Crayola is a legacy brand that has universal awareness that one associates with making colorful drawings as a child. The 64-count box of crayons represents for many the emotional symbol of what was great about childhood. The century old firm had challenges brought on in part by the advent of electronic competitors for a time, from television to gaming and in part by simple demographics. Crayola was in need of a refresh of their vision, offerings, and culture.

In the inaugural issue of the Journal of Brand Strategy, Crayola CMO Victoria Lozano speaks about how this was accomplished. The process started with the assembly of a team of influential people with conceptual skills that represented different functions and levels within the company, plus an additional few people from outside the firm. With outside consultants facilitating, they spent 20% of their time for four months developing a brand identity for Crayola and determining what the brand should stand for both internally and externally. They looked at the company, the brand and their customers from every angle. In particular, they considered the firm’s heritage and challenges and whether the target market should be restricted to children or instead focus on creativity and developing products for the inner child in adults. As anyone who has been involved in such projects knows, getting the concepts and words right is difficult.

The ultimate brand essence was “helping parents and teachers raise inspired, creative children.”  A core belief was that “children are the most creative and original beings in the world” and that Crayola’s role is to unleash the “originality that naturally exists in every child.” The key thrust is inspired, creative children.

That means that the firm settled around children and did not aspire to move into the adult world. It also means that they determined “creative” wasn’t strong enough but instead aligned on the term “inspired creative” which is more aspirational and inspirational. The essence also asserted that the firm’s offerings and programs were enablers, bringing out the innate original creativity of every child. Another key element was that parents and teachers were partners instead of simply customers. Enabling children was conceived to be a team effort.

The offerings were also detailed. Crayola will offer “ideas, inspiration and tools to free colorfully the ‘what if…?’ that lies in the heart and mind of every child.” So the offering will include ideas and inspiration as well as tools. They will not only enable but also suggest that children should be creative and realize their inherent creatively. And the color heritage is not forgotten. A new product development effort including changes in organizational structure, process, and capabilities was in place to support.

The vision, displayed through a video positively road tested with parents and teachers, was validating.

The brand vision matters, as does the words that express that vision. It guides both big decisions and small and, more importantly, stimulates and inspires offerings, programs and the organizational culture that will support the vision. This is a rare view into the process of developing such a vision.