How does a legacy organization like the Boy Scouts of America pull itself out of perceptions/stigmas of being a childish, bigoted, and old-fashioned?

The Boy Scouts of America recently had a changing of executive members, with operational and philosophical changes - but strong stigmas still remain as being irrelevant, both to the general public and young men. The core legacy began as a preparatory organization for young men who may be drafted into war with survival skills. Through the years, the organization seemed to fall off from innovation and settled for making safe choices.

Gamification, UX, Business Modeling, Repositioning, NGO

Photo from National Geographic

Becoming a Classic

With heavily conservative ideals and an adversity to being able to meet modern trends, BSOA has become more of a national summer camp and outdoor activity club than a hip organization for molding adept outdoorsmen. This project was done after they were under the lens of the public for their views on LGBTQ leadership. With the new CEO, I thought it would be a good idea for a complete change in design, look, and business - a return to their original purpose, but with a modern application.

I was in the Cub Scouts - adorable, but not exactly what I felt was cool. Karate was cool.
A return to the military motif that BSOA started with.
Ridding of that horrible childish uniform.

Maturing the Brand

I asked a group of boys spanning from grades K-12 about their views on the Boy Scouts. The organization has become a synonym for someone who is a goody-goody (e.g. John is such a “boy scout"). This is good for adult rapport, but not good for gaining interest from boys. The problem is deep seeded - for example, boys don’t want to be called “boys.” Hence, I omitted the word completely. They wanted to be treated as men or at least aspire to it.

Taking it back to the start of an awesome brand was quite simple. The infrastructure was already set up for it - a merit based experience. For the tone and look - it was heavily influenced by existing military looks, so I looked at assets for the Air Force, Marines, Navy, and Army. This was the theme for everything - including the uniform, badges, nomenclature, and tonality.

Here a couple things changed:

  • Logo - a metal sheen, similar to American military logos.
  • Name - omission of the word “Boy” to just Scouts of America
  • Tagline - like American military mottos, translating “Be Prepared” to latin to give it more reverent tone
  • Military-esque uniforms - actually much more practical for outdoors activity, and including a name tag, rank patch, dog tag to this collection. Also, having ceremonial uniform.
  • Photography - using photography with older boys (aspirational for the younger ones), and doing things that are more advanced
  • Nomenclature - usage of Greek mythos for analogies. Greek myths are large enough to house multiple analogies throughout the website, and be archetypes for merit badges, etc.
  • Community - a strong sense of community and dynamic content - it’s important to have news and the ability to share one’s progress with peers (Profile page).
  • Integration with the shop - one the coolest parts of being a Scout is the awesome gear - showing recent purchases gives another aspect to share.
A more mature upgrade.


It’s a shame - BSOA may have been the ones to perfect gamification for business - and yet they never really built on it after the badges and medals. It was important to pay homage to this legacy and modernize it with being able to share progress on a profile page. It’s a way to show pride, show off accomplishments, and find others that have similar interests.

BSOA pretty much coined the analog gamification interface - yet they still don't have an online interface for it.

Integration With Gear

The Scout Exchange is an integrated site - following through with the same themes. It’s seamless with user profiles. The users also have a change to interact with community by showing off recent purchases, but also being able to trade items with other scouts in their community..

A seamless experience between the main site and the online store.