Brand Interview – Lynn Colwell, Corey Colwell-Lipson – The Green Year, Celebrate Green & Green Halloween
How long has your company been in business? Please tell us a bit about your company, its mission, goals…
We launched The Green Year, LLC in January, 2008. We’d never intended to start a business, but as a result of the overwhelmingly positive reaction to our grass roots initiative, Green Halloween, in October of 2007, the accompanying media attention, and the book contract that followed soon after, we (my daughter, Corey Colwell-Lipson and I), realized we needed a legal home for our burgeoning “empire.”
So rather than the conventional business based on a product, idea or service, that unfolds in a linear way, The Green Year has evolved organically (of course!).
Our mission is to serve as the umbrella under which the various components of our developing brand reside. Our brand is us−the mother-daughter team inspiring and encouraging people to celebrate green−not just for the biggies like Halloween, Thanksgiving and birthdays, but every day.
And given the organic nature of our business, our goals are around continuing to build the brand primarily through all types of media as well as collaborations with brands, businesses and individuals.
Do you donate to charities? Tell us about that also and why.
Green Halloween® (www.GreenHalloween.org) is the non-profit, grassroots effort that started us on this path. We own it, but it functions as a program of the non-profit Ecomom Alliance.
Obviously a lot of our time and energy is put into running the program which last year replaced 1 million units of conventional candy with healthier for kids and planet treats and treasures at Halloween events around the U.S. We do this because we believe that the future of humans and the planet are tied together. And unfortunately, American celebrations moved from fun times with an emphasis on togetherness and meaning to over-the-top extravaganzas marked by an enormous waste of resources.
How did you know what typeface (font) would be right for your company wordmark or logo? If your logo has an illustration, describe why that art was the right thing, animal, place, object, etc…
Although we have a logo for The Green Year that we like a lot, we rarely use it because we don’t push the company name at all. We chose it because it expresses what we wanted it to, the idea of being green all year around.
The “logo” we use for our work with Celebrate Green is the one that was designed for the cover of our book and the Green Halloween logo was developed by a local designer.
How did you decide on the right color palette to fit your company look and feel?
There was never any question that green would be the primary logo color for The Green Year and Celebrate Green!. Although any company involved in eco-friendly living most likely will use some shade of green. It’s difficult to avoid when you have the word in the name of the company/brand! Deciding on the right shade had a lot to do with the fact we wanted it to be bright (happy) without being overly so, easily visible onscreen and in print etc. We weren’t interested in a “woodsy” feel as are many companies involved with sustainability.
And of course, when we were developing the Green Halloween logo, we were looking at Halloween colors. For this logo we wanted something that felt airy but not to childish.
How did you decide which type of designer to work with, or did you design your own identity and web presence?
While I’m not a trained designer, when I was in PR and as a freelance writer, I also did a lot of design work. So coming into it, I had very strong ideas about our identity, particularly because Corey and I are the brand. While we had a professional designer on the book, I did a lot of art direction around the layout and design as I did with website, blog and print materials. Corey was the primary designer for the Green Halloween website.
When we do use a designer, we work very closely with him or her. While honoring his/her training and point of view, we are confident about what works for us and expect our vision to be realized.
In what order did you present your company to the world? Did you start with marketing and products, or website, blog and social media?
Again, we’re a kind of aberration in this regard. When we started Green Halloween, we had no intention of doing anything but starting a revolution. Does a revolution need an identity? I’m sure in the best of all worlds, it does. But we didn’t at the time. We just jumped in. Our messaging went out through emails, in person and on the phone. For a long time we didn’t even have business cards. And when we started social media was in its infancy.
Once we signed the book contract, we developed the Celebrate Green! website (www.CelebrateGreen.net), and loaded it with information that could not be found in the book. When Celebrate Green! came out, I had the idea to do a “baby announcement,” a post card that we emailed (and printed a few) to the media and others to help launch the book.
How long after the launch of your company did you start pitching in social media?
While I don’t remember the dates, we jumped on Twitter as soon as I realized how simple it was. Facebook took a bit longer. We’re fairly happy with our social media presence (6700+ followers on Twitter for Celebrate Green and 1500 for Green Halloween, 1,000 on FB for CG and 1500 for GH) and continue to work to increase both followers and involvement.
Did you do research or study any software, take webinars, teleclasses, before approaching any area of your marketing or web presence?
Not really. I had developed our company’s intranet (a telephone equipment manufacturer), prior to beginning my work with Corey and have always been interested in the power of the web to connect and develop relationships. Initially our website was developed by a guy who had worked for me and again I knew what I wanted without much need for research.
That said, I continue to read a lot in this area and whenever we’re moving into a new arena, I research it. For instance, we’re going to be doing our first Twitter party for National Costume Swap Day (www.CostumeSwapDay.com) at the end of September, and I’m currently researching how to best pull that off.
Do you advertise locally in newspapers and/or nationally in magazines? Are they effective?
No, we do no paid advertising at all.
Do you advertise online using Google, Facebook or on other company sites? Are they effective?
When you printed your products, packaging, business cards and other print marketing did you choose an online printer or visit a local vendor?
We always prefer to use a local vendor, but unfortunately because we will only use 100% PCW paper and non-toxic inks, local printers have generally been unable to meet the price for small quantities. We have used a local printer for Green Halloween postcards where we’re talking in the neighborhood of printing 20-30,000.
Did you know anything about different types of papers, when you wanted to print your marketing materials?
Yes. In my work in PR over the years, I’d done a lot of work with printers and was familiar with paper choices. However, due to the fact that we are only interested in recycled papers (or treefree), I’ve had to continue to educate myself (although honestly we do very little printing).
Have you ever used “green” technology in printing, using FSC certified papers or recycled paper and if not, how likely are you at trying this on a next project?
If you sell products, are they produced in the USA or abroad?
The only product we currently sell is our book. It was printed in Canada because at the time, the bids from U.S. printers (I spoke to more than 40), were three to five times as expensive even if they were willing to print on recycled paper.
Celebrate Green! was to be published by a green publisher who unfortunately went out of business seven weeks before the book was to go to press. We approached two other publishers, both of whom were interested, but it would have taken an additional year to 18 months to bring out the book. We felt that was too long as I’d already begun the PR and the timing was right, so we did it ourselves. I would have preferred printing in the U.S., but Canada was as good as we could get.
Is there anything you haven’t yet tackled, but will want to do soon?
We are looking at many possibilities. For us, like most entrepreneurs, it’s a matter of time and money. Both are in short supply. Would love to do a complete makeover of our websites, develop a TV series, write more books, and pursue a hundred other ideas. We’ll just have to see what evolves.
To learn more about Lynn Colwell, Corey Colwell-Lipson and Celebrate Green visit the links below:
Website: Green Halloween
Facebook: Green Halloween
LinkedIn: Lynn Colwell and Corey Colwell-Lipson
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