• brucemckinnon

If your brand is boxing you in... Change it!


By 1995 Self Help Crafts finally had enough of customers coming into their stores and asking to be better cooks, mechanics, weavers or even better lovers!


Since the fair trade retailer launched in the 40’s, the whole self-help movement had been born, and while the staff were delighted with their customers noble ambitions, it had nothing at all to do with what they actually sold in their stores.


Clearly the name was getting in the way of their brand and so needed to be changed.

I worked with their leadership team to create the new name Ten Thousand Villages, inspired by a quote from Ghandi referring to the heart of India, not residing in the cities but in its thousands of villages. It was great! The client loved the name, a fabulous identity was created by my friends at Carter Wong and the new brand was rolled out across their store network.


22 years on I have been back in the US seeing what needed to be fixed with the name and identity to help with the challenges around a retail sector in seeming endless and chaotic transformation. I’m glad to say that nothing was broken and so nothing needed to be fixed.


The challenge was more around refreshing how the client thought about, and used the brand. You see, it had slipped into being treated as three words and a logo instead of a source of inspiration and direction for the staff, their partners and most of all, their customers.


The answer we came to was to understand that the name and identity describe where all their stuff comes from - and from there we started to build a brand that is embedded in their story. We found the treasure that had been hidden for awhile - and it’s awesome!


The role of a brand is to be a big open door into the heart of what you do. Quite often though if you don’t let your brand grow with your business, encourage it to adapt to changing tastes or keep it in touch with your culture, it ends up being something your customers have to navigate around, or worse still, it's a closed door to your business.

If you think your brand might be boxing you in, why not sign up for a Brand Arrow Workshop here here.