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Brand Strategy + Product Innovation

How might we leverage a defunct company’s brand equity to create a new offering relevant to today’s market?


Course: Brand Strategy - MBA in Design Strategy, CCA

Instructors: Josh Levine of Great Monday


I led the team on this project and did the brand work for the new brand, Marko, including the positioning statement, elevator pitch, tagline, brand value pyramid, and personas. I designed the logo with a teammate and worked with a teammate on the platform's interface.



Brand Value Pyramid Positioning

Brand Audit

Brand Taxonomies

Brand Architecture

Elevator Pitch

Messaging Frameworks

Brand Obituaries


Experience Design

Product/Service Design


Design Thinking

Competitive Analysis



Identify a defunct company or product that could have relevance or a unique offer in today’s market and come up with a new offer. Imagine this new offer is based on what the brand was known for and evaluate brand equity that could be relevant today.





Dead Brand: El Marko




El Marko is a marker company that was owned by Flair from around 1950 to around 1980. They offered two lines of products: eight colored permanent markers and eight colored waterproof markers. Their logo had Zorro-esque lettering and sillhouette.

The primary messaging, shown below, reflected the freedom of the time.


To understand what this messaging meant, and why the brand name and logo evoke the image of Zorro, I looked at what else was happening at that time. 

Disney's Zorro and the move, The Mark of Zorro, came out while El Marko was around. Zorro represent a hero and protector of justice and underprivileged people.


The accentuated Z as the mark of Zorro is reflected in the accentuated M in the El Marko logo.

The connection to Zorro was confirmed in the 1970s commercial where a charactor dressed like Zorro saves a village and marks an "M" on walls. 


The '60s-80s was a time of self-expression. The El Marko commercial, along with the "mark anywhere on anything" messaging is credited for inspiring young graffiti artists to start the graffiti movement.


"All these little things happened because of the culture of the '60s, there was a TV commercial for El Marko, which was a magic marker they were trying to sell. And they used Zorro in the advertisement and instead of using a sword he used the marker. So, a few things like that started me off."

- "The OG Graffiti writer" 'Flint'

This time period saw a cultural revolution from the Summer of Love to the Equal Rights Amendment, people stood up for what they believed and took action for causes they feel passionate about. They could have even used El Marko markers to make their posters.

The combination of heroism, expressing yourself and making your mark is very empowering and we wondered how we could leverage that equity in a new brand and offering relevant to today.


Many ways people today make their mark is through changing the world for the better, so we thought about a charity platform as a means to leave a legacy, so we looked into giving.


Research on Giving Behavior

There are three primary giving opportunities: volunteering, joining a movement, and donating.

People prefer to donate money online, followed by direct mail.


People are motivated to donate money primarily through social media and email.


There are a lot of options, many listed below, for donating money, volunteering , and protesting. You often have to go to a different platform for each type of giving.




Looking at the players in the space today, there are many donation opportunities and many volunteer opportunities, but few that offer both. Similarly, there are many volunteer opportunities, a few protest opportunities, and verify few that do both. The whitespace is at the intersection of all three - one platform that people can go to and find donation, volunteer and protest opportunities aligned with their passions.


I conducted an audit on other giving platforms, assessing the voice, tone, messaging, and look and feel.


The audit revealed that most of the giving platforms out there have a pretty benevolent tone and there's an opportunity for a giving platform that has heroic messaging and a bold look and feel.


With all the platform options, it can be challenging to find a cause aligned with your passions and interest.


We can help to identify where to people can concentrate their energy and focus their efforts so they can make their mark.




The new El Marko...


Positioning Statement


Positioning Statement Framework


Elevator Pitch

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