Helping a higher purpose take flight
A key pillar of New Kindness, New Kind’s three-pronged community service initiative, is contributing our talent through pro bono consulting projects for mission-driven organizations. For those expecting a nonprofit organization, our first New Kindness client might come as a surprise: Brand Fuel, an innovative brand merchandising agency and, since our project concluded, a fellow B Corp.
Why Brand Fuel?
How can branded swag make the world a better place? Put simply, Brand Fuel is helping us clean up our own arena: branding and marketing. A brand isn’t just an idea, a design, or a set of guidelines. It is also expressed through sales activations, employee engagement activities, apparel, coffee mugs, backpacks, and countless other physical touchpoints (aka merch or swag). Ultimately, brand merchandising is a tangible representation of many of New Kind’s own branding efforts.
In many cases, that merchandise is under-thought and underbaked. How many times have you received a stress ball, cheap pen, or other useless tchotchke that you threw out the second you made it back to your hotel or home? What does that mean for the environment? And for the company that put their name on what is now instant trash?
The Brand Fuel team aims to change that. And has demonstrated their purpose by applying for and attaining B Corp status within an industry often seen as commoditized and wasteful. This company, with a highly motivated and dedicated leadership team, became our first New Kindness client.
Preparing for Liftoff
Step one for any successful pro bono project: Constructing a process that allows us all to do our best work. We crafted a tight two-month timeline, setting clear deadlines for our work and Brand Fuel’s feedback, so we could efficiently create:
- A brand story that reflects their purpose-driven mentality,
- A messaging architecture to attract customers that share their values,
- And a visual toolkit that evolved their look and feel.
With the overall goal of aligning Brand Fuel’s offerings with B Corp values and delivering in sync with the timing of their B Corp application process.
We began with research and an intensive initial working session. Working closely with the founders and a partner firm, Noel & Co. (yet another B Corp!), we surfaced Brand Fuel’s existing business model and goals for the future. A breakthrough moment occurred when we collectively reframed how key audiences use branded merch: we established the path from trade show swag buyers to champions of company and customer values.
That process made apparent how well-meaning companies start “logo-slapping” and creating “brandfill” (branded products destined to be thoughtlessly thrown out, ending up in a landfill), and how Brand Fuel could guide their customers to a better way of doing business.
Messaging that Ignites Imagination
We began writing our story with the simple question, “what if branded merch was a force for good?” From that kernel, we crafted a narrative arc that defined brandfill as the problem to tackle, showed how Brand Fuel was tackling the problem, and ended on a memorable Big Brand Message: Fuel Your Brand. Propel Your Purpose.
In an industry that is often seen as a race to the cheapest vendor, we needed to make sure the story was clearly relevant to customers. To do that, we created a new messaging architecture built around three pillars.
These pillars emphasize the dollars-and-cents reasons Brand Fuel makes sense for customers, as well as the emotional benefits that thoughtful brand merchandising can bring to organizations:
- Strategic Sourcing (the most strategically and responsibly sourced products)
- Made for Modern Brands (a savvy and exciting physical and digital innovator)
- Global Fun Factory (A global producer of fun with purpose, from corporate social responsibility to day-to-day interactions).
A New World of Visual Vibrancy
Finally, we designed a lightweight visual element guide that evolved Brand Fuel’s visual brand identity. It maintains brand equity by creatively incorporating their existing rocket logo and typeface, and modernizing their bright red and yellow palette. It evolves the brand by incorporating new bold, modern type treatments inspired by classic concert posters. That way we could incorporate the founders’ love of rock n’ roll as a symbol of originality and creative rebelliousness.
An expanded color palette includes rich purples and blues that emphasize exploration, and soft blues and tans to ground the brand when it speaks to topics around sustainability and social responsibility.
A new arc motif references the trajectory of the Brand Fuel rocket, representing the upward momentum of their customers and the view of the earth’s curvature as we explore the unknown. This shape can be expressed in multiple ways to add depth and interest to layouts.
To Infinity and Beyond
The Brand Fuel working team was thrilled with the finished product we created together, and asked us to introduce the new story, messaging, and updated visual identity to the company at an all-hands meeting. It is now being rolled out, starting with a blog post announcing their successful B Corp certification.
Danny Rosin, Brand Fuel’s co-President, noted, “We were really impressed with the sprint to deliverables and the quality delivered. You all have a gift for listening, opinionating, and delivering thoughtful, original, and wildly creative concepts that have us gushing.”
We couldn’t be happier to hear it.
After a successful start, we’re incredibly optimistic about the future of New Kindness projects. What’s better than putting our talent to work in service of our community and our world?
Know of any exciting new projects for New Kindness or New Kind as a whole? Drop us a line at the email below.