A purpose-driven firm requires a polished start
Headwaters Coaching provides one-on-one mentoring, along with individual and corporate communications training, in support of an ambitious mission: “Renewing the human spirit for greater purpose, passion, and performance.”
When the company approached Chalkbox Creative, however, it was a brand-new business with nothing in place but ideas. The founder, John LaMunyon, was a Lutheran minister at the time—about to retire from that role, but ready to continue helping people discover their purpose. It quickly became clear to us that his skill as a mentor would benefit both individuals and companies. We readily agreed to help.
A high-level audience
Because the company was a blank slate (at least in terms of look and feel), we spent a lot of time talking about creative direction; as we do with all clients, we also discussed future business goals and the target audience. What challenges do potential clients face? What does the branding need to convey in order for them to feel confident in choosing Headwaters?
John’s ideal clients were C-level executives, individuals who have exceptionally high standards and expectations. In order to even receive consideration from this audience, let alone build trust, the branding for Headwaters needed to be refined and professional. The fact that the company was new in the industry only added to the importance of the initial brand impression.
Competitors and challenges
Several key challenges awaited us. Headwaters leads clients through a process that is organic, internal, and continual—and we wanted to create a look symbolic of that. At the same time, the branding needed to feel finished, presenting the firm as established and credible. We also were wary of inevitable clichés such as waves and waterfalls. In addition to being too obvious, their use risked making Headwaters look like a watersports coaching provider. (In fact, John is an avid kayaker and paddler. But it’s not what Headwaters does.)
Interestingly, we found much of the branding in this industry did not fit a C-level audience. After evaluating companies in unrelated industries that successfully target this same audience, we moved in a very different direction from Headwaters competitors—which is fitting, as John himself is quite different from many other coaches. In an era when some people simply declare themselves to be a “coach,” he has extensive training, including a host of coaching certifications and other qualifications.
A logo with purpose
Our internal vetting, which is typically robust, was even more aggressive on this project—we presented a handful of initial concepts, and absolutely everything that seemed like an obvious idea was scrapped. There are enough water logos in the world.
In the end, a line diagram John used to explain his process to us proved to be a key factor in the final logo, helping us tie it more closely to his “return to purpose” message.
The identity for Headwaters Coaching projects strength, clarity, and professionalism. But it also implies flow, an important note to strike for a company that helps people embark on a process of continual improvement. The visual and color selections bring to mind water as well, but subtly (rather than, say, hitting someone over the head with a kayak paddle).
‘I have a design partner that I can rely on’
We were pleased with the results, and so was John.
“Finding Chalkbox was a really happy discovery,” he said. “The work is polished, professional, and exceeded my very high expectations. It’s really nice to know I have a design partner that I can rely on as I grow my business.”
Our time with John has helped us grow, too. As you might imagine, working for (and with) a coach gave us the opportunity to reflect on what we do, and how we can improve our process. We got more comfortable with brutally vetting our concepts. We became better at deciding quickly where the greatest potential lies—and most important, we now are more willing to put the things with limited potential into the bin. All of that will benefit us, and our clients, going forward.
Do you have a new business?
A new business needs a brand identity that establishes trust and professionalism. Your mission, your promise, your story all can be lost on your target audience without the right look and feel. Who do you want to attract? How can you best reach them? We can help. Get in touch with Chalkbox today.
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