Purpose Project update: How we helped develop a brand guide and pre-empt chaos

“The Purpose Project has educated Beeproject Apiaries on our own brand. It made us more confident in the image we are putting forward as well as more conscious of of our design assets in engaging with the public. We’ve been given the tools we need to make us easily identifiable in this world of poor attention spans. Manoverboard saw value in what we are doing. We believe and value the same things.”
—Beeproject Apiaries

Time also flies

It’s been about a year since Manoverboard had the pleasure of working with Beeproject Apiaries who were participants in our Purpose Project service grant initiative. Recently we had the opportunity to catch up with Beeproject to discover what they’ve been up to and how the work we did together on establishing their brand guide made a difference to the design and business challenges they had been facing.

Meet Beeproject Apiaries

Chris and Lindsay are the husband and wife team behind Beeproject Apiaries. They have long felt that food security and sustainability must become a focus for society and the beekeeping industry, in order to overcome the many food and population issues on the horizon. Beeproject is helping people in Winnipeg connect to their food, to their community and to the natural world.

As a social enterprise, Beeproject specializes in honeybee hive installation and work with organizations and individuals around the city, as well as local honey and educational events for the public.

Build it and they will come. But first, City Hall.

The Beeproject team had a solid foundation to build upon. Chris had beekeeping expertise and a wealth of experience gained as a hive inspector with Manitoba Agriculture. Lindsay grew up on a farm that specialized in pollination using leafcutter bees. As part of their back-to-the land / do-it-yourself explorations, Chris purchased five hives that first year and their investment started to grow.

Interest soon became passion and then passion became mission when the duo turned their sights on establishing Winnipeg’s first urban hives. In 2012, the team began working with City Hall to revise by-laws that prohibited urban beekeeping. With some political headway achieved, a number of rooftop hives on downtown buildings and in residential areas were installed by Beeproject in 2016. It was Beeproject’s clear articulation of the benefits of restoring and enhancing the bee population that finally won over City Hall in 2017. Property owners throughout Winnipeg are now permitted to keep beehives on their property.

High-profile advocacy as well as grassroots workshops for schools and groups have made Beeproject the touchstone for people interested in hobby beekeeping in the Winnipeg area.

Beeproject’s biggest challenge — outside of City Hall

Beeproject felt that their biggest challenge was coming across as a professional organization to potential clients. They knew that what they do and what they sell relies upon a strong aesthetic appeal, and a consistent brand look and feel. And they felt they lacked the skills to effectively get image and message into a visual. With no graphic design background, they were increasingly relying upon a variety of freelancers and agencies to develop their visual identity, including creation of labels, signs, brochures, etc. The numerous players involved and the overall lack of connection among the components became a source of stress on Beeproject’s time and budget.

Enter the Purpose Project

The Purpose Project was conceived as a way to commemorate a noteworthy milestone for Manoverboard. We wished to honour our 15 years in business as a values-based design studio by giving back to the community in a more intentional way. To this end, we offered a service grant for an eligible non-profit or social enterprise focused on seeking a positive change.

When Manoverboard selected Beeproject Apiaries as one of two service grant recipients, we were excited by the possibility of having an impact on promoting the importance of pollinators and urban agriculture in our province. We also liked the idea of helping Beeproject connect urbanites like us with the impactful decisions we have on the natural world.

Let’s get to work

When we first met with Beeproject to get up to speed on their current design challenges, we discovered that the founders had both recently quit their nursing careers to turn their attentions to a recently expanded line of honey-based products, and Beeproject’s design needs had outgrown what they were able to manage in-house. Outsourcing became a matter of necessity.

“We often joke that if we had known that we were going into business instead of practicing nursing, we would have gone through a graphic design program and business school.”
—Chris and Lindsay, Beeproject Apiaries

All businesses have a brand

When starting their business, many of the labels, signage and other brand assets were farmed out to various affordable designers. After working with a handful, they realized what a mash-up of brand elements they had accumulated; some of the assets went in a significantly different direction than their original incarnation. According to Lindsay, “Junior people had a harder time understanding what we wanted and needed. They didn’t know the ins and outs like a more experienced designer would. This lead to challenges.”

The design inconsistencies made it clear that the first step for Manoverboard was to conduct a brand audit. We know that a lack of consistency in visual elements confuses both consumers and employees alike, resulting in a loss of sales and opportunities. Over the course of a few meetings, our team worked with Beeproject in poring over what design pieces they had, and what did or did not work.

“Manoverboard made us feel validated and also assured that they had professional expertise — that they can help us.”
—Chris and Lindsay, Beeproject Apiaries

All businesses have a brand, sure — but not all businesses have a brand guide

It’s common knowledge that brand-guided companies outperform their competitors, with results that improve profitability. We suggested to Beeproject Apiaries that a brand guide would be the cornerstone to building a powerful, recognizable brand identity. It would be an essential tool in the shaping of all future marketing materials. Beeproject needed to standardize their creative approach to brand identity, making it easy to recognize while heightening visibility and credibility in the minds of customers. With a clear set of guidelines, employees would also be empowered to be self-reliant to make decisions on their own.

The new brand guide was put to good use when Manoverboard created a number of new brand assets for Beeproject including launch party invitations, pins, labels, and a pop-up sign.

Beeing the impact

“At our first meeting, the development of a brand guide was offered to us. We weren’t sure that was what we wanted — we didn’t really know what a brand guide was or meant. Now we totally know why they pushed for the guide. This is very valuable. We have preempted chaos.
—Chris and Lindsay, Beeproject Apiaries

The top three main benefits that Beeproject identified as a result of having clear and concise brand guidelines were:

  1. Clarity: This helped with all communications when working with outside vendors
  2. Empowerment: The organization had the brand guidelines to fall back on when there was any question as to how to move forward in branding
  3. Time savings: The guidelines act as a visual shorthand when developing marketing communications tools

In Beeproject’s words, here’s how their new brand guide has impacted their work:

“Manoverboard has created something of incredible value for us, that truly exceeded our expectations. The guide makes it so much easier and less time-consuming to assemble the design materials that we require: fonts, colours, what things should look like, it’s all there. This gives us a bit more gusto in creating what we can ourselves, and confidence in knowing what’s right for our brand when dealing with a graphic designer. Manoverboard also created a number of beautiful new items for us that are wonderfully appealing. We are very proud of the labeling they created for our retail space — it’s simple, clean, educational and photogenic which makes social media a little easier.”

We were happy to help the bees — and Beeproject

If you’d like to know more about Beeproject Apiaries, please visit their site and give them a loud shout.