Wondering What It’s Like to Work with Us?
If you’ve been reading our stuff for a while, you know we typically share our ideas and experiences to help brand managers and marketers leap over the hurdles their brands run into. Business challenges like figuring out which products to launch or finessing relationships with retailers or navigating consumers’ fickle buying habits.
So I wanted to pull back the curtain a bit and write about how brand leaders come to work with us, and how we help them blow up their brands in all the best ways.
Why Brand Leaders Engage Us
Brand managers, CMOs, and private equity investors typically reach out to us when they’re in one of two broad scenarios:
One, something isn’t working. Market share is growing slowly or not at all. Profits are stagnant. Category managers are losing interest in the brand and its products. A once powerful connection with the brand’s audience has softened, and a potential new audience is hard to identify. Packaging and brand identity no longer stand out in a competitive marketplace. The brand is floundering and leadership needs outside expertise to right the ship.
Or two, the brand is in solid shape, performance wise. But the team is under-resourced and can’t devote people’s power to taking it to the next level. It’s more of a bandwidth issue, not so much that the brand is stuck. Perhaps the brand is new to the company’s portfolio and leaders aren’t yet ready to build out the team. They need work from us that’s as good or better than what they could produce internally.
While we’re really good at turning around sluggish brands (see Russell Stover and Essentia), we excel when we plug in as an expert resource for the team. That’s because we’re free to bring big ideas, take risks that are hard to do internally, and stand in the trenches to advocate for a bold vision for the brand. Our position as an outside partner means we’re not intimidated by pitching breakthrough ideas or limited by what’s always been done.
What You Can Expect from Us
Our work with food, beverage, and wellness brands typically falls under two umbrellas: our 360° Brand Development process (i.e., the whole kit ‘n’ kaboodle) and Brand Strategy & Positioning (when the client has an internal team capable of executing the strategy).
Some brand managers, whatever our engagement, prefer us to play the “agency” role, standing a bit apart from the team, working independently, and iterating in back-and-forth fashion. We skillfully support the client’s expertise and help them build solutions that feel “aha” — grown organically out of their strategy.
Others invite a more collaborative partnership with lots of dialog and personal connectivity. These managers want to blend new-school and old-school marketing thinking; they expect to roll up their sleeves and be part of the behind-the-curtain work.
After decades of doing this work, we’re super comfortable with both of these roles. We can shape-shift to assume whatever form works best for the project. Clients tell us this flexibility is one of our assets, along with a few other strengths:
We See Into Your Blind Spots
It’s maybe the biggest argument in favor of working with us: We see what you don’t. Institutional bias is real. It keeps you from imagining a wider consumer base beyond the fans who’ve been with your brand from the beginning. It hamstrings your innovation process because you can’t get past your personal preferences. When you’re stuck in we’ve-always-done-it-this-way mode, bold moves feel too risky, even when they’re the right ones.
We Help You Get Comfortable with the Uncomfortable
Armed with that outsider point of view, we can push boundaries and advocate for positioning or audiences or retail channels that might feel uncomfortable or unfamiliar to the internal team. We’re not afraid of the internal politics and turf battles. Our business partners tell us we help them imagine their business in ways they could never have foreseen. We overcome doubt and deliver results — results that make our clients look brilliant. And in the highly unlikely event that we fall short of the goal, we absorb the punches.
We Leverage Our Years of Experience
David and I have been at this for a couple of decades now. As a young creative, David helped build one of the most iconic, pervasive brands in the world, Starbucks, and he’s gone on to advise CMOs and leaders of many other influential food and beverage brands. Since my early career position working with Jane Goodall, I’ve been on a mission to change the world. Those three things — experience, impact, and passion — are unique to us. Every client engagement, every breakthrough, every win adds to our expertise. And we’ve built a team of strategists and creative pros with CPG marketing chops that bring their own dedication and skills to the work.
We Find New Consumers to Fall in Love with Your Brand
All that experience helping brands like Starbucks and REI and High Key find breakthrough success adds up to what I call David’s superpower. It’s his freaky ability to translate raw consumer data into a deep understanding of the consumer and consumer-to-be. Most data takes a historic look at who’s bought your product, where, and why. David’s adept at mining that info for insight into who your future audience is and how your brand fits into their lives. Growth comes not from selling more product to your existing fan base, but from finding all those people out there just waiting to fall in love with your brand.
We Deliver Results, Period
This is what it’s all about, right?
As a brand manager, you’re charged with growing the business. It’s a singular goal with a lot of moving parts: messaging, channel strategy, audience development, product innovation. Time and again, clients tell us, “You told us what would happen and you delivered exactly what you promised. Working with you transformed our culture and impacted my career.”
Maybe they had questions or fears along the way, but they trusted the process. Working with us is like physical therapy: You relearn how to do things you thought you knew how to do.We’re out to build what we call Beloved & Dominant Brands. Brands with devoted followers, with bold aims to change the world, with the power to out-compete rivals. If that aligns with your vision for your brand, I invite you to get in touch.