Barren Energy

Background

“But, It’s Pink?!"

That was the response of one of the lead Mining Engineers to whom we were presenting via Zoom. Our team and the client lead were in our boardroom in Brisbane, their engineers working remotely across South Africa.

“Yes!” we responded.

Founded by energy management company, Ensight, Barren Energy is innovative, resourceful and genuinely disruptive. They find solutions to problems in places no one else would even consider, and take a special pleasure in dismantling established and antiquated thinking.

As part of their goal to (by 2035) save 1 Gigatonne of the world’s greenhouse emissions, per year, every year, Ensight are exploring a number of renewable energy solutions.

One solution is cactus.

They are able to turn plots of arid land into 10MW power generators, by converting grown cactus into biodiesel. This offers countless opportunities for communities in remote regions, including those once supported by mines, to generate their own usable energy, and rejuvenate the land in the process. They have a vision of turning Australia and South Africa into some of the biggest exporters of renewables.

Challenge

To create a brand that would capture people’s attention in the search for viable renewables — a brand that elevates the mundane, that inspires hope.

The objective was to attract South African and Australian cactus farmers to sign up to their collective supplier agreement, gaining their trust and confidence in the concept. We wanted to create a brand that stood out, that wasn’t a typical ‘green washing’ brand and felt like a pioneer in the renewable energy sector.

Solution

The core goal of the brand was to turn heads in a competitive renewables market and get bang-for-buck from a brand that punches above its weight.

We elected to use the name ‘Barren’. A place bleak and lifeless, too poor to produce much (if any) vegetation, and a name incidentally inspired from the founder’s, ‘Francis Barram’.

We confidently leant into this, embracing the concept of ex nihilo - “out of nothing”. We could wear this with pride, and take back a bleak future and refashion into a one of prosperity.

We developed the Barren Energy tagline, the “The future is cactus”, to neatly capture both the challenges of climate change and the innovation of possible solutions in a beautifully Australian way.

Barren believes the future is actually brighter than the world makes out. We could show people how to unlock the potential of the unexpected with a name and identity that inspired a new way of thinking.

People think that because of climate change, the future is cactus. Barren Energy is saving the world because the future IS cactus.

The cactus icon is instantly recognisable and decidedly irreverent. The use of pink is intentionally divisive in what’s typically a very conventional industry (energy & resources) and complements the irreverent tone.

Some have commented that the cactus might resemble a middle-finger to some in the industry.

We agree.

Results

Barren Energy has settled on the first farm ‘Waterkloof’ in Bloemfontein. It is 1300Ha of high density planted cactus and they plan to plant a further 150Ha this year too. They have established a collaborative research station between Free State and Cape Town Universities on the farm, which allows graduates to undertake further research into improved farming practices. Barren’s pilot cactus to gas project is now producing gas, enabling the start of their commercial plant next year.

Barren has also been working with emerging black farmers to grow cactus, and has guaranteed offtake agreements to help lift them out of the poverty cycle. They have established a Cactus Producers Association, with over 100 members across South Africa, to provide biomass material but also fruit and animal fodder for drought periods.

Cactus Goods Co. has also produced its first 500L cactus pear seed oil which is highly sought after by the wellness & cosmetic industry world-wide. Cactus Goods Co. offers farms a guaranteed off-take agreement for the seeds that are extracted from the fruit that is not saleable in the fruit markets. Barren has designed and built 3 specialised mobile food grade machines which we take direct to the farms to improve the efficiency process and ensure that the seeds are washed and cleaned ready for cold pressing.

COVID19 has amplified the difficulty of the undertaking, but Barren is well on its way to achieving Ensight’s ultimate goal of 1GT of greenhouse gas reduction per year by 2035.

“The power of brand is something I’ve
underestimated, until now.”

Testimonial

“Thank you for the awesome work you’ve done.

That branding has really coalesced as a unifying force in the business. Our team have really gotten behind the new brand identity, it’s created serious momentum. The power of brand is something I’ve underestimated, until now.”

Francis Barram, Director - Ensight
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