable by audiences across every communication platform and brand touchpoint.
  • Hennepin Theatre Trust’s brand presence is comparable to other nationally-known performing arts centers.
  • The project helps cultivate a strong organizational identity and value proposition that the average Minnesotan can articulate.
  • There is an elevated perception of Hennepin Theatre Trust as a nonprofit preforming arts center dedicated to the civic agenda and initiatives that celebrate diversity and drive equity and inclusion.
  • There will be increased visibility for artists, arts organizations, partners and all programs within Hennepin Theatre Trust.
  • Increased awareness of the nonprofit mission, as well as the impact and role of donations to the Trust. Also, increased donations.
  • The brand identity will be flexible to adapt to the changing needs of a growing organization.
  • The new brand identity will inspire employees, volunteers and partner organizations around the mission and direction of the Trust, and it will help recruit qualified, diverse candidates for opportunities within the Trust.

Our audiences

The Trust’s diverse impact on the community and varied programming attracts a broad group of people. They include:

  • Primary: External audiences of the Trust include ticket buyers, community leaders, elected officials (local, state and federal) that represent the Trust, program participants (Spotlight Education students, educators, teaching artists, artist cohort members), press, donors, job candidates, renters, event planners or other parties searching for an event space.
  • Secondary: Secondary audiences include performance rental agencies, Broadway Across America, friends and family members of Trust program participants.
  • Tertiary: Tertiary audiences of the Trust include the Board of Directors, foundations and philanthropic organizations, Government boards and commissions, elected officials (local, state and federal) that don’t represent the Trust, corporate sponsors and partners.

Scope and requirements

The Trust seeks a branding firm with extensive experience in rebranding organizations, with experience rebranding nationally known performing arts centers or similar cultural organizations preferred.

The selected firm will work closely with the Trust’s Director of External Relations and leadership team to provide a comprehensive recommendation for rebranding the organization, beginning with research and a brand audit. The firm will be given access to—and is expected to seek input from—Trust staff, leadership, Board members, audiences and stakeholders as needed throughout the project.

At the conclusion of the project, the selected firm will provide the Trust with a brand audit and an executable brand package (including a brand positioning statement, brand and communications guidelines, graphic elements, fonts, color palettes, templates and other necessary tools) to guide staff in seamlessly executing the new brand. The firm will also provide guidance on the brand launch.

The new brand should be applicable across all sub brands and demonstrate adaptability. The firm should consider key conceptual, aesthetic and technical requirements so that the logo and identity systems will be scalable and flexible, for use at various sizes in a wide variety of formats and applications.

The rebranding effort could include a new logo if necessary to execute the vision for a cohesive brand identity. The Trust is open to conversations and research on amending the name of Hennepin Theatre Trust.

Concurrently with the rebranding project, the Trust will undergo a website redesign. If this work is outside the scope of the selected branding firm, it is expected that the firm will work with the selected digital firm to ensure the redesigned website follows the new brand guidelines, with the ultimate goal that the new brand and new website will launch on the same day. To review the Request for Proposal for the Hennepin Theatre Trust’s website redesign, visit:

Required deliverables

  • Brand research and audit
  • Brand strategy and positioning
  • Key messages
  • Communications guidelines
  • Potential new logo and visual standards manual
  • Print collateral and templates—minimum of 12 examples of brand implementation to commonly used print applications (letterhead, business cards, flyers, brochure covers, PDFs, fundraising collateral, invitations, etc.)
  • Templates for out-of-home advertising and artwork, including billboards and public transportation wraps for Broadway shows, as well as large-scale outdoor banners
  • PowerPoint template
  • Website and digital media—3-6 examples of the brand applied to digital ads, video elements, social media, email header, theatre lobby screens
  • Retail applications—2-4 examples of brand applied to retail packaging and/or merchandising, signage
  • Wayfinding and signage (internal and external) 2-4 examples, including exhibition didactics

Potential additional deliverables

In addition to the brand deliverables, we’re asking you to supply ideas—further explorations and recommendations to enhance and extend the updated brand experience. Such ideas might include specialty retail products, uniforms, etc. Please submit your ideas, with a budget it would take to execute them, as an addendum to the core work.


