Methods Used: Competitive Analysis, High Fidelity Digital Prototyping, Journey Mapping, Personas, Research Through Design (Songwriting)
Tools: Sketch, Axure RP, Keynote, Acoustic guitar and voice
My Role: redesigning Instagram and Youtube channels and visual identity, writing brand mantra, personas and song, detailed rebranding strategy roadmap
FINDING THE STORY
“… the shortest distance between a human being and truth is a story." — Anthony DeMello
Our team was engaged by Gaard One, a young tech-forward outdoor equipment B Corp, to craft a multi touchpoint user experience. I used Gaard One’s deck and existing digital assets as a jumping off point and began researching other B Corporations to get a sense of how they marketed themselves.
Broad patterns began to emerge: established, large brands like Patagonia and Warby Parker’s activism was given light emphasis on home pages, but after the jump had lavish interactive maps of giving emphasizing local impact.
By contrast, smaller brands like Love Your Melon and Tom’s Shoes had their mission front and center on their web sites. There seemed to be a clear trend - early on, go big with the message to differentiate your product. Later, keep a deep dive experience for your core audience but a light touch for the broader market.
These brands don’t just sell goods, they anchor their users in a place of meaning within their lives, offering clear statements about who they are as people and what their values are.
A meeting was set with Nate and Will Heegard. In person, their passion really shone through - it was clear that they were committed to their conservation mission. They knew who they were and what they cared about. We had a real opportunity to help them tell their story.
FOCUSING THE BRAND
Looking ar Gaard One’s products through the lens of narrative and meaning, it was clear that community, caring for past and future generations, and security and peace of mind were key psychological touchpoints that we needed to incorporate visually.
I decided to use the Power of Three to write a brand ‘mantra’ that tied core values and core products together:
To Get You There (backpack and folding chair, light)
To Get You Home (light, power brick)
To Bring You Back (conservation, the land itself)
I selected imagery that spoke to Gaard One’s core values and love of the land - a story of young people taking the technology they grew up with into the wilderness with them, and coming back again with new experiences and resonant values.
I stripped the logo down and gave it a cleaner, more tech focused look:
TELLING THE STORY IN SONG
“On some nights I believe that a car with the gas needle on empty can run about fifty more miles if you have the right music very loud on the radio.”
― Hunter S. Thompson
Why song? More than just an earworm, music affects brand perception and is a powerful shorthand to establish identity - not just at the trade booth, but in the future marketplace. I decided on a low-key, folksy but self aware style in order to resonate with Gaard One’s target market. Gaard One’s story was told as a multi generational user journey, where the shared values of love of nature and stewardship of the land bring a grandfather, his granddaughter Esme, and his son closer together.
SALES GROUND ZERO: THE TRADE SHOW BOOTH
Because the bulk of sales were still at trade shows, it was crucial we establish our new brand identity there. We designed a backdrop incorporating a modified logo and mantra. In addition, a VR head set was proposed both as a draw to the booth itself and as a way to forcefully illustrate their mission by showing footage of the land conserved at Belwin Nature Reserve.
The team wireframed an app as a way to sign up customers at the booth to future outdoors events with partner organizations and at Belwin, emphasizing values of community and shared responsibility.
THE SALE IS MADE: WHAT NEXT?
Neuroscience tells us that reading something held in the hand keeps its message in the brain longer.
We proposed that with each product, the customer receives a deed showing the amount of land they’ve conserved along with a shortened url leading them to a web page with a tiled map showing how much land they and their fellow Gaard One customers have saved.
SOCIAL MEDIA AND COMMUNITY
A Forrester report has shown that engagement with brands on Instagram is 10 times higher than Facebook, 54 times higher than Pinterest, and an astonishing 84 times higher than Twitter.
A rebranded Instagram presence was going to be key, telling the story of Gaard One through its mantra in three part Instagram stories and themed posts. I interspersed striking photography of Minnesota’s wild places with the brand’s logo superimposed to reinforce Gaard One’s identity as a Minnesota grown company.
A YouTube channel was also mocked up, with product showcases interspersed with brand ambassadors hiking conserved land while using Gaard One products. A rebranded website completed the picture.
THE ROAD AHEAD
All these recommendations and assets needed to be anchored in the world: rebranding is not a small undertaking, even for a young company. I drafted a timeline and comprehensive breakdown of steps to be taken, covering everything from internal stationary to broken links. We had Gaard One’s story, and now we knew how to tell it.
Gaard One is a small but passionate group of people with an excellent balance of drive, ambition, creativity and real world experience. It’s my hope that we’ve cleared a path for them so that they can forge ahead with their values as a north star.