The Brandling is a learning company based in Nairobi, the hub of social enterprise and innovation. We are advocates of the power of brand thinking and use our expertise to advance causes like education, health care, conservation, science, women's empowerment, justice and global equality. Today, we combine the power of tools, training and tribe to support change makers in building the brand they deserve. We’ve worked with over 1400 people to help them build stronger brands, and thousands of people are using our tools and resources. But we did not get there overnight. This is our story.
The Brandling was founded on one simple truth. Great ideas for change are evenly distributed. Knowledge and quality resources on branding are not. In 2014, Anne asked herself: how can a family starting a fair trade lemonade factory in Sierra Leone, get access to the same branding knowledge as a company like Coca Cola? Answering that question has taken us on a journey we would have never believed possible.
2014: the pilot year
We speak to dozens of social entrepreneurs, and we find their most urgent need is relevant, pragmatic and trustworthy information on how a brand is constructed. We create our first tool, the Brand Thinking Canvas, and a workshop format f0r groups, called Brandcamp. We test both at co-working spaces and incubators/accelerators across the world.
a royal commission
At the end of 2014, Princess Reema Bint Bandar Al Saud, a prominent entrepreneur and women's right advocate in Saudi Arabia, sees the Brand Thinking Canvas at work in Amsterdam and commissions us to develop a custom toolkit to help Saudi women position themselves better on the job market. We train twelve trainers to use the custom toolkit on location in Riyadh.
TED gives Anne an opportunity to speak about our mission, even though we are at the start of the journey. Thanks, TED! We move our homebase to Nairobi, Kenya, the world capital of social entrepreneurship and tech.
a full guidebook
After testing our format with an additional 250 social entrepreneurs, we realise a more extensive knowledge resource is needed on everything from trademarking, naming, visual identity, and tons of other issues that our participants have flagged. How can we give people reliable information without being physically present? The answer: a full publication with tools, cases and expert advice! We raised the funds with the help of 271 backers on Kickstarter.
The toolkit finds its way to all corners of the world! Hundreds of entrepreneurs start using it to build and strengthen their brands. Getting the toolkit to a bigger readership turns out to be much harder than we thought (we should take our own advice and sell it better!).
We run workshops in the US, Netherlands, Germany, Kenya and Saudi Arabia. Special highlight: working with Colonel Eleanor O'Sullivan to reimagine the Ministry of Defence as the Ministry of Peace.
We want this movement to become bigger than us. We decide to create a platform where change makers across the world can connect with brand experts and start an online community, which slowly, very slowly, grows to several hundred people.
With lots of great feedback from users and our own continuous testing during workshops, we create a second edition of the toolkit, and invest three more months to revise it and develop even more content.
Digital Opportunities Trust commissions us to create a custom personal branding toolkit for Young Leaders in Africa and the Middle East. The toolkit and online course will help young people to sell the change they want to see clearly and confidently to their communities, investors and partners.
dreams come true
We run workshops and custom training programs in the Netherlands, Kenya and Jordan. And we make part of our vision for change come true when we train 30 branding experts in Sierra Leone!
local brand experts are key
We know local branding experts are the key to creating a support structure for local entrepreneurs. We run an 8 month online Train the Trainer pilot to investigate how we can support social entrepreneurs in every country across the world by training local experts to deliver the Brand the Change method. Wow, what a learning curve!
let’s open it up - at high speed!
With no patience for promoting our own book and wanting it to be seen by more people, we decide to publish Brand the Change officially through BIS publishers and Thames&Hudson! The strategy works. We launch the book in Amsterdam at a sold out Pakhuis de Zwijger. Speakers include Tony’s Chocolonely, Yoni and Designathon Works.
We run a second prototype of our trainers program: Class Zero, with 15 participants from Canada to Kenya, from educators to brand strategist, from former design director to young talents in social innovation. Once again, some things work great, some things don’t, and we learn a lot.
We extend the Brand the Change Live into a quarterly format, and kick off with guests speakers from Patagonia and Triodos Bank.
The Brand Thinking Canvas is translated to Portuguese, Spanish, German and French. All with the help of our community.
One of our brand coachees, Internet of Elephants, is awarded one of Fastcompany’s Most Innovative Companies of 2018!
The translation of Brand the Change in Arabic is launched in December.
We will launch our first official trainers program in March 2019.
We want to extend the lively online tribe to local communities around the world that organise meet ups, create local case studies and exchange experiences, challenges and lessons.
Here’s to a new year!