Cempa’s Rebrand Is About More Than A New Logo

By David Martin

Organizations rebrand for all kinds of reasons. In Cempa’s case, their overhaul was tied to a fundamental recalibration of services.

Don’t worry, if the name Cempa Community Care doesn’t ring an immediate bell for you, it soon will. After all, chances are you already know the organization.

It’s true. You see, until 2018, Cempa was known as Chattanooga CARES.

“Oh yeah! I do know them,” you’re likely thinking.

Okay, now that we’re on the same page that you actually are familiar with Cempa, let me explain why they went through all the trouble of rebranding.

New services beget a new name

There are countless articles out there about how and why groups should rebrand. Typically, an organization will rebrand to bury an old image or tackle a new market segment or user base. Or, in some cases, a business or organization may rebrand because they’ve outgrown their original objectives.

In the case of Cempa, their change tied closely to the fact that they’ve drastically expanded their service offerings. In the Chattanooga CARES days, the organization primarily zeroed in on HIV/AIDS testing and education.

Today, while they continue to pursue their founding mission, they’ve broadened their original focus to include testing and treatment for a wide array of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and hepatitis C, the operation of a syringe exchange called StepTN, and the promotion of the PrEp treatment, which can limit the risk of acquiring HIV.

Discussing the change with the Times Free Press recently, Cempa’s CEO, Shanon Stephenson, says, “Our organization has done such a great job at combating the HIV epidemic . . . that we also wanted to be the champions for other causes."

And that point provides a great segue to a popular question about Cempa...

What does the new name mean?

The former name Chattanooga CARES was an acronym that stood for the “Council on AIDS Resources, Education and Support.” As you can see, that name was tied very closely to — as it is an abbreviation for — the previous, more tightly focused mission of the organization.

If you want to get to the nitty-gritty of the matter, as the services of the nonprofit expanded, the organization literally no longer fit the acronym-based name. So, it wasn’t that they just wanted a new name or a fresh logo. They actually had to change their name.

And Stephenson will be quick to tell anyone who asks — as she did in her quote to the Times Free Press — that Cempa is an Old English word that means “champion” or “warrior.”

Cempa’s future

Cempa casts a very wide service area net, as their footprint spreads across more than 20 counties in the region.

That vast terrain, combined with increased services, means the role Cempa plays in the community grows more impactful daily. And as more people learn all that Cempa does, the organization will have the chance to be the champion for an increased roster of patients… and for the entire region, as well.

We can all think of businesses who’ve rebranded poorly or for the wrong reasons. Cempa is a case study in doing it well for all the right reasons.

If you’re considering a brand overhaul, look no further than how the folks at Cempa managed that process.


David Martin is a co-founder of Heed Public Relations.