What was the valuable aspect of Blue Marble's contribution?
Aside from the quantitative economic impacts of a campaign like this, we have certainly made an impact on the visual and cultural landscape of towns on both sides of the river through posters, stickers, and other print media. We do not deserve sole credit for the success of the GO! brand. This project has been a collaboration among many talented design and marketing professionals and other types of volunteers. The original logo was designed by Mark Greybill, and we could not have done a better job. After thorough consideration, Becky came up with the organization's name, and has prioritized marketing in many smart ways. I was curious what would stand out in Becky's mind as our value to the project, so I asked her a few questions:
What do you think was the most valuable aspect of Blue Marble's involvement with GO?
It was really helpful that you have experience working with triple-bottom-line businesses, and an obvious interest in telling the story of ‘why’. You guys get the big picture and it makes a big difference. Also, your diverse skill set – being able to leverage our brand into really professional marketing materials in different media, including the web — was invaluable. People are impressed with what we've accomplished. The professionalism of our marketing materials is the number one comment I get. People tend to think we are bigger than we really are or that we have more resources backing our work – which helps us build a strong reputation and community support.
When you think about Lisa and Christine going away what do you miss?
You're both really organized, efficient and talented. And also personable. I like having excuses to get together and work on things. And it has been so helpful working with the whole team there. You guys took this seriously like any other client project.
What would you estimate as the dollar value of the services GO! has received from BMC? Do you have any idea what you would expect to pay if hiring a similar firm to do similar work?
Becky said she had wanted to ask me the same question. We talked about the difficulty of quantifying the value of design and marketing efforts, particularly in print media. With marketing budgets for non-profits heavily scrutinized, we agreed that the same quantity and quality of work simply wouldn't have happened for a fee. It was a labor of love for all of us, and we felt mutually respectful about how much was asked/committed.
Where are the areas you would like to see GO! improve with its marketing, design, or outreach efforts?
- We need to think about offering more tools that business owners can use to talk about themselves. The GO! local kit is great, but the contents are all about GO!. We brainstormed some products and services we'd love to create to give more value to businesses, and consumers.
- We need to stay focused on the 'why' behind what we're doing. Some elements of this year's campaign didn't do that as well as we could have.
- We need more educational messaging, and perhaps should look for some products already created since it can be labor intensive to create new content and product designs.
- Our database and directory is a challenge. Becky has researched and tried a number of tactics, and although many people are working hard to fill this type of need, there's still not a perfect option. Becky is waiting to see what develops with a couple of the possibilities she's been following.
What's next for Blue Marble?
We feel fortunate to support clients on a national and global scale who are working to solve big issues in education, environment and human health, and we're entering a phase of growth and we're always challenging ourselves to do better work. Despite our national and sometimes international focus, there's no way to quantify what we've gained from discovering the geniuses and heroes right here in our own backyard. There are many small ways where the connections we've made and the lessons learned by participating in GO! have impacted our work. GO! has been a source of both clients and partners. Most importantly it has brought a sense of community and connection that is beyond monetary value, and it's fun seeing how we've impacted the visual landscape to spread a positive message. We are likely to continue to collaborate on this project in some way.
Making Local Business 'GO!'
At the end of 2012, Blue Marble Creative finished a two-year board member commitment to the Gorge Owned Business Network (GO!), a local nonprofit organization focused on building awareness about the value of local ownership and environmental and social responsibility. GO! is a member of the national BALLE organization.
What value did we gain from the experience? What value did we provide to our local community? I recently interviewed GO! founder Becky Brun to learn how she sees our impact on the organization and what's in store for GO! moving forward. It is inspiring to reflect on the accomplishments of this young organization, which has been powered almost entirely by the volunteer efforts of business leaders like ourselves.
Why Gorge Owned?
Two years ago when Becky approached us about joining the steering committee and later the board of directors, we could not have imagined all that GO! would become. As former editor of Sustainable Industries magazine, Becky made a compelling case for a new business network in the Columbia River Gorge. Our Gorge community is comprised of the many small Oregon and Washington towns scattered along the banks and mountain valleys of the Columbia River. Although each city has a chamber of commerce, there was no regional membership organization—and no group specifically focused on building awareness about the value of a local economy that emphasizes the triple bottom line. We were attracted by the idea of promoting a resilient Gorge-wide economy and creating opportunities for like-minded professionals to connect in our area.
Gorge Owned Impacts
GO! has reached some exciting milestones after just two years. Thanks in large part to the strong brand recognition and marketing strategy, we've grown from 40 members in 2010 to more than 130 members in 2012. Just as we neared our 2-year anniversary, GO! decided to join forces with our parent organization, The Columbia Gorge Earth Center. This new, unified organization will be adopting and adapting the GO! brand because of the equity it holds. This means that the efforts of even more passionate volunteers will be coordinated to benefit ecology and economy here in the gorge. We see this as a huge win, because many of us involved with Gorge Owned feel passionately about strengthening that connection.
One of GO!'s main initiatives is to encourage residents and visitors to shift their spending from national chains to locally owned, independent businesses. We know that when people shop with locally owned businesses, 30% more money stays in the local economy (known as the "multiplier effect"). Now after two years of running our holiday "GO! Local" campaign, there is evidence to suggest that we've made an impact.