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  • brucemckinnon

Giving the world a hug - Brand Arrow® in 2022

Updated: Dec 8, 2022




I have had a genuinely exciting year working with a diverse range of clients from all corners of the planet, and from all kinds of sectors.


In this brief roundup, I’m going to highlight two quite different clients and the challenges they posed. Both projects as it happens, were delivered through my Brand Arrow® online workshops which work incredibly well for dispersed teams, save a ton of travel money and carbon too!


No better place to start than with chocolate


The vast majority of chocolate making is not done in the countries where the cocoa is grown - countries like Ghana and Grenada - it’s exported to countries that have the capacity to turn it from cocoa into chocolate - countries like the US and Switzerland. This has meant that for centuries, cocoa farmers have not been able to gain greater value for themselves and their communities by selling a product already manufactured.


Until now that is. Spanning the Caribbean and Africa, the Cross Atlantic Cocoa Collective is a network of farmers and chocolatiers that grows and manufactures very high quality chocolate, using wonderful local blends of spices and flavours, all with a very high cocoa content.


Over the last couple of months, I have run a series of zoom workshops with this mix of activists, farmers and chocolatiers. We all learnt a lot from each other, and for me, the challenge was to develop a brand strategy that would be true to the brand’s deep commitment to social and political change. But it also had to shape messaging that would end up on the packaging and be compelling for consumers - a challenge I first came across with when I developed the messaging to launch Cafédirect, the UK’s first fair trade coffee brand.


It has been a brilliant project and I am deeply grateful for the trust placed in me by the collective to help them define their barrier-breaking brand. The new strategy, by the way, will be rolled out in 2023 so I will keep you posted.


However, if you are based in the US, you can buy their latest shipment of chocolate from Equal Exchange - ironically, another one of my another one of my clients. I developed their brand strategy and identity 25 years ago - and it’s nice to see it’s still going strong!


From extremely good chocolate to extreme medicine


Founded by Mark Hannaford - an expedition leader and adventurer - who discovered he knew more about medical treatment in extreme environments (deserts, jungles, mountain tops and the like) than the medics the expedition hired. And so he began delivering courses in extreme medicine, and 20 years on, his organisation, World Extreme Medicine, has trained 20,000 medics!


Over the course of those 20 years, it has grown into a myriad of genuinely different and exciting services. You’ve got courses from Oman to the Alps to Nepal, the world’s only MSc in extreme medicine, programmes on space medicine with NASA, and the provision of medical support for the Mission Impossible film franchise.


So how do you take a brand that does so much different stuff with so many different organisations and align it all behind a singular focus?


Well, the thread that runs through everything and everybody at World Extreme Medicine is that they are continually pushing boundaries. From the physical limits that the teams endure, the advances in medicine that those challenges bring about, and the way that experience stretches the skills and mindset of the whole community.


Simple and straightforward, but immensely potent, you’ll find it embedded in the logo and everything that they now do.


Having defined their brand strategy in 2021, this year was about rolling it out to the whole organisation, developing a marketing plan and working with their brilliant team and agencies to design and build an amazing new website, which you can see here.


In between those two projects there has been a dozen more - a groundbreaking fin-tech, a very cool visual effects studio, an architectural engineering firm (they have actual workshops not the kind I do!), a global cyber security PR agency, and even a church to name but a few.


I have also fitted in lots of speaking events and workshops, most notably with the CEO network Vistage - and so if you would like me to come and talk on how brand strategy can help align your organisation behind a shared point - drop me a line here.


Good Christmas, happy holidays, and a safe and blessed 2023.


















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