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Bloom! California: A Better World Campaign by LOACOM

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This Better World Blog Series is part of a larger program to showcase the great work we’ve helped accomplish with our clients – past and present – and the learnings that come with it.

“The actions we take in our gardens are actions that impact the larger world. By growing native plants, we have the power to support wildlife and save precious natural resources; all while creating beautiful gardens and landscapes that celebrate the real California.”

Liv O’Keefe, Senior Director of Public Affairs, California Native Plant Society Tweet

Native plants are more than meets the eye: they build habitat biodiversity and provide the best shelter, food, and resources for other living organisms in their area. Some system-wide benefits of native plants include air quality control, water conservation, increased biodiversity, and carbon sequestration — to name just a few. 

So native plants are really, really important. And our partner California Native Plant Society knows this very well. Which is why in January of 2021, they hired us to help roll out a groundbreaking new campaign to reinvigorate California’s homes and gardens with native plants. It was mint to be.

Here’s what went down…

FLOWER POWER

Native plants have historically comprised only 3% of nursery sales across the state, despite a reported 83% customer interest in native plants. After successfully acquiring a first-of-its-kind grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA), California Native Plant Society (CNPS) set out to increase the presence of native plants throughout California’s built environment — from backyard gardens to city parks to business fronts and more.

They came to us with a specific mission: increase native plant sales by 20% by April 2023 in order to…

  1. Bring California’s unique beauty into gardens across the state;
  2. Create habitats for butterflies, birds, and bees;
  3. Restore nature in the urban landscape;
  4. Support water conservation, garden without added fertilizers or pesticides (and even sequester carbon)! 

THE MISSION

As long-time allies and activists of the environmental movement, our team was eager to jump in. Our job was to strategize, brand, organize, and implement a campaign that increased the sales of 11 native plant groups by 20% over 3 years (2020-2023).

MEET THE PLANTS

After meeting with the CNPS team, we got to work on one of the most important components of this campaign: the branding.

PETAL TO THE METAL

Creating the campaign name ‘Bloom! California’ paired with the tagline ‘Native Plants for a Bright Tomorrow’ blossomed after a relatively short but intense creative ideation process, along with our foundational campaign messaging, tone, and keywords. 

To seed our inspiration, the CNPS and LOACOM teams sleuthed the internet to find colors, illustrations, and other assets that could support our vision and mission. Through this process and CNPS community connections, we met Lesley Goren – an artist and illustrator who creates work “depicting the beauty of California’s natural environments, as well as informational illustrations explaining plant and fire ecology.” We were honored to work with Lesley, a Ventura County local who has experience working with countless groups and nonprofits in the conservation space across California (some of which are even past clients of ours).  

After a multitude of brainstorming sessions, a mood board collaboration, and multiple rounds of iterations of drafts and concepts…. Voila: the Bloom! California logo was born.

 

From there, we worked with a graphic designer to flesh out the rest of the visual brand details: color palettes inspired by our iconic state landscapes and native flowers, typography that mixed retro California feel with the modern edge this campaign needed to take root, and aesthetic guidelines on how to bring it all together for digital and print assets.

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Last but not least, we created a Bloom! California website to serve as the main source of information for all participants of the campaign, from home gardeners to participating nurseries and beyond (shout out to Mark Naftzger of Studio Simple, CNPS’s web contractor, for his dedicated work on this microsite).

We also worked with one of CNPS’s core stakeholder partners, Miridae, to create “Garden Inspiration” vignettes that outline guidelines of how to utilize our select native plants in any kind of space. This was a key education and accessibility component in the campaign, making native plant gardening a tangible feat for anyone: beginner gardeners, apartment-dwellers, and beyond.

All systems: grow.

KEY PLAYERS

From April through October 2021, LOACOM collaborated with Bloom! California’s working stakeholder group of horticulturists, landscapers, water agencies, and other industry experts to recruit nursery partners that would become the selling vessels of the campaign’s curated plant list. LOACOM created and implemented an outreach program to nurseries throughout the state of California with an invitation to join the campaign as a partner. Our key ask: increase native plants sales at your nursery by becoming an ambassador for this exciting, first-of-its-kind statewide campaign — with the offering of free point-of-sale educational and decorative material to stoke customers out on these 11 plant groups.

To dodge the anticipated complications that a mid-global-pandemic campaign launch would inevitably bring (COVID staffing issues, government restrictions on in-person activities, plant supply chain setbacks, etc.), we made phone calls and slide decks, scrounged and scraped the internet for contact lists, designed and mailed postcards, got real familiar with QR codes, and did everything in our power to get growers and retailers excited about beautifying our state’s landscapes with native plants — all via Zoom and online outreach/collaboration.

 
View this post on Instagram
 

A post shared by Ernesto Alvarado (@nativeplant_guide)

In the end, a passionate coalition of Bloom! California nursery partners formed, and we shipped assets to over 100 nursery partners to ensure a successful campaign launch. In October of 2021, Bloom! California was publicly birthed. 

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DIGGING DEEPER

The timing of this project couldn’t have come at a more opportune moment. With the rise of COVID-19, more than 20 million Americans took up gardening for the first time in 2020. Additionally, nurseries who had taken a hit by having to close their doors were grateful for the opportunity to bring fresh new materials and initiatives into their spaces to help draw business.

After launching the campaign on October 1, 2021, Bloom! California‘s 100+ partner nurseries have already reported a 49% increase in sales of the campaign’s included plants — more than double the original project goal of 20%.

THE OUTCOME

  • 1 end-to-end brand build, from the soil up 
  • 11 native plant groups reinvigorating California’s gardens, parks, and natural spaces
  • 10 gorgeous point-of-sale collateral pieces to educate and inform the general public
  • 10 California native plant and gardening social media influencers recruited to double our campaign reach in 2022 (and growing!)
  • Over 100 statewide nursery partners to promote the campaign and sell its included plants to California’s varied geographic regions
  • Over 200,000 digital hits on campaign website and socials in the campaign’s first quarter

The collaborative nature of this project from end to end is one of our proudest achievements, and continues to be one of the greatest strengths across many other ‘better world’ campaigns and projects we have the opportunity to deploy. The values and honest intention of Bloom! California was deeply seeded into the work both LOACOM and CNPS successfully executed from day one. 

This campaign is now live, and you can find a participating nursery nearest you at bloomcalifornia.org until 2023.

GROW WITH US

Follow CNPS on Twitter and Instagram (because we had a lot of fun making those IG Reels).

BETTER WORLD BREAKDOWN

WHAT MAKES THIS A ‘BETTER WORLD’ PROJECT?

Since our inception, LOACOM has solely partnered with organizations, individuals, and companies that are building a better world. From the moment California Native Plant Society (CNPS) reached out to us about a potential project, we knew this opportunity would have a big impact. CNPS is a leading voice in plant science and native plant appreciation, and leads the way with research, resources, and policy that help people around the world understand the impacts of our changing climate.

See the CNPS’ annual impact report here.
A project of LOACOM

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