Rhubarb Rhebrand

Rhubarb Rhebrand

Rhubarb Rhebrands


After 16 years we decided it was time to rebrand our mark.

When I first embarked on this journey in 2006 as an entrepreneur having to provide for my family in a moment of necessity, I launched a design company and our design focus offering was mostly logos.  Branding was where we started.  I eventually picked up some skills, gear and staff and started doing video production, photography, websites, marketing plans, etc.  We did it all. But over the years we’ve slowly re-focused our offerings, letting go of some of the other “media” forms and got back to our roots – naming and branding.  We also seemed to be getting back to our origin story with the birth of the name Rhubarb.

When we were looking for a name for the company that wasn’t “Ballantyne Design”, I had certain criteria in mind.
We wanted it to be one word.

We wanted it to evoke emotion and story, which, at the time I didn’t understand, are the pillars of any great brand.  
(I never went to school for this…Shhh)

We wanted it to be simple and memorable.

We wanted it to be personal, to mean something to me and my family.

I had pages of sample names I tested out but nothing rose to the surface.  One day while browsing in a kitchenware shop downtown Barrie, we came across a plain white set of dishes and we loved them.  We turned over the plate and saw the name of the company… Rhubarb. 🙂

It jumped out at me and Sandra said, “What about calling our company ‘Rhubarb’”.  I agreed.  I tested the name out with my bank teller, random strangers, friends and family.  Since I didn’t want to taint anyone’s response as to what the name was for, I asked a very specific question.

What comes to mind when you hear the word, “rhubarb?”

The response?
Some started to salivate on the spot, eyes went big and they gushed, “I love, love, love rhubarb!” and they rattle off their faves… “Rhubarb pie, strawberry rhubarb jam, rhubarb crisp, cobbler, raw rhubarb with a glass of sugar to dip it in, rhubarb on ice cream, fritters, squares, rhubread, coffee cake, chutney, tea and so on.  My grandma, my mom, my auntie made this and that…I remember the taste just thinking of it… sour, sweet, stringy, smooth, yum!”

Others were very quick and direct.

“Terrible stuff!  Gross. Too sour. Hate it.”

Some referenced golf! “I lost my ball in the rhubarb!”

Others mentioned, baseball. A “rhubarb” is a fight between coaches and umpires.

In theatre, it’s a word actors say when they are pretending to speak in the background of a scene “rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb…”

It’s a verb, a noun an adjective.

It’s a fruit… no a vegetable… a stock? a plant? Bah!

We knew found something special.  One word that evoked so much emotion, story and memory, tied to moments in time with family and friends, celebrations, events, etc.  Even the negative response was emotional and strong.  Memories of torture of having to not upset grandma and eat the entire piece of disgusting rhubarb pie!  Rhubarb seems to have created a soul tattoo on so many!

The rhubarb on top of it all (cherries are over-rated) is that Sandra makes jams and jellies and we thought we could make Strawberry Rhubarb jam and give it to our clients.

We found our word.  We found our name.  And the design followed soon after.

Fast forward: It was on my mind for a few years to consider a re-boot on the logo, but it seems the pandemic and a return to the basics of our work created enough momentum to finally take the leap.  Although we do this with client work, I didn’t do a bunch of research, poll our clients or do any competitive analysis.  As with much of my work and creative expressions, it just felt right.  To be honest, the new brand mark was going to be a one-off logo for a new sports sponsorship; something fun and recognizable from a distance, but as we started working with it, I sort of fell in love with it.

The new mark is a nod to three things we see as classic Rhubarb style:

Simplicity. As Steve Jobs said, “Simple can be harder than complex.” But it’s always the simple marks that last.

Logotypes.  If you look through our archive of brands, you will notice a strong bent on font-based branding.

Space. I love white space.  And the rm displays this in the spacing of the letters and the single space in the corner of the “m” that leaves room for something… it offers a window to new things and is the space for the “r” to snap into…. or did it break free? 🙂 I liked the artistic tension of this simple space element.

I also wanted to enhance a few things we thought the original logo was missing. I wanted something to symbolize our namesake.  So the red “r” is the rhubarb. 🙂

I wanted the RM to be recognizable and for the word Rhubarb to stand out on its own since most people call us “Rhubarb.” We were batting around the idea of losing “media” in the brand name use but decided against it for now.

It does have a slightly retro vibe which adds nostalgic energy I tend to lean towards, as well as a sporty boldness which symbolizes how I feel coming out of these last 16 years and especially these past few years of business and life wonkiness. We’re ready to play! We’re ready to have fun!

