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Simplicity Does Not Mean Simple: An Outside Perspective on the Art of Simplification

Simplicity Does Not Mean Simple: An Outside Perspective on the Art of Simplification

Legend has it that Hemingway once won a bet for the shortest story ever written by crafting a six-word story, “For Sale: Baby shoes, never worn.” True or not, what resonates from this tale is that simplicity does not necessarily mean simple. ‘Less’ can actually mean ‘more’. When you strip everything away except the most meaningful parts, it forces those remaining parts to tell the whole story. It supposedly took Leonard Cohen five years of rewriting lyrics until—80 draft verses later—he settled on the final version of his song “Hallelujah”. The art of simplification—from words and stories to...
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Move On: The Magic Quadrant Should Not Guide Your Brand

Move On: The Magic Quadrant Should Not Guide Your Brand

If you’re a startup CEO/Founder/Marketer, you might have read that headline and thought, “What do you mean I shouldn’t care about the Magic Quadrant? I’ll take a Vendor Briefing call on vacation if I have to!” Sure, tech companies strive for a mention in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant—or better yet—placement in the top right corner as a “Leader”. Gartner’s Magic Quadrant will tell you who’s product sits on the cutting edge of the technology, identify the ankle biters, show who’s falling behind, and identify the leaders in a category. That recognition matters as you develop your product. But, the...
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Ensuring Our Clients’ Success: Change Management and How We Help

Ensuring Our Clients’ Success: Change Management and How We Help

Helping Our Clients Be Successful As a brand strategy agency, it’s our job to ensure that our clients are successful. The strategy and strategically-informed design we create is meant to position our clients’ business and brand to thrive. But at the end of the day, it’s not just about how smart or groundbreaking the strategy or design is. There’s a lot of planning and change management that goes into making sure the project is successful and followed through from start to finish in the most impactful way possible. Operations and project management are key to any brand strategy project....
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Entering Your Growth Stage: Position Your Brand, Not Your Product

Entering Your Growth Stage: Position Your Brand, Not Your Product

You just closed your Series A and you’re ready to share your story with the world. You built revolutionary technology that will be better, faster, cheaper—or all three—than anything else in the market. Now you need to hire top talent, build brand awareness, and equip your sales team to drive revenue. You know how innovative your technology is and you’re ready to create a new category. With customers in beta and limited clear competitors, you’re likely tempted to focus solely on your product and how much better your product is than anything else on the market. But a strong product vision,...
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Building an Agile Brand

Building an Agile Brand

The notion of ‘business agility’ — the ability to quickly adjust business resources and assets in a way that enables your business to prepare for or react to shifting markets and global conditions has always been important — but the experience of COVID-19 and the past 12 + months have driven that point home relentlessly. As we enter into this next phase of ‘the new normal’ one thing is certain: the world and how we work is forever changed and will keep changing — building a brand that enables your business to respond is the new opportunity. What’s required? The ability to adapt to...
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Investing in Brand: It’s Never Too Early

Investing in Brand: It’s Never Too Early

Many of our clients call us after they’ve got a working product or once they embark on a sales effort in earnest. They see branding as an expensive and time-consuming exercise that they’d rather postpone. In almost every case, we wish they’d reached out sooner. Branding is not a one-time exercise; your brand is a muscle that you strengthen over time. Most high-growth tech companies go through several brand iterations over their life cycle. Knowing that, we believe it’s never too early to invest in your brand. In fact, when you invest in branding early in the life of your company, you’ll tap...
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The Lasting Mark of Black Creatives

The Lasting Mark of Black Creatives

There are endless reasons to celebrate Black History Month. But following last year’s civil unrest due to decades worth of racial inequality and blatant injustices faced by the African-American community on a daily basis, we feel a huge responsibility, especially as an agency based in Oakland, to not only speak out and show up for the Black community but be intentional with our actions at every touchpoint. And for us, this meant celebrating Black History Month was an absolute imperative. This month, we’ve chosen to highlight the careers of Black creatives within branding to not only honor...
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Three Key Advantages of a Strong Brand Strategy

