Tembo: Brand Strategy + Product Innovation


Rebrand and launch an international product in the U.S.

We chose The Water Leech - a grey water filtration system from Australia. It collects dirty water from sinks, showers, or laundry, then filters that water for use on lawns and gardens around the home.


The U.S. is currently plagued by one of the worst droughts in recent memory. 40 states have at least one region that's expected to face some kind of water shortage in the next 10 years, and by 2030, nearly half of the world will be living in countries highly stressed for water. The time to act is now!


Millennials care enough to pay extra for sustainable offerings, but they care even more about how caring makes them look. More of them (57%) want others to see them as environmentally responsible than actually buy environmentally-friendly products (34%).


25-35 year old part-time environmentalists. They're single, busy, urban dwellers - the "Average Joe & Jane". They're well-informed about the water crisis and expect the brands they support to be sustainable. Especially when it's something they can brag about.

STRATEGY: Turn Average Joe & Jane into Plant Guy & Girl.

By redesigning the Water Leech as "Tembo" (Swahili for elephant), we created a small, 2-gallon grey water filtration system for easy use in small city apartments. The brand idea for Tembo is centered around growing "plant owners" into "plant parents".

CREATIVE CONCEPT: They'll grow attached.

Grey water is used water, so even though most of the grime is filtered out, you’re giving your plants a little piece of you every time you use Tembo. The campaign transforms plants into family members with lovable personalities revolving around their "parents".


While we loved the idea of the Water Leech, we knew some aspects of its look & feel had to change. The original product, designed to hold up to sixteen gallons of water, was far too bulky for our target and their urban homes. The name also conjured up some negative connotations - leeches? Gross.

The re-imagined product, Tembo, is a sleek addition to city apartments that comes equipped with detachable parts: a pump to vacuum water from sinks and showers, and a hose for watering indoor gardens. We also created in-soil water monitors and a tracking app to alerts users when plants are thirsty. Plant parenting made easy!


Brand Manager: Michelle Darnell
Strategist: Rebecca McNerney
Art Director: Lily Fu
Copywriter: Michelle Smith
Experience Designer: Karl Giles