September 7, 2022

“Connecting Your Brand to Your Mission…Telling Your Story Better”

Community Conversation Takeaways

What's in a Brand?

Community Conversation Takeaways

By Kathy Wagner

We’ve been living “brand” here for many months as our team re-imagined our future and created our new Canopy Strategic Partners identity. Along the way, we discovered that many of our colleagues were in a similar place. Was this an outcome of the pandemic or organizational growth and regeneration? To better understand what was happening in our field and how we might better support your efforts, we assembled a panel from three different sectors: our zoo and aquarium colleagues, a friend from “the death industry,” and a colleague from the science museum sector.

The Panelists

Panelist Nancy Goldenberg, President & CEO, Laurel Hill, Philadelphia, launched a new brand just a few months ago, uniting disparate components of her organization (with seven different websites!) into a new identity which elegantly and respectfully merged several different components including educational programs, an accredited arboretum, a funeral home, and cemeteries at two different locations.

The Rochester Museum &  Science Center’s Director of Marketing and Communications Carolyn Stiles was also faced with aligning three separate entities (one 40 miles away from the others) into one “package” that re-charged the staff and community with new excitement about science and nature. She worked with two different agencies to accomplish the task.

Panelists Tina Rolen, Zoo Knoxville’s Director of Marketing and Communications and their agency’s Joseph Nother, Founder and Executive Creative Director of designsensory, discussed their work building a new campaign that promoted their conservation mission based on their existing brand tagline “Wildly Fun” and shared data that illustrated their research findings.

What We Heard

  • Your brand should link to your strategic plan—reflecting your mission and your values. A good brand “speaks” your values for you in shorthand.
  • Engaging stakeholders in the process—your board, staff and volunteers, members, and community—gains buy-in and builds champions for you.
  • Getting it right takes time, probably more than you thought, and be prepared for a few bumps in the road as you zig and zag to incorporate stakeholders’ input.
  • Know your audience. It’s not a monolith. Considering different segments can help you succeed as you create great campaigns that merge mission and brand.
  • Brand development has both “the words” and “the picture”—be prepared for LOTS of opinions on your new logo drafts!
  • Research is essential, both during development and post-launch.

Key Quotes

Nancy: Our brand needed to reflect all that we do, representing grace and beauty in life and death, and communicating that “we do a lot more than just bury people.”

Carolyn: An essential function in implementation is assigning the role of “brand police” to ensure consistency across the board.

Tina: Marketing and branding are different: we had to bring our brand “wildly fun” into our marketing, with a focus on our conservation mission, which was sometimes a challenge.

Joseph: Our agency inherited the brand from Zoo Knoxville, so we needed to create the story behind the brand; the brand is the vessel to contain the Zoo’s story. A good brand means that your advertising doesn’t have to “do the values work.”

We would like to extend a huge thank you to all our panelists for sharing their insights, stories, and thoughts on the branding process. It was great to see how the branding process can function as a values marker.


If you’d like to discover more about the organizations and brands in our webinar, follow these links:

View the full recording of this webinar.

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