The University of Maine Pulp and Paper Foundation recently underwent an exciting rebranding!
Over the course of eight months, we have worked with the full-service branding and marketing agency Warp + Weft out of Auburn, Maine. The process was split into three distinct but connected segments: Brand Strategy, Brand Identity, and Brand Experience. Focusing on each segment thoroughly and strategically is the specialty of Warp + Weft and one of the many reasons we chose to go with them on this journey.
The Brand Strategy phase began in January and was really focused on research and understanding. Both the Stakeholder Input and Report of Findings from the Strategic Plan and the Executive Committee Strategic Planning documents provided a strong base of information, specifics, and examples for our branding partners to work off of. Warp + Weft then conducted a competitive analysis looking at local, regional, national and global organizations similar to ours to construct an overview of competitors and the trends in messaging and visuals. The intent of this competitive analysis is to help in differentiating our organization from similar organizations while still remaining relevant. We also received a SWOT analysis breaking out our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to establish our place in the market. From this and multiple interviews with our organization’s staff, students, and graduates (both in-person and through the Strategic Planning documents as reference), the Warp + Weft team was able to identify our target market(s) – the people we need to focus our marketing efforts on that will bring us the most ROI. They call these “audience personas” which are fictional representations of each segment of our target market based on research, data, industry statistics and consumer behaviors. It was really quite fascinating! These personas let us know who we need to be talking to, how to talk to them and where they are listening. After all this work was complete, the phase ended with the UMaine Pulp and Paper Foundation’s brand positioning statement, which defines our angle in the market and guides all marketing efforts.
Quickly following the Brand Strategy phase was the Brand Identity phase where our new messaging and look were refined and defined. Messaging includes a new mission, vision, values, differentiators to know what sets us apart, benefits we bring to our target markets, an elevator pitch, and executive bios for our staff. We were also provided with 25-, 50-, and 100-word descriptors of our organization. These descriptors allow us to provide consistent messaging about our organization while saving us the trouble of reinventing the wheel every time a description is needed, or in avoiding the danger of letting other organizations control our messaging or story for us. The verbal part of our identity included a logo and updated color palette, and guidelines for usage. Seeing our brand come to life in a fresh and modern way was a highlight of the experience.
About our logo: Abstracted letter shapes reference the massive machinery with constantly moving parts within the pulp and paper mills. Strong geometric forms say stability, industry, leadership; movement between the forms say growth, potential, fastpace. The smallest part of the icon is also a visual reference to the sails in the UMaine logo and a sheet of paper.
The Brand Experience phase kicked off with a thorough website sitemap focused on usability and intuitive experience. Rewritten content based off our new brand identity as well as a custom build out incorporating the new visuals went into the programming. We also received newly designed and rewritten marketing collateral such as a brochure, and a social media strategy (we’re on Instagram now!). It’s been an in-depth process but it was well worth it. As we continue to work with Warp + Weft and move forward with our marketing efforts, we hope you enjoy the new brand as much as we do!