Three Key Advantages of a Strong Brand Strategy

Active Brand Management A brand strategy can take what people know and believe about your business to new levels. Active brand management takes a valuable asset that may now be largely underused and turns it into a powerful competitive weapon. Regardless of how sophisticated your current approach to branding is, your business has a “brand” today, though you may have acquired it by default. Simply by being active in the marketplace, your business will have accrued a reputation, a level of fame, and a degree of notoriety (for better or worse) with your customers, and within your industry. A...
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How to Get the Most Out of Strategic Messaging

How to Get the Most Out of Strategic Messaging

Traditional Messaging Isn’t Working For as long as people have communicated, we’ve had messaging. Many of the most well-known messengers are religious figures — the usual suspects like Moses, Muhammad, and Jesus. In business, messaging has always been part of some corporate function like marketing, communications, or investor relations. Messaging is not going away. What’s changed is the way we communicate. We and other agencies have for years delivered messaging in a one-page, multilevel framework. While still useful, these one-page grids are no longer valuable tools on their own. So we’re...
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Why Brand Positioning is Critical to Sustained Growth

Why Brand Positioning is Critical to Sustained Growth

The Power of Brand Positioning Strong brand positioning has a great impact on the success of your business. But many high-growth companies struggle with how best to position themselves and communicate why they matter. Getting this right is hard, but critical. And if you fail at this, your customers won’t know whether to buy from you or your competitors. In short, positioning is the process of distinguishing your brand from your competitors in meaningful ways. It’s about what you offer, what value you deliver, and what place you hold in your target audience’s mind. Defining...
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Why It Pays to Aim High: Reflections on the Inauguration

Why It Pays to Aim High: Reflections on the Inauguration

I’ve not always been American. I moved to the United States at the age of 13, reluctantly at first, because who wants to move anywhere at age 13? But in a very short time, and especially by the time I started college, I was fully bought into the proposition of America. At the tender age of 17, my friends back in the UK were finishing their A-levels and already having to close the aperture on their future careers by declaring what they would study at University. I, on the other hand, was looking at a veritable smorgasbord of classes and majors offered by Barnard and Columbia Colleges—two...
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Branding Project: Do You Actually Want Something Bold?



Branding Project: Do You Actually Want Something Bold?



Make it Bold There is a four-letter word that gets said during every branding project. No, not that one. The word is “bold” and no one knows what it actually means. Perhaps it’s the word’s own sense of daring and fearlessness that has allowed it to march undaunted into every creative brief and client meeting, even when it is not requested. Enterprise software companies want to be bold. Insurance adjuster services want to be bold. Startups and law firms and logistic companies want to be bold. But do they really? What it Is and What it Isn’t Here’s what bold is: it’s uncomfortable. It’s...
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B2B Brands Can Be Emotive and Should Be!

B2B Brands Can Be Emotive and Should Be!

B2B brands deserve the same level of effort as their B2C counterparts We were talking with someone the other week about emotive branding and they said, “Sounds great for consumer brands, but I can’t see it working for a B2B brand.” Well, we begged to differ! Indeed, we believe B2B brands have tremendous opportunities to differentiate and grow their businesses based on an emotive proposition. Note that we didn’t say an “emotional” proposition. Through “emotive” propositions we talk about B2B brands that reach out to people in a way that not only...
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Mission, Vision, and Values: But First, Executive Alignment

Mission, Vision, and Values: But First, Executive Alignment

Start with Executive Alignment Vision, mission, and values give a company direction. They describe what a company stands for and what it doesn’t. Solid mission, vision, and values statements give guidelines for a brand’s behavior, help distinguish a company from its peers, and serve as a foundation for the brand’s ultimate personality. Without them, a company is rudderless. So, when’s the right time to write these statements? Some companies don’t launch before they have a mission, vision, and values. Others develop them when time allows. With COVID-19 changing so many things from the way we...
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