Scattered Brand Umbrella
When you’re a sorta-incubator with depth in commercial real estate, a heart for building conscious culture, and some business investment experience, you’ve got a problem. No one really knows exactly who you are or what you do.
*cough* Including you. *cough*
In one way, it’s a great problem to have. If your finances are solid, it means you just have a lot of stuff you want to do and a lot of places where you want to put your money. But when you’re trying to build a robust brand, ambiguity isn’t your friend.
As you probably guessed, the ambiguous brand in question was MAC6. The business is family-owned – built on the shoulders of Scott McIntosh, former engineer and angel investor and his son Kyle. When we got involved, Scott was preparing to turn MAC6 over to, so he could pursue building out the Arizona chapter of Conscious Capitalism.
Like any family-owned business, the process of transitioning power can be tricky. Kyle wanted to confidently lead the MAC6 team into a new era, but struggled to identify the core of the business. It felt scattered, but we basically knew two things:
- Kyle wanted have a hand in building communities that serve humanity (a noble calling).
- MAC6 had always been a values-driven organization (awesome).
Kyle wasn’t sure how to take a noble and lofty vision for the business and execute on it in a really locked-in way.
And, to make things even more confusing, MAC6 was inextricably tied to Conscious Capitalism Arizona since both Kyle and Scott were at the forefront of both entities. We’ll be honest, it was really hard to figure out where MAC6 stopped and Conscious Capitalism Arizona started. This entanglement would prove to be one of the trickiest elements to navigate from a brand perspective.
Conveniently, Resound operates out of a coworking space owned by MAC6. With our respective home bases so close together, communication and relationship-building was a cinch. Kyle brought us in (with the whole MAC6 leadership team) to define the MAC6 brand. To us, it was apparent that MAC6 was an umbrella brand for a lot of different (and sometimes disjointed) projects.
The first step in solving MAC6’s identity crisis was to bring the team together in our brand workshop. During the full session, we dug into the meat of their brand: their brand values, personality traits, brand story, and audience segments. Since they already knew their brand values, we challenged them to provide tangible examples of how they lived out the values. And they did – the values held up.
During the day’s discussions, we clashed on the intense interconnection between MAC6’s identity and Conscious Capitalism Arizona. Especially from a messaging standpoint. Both brands used phrasing like “elevating humanity” and “eliminating poverty”, with MAC6 adopting the tagline: “Advocating Capitalism as a Force for Good.” We strongly encouraged them to clearly identify MAC6’s messaging and service offerings and separate the conjoined twins.
And that’s where the hard work really started.
Personality Traits & Messaging
Drawing on our time in the coworking space + our workshop with MAC6’s leadership, we defined four personality traits that characterized the MAC6 brand (inquisitive, principled, driven, and welcoming). The language around these personality traits were a start at giving MAC6 a way to use the concepts of Conscious Capitalism without explicitly saying “we subscribe to Conscious Capitalism.”
They now make liberal use of phrases like:
This allows them to preach the doctrine of Conscious Capitalism while remaining their own brand. We explained this in Star Wars terms (because we’re nerds). If Conscious Capitalism is the Force, MAC6 is Yoda. MAC6 is powered by and a student of Conscious Capitalism, like Yoda is a learner/teacher of the the Force.
Yoda is not the Force. Nor is MAC6 synonymous with Conscious Capitalism.
Brand Story & Service Design
Knowing that MAC6 really needed further brand separation between itself and Conscious Capitalism Arizona, we chose to nail down MAC6’s brand story.
During the workshop, we put together the initial framework, which identified the characters (hero, guide) and different points in the journey. We wanted to understand what MAC6 was really about and how they help customers. We came down to one point: MAC6 is all about helping businesses break through ceilings.
Looking at the unique struggles shared by MAC6 customers, we started to see two distinct pain points emerge: some customers couldn’t find workspace flexible enough to meet their needs, and others needed leadership/business tools to help them grow in a sustainable way.
Both pain points are about GROWING past hurdles. And usually, those hurdles come in the form of physical space or strain on the leadership.
All businesses hit a ceiling.
The first brand story line came easy: “Even the most growth-oriented businesses hit a ceiling at some point in their journey.”
As we moved through the other elements of the workshop, it became clear that the MAC6 brand had two distinct areas of focus beneath it: real estate and business education. We landed on these as MAC6’s two service areas – refining them to “spaces” and “programs”. Real estate ventures like coworking, co-manufacturing, and commercial go under “spaces”, obviously. Anything related to educating business leaders and developing teams got nestled neatly under “programs” as either hiring, operations, or training.
So there you have it: “MAC6 provides the collaborative space and culture-focused leadership programs that push conscious leaders to conquer the complexities and scale their business.”
Audience Segments and Personas
More than almost any other client we’ve served, building audience segments and personas for MAC6 was critical. Their service offerings seemed drastically different from the outside looking in, and customer pain points were unique to each service.
Now, our own team landed at MAC6’s coworking space due to office-related pains. But we also hit a point in our growth where we needed a little boost in terms of culture and leadership development. We knew, firsthand, how one service could feed the other.
But they don’t always, so we built separate audience segments and crafted a variety of personas to reflect the people in the coworking and co-manufacturing spaces around us. They’re living proof that the space “need” is real. For the buyers of culture-focused leadership development programs, we thought outside the space – crafting aspirational personas that should be referenced when communicating with the CEOs and HR Directors outside of MAC6’s immediate network. If the “programs” side of the business was going to scale, we knew MAC6 had to start speaking unique thoughts and feeling of each segment.
Although it came later in the process, we were able to use these distinct personas to inform a segmented content strategy for MAC6’s blog.
After delivering a full package of brand definition assets to MAC6 including their personality traits, verbal guidelines, elevator pitch, defined service areas, and even some messaging differentiation between themselves and Conscious Capitalism Arizona, MAC6 needed an roll-out plan.
Announcing to the world that you’ve figured yourself out can be humbling, but it’s also a great way to flex your newfound mojo.
Through a carefully crafted implementation plan (and a series of meetings), we figured out a strategy for letting MAC6’s network know about their new and improved brand definition. Since we hadn’t changed their visuals (logo, colors, etc.), it was tough to “show” the change. We had to do it with words. Through several channels (like social, email, and blog), we helped MAC6 share their brand evolution by honoring the past and connecting it to the future through vision.
Along with the external-facing communications, we put together an ongoing content strategy to keep fresh space and programs-focused content in front of the community.
Oh yeah, and we completely revamped their website to make sure all this brand definition work wasn’t in vain. But that’s another story for another case study.
Hear it in their words.
We sat down with Kyle McIntosh, President of MAC6, to discuss some of the work we've done to help them redefine their brand and bring it to life. And yes, there were beers involved.