Marcus Graham Project’s Locomotus: Helping an Industry Leader Expand

Client Locomotus for Marcus Graham Project


Define the brand for an exciting talent connection and mentorship network focused on providing opportunities to BIPOCs. Many organizations can offer opportunities, but they are often separated into job-finding brands and small community outreach projects. Locomotus was meant to be different than both; something attractive enough to gain attention, yet focused enough to provide the meaningful connections it promised. The brand sees talent as a two-way street, where both the employer and the new job-holder benefit from the connection.


By collaborating with Locomotus leaders, Consciously was able to help the unique project hone its brand voice and determine how to best communicate the values it wanted to embody. A stylish website was produced, which continues to be iterated upon as the look and feel of the project’s brand is developed. Post-launch, Locomotus is still growing and evolving. With the conversations and documented foundation Consciously provided, it has a solid platform for achieving its goals.

While work on Locomotus is still ongoing, the effect of the project on the industry and community is undeniable. Its founding organization, the Marcus Graham Project, recently secured a grant from The NBA Foundation. These funds will be used to help develop more mentorship programs for BIPOC youth looking to break into the marketing industry, and Locomotus will serve as the apparatus to help MGP graduates and other enthusiastic job seekers to find the placements they need to help change the face of the industry.

Locomotus is a new extension of the Marcus Graham Project, which was founded 15 years ago in Dallas, Texas as a way for BIPOC youths to be encouraged, inspired and mentored to join the growing new media industry. The Project’s founders were concerned that BIPOC youth were overlooking the opportunities and appeal of careers in marketing, promotion and new media. Those who did aspire to participate were often met with barriers, such as inexperience and a lack of skills training. In response, the Project established summer camps to mentor young children, help train them to be work-ready, and to inspire them to seek the heights of where their careers could take them.

However, lack of job connection opportunities was one major barrier that the Project could not directly address. According to research conducted on racial disparity in hiring and job networking, Black job seekers were less likely to know someone with hiring influence at the company. Many outlets also noted that with the rising importance of non-traditional job placements, such as filling open positions through word-of-mouth recommendations, Black job seekers were left at a disadvantage.

Locomotus was founded to make a critically needed change to this state of affairs. Their goal was to form “an on-demand talent network and resource hub representing the foremost asked for culturally fluent, digitally centered creative architects and media agitators.”

Consciously was engaged in order to help give shape to this ambition: a voice and a look to propel the bold idea towards the success it deserved. We knew that the right combination of words and images could help the compelling message of Locomotus reach the right ears, so we set to work defining brand values, developing a brand strategy and using that as the basis of a larger business strategy as key foundational ideas were formed. 

Developing an outstanding, eye-catching website with a definite voice was one major goal at the onset, and work continues on iterating the current version to fit the project’s high standards and ambitions. Our work also extended to early communications through marketing campaigns, emails, social media and more. 

While some might define the current phase of Locomotus as “getting off the ground,” by other standards the operation is already soaring thanks to the waves it’s made through word-of-mouth. The business community — not just the BIPOC business community — desperately needed a change to the methods used to acquire talent, fill positions and add to the capabilities of teams. Modern consumers are incredibly diverse, and they respond eagerly to ambitious and disruptive ideas. Yet, many boardrooms continue to be filled with people who are not diverse and who are reluctant to listen to disruptive voices — people unafraid to speak their mind and the truths they’ve learned. Locomotus, therefore, aims to do more than connect businesses with BIPOC talent; it also aims to set a new standard that honesty is valued above appeasement, and wanting to do things different is a strength, not a risk.

“Consumers are moving beyond statements and expecting action beyond allyship, especially performative allyship,” said Marcus Graham Project founder Larry Yarrell in a June 2020 interview.

Constructing a platform to help both up-and-coming and proven BIPOC talent reach career positions where they would have influence is the first step to satisfying this mandate. MGP recognized through their success in mentorship programs that they were in a unique position to help place graduates of the program. MGP alumni are now present in corporate ranks and board rooms all across the planet, making Locomotus an ideal supplement to the current goals of the Project.

“We’ve got marketing professionals entering new heights in their careers,” Yarrell described of the Project’s initial efforts, “and we’re uniquely positioned to nurture them as they get there.”

Yarell explained that, “the primary goal with the Marcus Graham Project was to make a talent network, initially powered by [an outside service provider]. Now, with our social enterprise extension, we are building an on-demand talent network for companies looking to search out vetted talent or work with us to assemble agile teams for project work. We’ve over a decade advancing this proof of connector through our program and with brands including Moet Hennessy, Fossil, PepsiCo, AT&T, Google, P&G and now Spotify, with some others. As an MBE enterprise, we also function as a resource hub for tools, talent, and cultural insight supporting other Minority Owned boutiques and consultancies.”

Reflecting on the work so far, Consciously CEO Rai-mon Nemar Barnes said this:

“Locomotus and Marcus Graham needed a partner who understood both brand strategy as well as performance marketing execution, and they found that partner in Consciously. There is still much work to be done, but the excitement at what’s happened so far is electric. Consciously has been honored to be a part of this maturing infrastructure, and we anticipate better things ahead.”

“Consumers are moving beyond statements and expecting action beyond allyship, especially performative allyship” from a June 2020 interview.

Larry Yarrell
Co Founder, Marcus Graham Project

Locomotus’ unique brand goes beyond inspiring opportunity and righting inequity. It prizes people who aren’t afraid to challenge the status quo or traditional ideas — upsetters, agitators, people who are needed to grow a business/brand beyond the “same old” and also repair blind spots caused by a lack of visibility into the needs of BIPOC communities. This energy will hopefully push society in a more equity-driven direction, one that reflects the demands coming from consumers and a public at large who is sick of hearing the same old excuses.

Pod of Conscious Marketing Architects

Rai-mon Nemar Barnes

Kwanele Mpanza

Bardia Koushan

Shannon Franklin

Rich Talbot

Jarrod Lipshy

Brand Strategy
Brand Identity
Brand messaging
Digital Platform and website
Copy Production

Performance Marketing
Content Production and Distribution
Website Build
Custom Reporting and Analytics
Content Strategy and execution
Distribution Strategy and Execution