An Interview with Caravan Brand Partners

Michele Levy is president and brand strategist at Caravan Brand Partners and a long-time collaborator and friend of OPUS. I first met Michele when she presented at a CASE conference and I was impressed with her energy and ideas. Our whole team loves working with Michele because she’s smart, creative, fun and dedicated to her clients. We admire her honesty, sense of humor, and ability to get things done!

Hey Michele, what is Caravan Brand Partners? What do you do and for what types of clients?

Caravan Brand Partners is a consulting practice that helps mission-driven organizations build clear, compelling brands. That includes messaging, visual identity, brand experience, and communications planning. Our clients are almost exclusively non-profit organizations (we do make exceptions for the occasional for-profit with compelling social impact!). We find variety energizing and believe firmly in the power of diverse perspectives, so we love working across the entire non-profit sector… everything from education to arts to health to social service… and more!

Why the name “Caravan?”

It’s a bit unconventional, but it speaks to the idea of brand update as a process (with our team as expert guide/partner), and of communications as a journey from awareness to advocacy. “We’re all in this together, heading in the same direction”. Plus it’s fun and speaks to my deep love of road trips!

How long have you been working with Opus? And what are some of you favorite collaborations? I don’t have a favorite Opus collaboration. I have loved them all…even the challenging ones! We started working together in 2016 with the Westover Magazine redesign…that’s when I had the opportunity to experience your special blend of strategy, creativity, wisdom, and understanding. One of the reasons our teams work so well together is that we know the process and work is not about us…it’s about building something that will help a client achieve their goals now, and in the future. I think the BlueHub Capital work really demonstrated the power and impact of our partnership. We took a very complex idea, with tons of stakeholders, and created a compelling brand that sets the stage for “what’s next” for an accomplished and ambitious organization.

What are some of the key challenges in working with a creative partner?

I have to confess…after three decades in this business, I am very picky about my partners. I want someone who cares about the mission and strategy driving the creative. And because my clients tend to have very limited resources, I want someone who will help them make the most of those resources. I once worked with a creative director who said to me “never forget…their interactions with us are probably the most fun many of our clients have all day.” I have really taken that to heart and only want to work with partners who bring a generous, upbeat, compassionate energy to this work.

How do you normally get started?

Most of my clients come through word of mouth…so someone has already shared the outcomes of a previous project with them. I do a lot of listening at first…both to understand what they are looking for, and to make sure that they are actually ready to do the work. Then I determine the scope of work, budget, and who else needs to come to the table with me. Then I call Lily!

We consider you a part of the Opus family so we’ll ask you to share a bit about yourself the way we do….

  1. Where are you from? Norwood MA (I have lived in MA my whole live and cannot wait to live someplace else… soon!)
  2. What is a client likely to hear you say? Apparently I have a reputation for being very high energy and positive…so I guess I’d say “Sure…we can do that!”
  3. Please tell us two truths and a lie: I used to be a cycling instructor, I can’t cook… I can only “assemble”, I am an accomplished crafter.

[I know her husband is a chef so I think “can’t cook” is a truth, I’m going to guess she doesn’t know her way around a glue gun either!]

We love you Michele, and we wish you and Caravan a bon voyage!