Nonprofit spearheading Philly's 2026 celebrations debuts new brand identity

A local nonprofit looking to throw the nation a 250th birthday bash the city will never forget is debuting a new brand identity on Monday that highlights its Philadelphia roots. 

USA250, a local organization helping to lead Philadelphia’s 2026 celebrations, is changing its name to Philadelphia250 and adopting the slogan “By the people, for the people.” The group is dedicated to promoting the 250th anniversary of American Independence, which took place when the Declaration of Independence was signed in Philadelphia in 1776. Founded by Philadelphians, USA250 was incorporated in 2011.

The organization’s new brand speaks to the “grassroots, bottom-up approach” it’s taking to involve the local community in the celebration, Philadelphia250 Executive Director Danielle DiLeo Kim said. “By the people” is a nod to the celebration being “people driven” and aimed at using the “revolutionary spirit” of the Declaration of Independence to drive participants’ passions and aspirations. The slogan's “for the people” component nods to the “legacies that we as a city collectively want to leave behind.”

“We want this to be an inclusive and diverse opportunity for all voices to be heard and stories to be told to make sure that the histories that are being shared are inclusive and diverse and not just the traditional stories that we might be more familiar with,” DiLeo Kim said. 

To do so, the nonprofit will roll out a five-year civic engagement program in the coming months that will gear up the Philadelphia region for the big year. A series of community engagement events and discussion forums at potential venues like local recreations centers will inform Philadelphia250’s programming leading up to 2026, based on participants’ feedback. In this community-driven way, the celebration will encapsulate the nonprofit’s enhanced slogan, DiLeo Kim said.

Philadelphia250 is actively fundraising for its 2026 plans and seeking partnerships with corporations and foundations. The organization strives to increase locals' "pride, ownership and engagement" with Philadelphia through the 2026 campaign.

Former Philadelphia mayor and Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell chairs Philadelphia250's board of directors.

DiLeo projects momentum around the nation's semiquincentennial will continue to ride the wave of 10 consecutive years of growth for Philly tourism. In 2018, 45 million people visited Philadelphia and the five-county region and generated $7.6 billion for the local economy. But the anniversary can be an economic driver inside the city, too, DiLeo noted. 

As Philadelphia becomes a place that’s “actively working on itself," it becomes attractive for businesses to relocate, expand or continue operating here, she said.

Philadelphia250’s plans for the semiquincentennial align with its participation in the Philadelphia Global Identity Partnership, a cohort of about 40 local businesses and organizations aiming to revamp Philly’s public messaging to attract business to the area. The core tenants of the messaging are Philly’s personality, diversity, human connection and history and ingenuity.

“We took the brand identity that’s come out of that process and incorporated that into the mission and vision statement of Philadelphia250, so we are living and breathing the global identity of Philadelphia,” DiLeo Kim said. “It completely aligns and we’re huge supporters of the initiative, so there will only be greater alignment as we get closer to 2026.”

Article originally published by Laura Smythe, reporter, Philadelphia Business Journal

Photo credit: Independence Hall by Paul Loftland for PHLCVB