The women’s leadership forum Watermark (formerly Forum for Women Entrepreneurs & Executives) launched in 1993 in the San Francisco Bay Area, with the aim of connecting exceptional women leaders with people and ideas that enhance their impact on the world. Watermark fosters collaboration and connections between its members, who are made up of entrepreneurs, executives and top-level professionals.
Watermark approached Moving Brands to create a new brand that would bring to life their positioning as a community of accomplished women leaders leaving their mark in their chosen industry or discipline. Crucial to the brief was advancing the organisation’s key business objectives of growth geographically, financially and in terms of membership.
Our assessment proved that Watermark’s unique organisation of highly accomplished members enabled them to stand out in a landscape dominated by secretive men’s clubs and lack-lustre women’s organisations. Our challenge was to create a brand that lived up to the strength and success of the board and its members.
To articulate this, we created the brand story “Emanating Influences.”
The story represents the impact that the organisation has on its members; it amplifies their influence by connecting exceptional women, helping them to create impactful shared experiences.
This story supported their new name Watermark, which also speaks of leaving an impression and setting benchmarks.
To bring the story to life and connect their communications, we developed a strategic communications plan. The plan drew on the conclusions from our assessment stage, to show how Watermark could use their various channels (website, events, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube) in a holistic and strategic way. We created three personas or target audiences and produced guidelines for specific scenarios showing the communications plan in practice.
The brand narrative, so critical in developing a connected and considered communication plans, also guided our visual direction. The way a drop forms ripples in a pond, or the way a boat causes a wake in its trail were examples of strong visuals that conveyed the sense of emanation and referenced the Watermark name. The mark represents this emanation as it grows, from one line to four, as in a ripple effect.
The typeface used for the word mark is Aktiv Grotesk. This modern sans serif was selected to complement the classic mark. The secondary typeface Walbaum was chosen for its elegance and personality, and to provide a traditional contrast to the modern character of Aktiv Grotesk (a welcome alternative to Helvetica).
A monochrome palette was selected to help set a clear hierarchy of information, important to an audience that has no time to deal with clutter. Using black and white added a sense of sophistication, and conveyed a personality clearly differentiated from its competitors, who uniformly use pink and blue colours.
The brand identity system included a new symbol, wordmark, colour, type, imagery, animation and film as well as marketing and communications plans to ensure the correct messaging and tone of voice.
Rapidly after the launch, the organisation saw a significant increase in membership and press requests. With the help of the communications plan we crafted, CEO Wendy Beecham, was named in the 25 Most Influential Business Women in San Francisco/Silicon Valley You Should Follow on Twitter in 2010.
She spoke of the engagement as a real partnership with Moving Brands: “You have led us to a new level – we are Watermark and I’m proud to have had the opportunity to go through this experience with you.”