Beyond an Experiment in Awesomeness*

2012 provided one of the best branding experiences I’ve had to date in the form of a contest, some very worthy non-profits and a partnership that continues to yield delicious fruit.

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Helen Kim of The Think Farm and I hatched a plan to offer our services through a social media contest, Make Your Mark, to a Los Angeles-based non-profit as a way to give back to the city that gives us so much. We were nothing short of thrilled by the passionate and socially conscious applicants who worked hard to promote their organizations to become our winner.

Sadly, there could be only one.

Happily, we were honored to work with some of the incredibly innovative and forward-thinking folks in the Los Angeles Time Banking community on a new kind of community market concept.

Once known as the Altadena Urban Farmers’ Market, theirs was an experiment in hyper-localism: a neighborhood market where folks came to buy, sell and trade local products and produce for both federal currency and time dollars. As the market grew in popularity, it began bursting at the seams, requiring a new strategy for growth and implementation, as well as a new identity.

Market manager Justin Bilow entered the AUFM into the Make Your Mark contest and handily won by leveraging the market’s various social media communities. I began working with them in April 2012 to dig deeply into their vision, mission, core values and emerging identity. Those foundational elements were then applied to the branding process to identify their target audience, market position, key messaging and new name.

With some deep exploration, care and nurturing, the Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Marketplace sprouted from the very fertile minds of some of Los Angeles’ most pioneering folks. The new market is set to re-launch this spring, and they’ll be using the brand platform that M+C helped them create and the visual branding pieces The Think Farm designed to present their new identity, vision and voice to the community they serve.

Helen and I are excited to see this new identity and brilliant concept take root. What started as an experiment in hyper-localism has grown into something much bigger, but that still remains true to its community-minded roots and values:

“Providing the space for community experimentation, play and paradigm shift by incubating small businesses and hyper-local exchange through the sharing economy.”

We wish them the best of luck in their new endeavor knowing they have the internal navigation system to reach their goals and the stellar visual branding they need to make their mark.

Added bonus: Originally conceived as a brand package giveaway one-off, Make Your Mark has continued to evolve – as all good things do – into a process that M+C and The Think Farm continue with new clients. Stay tuned for our work with another one of the MYM contestants, Viver Brasil!

*The title of this blog post is also one of the key messages developed for the Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Marketplace, but it aptly sums up how we also feel about our Make Your Mark experiment. Big thanks to ASNM for letting us borrow it for this piece!


sarahSarah McGowan is the owner and creative principal at MAC+COB Business Therapy. Sarah makes a mean strawberry-balsamic jam.