Aqwastream wanted to build a brand that made it possible to connect corporate sponsors with universities to help eliminate plastic water bottle waste. The result was an illustrated brand built on this ethos: “Drink Responsibly.”

“Jake and his BAJI team accepted the challenge of developing our initial web presence for Aqwastream™. It was impressive how Jake directed his broad business experience into a laser-tight focus and created a sharp concept, spot-on copy and contemporary visuals to explain the WHY about our brand and business offering. We’ll be working with Jake and his team again, for sure.” – Marian Van Dyke, Aqwastream CEO

It all started on LinkedIn. Having worked with The Rich Dad Company for many years, I had worked with Mare Van Dyke on a number of projects in her role as Director of Marketing and Product Integration.

And then, there it was, right over Mare’s profile picture: “Say congrats on the new job!”

Only it wasn’t a new job—it was a new company, Aqwastream.

I reached out to Mare and wanted to hear more about her new endeavor. By happenstance, Mare and her team were going to be in the Seattle area to attend a sustainability conference. I met up with the Aqwastream team.

Over the course of an hour and a great cup of coffee, Mare shared with me a compelling vision for connecting corporate sponsors and universities to work together in an effort to reduce plastic water bottle waste through their Aqwastream Refill and Information Station, the ARIS 32-1.

The solution was smart, and the vision was bold. By placing corporate-sponsored ARIS 32-1 machines on university campuses, students would have access to cold, filtered water for refillable water bottles and corporations would have the chance to tell their sustainability and social responsibility stories.

This was something I wanted to be a part of. It was a great cause spearheaded by fantastic people with an awesome idea.

Building the Aqwastream brand

Through our initial discussions with Aqwastream, it become apparent that while they knew their story, they hadn’t had the chance to sit down and clearly articulate it in a way the was compelling to corporate sponsors—the heart of their business revenue. There was a lot about sustainability and the idealism of the product was attractive, but what was both the raison d’être and return on the investment for corporate partners to sign on the line which is dotted?

After our initial conversations, I spent a number of days doing research on what compelled corporations to partner with companies like Aqwastream. What I found was the world of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

The world of CSR exists to initiate sustainability and socially conscious endeavors for a corporation. I felt there was a great opportunity to reach the officers responsible for these programs with a message that was relevant and that showed good ROI for partnering with Aqwastream.

Additionally, through my research, I discovered a huge connection between talent attraction and retention, and environmentally-friendly practices by corporations.

Here was a match made in heaven: corporations want to attract and retain great talent, and that talent wants to work for corporations that have environmentally-friendly CSR policies, often turning down better job offers to work for a company that aligned with their personal values.

The challenge I faced from my findings was to create a story that would connect three worlds: CSR departments, administrators at large universities, and the students that attend those universities and who would be looking for work with corporations upon graduation.

The result was Drink Responsibly.

Friendly, familiar, and playful, my team and I took a phrase known by everyone and repositioned it to have new meaning. By partnering with Aqwastream to Drink Responsibly, corporations, university administrators, and students work together to drink healthy water and reduce the environmentally-harmful effects of plastic water bottle waste. In the process, students learn about the environmentally-friendly practices of major corporations and those companies develop a brand relationship with a talented labor pool that is looking for work with companies that do good.

Developing the Aqwastream story

From the story of Drink Responsibly, my team developed an illustrated brand for Aqwastream that educated CSR officers, university administrators, and students on the facts of plastic water bottle waste and showed corporations the value of connecting to students with their environmental stewardship story.

Giving the Aqwastream brand life online

With that illustrative brand, we built a fully-responsive website focused on telling the sustainability story through infographics but also on showing the value for companies partnering with Aqwastream to attract and retain talent.

This was a project we loved working on, and a cause we were passionate about. We’re excited for the future of Aqwastream, and looking forward to many new projects discussed for the future.

My project role

Brand strategy, creative direction, and project direction

Project partners

Cali Pitchel: copywriter
Jon Ashcroft: Illustration and art direction
Jake Chapman: Web development