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Project RE:Brand Educates and Elevates Small Business Brands
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Project RE:Brand from American Express
Posted: 03/23/11

OPEN Forum is an online community designed to help small businesses grow. One feature in OPEN Forum’s ‘idea hub’ is Project RE:Brand. American Express OPEN is empowering small business; they creatively partner different small businesses with a leading branding agency. The goal is to help each small business operator learn about the importance of their brand to help their business grow. Project RE:Brand features five business experiences that undergo revitalization of their brands in three-part, behind-the-scenes webisodes. At the conclusion of each webisode, brand takeaways are offered to guide businesses in understanding the importance of solid brand strategy.

The brief webisodes are enjoyable and educational. Both the business owners and brand specialists offer insights into the unique challenges they encounter. Artyarns, a luxury handcrafted yarn maker’s existing brand fails to fully capture the unique quality of their product which is their core business proposition – they’re actually down-selling their product. Partnered with a branding agency, the yarn makers learn about the necessity to embrace branding as an investment in their business. Through ongoing dialogue and research the brand experts get into their client’s mindset – and submerse themselves in knitting – to grasp their need to present a strong unified on-target brand solution:

the essence of the small business. The revitalized logo is elegant, clean and accurately reflects Artyarn’s position in the marketplace. Artyarn’s owners in White Plains, New York have embraced the refreshed identity, updating their website and adopting new print ads as promoted by their brand expert advisors; this was clearly the most successful Project RE:Brand webisode.

Regrettably, based on brief online research, the same positive responses from the other small business operators in the Project RE:Brand webisode series to their rebranding exercises can’t be matched to Artyarn’s success. It would appear, while they enjoyed, and learned from, their branding exercise partnered with their respective branding experts, they have yet to adopt their refreshed identities. The owner of Finish Line Physical Therapy in New York City responded well to his refreshed identity but has yet to implement the revitalized website presented to him by the branding agency he was partnered with. The art gallery operator of MoCADA in New York City, similarly, loved her new collateral. Based on observations of her website, she has made incorporated elements of her new brand, but still hangs on to the existing logo. AirEast Airways, was likely the toughest sell proposed by the brand experts – they proposed a new umbrella name to cover the client’s various companies based on the family matriarch’s name! Initially, the client was unprepared for this solution, however they responded well to their education in branding. But still, AirEast Airways has yet to take off with their new brand strategy. Natural cleaning solutions supplier, CitraSolv appears to be moving to embrace a new brand-unifying name – Homesolv – with an update of their packaging lines. Change, understandably, takes time, financial commitment notwithstanding.

Willingness to embrace new branding is difficult. Project RE:Brand effectively demonstrates the complexity of each small business operator’s own challenges, their situations vary considerably. One business has embraced this change, while others are moving, or flying, at their own speed. Not surprising.

Project RE:Brand from American Express OPEN is a great series designed to connect business owners and collaborators. Check it out. Become a member.

You can also find these webisodes on YouTube; enter 'American Express OPEN: Project RE:Brand' in the Search field.
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