Sometimes we all need a little refresh. Brands are no different. Whether a full rebranding or just a creative update to stay on the cutting edge, the idea of updating your central brand presentation may sound intimidating. There’s definitely work involved to get a brand update right, but the results can be worth all the effort and then some. Case in point: Smith-Gilbert Gardens in Kennesaw, GA.
Smith-Gilbert Gardens is a serene 17-acre setting boasting an array of plant collections, many of which are rare in American gardens, like its signature Bonsai Exhibit, captivating Crevice Garden and well-recognized Rose and Paladino Camellia Gardens. Owned by the City of Kennesaw and supported by a dedicated non-profit foundation, the Gardens are interwoven with 30 garden sculptures by nationally recognized artists and crisscrossed by woodland paths, ponds and a waterfall. Smith-Gilbert Gardens is also an Audubon Society Certified Wildlife Habitat and home to a native butterfly house and pollinator garden as well as conservation efforts including annual hummingbird banding and bird count events.
While the Gardens were undoubtedly inspiring for the gardeners and nature-lovers that found their way there, Smith-Gilbert found itself often characterized as a gem that was the area’s best kept secret – a secret that they desperately wanted to get out. But the effort to reach out and attract a broader and more diverse audience brought a few things clearly into focus. First and foremost, that the Garden’s brand identity and visual presentation did not reflect the vibrancy, uniqueness and importance of the place and its work. It also didn’t really resonate with much of the community whose support is vital for the Garden’s operations.
That’s when Smith-Gilbert Gardens reached out to Clementine Creative for help in reinventing their visual brand to better reflect their identity as a destination and help them create connections with their community audiences.
Clementine dug in with the Smith-Gilbert team to focus in on what made this place so special and what the team really wanted to convey. The Clementine team experienced the Gardens firsthand, exploring the tranquility of the woodland trails, the serenity of the crevice garden and the waterfall spilling into the pond, the vibrant colors of leaves and blooms and butterfly wings. After working together to hone in on the core values and attributes that needed to be conveyed, it was time to take things visual.
The visual design focused on the four key Garden components that were identified representing each with a unique symbol:
- Hummingbird and Wild Bird Conservation: Represented by a hummingbird
- Pollinator-Friendly Designs: Represented by a butterfly
- Theme Gardens: Represented by a flower bloom
- Important Plant Collections: Represented by a leaf
Pairing these symbols with a rich, botanical color palette brought the pieces together into a mandala-inspired design – also underscoring the peaceful, reflective and restorative qualities of the natural spaces. From there, honing and refining of the shapes and balancing the pattern with the type elements of the logo yielded a final design that is both fresh and sophisticated. Even more importantly, it is an organic storytelling tool that invites the eye to explore all the different shapes and opens the door to the larger story of the Gardens, encapsulating all of its core programs and messages in one visual package.
The change for Smith-Gilbert Gardens was a dramatic one. The Garden’s new visual identity not only encapsulated its story but reenergized its team’s excitement to share it with the community. Applied to core website and social media platforms as well as to onsite printed materials and signage and outreach materials, the new identity struck a chord and created a new resonance with community members. Now in the following season, the Garden and its story have come alive and are thriving with new exhibits and new activities on the horizon as it leverages its new look to increase its reach and engagement across the community.
The new Smith-Gilbert Gardens logo was also recognized with a gold award for logo design in the American Graphic Design Awards 2021 by Graphic Design USA.
SO, WHAT DOES THAT MEAN FOR ME?
Updating your brand or completely rebranding is not something that should be done lightly – or even often. But sometimes, smart strategy calls for new evolutions and iterations of your branding foundation. So, when should you consider refreshing or rebranding? There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to that question. But here are a few things might mean it’s time to think about an update:
- You feel that your branding no longer reflects your vision.
- Your strategy has changed, or you’ve simply outgrown the current version of your brand.
- You want to connect with new audiences.
- Your brand looks dated or doesn’t stand out compared to the competition.
- You find yourself hesitant to share branded items like business cards or website links for fear of the impression they will make.
All of these are signs that you may be in need of a strategic and smart rebranding effort. Not sure where to start? Connect with the Clementine team today and let’s talk branding!