Brand message design and graphic art for Green Plus

A nonprofit in Durham, NC asked Design Kompany for some help with making a website, a brochure, and streamlining these and other marketing materials under a cohesive look.

This was the second time someone had asked us to take a look at their ‘brand messaging.’ (The first was Seattle software company Blue Gecko). Rather than developing a full brand identity design, our task would be to work with the existing logo mark, color palettes, and brand identity designs and use those plus thoughtful and strategic messaging to breathe freshness and vitality into the brand. How? By focusing the message.

More accurately, the sets of messages that came into shape once we created tools to separate the audiences.

Green Plus did some work to help area businesses and groups get certification as ‘Green Plus’-certified, meaning, they passed certain indicators identified by Green Plus and were able to say so. But who were they? I found out by calling customers, and asking why they opted to connect with Green Plus and go for certification.

Finding out who your customers are

Customer personas, is what we had called these, but other people will call it different things. Audience profiling seems a little bit creepy to me, so I stick with ‘personas’. Sometimes, you’ll hear UI/UX designers talk about ‘a day in the life’ of a user, so that you can get into their world, and understand better how to talk to them in the ways they will best connect. Of course it takes skill in discerning who you will be best reaching through what sorts of messages, and that is where Design Kompany stepped in, to help.

At the end, we gave our clients something they weren’t expecting at all: solid, clear and confident grounding on the ‘who we’re talking to, exactly’ question. This makes a world of difference when you are talking to people about your services, and you can shift the pitch based on the persona you’ve matched your potential customer with, when you visit with them and come to learn what their major concerns, pain points, values, and ideas about what you do could be.

Here’s what Sarah Kate Fishback who was our contact at Green Plus, said of our work together: ‘Anyone who’s worked for a startup-stage organization knows that gaining this clarity is far more challenging than one might think. We’ve incorporated the learnings from this exercise into all of communications, and it helps other people get it too. DK stressed that you have to earn your customer’s trust and loyalty. Truly great brands understand this. My favorite part of the process was the fabulous aha that came when we did our customer activity. DK had us name the personality traits of different kind of customers and once we organized these traits into personas, it was as if a veil had been lifted. Suddenly, conceptualizing what we do, the value we bring, and who we work with became clear.’

Here is DK’s design for the brochure:

Brochure design by DK
Brochure: inside, laid flat. Each audience we identified got a ‘panel’ with their specific, tailored message.

All of the audiences had one thing in common: they were pretty no-nonsense. Straightshooters, we knew that the messaging needed to connect with them.

That’s where ‘Nuts and bolts of doing green’ came in. I thought it suggested that there wasn’t going to be any frilly stuff, that the work that Green Plus was aiming to do was to the point, and I think, based on the feedback that came in from the team later, it was a message that really resonated with people. That’s what it took, though: first, I interviewed customers. Then, I suggested the four profiles. Then, I worked with the team to identify more deeply what each one’s core concerns would be. From there, we took the bird’s eye perspective to imagine what kind of catchphrase could work as a message to send out to the world about what Green Plus does, and give a hint as to how they do it.


Brand messaging is the keystone for trust, and for consistency in design

This was the first brand messaging project that Design Kompany took to completion and it’s where, I feel, our value truly lies. Sometimes people want to keep going, and that’s what we did in this instance, coming up with a graphics library, custom photography included, and a website design with illustrations we made for them, too. All under the overall theme, ‘Nuts and bolts of doing green.’

Ask DK about how we can work with you to clarify your company’s brand message.

Best if you’ve been in business for 5 years, it’s usually only around then that you’ll have a clear idea of who isn’t your audience, which is just as valuable data as understanding who (you think) is.