Eligible respondents must:

  • Have experience providing services similar to those described in the Statement of Work (SOW) listed above.
  • Provide qualified personnel who have experience related projects.
  • Be able to meet project timeline expectations with quality and on or under budget (provided scope remains largely the same).
  • Describe how they support diversity, equity and inclusion.

Evaluation criteria and proposal format

We will award the project to the contractor that best meets the business objectives listed above and presents a plan that has the most value. Please organize your proposals with the numbered headings listed below. Please address all questions and topics mentioned in each section.

  1. Agency overview:
    • Description of services you provide and why you are uniquely qualified
    • Your mission and organizational values
    • Brief summary of your commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion
  2. Process and approach:
    • Description of how you would approach this project
    • Summary of how you typically work with clients (degree of collaboration, etc.) Schedule:
    • Proposed project schedule
  3. List of assumptions
    • List of requirements considered critical to the project’s success
  4. Budget:
    • An estimate of the cost for the initiative including your fees
    • Any nonprofit discount or pro bono work
    • Outline of assumptions that go into the costs and describe any services not included in the cost estimate, but are regularly incurred on similar projects
  5. Project team:
    • Brief bios and role descriptions of each team member on the project. Include relevant experience.
  6. Relevant experience:
    • Two short case studies describing similar projects
    • Three client references
  7. A list of any clients that may pose as a conflict of interest
  8. Additional information:
    • Any other information we should know that shows why you’re a good fit
  9. Preferred website design partner(s) if applicable


The solicitation process for this RFP will proceed according to the schedule below. The Trust reserves the right to revise this schedule or any portion of this RFP by published addendum on the Trust’s website.

  1. Publication of RFP: September 1
  2. Ability to start receiving questions: September 1
  3. Question period: September 1 through September 20 (NOTE: Questions can be sent via email. Meeting in person or virtually to ensure a shared understanding of the work before sending questions are acceptable. We will make ourselves available for such conversations.)
  4. Last day to submit written questions regarding the RFP:  September 20
  5. Proposal due date and time: Noon on October 3
  6. Post-proposal interviews, if required: October 5 through October 12
  7. Expected award of contract: October 17
  8. Project work begins: October 19
  9. Brand audit, design process, including planning and stakeholder meetings across every communications/audience touchpoint; design review; preparing for rollout: October 19 – Summer 2023
  10. Brand delivered: July 1, 2023
  11. Launch plan developed: July – September 2023
  12. Tentative brand rollout: September 25, 2023

Terms of contract 

This RFP does not obligate Hennepin Theatre Trust to enter into a contract or award any work, nor does it obligate Hennepin Theatre Trust to pay any expenses related to the preparation and submission of proposals.

The Contract shall commence upon the execution of a contract by the Trust with the Awarded Contractor, with option for renewal at the Trust’s sole discretion. The contract term may not be extended except by amendment signed by the parties.

All prices are subject to negotiation with a Best and Final Offer (BAFO). The Trust may accept or reject any or all proposals and may issue a separate RFP for the services after rejecting some or all of the proposals. The services covered under this provision shall conform to the terms, conditions, specifications and requirements as outlined in the request. Any resulting contract may be amended only upon the issuance of a written amendment showing the revision(s) prior to the services being provided as agreed, approved and signed by both parties.

The Trust will accept only written questions and requests for clarification email to the attention of the personnel below. Inquiries and comments must reference this RFP. Send direct written questions to: [email protected]. Questions submitted to the Trust will be answered within two business days after receipt.

This project brief, and any information supplied by Hennepin Theatre Trust or any of its affiliates in connection with the preparation of a proposal, is confidential. It must not be disclosed, reproduced or used in any way by any agency except for the sole purpose of responding to this project brief. Likewise, all information that vendors provide in proposals and during negotiations, if held, will be regarded as confidential. Hennepin Theatre Trust will not disclose your proposal or interview results to other potential partners at any time without your express written authorization.

Thank you! We look forward to your response.