What happens when an international franchise network makes it their mission to give back to the thousands of communities they serve? They knew it had to be something big, bold, and impactful. And it needed to be an irresistible offer that would help businesses get back on their feet after the challenges of the pandemic. The idea that emerged was for AlphaGraphics to run a contest to identify three deserving businesses to win a business makeover.

Thus the Make It Happen Campaign—inspired by the makers, doers, and entrepreneurs who jump in and make it happen—came to life. By entering the contest, business owners would have a chance to lift their businesses with new branding, graphics, signage, décor, and marketing programs.

To win, businesses had to submit entries that demonstrated their community involvement and detailed the impact of the pandemic on their business. AlphaGraphics engaged the help of social media influencers to get the word out—and the contest caught the eyes of businesses all over the country, resulting in more than 600 entries for the three makeovers.

The businesses that entered had to put work into their submissions to stand out. Through videos and writing, they told their stories and focused on their commitment to their communities. They spoke of giving back through community engagement initiatives, supporting local charities, sponsoring teams, providing services, and participating in events. They made their case for how a makeover would change their business and help them grow. They explained how they had been impacted by pandemic shutdowns and why they needed a fresh start.

While each story was unique, many entrants talked about wanting to update their branding to stand out but finding the costs to change logos, signage, and collateral more than they could handle. As AlphaGraphics reviewed the submissions, three winners emerged.

AlphaGraphics had done makeovers with First Slice Pie Café in Chicago in 2019 and the Shrine of St. Anne School near Denver in 2021. The team drew on these experiences to determine how best to help the winners gain new visibility. New logos, color schemes, interior and exterior signage, print materials, websites, and digital marketing programs were all part of the package.

For the three winners, work began with a discovery process to allow the AlphaGraphics team to understand their business’ story and brand. Small businesses often don’t have the time or resources to do a deep dive into how they look, so this makeover provided that opportunity. The result of the discovery meetings was a plan for what elements to include in the refresh, from logo updates to signage, and more. The makeover also included a six-month digital marketing program to create more visibility for the business online.

The first winner was Tio Chilo’s, a restaurant in San Francisco’s Calle 24 Latino Cultural District, which had survived pandemic shutdowns but was struggling to attract new customers. The second-generation restaurant was built on serving great food to family and friends who knew the owners. They did not have a website, which made it hard for both locals and tourists to find them. The walk-up appeal of the storefront also needed an upgrade to make it more inviting. In an emotional call with the restaurant’s owner in February 2022, Liz Vazquez learned that she won the first makeover. What followed was a reinvention of Tio Chilo’s brand identity and storefront.

Using Tio Chilo’s bold new logo and color palette, AlphaGraphics updated everything from the restaurant’s signage to their printed menus. The makeover centered around a 32-foot wall graphic invoking imagery from the family’s Mexican heritage and local San Francisco landmarks. But it didn’t stop there. A new website was created to build Tio Chilo’s online presence beyond their loyal Facebook and Instagram following. In April 2022, Tio Chilo’s revealed their new look surrounded by members of their community. They are now on their way to continued growth!

(Above) Tio Chilo’s interior before AlphaGraphics’ campaign, and (below) after…

Since the Tio Chilo’s makeover, AlphaGraphics has continued to give back with two more Make It Happen contest winners: Dance Workshop in Pittsburgh, Pa., and Pleasant Air in Hampstead, N.C.

For 30 years, Dance Workshop has been a force for good in their community. They help students discover their love of dance while supporting organizations like Children’s Hospital and St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital through their charitable arm, Dancing for a Difference. After three decades, a new owner stepped in to run the studio just as the pandemic struck. While she scrambled to find ways to stay connected with students and continue Dance Workshop’s community outreach, Megan Kamberis knew a makeover could take the studio into the future.

Dance Workshop’s fresh look was revealed in May 2022, complete with a new brand identity to set them apart from other dance companies in the area. Inside the studio, vibrant purple and pink graphics brought a renewed energy to the visual experience. A newly installed backlit dimensional sign provided the perfect photo backdrop for students. The makeover package also included portable signage, printed collateral, tank tops, and water bottles that can travel with the dancers to performances at other venues.

(Above) Dance Workshop before AlphaGraphics’ campaign, and (below) after…

The final element of the refresh was an upgraded website and digital marketing program to aid in the studio’s recruitment efforts. Now, Dance Workshop is ready to lead the next generation in dance!

The third winner is Pleasant Air, a family-owned company in its third generation providing heating and air conditioning services to residents in Hampstead, N.C. The Crawford family wanted to update their 35-year-old branding and adopt a modern marketing approach to stay visible in their coastal community north of Wilmington, but budget pressures kept their dreams out of reach. Then they heard about the Make It Happen contest and decided to enter.

They began by documenting their extensive involvement in the community. The Pleasant Air team is actively involved with charitable organizations from Feed the Hungry to a local non-profit teaching golf. They donated their services to install an HVAC system at the neighborhood sports park, and they sponsor a recreational sports team whose members are from local law enforcement. While their reputation was strong in the community, they were not bringing in enough business from referrals alone. They needed a change.

With the completion of their business makeover from AlphaGraphics, Pleasant Air saw their dreams come true. Their outdated logo was replaced with a new one in a coastal color palette, giving them a clean, professional image that rivals even their largest competitors. The new branding was applied to their service vehicles—now freshly wrapped in hues of blue and teal—as well as their signage, uniforms, sales materials, website, and social media channels. As a result, the team at Pleasant Air says they are re-energized and excited for what’s to come.