ArkFab

The Challenge

Design a complete visual identity and create a campaign to promote the product of a local Atlanta maker, keeping in mind the limited budget and bootstrapped nature of the maker movement.

The Client

ArkFab is an organization made up of engineers at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Their funding comes from two sources: the University and research grants. Their small budget is invested into developing and refining their homemade aquaponics system, a full scale prototype of which operates rent-free on land owned by a local nonprofit.

THE IDENTITY

ArkFab Word Mark

Noah’s Ark + Fabricated

ArkFab’s founder believed the aquaponics system he developed was a solution to many social and ecological problems faced by humanity, like climate change, famine, and environmental destruction. As the story goes, the Biblical Noah’s ark saved dozens of species from assured destruction. In the same way, the founder believed his aquaponics system could save our environment from irreversible damage. “Fabricated” is a nod to the precision engineering and construction required to bring the system from concept to reality.

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Symbiotic Symbolism

Symbiosis describes a relationship where two or more unlike organisms form a mutually beneficial relationship. It’s a fitting term for aquaponics, where each component of the system works together to support the whole. Fish produce waste that provides nutrients to plants, which filter the water for the fish. The ArkFab system is also a closed loop, meaning it requires no external inputs to maintain itself. All of these features are expressed in the logo. Its round shape evokes the closed loop. Its iconography depicts the essential parts of the system, fitting together and forming a whole greater than themselves. Its coloration and forms evoke the planet earth, a reference to the system’s potential to save it.

A MODULAR, EXTENSIBLE IDENTITY SYSTEM
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A COMPELLING WEB PRESENCE
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THE STRATEGY

Know the Product

AND PLAY TO ITS STRENGTHS

The ArkFab Aquaponics System is expensive, semi-permanent, space- and maintenance-intensive, and can take weeks to build. These characteristics don’t lend themselves to direct-to-consumer sales (or advertising).

 

B2B sales offered a clear path forward.
The next step: identifying the perfect target market, which would be defined by

  • access to capital (each system costs $10,000-$15,000)
  • dedicated human resources to maintain the system and manage produce
  • a use for the produce
  • an understanding of the product as something that adds value to the business
  • a willingness to experiment and take part in the development process
  • alignment with the core of the client’s vision: creating a better tomorrow

 

These criteria eliminated apartment complexes, restaurants, and hotels interested in “greenwashing,” or giving the appearance of sustainability, by treating the system as an amenity (with the added benefit of hyperlocal produce) rather than a profit generator. That left farmers, grocers, and other businesses in the agricultural industry, yet nothing seemed to fit. It’s hard to sell a new method of farming to a farmer. And that’s when the client’s vision led to real creativity.

FARM OF TOMORROW, MEET LEADERS OF TOMORROW

Students. Dreamers. Young people. Those filled with all of the hope and ambition of a world that hasn’t yet told them “no.” Our audience wasn’t a farmer, steeped in a tradition going back thousands of years. It was the student for whom experimentation is a part of every day life, and the educator who has dedicated their whole being to improving the next generation.

ArkFab Requirements

  • access to capital (each system costs $10,000-$15,000)
  • dedicated human resources to maintain the system and manage produce
  • a use for the produce
  • an understanding of the product as something that adds value to the business
  • a willingness to experiment and take part in the development process
  • alignment with the core of the client’s vision: creating a better tomorrow

Educational Institutions

  • grant funding (especially for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math)
  • science teachers and cafeteria staff
  • fresh, healthy produce for the students
  • a hands-on teaching platform that makes learning fun
  • with buy-in and ownership comes investment in the product’s success
  • creating a better tomorrow is what brings teachers to work every day

How do you convince a slow bureaucracy with multiple stakeholders?
With an advocate fighting for you on the inside.

AND SO, THIS CAMPAIGN HAS A TARGET AUDIENCE OF ONE.

THE CAMPAIGN

The Living Invitation

A VERY PERSONAL APPEAL TO JOIN ARKFAB ON AN EDUCATIONAL JOURNEY
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It’s 9:00 AM and the front desk calls to let you know that a delivery has arrived. What shows up in your classroom is a colorful cardboard bus, a live beta fish, and a thriving basil plant. Your students appreciate the classroom pet, and you appreciate the teachable moment. It’s a miniature aquaponics system in a jar and the perfect segue into a lesson on symbiosis.

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You look inside the bus and find a card offering to bring a full-sized school bus to your campus, loaded with a commercial-scale aquaponics system and driven by an expert in biology from the Georgia Institute of Technology. It’s a free field trip for your students, and you don’t have to leave campus, collect signatures and forms, or rally a small army of volunteers. You’re in.

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The Mobile AquaLab

SETTING LEARNING INTO MOTION
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It’s field trip day, and the bus rolls in. The Biologist guides your students through the AquaLab, pointing out the live fish and the abundant plants. They learn about microbes and peek at a water sample under the microscope.

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The best part? Their lightbulb moments are being captured on video, and you get a digital download as a memento. You wish you could teach lessons like this every day (and maybe snag some of that flawless watercress for your lunch). The Biologist passes along a packet  with information about grant funding and securing an AquaLab for your school.

The Overview Video

SHORT, SWEET, AND TO THE POINT

So you’re convinced. You understand the AquaLab’s potential as an educational tool, but you can’t commit to such a resource-intensive project on your own. You have to win over the principal, and maybe even the school board. But how do you communicate all of the benefits of an AquaLab in an engaging way and convince all of those stakeholders? You can’t spend hours making a presentation and fielding calls. There are papers to grade and lives to change. Don’t worry. We have you covered.