Sarah McGowan Dear

Re-branding = Archeology + Gardening + Permaculture

In Clients on May 18, 2012 at 3:50 pm

Growing in the garden of branding is a lot like permaculture | All content © MAC+COB

Re-branding is like archeology, gardening and permaculture all rolled into one. The more you dig, the more you understand your roots. The more you add the right mix of nutrients (good ideas, energy, resources) the richer your biodiversity becomes. The more you think about it all in a holistic, cross-pollinating way – as an ecosystem – the more you begin to understand how your branding is a living, evolving organism that is only as robust and healthy as your commitment to cultivate it.

Your brand is how you are perceived and experienced by your market. It’s the emotional and psychological connection between the customer and a product, service, company or organization. When you think of Nike, you imagine the Nike “swoosh” logo and likely think of Nike’s “Just Do It” tagline. But the logo doesn’t make the Nike brand, it’s merely the visual articulation of the brand – like the front door to your business. Neither does the tagline, “Just Do It” make the Nike brand, it just conveys the attitude, vision, promise and call-to-action – it’s the greeting above your front door letting people know what to expect when they come inside.

Your brand is all about the relationship between you and the people you do business with (or hope to do business with). It’s rooted in history and tells the story of where your business or organization started, how you got there, the values you hold, the promise you offer your customers and the vision of where you want to go. As your business grows over time, its needs, operations, capacity and output also evolve. Your brand needs to be treated like a living organism so it too can grow with your business. Sometimes that means re-branding.

When re-branding is done well, it’s a methodical process of reflection, mutual discovery and problem-solving. In essence, it means creatively and strategically re-imagining what your organization does, how it does it and why. When I work with clients, I often liken the beginning of the re-branding process to the journey all Angelenos go through getting to know their city. It’s archeology. The L.A. you start with is not the same one you’ve discovered five years later – you have to dig down to uncover the strata of culture, art and community that truly give life to and unite the city. Getting to the goodies below the surface takes dedication, patience and an endless supply of curiosity to see what lies beneath. The same is certainly true of the re-branding process.

For an organization with multiple stakeholders, the process of re-imagining a brand really takes teamwork. If only a few people “get it,” you won’t have the social capital or the consistency needed to push the new brand forward. Or, to take it back to the dirt, without the right amount of sun, water and biodiversity, your garden might survive, but it certainly won’t thrive.

So as we get into the Make Your Mark mode, we’re excited to see what our winner, the Altadena Urban Farmers’ Market, uncovers. We know they understand the value of interconnectedness, so we can’t wait to see how they build upon the strong foundation of the market’s past by thoughtfully envisioning their delicious future.



    MYM is the brainchild of Sarah “Mac” McGowan of MAC+COB Business Therapy and Helen Kim of The Think Farm.

    Learn more about the Make Your Mark contest on Facebook: facebook.com/makeyourmark.ready.set.go

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