With any rebrand, there’ll be lovers and haters.  We get that, but whether you like, love, hate or are ambiguous, what doesn’t change is our overall brand philosophy to tell great stories through creative design, never compromise on quality and care for our clients. We care deeply about our clients because we know that the effects of our work go beyond the project. It impacts your company’s well-being and we want you to be able to live well and be stress-free. That’s why we’re always looking for new and better ways to treat our clients right.

We hope you like the new look, but more so we hope this re-vibe of the logo signifies a new chapter in our own story and we look forward to helping you tell yours.

Rhubarb (Media)
Your story. Well told.

Stop sending spam to ask permission to send more spam (or A Discussion on CASL Compliancy)

Stop sending spam to ask permission to send more spam (or A Discussion on CASL Compliancy)

First off, don’t be in a panic about July 1, 2014.

(Unless you are sending unsolicited nonsense to mass recipients without providing “a way out”… then God help you)

In the past few weeks we have been receiving  questions from our clients about sending out emails to their contacts in an effort to be CASL compliant. It appears that many corporations are taking a “sledge hammer” approach in a knee-jerk reaction to this legislation and sending out mass messages to their clientele and contacts. Their goal is to confirm with everyone in their list that they have indeed given express consent to continue to spam them send valuable marketing messaging to them in the future. We think that’s bad for brands and super annoying.

We have done a lot of research to find out what it actually means for our clients to be CASL complaint… and surprise, what we recommend is a more strategic approach.

The first thing to note is that most (if not all) of our clients are already using a proper email list management solution such as MailChimp or Constant Contact. This is probably the largest step toward becoming compliant (depending on how they initially setup/acquired their email list and imported it). These services track sign-up information, so you can provide that if it ever comes into question. They also offer templates that present the originating company’s address and an easily accessible unsubscribe link. These are key aspects to being CASL compliant.

Regarding complacency on the email list itself, the main thing we’re working with our clients to establish is whether or not the individuals currently within their lists have already given implicit consent. This by virtue of the fact that they have had past communications about something (such as membership or a business transaction), provided their email address and therefore have been added to the list database.

For these people, (from what we’ve read) you don’t need to have their explicit consent until July 1, 2017 (see the section labeled “Transition” on the Government of Canada’s CASL FAQs). As a path to least resistance, what we recommend doing is adding a clause to your membership/contractual agreement where it explicitly informs them that you are requesting their email address to add them to your membership email list and that they can unsubscribe any time.  Please look up other articles outlining other strategic recommendations to accommodate this requirement over the next months and years. Please do not spam your members, constituents or customers in a panic demanding consent.

Many of our clients also have people on their list who registered through the website subscription form. This means they have already given explicit consent to send them messages (which MailChimp has a record of, if this ever comes into question), so you don’t need to bother them to ask for it again.

Other than the government’s own website that does a fairly good job of express consent versus implied consent, a great article to quickly read through is up on MailChimp’s website. It explains all of this and allows most of our client rest easy that they’ve already been compliant to CASL (and it’s predecessor from 2011).

Another resource that explains the implications of the July 1, 2014 date vs the July 1, 2017 date is Constant Contact’s FAQ page on “What does the Canadian Anti-Spam law mean when it talks about implied and express permission?

Still confused about your situation? Give us a call or email us and we’ll talk through it.

From Rhubarb to Yoga: Farewell Jess!

From Rhubarb to Yoga: Farewell Jess!

A New Chapter for Jess Clarke

Hey All!

It’s Jess here! For those of you that don’t know me I am the Lead designer here at Rhubarb. I have had the pleasure of working on many of your branding/logos, print material, social media marketing, some websites and much much more over the last 5 years. 

I am writing today to let you all know that as of this Friday, May 9th, I will be saying goodbye to this chapter of my career and to all of you.

I am moving on to work at a yoga studio full time. I am really excited, but also really sad to be leaving. Rhubarb has been a huge part of my growth and career over the last five years. I have met some really great people and learned so much. I have also seen/helped a lot of businesses grow and learn.

I have appreciated being a part of this with you. Thank you for allowing my creativity to flow and bring you designs that you love. Thank you for all of the relationships I’ve built and the fun I have had. Thank you!

Jess Clarke

From the Lead Rhubarbarian,

Jess Clarke came to us from Georgian as an intern and I knew pretty early on we’d keep her!  She started as a Jr Designer and gradually became our Lead.  She’s been a huge asset to the team and the success of Rhubarb.  During the recession when print media faded away for a bit we had to lay her off but she took a job back at the Examiner in hopes we’d ride the wave out and hire her back – and, we did!!  Jess is a great designer and over the years continued to grow to take on more projects, improve her skills and move into client care.  She loves being on the phone!!  (that’s a joke)  She fit in well with the “boys” and will definitely be hard to replace.  You will be missed, Jess!  Blessings on your new journey at Bliss!  We hope to see you ’round town!

