Comprehensive Brand Strategy: Enterprise Cascadia (now Craft3)
Diary of a Business Problem
Company: Enterprise Cascadia (now Craft3)
Base: Ilwaco, Washington
Business:Non-Profit Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI)
Since it’s founding in 1995, Enterprise Cascadia had always been closely tied to Chicago-based ShoreBank Corporation, one of its co-founders. As the non-profit west coast outpost of ShoreBank, Enterprise Cascadia’s brand identity and industry reputation had consequently been closely tied to that of its parent. Through the years, the company’s’ name changed repeatedly as it grew, evolved, and merged with other organizations—resulting in a great deal of brand confusion.
In 2010, Enterprise Cascadia experienced two major influences that initiated a brand development effort: the well-publicized failure of ShoreBank, and a growth spurt within the company. Enterprise Cascadia contacted CBC, and set out to create a strong independent identity separate from ShoreBank, and to reposition the organization to better reflect what it was truly becoming: the go-to regional Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) in the Pacific Northwest. No small undertaking.
The CBC Solution: Finding, Telling and Proving the Story
Enterprise Cascadia needed to clarify its own sense of identity—it’s brand story—and then communicate that story powerfully to its multiple audiences with both messaging and actions. In other words, they needed to Find, Tell and Prove their story. CBC was glad to lead the way.
Step 1: Finding the Story
CBC led Enterprise Cascadia through its Find the Story process of Brand Discovery. Using a series of in-depth discovery sessions involving small group conversations with staff, board members, borrowers and partners, CBC dug to the core of Enterprise Cascadia’s company soul and helped clarify the brand story. The resulting brand story centered around the idea that the company was primarily energized by its unique ability to amplify its resources into a disproportionate positive impact on the community. Through their unique approach to community development, they felt that with every dollar of their resources, they could seemingly generate 7-10 dollars in community impact. And that was very motivating to the team.
Based on the Brand Discovery findings, CBC developed a brand strategy and brand messaging platform, which formed the foundation upon which all other strategies and tactics were built.
Step 2: Telling the Story
Naming and Graphic Identity
Once the brand story had been found and the brand strategy and messaging were finalized, CBC developed a new name and graphic identity for the organization. Craft3 was chosen for the way it communicates several key aspects of the brand story. In short:
- “Craft” reflects the delicate approach the team employs to create its disproportionate outcomes—a true blend of relationship art and community development science
- “3” reflects the exponential community impact the organization is able to achieve
- The color palette reflects the Pacific Northwest landscape, where the company’s heart resides
The imagery reflects the way the company’s work bridges both rural and urban communities, and the hardworking, often industrial nature of many of its communities and borrowers
Creative Direction: Collateral Materials and Communications
Using the messaging outline, brand strategy and new name and identity as the foundation, CBC consulted with Craft3 to provide creative direction, art direction and content development in the creation of marketing collateral materials and communications directed at the company’s various audiences of funders and borrowers.
Website Strategy, Art Direction and Content
Similar to its leadership in developing the collateral materials and communications, CBC provided consulting, creative direction and content development to direct the creation of a new website for Craft3. The organization developed the site in-house with CBC’s guidance.
Step 3: Proving the Story
Touch Point Audit and Signature Touches
CBC conducted its proprietary Touch Point Audit for Craft3: a unique process for assessing how strongly a brand story is being proven and told throughout the organization. Additionally, CBC developed a suite of recommended “Signature Touches”: unique and memorable actions and practices for Craft3 to adopt in an effort to prove its story.
Throughout the engagement, CBC was closely involved in communicating directly with staff members. Craft3 treated CBC as an internal member of the team, inviting CBC to share progress and updates throughout the nine-month engagement, and to be heavily involved in presenting and explaining branding to the staff, and providing initial brand training.
Results: Increased Market Awareness and Internal Cultural Momentum
The newly renamed Craft3 has seen very positive results since announcing and launching its new brand identity and strategy in late 2011. The company has seen not only positive feedback and response from existing borrowers and partners, but has seen increased notoriety and awareness in its current markets and among its prospective borrowers and partners. Already a noted leader in the CDFI industry, the new brand strategy has also further positioned Craft3 as an innovator among Community Development Financial Institutions.
Equally important, the new brand strategy has generated internal cultural momentum among Craft3’s fast-growing staff. While already a strong, motivated team, the brand discovery process engaged and directly involved the team, and the resulting strategy gave the staff clarity, focus and a unifying message. The result is a cultural foundation upon which the company’s growth and expansion throughout the Pacific Northwest will be built.