This is my Independent Study, a capstone-type project completed by every CBM track student at the VCU Brandcenter.

Client: Northern Forest Center


T H E    T A S K

1. Create an identity for "Modern Wood Heat"

2. Bring visibility to the "Modern Wood Heat" category

3. Increase installations of "Modern Wood Heat" systems in the Northern Forest region


T H E    C O N T E X T

"Modern Wood Heat" as it is currently named, is a category of total-home heating, automated and highly-efficient wood pellet boilers. The systems do not require the continual maintenance and clean up of a traditional pellet stove.

Heating with wood is very prominent in the Northern Forest region (Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Upstate New York); residents are proud to be able to cut, chop, and stack their cordwood (sometimes from their backyard even) in order to heat their home. However, traditional wood heating systems have several drawbacks including low efficiency and inconvenience. Modern wood heat systems offer the convenience and thermostat-control benefits that come with natural gas and oil systems, without the enormous carbon footprint. Despite the numerous benefits of modern wood heat, familiarity and adoption of the system is low throughout the Northern Forest region.


C A T E G O R Y    S T R A T E G Y

1. Leverage the innovative and community benefits of “Modern Wood Heat” to establish a prominent new category and demonstrate its value to homeowners.

2. Desire from homeowners will encourage lawmakers to create further financial incentives.


C O M M U N I C A T I O N S    S T R A T E G Y

Feel Good Heat


T H E    T A R G E T

Primary: "Switchers" - Homeowners who are:

  • fairly affluent (HHI $75k +)
  • environmentally concerned
  • seeking to reduce fossil fuel usage
  • currently have a heating system that needs to be replaced or are in the market for installing a new system
  • primary fuel is oil or cordwood

Secondary: "Builders" - Home builders who are:

  • environmentally concerned
  • incorporate the latest technology in their construction
  • advocate for "green" building
    • HVAC specialists, architects, contractors, plumbers, etc.

C R E A T I N G    A N    I D E N T I T Y

Re-name:   S. T. E. M.   H E A T I N G   S Y S T E M S

Sustainably fueled

Thermostat controlled

Efficiently combusted

Minimal carbon emissions



B R I N G I N G    V I S I B I L I T Y    T O    T H E    C A T E G O R Y

  • Social
  • Direct Mail
  • Website
  • Philanthropy

D I R E C T    M A I L

Infographics are the best way to convey a lot of information without becoming overwhelming to the viewer. This infographic outlines the key benefits that are most attractive to consumers in the area:

1) Saving money on heating fuel costs

2) Lowering environmental impact

3) Supporting the local economy

Infographics like this can be utilized in direct mail campaigns to target specific neighborhoods or demographics within the region.



Without desire from residents in the region, there is little reason for lawmakers to pool money for state incentive programs. The recommendation is to push for more familiarity and understanding to create drive in homeowners and home builders who will then put pressure on political forces in the region to find ways to make installations more affordable. We can also steer the conversation in the right direction by 'speaking their language' when it comes to discussing the benefits of S.T.E.M. Heat.



S O C I A L    M E D I A

Use social media as a tool to drive more conversation around S.T.E.M. Heating and its benefits. Utilizing the network of current users of S.T.E.M. Heat, we are able to create content that is relatable and sharable all the while educating viewers on S.T.E.M. Heat and its capabilities. 



The website for S.T.E.M. Heat should be a stand-alone site that can be linked to industry stakeholder and category advocate websites. This allows the category to firmly plant its roots as a stand-alone category in order to successfully compete with other home heating systems.



A philanthropic campaign through the creation of a partnership with Northern Forest Center, S.T.E.M. Heat Stakeholders, and Habitat for Humanity will bring visibility to the category beyond the target market. Donations to the campaign will allow for more systems to be installed in the region and ensure that 100% of the money spent to fuel the system is kept in the local economy.



C R E A T E D    W I T H :

Chris Harris - Photographer & Designer