Possibly one of the worst kept secrets in Cuenca is that we’ve now changed our name from GringoTree to YapaTree.
We decided to do this for a few reasons which we’ll explore below. It wasn’t an easy decision because of the amount of effort involved in any rebrand (I’ve managed several over my career as a digital marketer).
We also think we owe our regular readers an update on the path we’ve taken moving forward. Hopefully, after reading you’ll be as excited about what we’re creating as we are.
Let’s get to it!
First up, why the rebrand?
As one of Ecuador’s longest-running English magazines (over 15 years), we respect the amount of effort that has gone into the GringoTree brand over such a long period.
But, we feel the brand no longer reflected what Michelle and I want to achieve.
You see, we are a mixed Ecuadorian / Expat family. Continuing to focus our efforts solely on the expat community doesn’t make sense for us because:
- Michelle is Ecuadorian (ie not a gringa)
- One of our core community goals is inclusivity. We feel the term “GringoTree” potentially and unnecessarily excludes Ecuadorians from participating in our community.
- The Ecuadorian market is much bigger than the Expat market. Ecuadorians don’t necessarily want to be carrying around a discount card that potentially identifies them as a “gringo”. Not because they have an issue with gringos, but it’s just not their identify. It’s like if you were walking around the US with a “AussieTree” card. It’s just a bit weird and excludes this core audience.
- Change is good. A brand reset gives Michelle and I the opportunity to truly own the reputation and overall success of YapaTree.
Please don’t read the above as though we are turning our back on the expat community. Far from it. We see this change helping expats to have a more inclusive experience whilst living in Ecuador.
This doesn’t mean that we’re trying to force you to learn Spanish or preach the importance of cultural assimilation. That’s not our place. But, if being part of an inclusive Ecuadorian / Expat community resonates with you, then we suspect you’ll be excited by this change and would love for you to be part of it.
Why did we chose the name “YapaTree”?
We wanted a name that reflected both communities that we serve; expats AND Ecuadorians.
Tree = Community
We kept the “Tree” component of the previous brand because:
- Trees provide support & act as a house to many animals and plants. A great example for the community we’re building.
- It pays respect to our brand’s past and provides continuity
Yapa = Something extra or bonus
Yapa is a Kichwa word that you hear throughout the Andes, but it seems to be particularly popular in Cuenca.
A very common example is at the local fruit market. Perhaps you’ve just made a decent purchase (ie $20 of fruit & vegetables), but you want a little something extra like an apple or some bananas.
You’d say something like; “Deme una yapa veci”.
Of course, whether the vendor decides to give you a yapa is completely up to them and depends on your relationship. Bargaining is deeply ingrained in Cuencano culture and provided it’s done with respect and good humor, we respect this tradition and are happy to embrace it.
Whilst brainstorming for a new name both Michelle and I felt an immediate connection with YapaTree. Sleeping on it didn’t curb our enthusiasm so we finalized our decision. Our early feedback is very positive.
And yapa rolls of the tongue with ease. Say it aloud; “yapa”.
See, I told you – how smooth is that!
The main challenge we see is educating newer expats on what yapa means. But, we see this as an opportunity to help inform others of a common Kichwa word that is very relevant in Cuenca.
What does our logo mean?
We approached a highly recommended branding specialist in Quito to help with our rebrand. After numerous iterations, we are very happy with the end result.
Here’s what each component symbolizes:
Purple Jacaranda Tree
Both Michelle and I love the Jacaranda tree. They can be found in both Cuenca & Australia. There is a large Jacaranda festival in a town (Grafton) close to where I grew up in Australia.
There is also a lovely Jacaranda tree in our backyard here. The kids love playing in this tree and it’s continuously in our field of vision.
We’re also drawn to the purple color of the Jacaranda. Visually we find it soothing and it’s a color that is frequently associated with inclusivity – which aligns with our greater community goals.
It was tempting to go with a Eucalyptus Tree given how prolific they are in Ecuador. Turns out we simply like the purple flower more than eucalyptus leaves.
Red Jacaranda Flower
In a sea of purple flowers, the red flower provides something extra. It is falling to the ground ready for someone to enjoy. This unexpected bonus to enjoy represents a “yapa”.
Slogan: Don’t Forget Your Yapa
This one is a little self-explanatory. Make sure you don’t forget to use your YapaTree Discount Card when making purchases to ensure you get your bonus offer (or yapa).
What does this mean for existing GringoTree cardholders?
We’ve deliberately timed this rebrand to minimize the impact on existing cardholders. All existing 2021 GringoTree cards will remain valid until their existing expiry in early 2022.
Moving forward, YapaTree cards will be valid for 365 days and not for a calendar year. We’ve also purchased a special printer that allows us to create personalized YapaTree cards – we can’t wait to show you!
And no, we don’t have any plans to restrict our content to only YapaTree cardholders.
Sneak Peek into YapaTree’s launch plans
We’re soft-launching YapaTree over the next 3-4 weeks. This means that you can expect to see some updates to the website and our emails over this period.
The website updates include:
- Offer pages for every YapaTree Card partner
- Map showing location of every card partner (including directions via Google Maps)
- Events pages for Cuenca & Manta. You can upload events at no charge.
- Updated forum section for classifieds/daily posts
- New Cuenca-based Facebook Group “Cuenca Yapas & Friends“
- New design & speed improvements
And, these are just the start. We have a packed roadmap for 2022.
Want to be involved?
Great. We’d really love that. There’s lots of ways you can help support this community:
- Purchase a 2022 YapaTree Card. These will be on sale shortly.
- Write for YapaTree (submit expression of interest here).
- Join our new Facebook group
- Provide business recommendations or answer questions in our forum.
- Upload events in Cuenca or Manta.
- Or simply continue to enjoy our content
We’re truly excited to have you here with us and can’t wait to grow the community in 2022 (& beyond).
And remember, don’t forget your yapa!