Magic Sauce: We Apply It Liberally

Photo by Jake Rushing
Photo by Jake Rushing

Sarah “Mac” McGowan (of this here Mac+Cob Business Therapy) and Helen Kim (The Think Farm) have been collaborating since they met just a few years ago. Maybe there was something in the air or more probably it was the coffee — but either way, some kind of magical synergy was formed, bringing the two of them together in creative harmony. They both specialize in branding, so what we might have chosen to view as potential competition, they recognized as an incredible opportunity.

Sarah Mac is inspired by the process of transformation — she loves guiding her clients through deep exploration to identify what motivates and drives their work, the dreams that they may have been too busy or afraid to pursue and the achievable plan that will get them there. Helen is an incredibly gifted graphic artist and illustrator. Her easy-going professionalism and intuitive artistry are the hallmarks of her craft — Helen ushers her clients through visual branding that is so much more powerful than just a logo. She articulates vision, passion and mission in clear, thoughtful ways, for her myriad clients.

As we near the finish line for their collaborative branding sweepstakes, MAKE YOUR MARK, Sarah and Helen wanted to share a few of the projects they’ve worked on together so far. And because they love surprise bonuses, they decided to ask each other 10 LA-based questions so you can see why they love this city so much and why it was so important for them to give back. Click here to see their answers!
 


 
The Silver Lake Chamber of Commerce
 
TheThinkFarm MacAndCob Collab 1The Silver Lake Chamber of Commerce is an organization that is near and dear to our hearts. It is, after all, how Helen and Mac met! (And then there’s the minor detail that Mac’s the President of the Chamber board 🙂 As new members, we both loved how the community-focused spirit of the Chamber made it stand out among a sea of other chambers that are all about “business as usual.” Because of our love for the neighborhood and this unique group, we really wanted the branding to feel more contemporary and akin to the spirit of the hip and eclectic community it represents. Updating the branding for a long-standing organization like this doesn’t happen overnight, and when the time came to produce the 2012 Member Directory, we both felt it was the right time to start testing the waters for a new face and voice for the SLCC. We definitely wanted the directory to be all about the people that make up the business community in Silver Lake so the decision to feature them prominently throughout the booklet was an easy one. We interviewed Chamber members, asking them to tell us in a sentence what Silver Lake means to them. Sarah Mac asked Helen to create digital illustrations to tell the story of Silver Lake business, so with her former assistant Janice Kim, Helen visited member businesses throughout the neighborhood taking photos of the proprietors as well as the people, places and things that make Silver Lake such a unique enclave in the city of LA. Using the established SLCC brand colors, Helen and Janice created photo-realistic portraits and images that were then placed throughout the directory along with quotes about Silver Lake. The final product is not only a useful piece of brand collateral, but it also tells the story of a community filled with people of eclectic perspectives and interests who are equally invested in our vibrant village.
 


 
Dr. Brandey Dollens, Chiropractor
 
TheThinkFarm MacAndCob Collab 2When Sarah initially met with Dr. B, all of her promotional collateral was homemade and her overall branding was undifferentiated from all the other chiropractors in her field. Youthful, enthusiastic and endlessly compassionate, Dr. B’s shining personality and genuine care for her patients were glaringly missing from her branding. We both knew she could do better. Dr. B bravely and diligently submitted to Mac’s Business Therapy (SM) process to identify and embrace her target audience, refine her brand identity, develop key messaging and shoot her new photos. Helen then took over, ushering Dr. B through the visual branding process, which resulted in a soothing, crisp palette of cyan and white. Dr. B’s stellar new look and logo finally speak to her dream target — pregnant women, mothers and children.
 


 
Exploring New Horizons Outdoor Schools
 
TheThinkFarm MacAndCob Collab 3When Mac initially met with Tracey Weiss, the Exploring New Horizons Outdoor Schools Executive Director, she immediately recognized the enormous potential for the school’s rebranding. Though the organization had a well-established reputation in the area for providing excellent outdoor education, its brand had not been updated since its founding in 1979. Affectionately described as “the chicken feet” logo by staff, Exploring New Horizons was poised for a brand new look and a whole lot of growth. After intensive site visits, a 3-hour brainstorming workshop with the Exploring New Horizons naturalists and staff up to develop the working list of concepts and descriptors that ultimately became the basis for our development of their new key messaging, tagline and image, Mac facilitated a half-day retreat for the board to complete this vision work and developed the strategic plan that would guide the rollout of their new look and message across platforms. Helen came on board to give the old logos a sophisticated, California look balanced by kid-friendly type face, executing a bold new color palette. In the process, we reaffirmed what we’ve always known is true — being in nature has the unique ability to inspire, educate, empower and transform!
 


 
As we near the end of the final Make Your Mark voting, we’re excited at the possibility of working with any of the amazing organizations who made it to the final round. Visit the Make Your Mark page and vote by April 9th for the organization of your choice. Find official voting images for each organization HERE. Read more about our finalists here and here.

Ready. Set. Go!
 


 
549350_10150881565453835_731618834_12703811_1005056066_nSarah McGowan is the owner and creative principal at MAC+COB Business Therapy, a Silver Lake-based creative services company specializing in branding, business development, communications and strategic planning. Committed to social justice and community building, Sarah helped create a national best-practices youth court for the city of San Diego, founded a public art program for teens and is the President of the Silver Lake Chamber of Commerce. She is also the Director of Development for the Echo Park Time Bank and serves on the Board of Directors for Law Project LA. Sarah’s love for language, genuine interest in people and belief in the power of transformation allows her to cultivate meaningful relationships with her clients to help them realize their vision. Sarah also makes a mean strawberry-balsamic jam.