Ask Izzy: the A-to-Z directory of homeless help

BACK

How we helped build a brand that puts homelessness services in reach.

Background

‘Ask Izzy’ is a web and smartphone app that makes it easier for people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness to access information about essential services, when and where they need them.

Infoxchange was the key organisation driving the app’s development. The organisation, founded by Andrew Mahar over 25 years ago to harness technology for social justice, began a directory of homelessness services known as ‘Service Seeker’.

In many ways, the Ask Izzy app is the evolution of Service Seeker, and leverages the more than 350,000 health, welfare and community services now in the Service Seeker directory. Ask Izzy puts Service Seeker in your pocket, empowering people to take control, easily find location-based services, and get the support they need.

The Ask Izzy project came about as the result of a Google Grant awarded to Infoxchange. Google, Infoxchange, REA Group and News Corp then partnered to form a working group to develop the app.

In early 2015, the working group approached Disruptive Media for assistance with the name and branding for the app.

Approach

Disruptive Media partnered closely with the working group to determine the objectives and strategy underpinning the brand. Central to the approach was an in-depth understanding of the characteristics and needs of the end-users of the app, so we conducted several workshops with the two key audiences: citizens that were homeless or at risk of homelessness, with the assistance of the Council for Homeless Persons, and workers from HomeGround Services that support people in need.

The insights gleaned from the research and workshops were pivotal to the name and branding we developed for the app. One of the major findings was recognising that often, it only takes a few unfortunate events for someone to suddenly find themselves homeless – it can happen to anyone. For this reason, it was important that the app name was relevant to anyone in the community and that it did not label people experiencing homelessness through traditional stereotypes. The name ‘Ask Izzy’ was chosen to reflect a very friendly, approachable, helpful character – all key characteristics we identified through our research.

In addition, the name avoided any direct reference to ‘homelessness’, as our research showed that many potential users of the app did not think of themselves as homeless. The use of a character-based name is non-stigmatising and also avoids alienating people that do not consider themselves homeless, but that might benefit from the app’s services. The visual elements of the branding were designed to echo the friendly nature of the Ask Izzy character.

Projects

• Research and consultation underpinning communications strategy
• Development of name and key components of brand – visual language, logo, key messages, strapline
• Branding style guide to ensure correct usage and help build a strong, consistent identity

Outcomes 

• An A-to-Z directory of over 350,000 homeless-help services and information now at people’s fingertips
• Officially launched by Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, in January 2016
• 31,000 people visited Ask Izzy to find information about services for homelessness in its first month of launch

Visit infoxchange.net.au/ask-izzy

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