For almost 60 years, The Sertoma Center of Knoxville has been providing comprehensive life services to adults with intellectual disabilities. Sertoma currently serves approximately 140 people and their families. After so many years of serving the community, The Sertoma Center was due for an upgrade. Ackermann started rebranding The Sertoma Center through research. Most importantly, we researched community perception. We wanted to gauge community awareness of services for adults with intellectual disabilities and the perception of The Sertoma Center. Some things we considered in our research were, services for adults with intellectual disabilities; familiarity with The Sertoma Center; perceived differentiation of similar organizations; identify more likely volunteer and support roles; and initial naming considerations. The audience for our research consisted of approximately 100 people in Knox County, ages 30-70, with a household income of $75,000+.
Our results found that 62 percent of people surveyed know someone related to an adult with intellectual disabilities, 51 percent were familiar with the organization, and without any name reference, people were most likely to expect The Sertoma Center, among others, to provide services to adults with intellectual disabilities. But, when given options, people did not prioritize The Sertoma Center to provide these services. Based on our research, we recommended changing the organization’s name to Sertoma. We concluded that the “center” was no longer the sole focus of the organization, and “Sertoma” already had brand equity within the Knoxville community. The new tagline “A Community of Purpose, Empowerment, and Promise for People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities” differentiates Sertoma from similar non-profits and speaks to the practical and emotional outcome of Sertoma’s support. Through rebranding, Sertoma is now able to clearly communicate its values to the public and reach a broader population to serve.