Denver Human Services

Removing stigma and cutting through the noise for Denver Human Services.


As Denver Human Services (DHS) updated its strategic goals and worked towards its vision of building a healthy community and helping all people reach their full potential, the agency recognized a need for consistent messaging across departments. DHS engaged Barefoot PR to guide the agency through this process and create a Research-Based Messaging Platform to help the agency identify and deliver on its brand promise with a consistent look and feel across departments.


Our in-depth research process included a landscape analysis to review national research on human services agencies and best practices for human-centered communication, analysis of client and employee surveys and internal data, facilitation of 11 focus groups with individuals representing the agency’s 20+ departments, several listening sessions at client and community events and a community partner survey.

Using this information, Barefoot PR created the Denver Human Services Message Book to guide all communications coming from the agency. The Message Book included:

  • Explanation of the need for consistent messaging
  • Key Messages that referenced the various functions of DHS
  • Customized messages for each DHS Department/Program
  • Proof Points
  • A “formula” for telling the DHS story to various audiences and using the updated messaging
  • Recommendations for building out the “DHS Brand Book” to support consistency among collateral

“Our brand is not a logo or a tagline, it’s what our audience sees, hears and believes about us. There can be a lot of stigma tied to our work and to the clients we serve. Having a consistent way to explain what we do and why we do it helps us cut through the noise with one, strong, coordinated voice to reduce hurtful stigmas and show the real impact DHS makes on the Denver community. Whether you’re serving clients at DHS or serving burgers at a backyard barbeque, let this framework be a communications tool to use when talking about DHS.”

Julie Smith, Former Director of Marketing & Communications for DHS

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