Across cultures and time, there has been a basic plot that all heroic adventure stories follow. Renowned mythologist Joseph Campbell calls this recurring pattern “the hero’s journey” or “monomyth.” Elements of the monomyth can be seen in stories like The Lord of the Rings, Spirited Away, The Epic of Gilgamesh and Garfield’s never-ending pursuit of lasagna. The hero’s journey is universal, and even companies and organizations experience its various stages as they grow and develop. Rock Star Supply Co., a St. Paul-based nonprofit, has recently embarked on such a transformative quest, in search of its identity and new alliances.
Rock Star Supply Co. (RSS Co.) promotes cross-curriculum creativity through homework tutoring and writing help for students ages 6 to 18. They have a dynamic space on University and Raymond in St. Paul where they meet with students after school and also hold weekend workshops.
RSS Co.’s programming is inspired by San Francisco-based nonprofit 826 National, the brainchild of writer Dave Eggers and educator Nínive Calegari. 826 National supports a network of eight tutoring and writing chapters throughout the United States. In addition to youth education, each chapter includes a unique commercial storefront, such as the Time Travel Mart in Los Angeles, the Liberty Street Robot Supply and Repair in Ann Arbor, or the Greater Boston Bigfoot Research Institute. These tongue-in-cheek themes draw in customers (and potential volunteers) and the retail proceeds fund the tutoring and writing programs. RSS Co.’s goal is to join 826 National Network.
Pollen talked to Chad Kampe, executive director of Rock Star Supply Co., and Diana Ross-Gotta, brand strategist at KNOCK Inc., to learn more about the universal journey that brands take when they undergo transformation.
Prologue: RSS Co.’s programming and brand is inspired by the 826 National franchise-style model. This spring, RSS Co. will become MOI — bringing the tutoring and writing organization one step closer toward their goal of joining the 826 National Network. Having an 826 chapter here will be an incredible step forward for the local education and literary landscape.
CALL TO ACTION:
The hero starts off in a situation of normality until they receive a call to head off into the unknown.
All of the 826 chapters have an immersive story and space and the RSS Co. brand fell a bit flat. RSS Co. needed a creative and humorous way to engage students.
Once the hero has committed to the quest, a guide or helper appears to aid them on their journey.
RSS Co.’s board, staff and outside supporters come to RSS Co.’s aid. After two days of intense ideation, RSS Co. chooses to become the Mid-Continent Oceanographic Institute (MOI)—a Jacques Cousteau/ocean explorer-inspired identity that plays on Minnesotans’ insecurities about being landlocked as well as the fact that Minnesota was once a prehistoric ocean.
CROSSING THE FIRST THRESHOLD:
This is the point where the hero crosses into the field of adventure, leaving the known limits of their world behind.
RSS Co. sends out a request for proposals to creative agencies in the Twin Cities to help them transform RSS Co. into MOI. Several agencies respond but KNOCK Inc., who has a local reputation for forging collaborative community branding and design partnerships, sends the strongest proposal.
BELLY OF THE WHALE:
This is the final separation between the worlds. By entering this stage, the hero shows their willingness to undergo a metamorphosis.
RSS Co. selects KNOCK and enters the agency’s world of branding and visual identity design.
ROAD OF TRIALS:
This is a series of tests or tasks that the hero must undergo during their journey.
KNOCK has a deep dive brainstorm with RSS Co. about the brand development and how to bring it to life. KNOCK develops visual identity concepts inspired by MOI.
These are temptations that may lead the hero to stray from their quest.
KNOCK presents three visual identity concepts to RSS Co. RSS Co. chooses the concept with the strongest story.
In this stage, the hero must be initiated by whoever holds the ultimate power over their life.
KNOCK refines components of the selected concept and presents them to RSS Co. for final approval.
THE ULTIMATE BOON:
This is the achievement or goal of the quest.
After the visual branding is approved, KNOCK develops guidelines for how the MOI brand will live online and as a storefront. KNOCK helps bring those components to life.
In the future…
MASTER OF TWO WORLDS:
This is the balance between the inner and outer world.
MOI becomes a tutoring and writing destination for students as well as a unique retail space. The MOI themed storefront will bring in volunteers and revenue which it will use to support its educational programming. The RSS Co./MOI rebrand will help gain recognition from the Twin Cities’ community as well the 826 National network.
The new brand will be unveiled late May or early June.
*Notes on the imagery from Chad Kampe, executive director of RSS Co.:
Starfish: “Starfish are very important to the ocean ecosystem and take their time to take in nutrients. Many people don’t realize that starfish are always out in the ocean but once they do realize, they see how wonderful they are. RSS Co. is here helping kids who may not necessarily get those “nutrients.’”
Narwhal: “Narwhals are non-threatening, fun and beautiful. People are familiar with narwhals but there is some questioning about what they are—so the new RSS Co. will be a unique place in the Twin Cities where kids can get help they need in a creative, fun way.”
How you can support the Mid-Continent Oceanographic Institute, née Rock Star Supply Co.:
- Become a tutoring volunteer. Learn more about it here.
- Attend the RSS Co. “Prom” benefit event at Blackbird Cafe on Saturday, May 17
- Donate to RSS Co.’s upcoming crowd source campaign, which goes live on Sunday, June 1
This article was originally published at BePollen.com.