The Seed Capital Initiative is a low interest rate financing program available to business start-ups throughout Atlantic Canada. With a wide range of services offered; the program also provides young entrepreneurs (between the ages of 18-34) business expansion loan opportunities, helping to aid in the successful growth of local businesses.
The Seed Capital Initiative is run from 6 participating organizations across the Atlantic provinces; 3+ Corporation, Enterprise Saint John, Ignite Fredericton, CBDC Central PEI, Centre for Entrepreneurship Education and Development and Metro Business Opportunities. While these organizations offer the same loan options via the (former) Seed Capital Initiative, they are spread across multiple offices spanning from Halifax, NS to St. John’s, NL. Their lack of consistent branding/ messaging had led to confusion for potential clients looking for essential and relevant information to their specific home region as well as a disjointed approach to stakeholder communications.
Empowering. Experienced. Attentive. Progressive.?
In order to ensure a deep understanding of the program and the potential challenges for our target audience, we conducted an extensive marketing research phase. This included analyzing both the internal processes of the current loan program as well as an assessment of the industry via "shopping" the competitors services.
The foundation for our rebranding work was built on the comprehensive marketing strategies our team formulated from the results of our research - from how the program could be better promoted externally to increasing internal staff brand buy-in.
Unique Selling Points (USP)
To better direct and target future sales efforts, we analyzed our market research to clearly define Impacts Unique Selling Points. By focusing our strategy on what truly makes Impact unique, we were able to build a brand that speaks to their prospective clientele. Such as;
- Low Interest Rate
- Location (Atlantic Canada)
- High-Risk Lending
- Business Skills Training
- Client Support Throughout Lifetime of Loan
- Expansion Opportunities
Look & Feel
From the kick-off of this project, we strived to embody the essence of entrepreneurship. From the excitement of new opportunities to the thrill of becoming your own boss, we wanted to capture the spirit and energy behind every new venture.
When it came to naming the new brand our team went through a series of in-depth brand-storming sessions that included client consultations with all partners involved. Working with 6 agencies on choosing one consolidated name was a very collaborative process; the result was a name that all partners felt was reflective of their individualities while epitomizing their vision for the future of the program — Impact.
Lettering & Typography
Because the Impact program offers clients much more than monetary support, including training options, mentoring experiences and additional resources, the tagline More Than A Startup Loan was a natural addition. The tagline helps Impact visually differentiate the program by highlighting their value added services.
We used a bold yet casual font to help us differentiate the look of the Impact logo from other traditional loan programs; establishing a sense of playfulness while remaining professional. .
The Impact interchangeable alternate tagline is a fun and playful approach to highlighting the Impact program advantages. The “Impact Your…” campaign was created to help leverage the new brand across all mediums while increasing brand awareness in our target markets. Its adaptability lends itself well to an integrated marketing campaign spanning everything from Facebook header images to transit banner advertisements.
We suggested using key words that exemplify the goals of the Impact loan program as well as the entrepreneurs, such as;
The financial services industry is shrouded in a sea of green, we opted to take the less obvious route and chose an eclectic and vibrant shade of blue for the main branding colour. Sticking true to our brand attributes, we wanted to play-up the excitement level of entrepreneurship and maintain a sense of energy that we feel the shade of blue helps to reflect.
To support the lively hero colour we designed branding collateral with a neutral and stabilizing grey, which both anchors and compliments the blue.
The extensive branding work was only the tip of the iceberg compared to the internal marketing strategy our team presented. The recommended strategies put forward work hand in hand with the newly minted Impact brand in order to successfully roll out and promote the program. Focusing on a seamless transition across all participating organizations, the marketing strategy touched on areas such as; traditional and non-traditional advertising, marketing collateral, internal communications, event opportunities and stakeholder relations.
Integrated Marketing Campaigns
To help establish consistent brand messaging across all 6 organizations, we suggested the creation of integrated marketing campaigns that could be rolled-out across their various platforms (online/non-traditional and offline). For the launch of the new Impact brand look & feel we suggested the implementation of an interchangeable tagline. See one of our suggested concepts below.
To help support future sales and marketing efforts, we developed an integrated campaign concept that is adaptable to various mediums (online, print, tv, etc) celebrating the success of Impact clients while addressing a major concern for potential borrowers - the unknown. Branching out on one’s own and becoming an entrepreneur is a huge step most people and was identified as a barrier preventing clients from applying to the Impact program.
The Lasting Impact campaign would focus on well-known entrepreneurs whose businesses are thriving within their region. By sharing success stories of Impact-funded entrepreneurs, we are leveraging their successes to help aspire future clients and make the process of starting a business more attainable.
We didn’t want Impact to get lost in a crowd of financial industry advertisements and campaigns that are often too easy to overlook. For future printed advertising we recommended staying cheeky, fun and original with both design and copy. Because Impact’s clients are individuals who are excitedly starting on a journey of starting their own businesses, it is important that the same level of enthusiasm be reflected in Impact marketing campaigns.
Wanting to stray far from the generic ads, we pitched a concept that was a little out of the box, but still perfectly positioned with smart messaging to reach their desired target market - in a place with fewer of life’s distractions!
From the outset of the branding discovery sessions our team quickly identified the need for the implementation of a united, singular website - a platform that would serve as a resources hub of essential information for all Atlantic Canadians looking to get started on their entrepreneurial journeys. We feel this tool is crucial to the continued success and growth of the Impact program, serving as a central centre for all resources and eliminating prospective consumer confusion; thus ultimately overcoming one of the programs biggest challenges as identified in the research phase.
We envisioned the site to be extremely user-friendly, allowing for easy access to application forms, criteria instructions and relevant contact information clearly identified for each region and/or program branch office. Utilizing the Impact look and feel, the site would feature content that is simple to understand while staying on brand message and ensuring the the unique tone of voice and spirit is thoroughly represented.
Because the six partnering organizations that run the Impact program all wished to maintain their own individual social media accounts, our team focused on creating a strategy that would create flexible guidelines while maintaining a consistent branded look & feel.
Without a singular, dedicated social media platform for the program, to help build brand awareness and tie together related content between the partnering organizations, we advised that content should be accompanied with the Impact-branded hashtag and tagline — #MoreThanAStartUpLoan
Our overall plan also included elements such as, future content suggestions, SEO keywords and phrases and impactful post examples.