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Maintaining Brand Focus in December 2022: Some Brass Tacks Advice.

Maintaining Brand Focus in December 2022: Some Brass Tacks Advice.

The economy is shaky. Inflation is looming. A recession in late 2023 is a real possibility. Like the CEOs of the largest global companies, we’re concerned but not panicked. We’ve seen this movie before. And we have a few thoughts on how to keep the doom and gloom at bay.  Don’t abandon ship. This one’s a no-brainer. Brand-building has an outsized impact during uncertain times because people need brands that speak to their emotions. They need companions on the journey ahead. It doesn’t feel good when your companion goes quiet during tough times, and the same follows for your brand. Now is a...
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Telling Your Story of Growth: The Power of a Strategic Narrative

Telling Your Story of Growth: The Power of a Strategic Narrative

One of the most important goals of a brand is to drive growth. Focusing a start-up on carving out market share. Positioning a fast-growing tech company to lead its category. Providing a foundation for product or portfolio innovation as a company seeks to reach new audiences. Or helping a global corporation expand its footprint into new geographies. Whatever your aim, brand can accelerate results. But one of the biggest (missed) brand opportunities is engaging individuals in your organization to see their role in creating the future. When growth is a generic goal, people can assume that...
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Verbal Branding: Because Words Matter

Verbal Branding: Because Words Matter

If you were to open up a brand and look inside, beneath the logo and colors and typefaces, the images and illustrations, the interactions and experiences, you’d find language. It’s because the basic building blocks of brands—the ideas, emotions, aspirations, values, and promises that create value and differentiation—emerge from the words we use to express them. And for a brand to truly resonate, it needs to embody a coherent set of language (verbal branding) designed to create meaning. So, what is verbal branding exactly? Verbal Branding is the practice of using language to focus and amplify...
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Designing for Emotion

Designing for Emotion

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou. For many people, brand design is an exercise in choosing a color palette, pictures, shapes, and layouts. Bright colors and aspirational images of people in perfect settings holding beautifully designed products can get people’s attention. They make us want something better, newer, shinier, more beautiful, or more powerful than what we have now. And it works. Until the next bright, shiny thing comes out that diverts people’s...
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A Floor to Ceiling Look at Naming Architecture

A Floor to Ceiling Look at Naming Architecture

The other day I was researching printers. After narrowing my search based on the features that mattered, I landed on the Canon’s LBP623Cdw. I’m familiar with Canon from the cameras, the rest of the name might as well have been written in cuneiform. After some sleuthing, I discovered that LBP stands for Laser Beam Printer, 623 is the model line, C is for color, and dw means duplex wireless. As a brand naming architecture, I’m sure this name makes perfect sense to the product manager who approved it. But for consumers who need a reason to connect with a product as they consider a purchase, the...
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Building Brands with 5 W’s and an H

Building Brands with 5 W’s and an H

The other weekend I went for a walk in Golden Gate Park with a friend and her stroller-bound daughter. It’s been quite a few years since my own kids were young, and while the experience was familiar I could also take it in from a fresh perspective. As we walked along the shores of Stowe Lake, her daughter gave us a lesson in how children take in the world: “Mommy, why is that bird sitting on one foot?” “Where do you think the geese sleep at night?” “How did the big rock get all the way up the hill?” While this form of inquiry is familiar in children, it’s also a big part of how we learn as...
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Not Another Outdoor Brand: The Appeal of Meat Eater

Not Another Outdoor Brand: The Appeal of Meat Eater

In our last blog post, Joanna Schull explored an approach to companies that are creating their own categories. Today, we’ll talk about what happens when a brand takes an existing market category and turns it on its head entirely. When this happens organically, as part of a larger vision, the results can surprise and excite. Sandwiched between the romcoms, reality shows, and “Steamy Thrillers” of Netflix, you can find Meat Eater. In its tenth season, the show centers on hunting and fishing across multiple continents. There’s a clue to Meat Eater’s ambitions in its name: a determination to...
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Category Leadership: Branding at the Edge

Category Leadership: Branding at the Edge

The thrill of discovery One of the more exhilarating aspects of working with emerging technology companies is helping them map new ideas, evolving business models, and innovative technologies onto the existing brandscape. Sometimes there’s a clear way to position their offerings that gives them unique ownership of a positioning territory. But there are many times when a company’s offering is unique, original, or revolutionary to the degree that an existing category doesn’t describe them. We call this “branding at the edge” and it requires reframing the brand landscape in a way that allows...
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Your Verbal Identity Has Never Been More Important

Your Verbal Identity Has Never Been More Important

If I’m doing my job right, this first sentence should jump right out and ring the little bell in your heart. Margaret Atwood once said, “A word after a word after a word is power,” and how brands utilize that power is often the difference between cutting through the clutter or simply adding to it. So, how can you wield communication tools to supercharge your business, crystallize your strategy, and foster conversations that create deeper, more meaningful connections? The answer lies in your verbal identity. Words in a Sea of Pictures Here’s something people love to say: show don’t tell....
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How to Slay a Creative Block Monster

How to Slay a Creative Block Monster

August 16th, 2021. I find myself sitting in front of my oversized monitor, surrounded by the predictable Apple devices. My hand is resting on the mouse, Coldplay sings “Yellow” through my overpriced Air Pro Max headphones, while I stare at the white artboard spread across my screen. My left hand rests on the keyboard, while my index finger taps the “T” key. Tik, tik, tik… is it just me, or is my monitor getting bigger and the artboard getting brighter? Two big sinister eyes appear on my screen and before I know it, the Creative Block Monster grabs a hold of me and sucks me into a bright...
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