Rhubarb Media putting heart into business  – Alan Atkins, Special to the Examiner

Rhubarb Media putting heart into business – Alan Atkins, Special to the Examiner

This is a continuing series discussing the reduction of poverty and homelessness in Barrie and how it affects volunteers and those they help

Chad Ballantyne has a mission.

Rhubarb Media was founded in 2006 to help businesses and not-for-profit organizations tell their stories to the world.

His company creates multimedia messages through print and web-based platforms with a social twist.

From its inception, Rhubarb Media has developed a reputation for supporting community organizations, such as the David Busby Street Centre, by donating web and promotion services and encouraging them to market themselves like businesses.

He feels not-for-profits are unsustainable if they rely solely on donations and government funding.

It also means that the funding determines the programs rather than the reverse.

On the other hand, Chad feels strongly that there has been a philosophical shift in our thinking from the social to the corporate model.

“Knowledge and productivity have become kings,” he says. “But we have lost our heart if everything is measured by the bottom line.”

Chad believes that although some poverty will always be a fact of life, much of it in affluent nations like Canada is due to poor distribution of abundant resources.

“We have to ask ourselves if we are prepared to give up some of our personal comfort and privileges if we want to reduce poverty and homelessness,” he says.

Organizations like the David Busby Street Centre deal effectively with crises that result from our current value system, according to Chad. But we need to go deeper by instilling new values and priorities in the young to change the problem at the source.

“There is a lack of strong mentoring and leadership in society today,” he says. “We used to look to the church to take the lead in dealing with social problems. Although I think churches can play a bigger role than they do today, that isn’t the answer. We have gradually lost the concept of personal responsibility. This is why we don’t blame ourselves but look to big government or big business or something else to fix our problems.”

Chad believes that real change begins at home. When parents model values of caring for others and take personal responsibility for their actions, children will follow.

The next step is to instill these values through the education system.

Unfortunately, due to a mistaken focus on political correctness, schools have become almost value free, leaving youth to fend for itself in navigating a conflicted world where narcissism, conformity and the pursuit of wealth and fame are the dominant themes.

Chad has walked the talk even after leaving a 15-year career as a youth minister to go into business. Aside from his company’s ongoing commitment to the community, he voluntarily created and ran a 14-week youth program called Spark for 3 grade 8 classes from Holly Meadows Elementary School.

“It was an interactive course that discussed life skills and values,” explains Chad. “Ultimately, we tried to fill in the gaps by teaching them how to fight the three main battles in life: 1. Doing it alone versus teamwork; 2. Conforming versus being creative; 3. Being famous versus pursuing greatness.”

Chad grew up with parents and grandparents who were ministers and watched them give constantly regardless of their own often marginal circumstances. He was taught that each of us has an obligation to use our gifts to help others accomplish their goals in life. This is his corporate philosophy as well. Although many people are afraid that this approach will hamper personal success, Chad disagrees.

“Our company has been around since 2006 and despite giving away significant time and money, we continue to expand. Success is important,” he says. “If we fail, we can’t be in a position to help others or provide employment.”

While they do a lot of work for the arts and cultural community and other non-profits, they have also done work for the City of Barrie, and large publicly traded corporations.

“I have been called a social capitalist,” Chad says with a chuckle.

He sits on the community committee for Barrie Pathways. This new organization seeks to end homelessness by creating a continuum of care beyond the triage services provided by organizations like the David Busby Street Centre.

“The Busby Centre does excellent work in giving people a hand up. But we need follow up to keep people from falling back into the cycle of poverty and homelessness,” he says. “Barrie Pathways hopes to do this through the co-operation of many agencies and the community at large. By providing better integration of services we can eliminate the gaps that so many participants fall into between service providers.

“We believe we can reduce poverty by ending homelessness.”

He admits people can be overwhelmed by the magnitude and complexity of social problems.

I asked him what he thought individuals can do to make a difference.

“Each of us can do something. My own goal is to mentor other business owners through example to show that business can become the conscience of the community,” he says. “Specifically, I think individuals can do a number of things. It starts with changing our own thinking about helping others.

“We can do this by getting personally involved in doing something for our community as well as giving more. We have to think about the legacy we wish to leave behind. We have to be counter-cultural. And we have to start at home by empowering our children to believe that we can never be great by ourselves, but that greatness is measured by the quality of life we make possible for everyone else.”


Alan Atkins is a writer and volunteer on the Community Relations Advisory Council of the David Busby Street Centre. For more information or to get connected to the Busby Centre, email getconnected@busbycentre.ca or call 705-739-6916 or visit www.busbycentre.ca. If you know of a Community Champion contact Alan directly ataatkins@rogers.com or 705-791-1141.

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