I believe every company, product and individual, no matter how big or small, has the potential to be a meaningful brand. I believe even tiny companies should have access to the strategic skills and know-how for connecting with culture. This is why I do what I do.
I am obsessed with connecting brands with people.
Not just any people, but the right people, in the right ways. Often, it's a new product that needs to find market fit. Or it's a brand launching into a new market or territory. Sometimes it's helping an internal team work more in-tune with each other, but also with the shifting culture in which they sell. Sometimes product design or marketing teams need a stronger sense of purpose to forge the future of a brand. Often, it's many of these things and more. If you'd like to learn more, my Do Lectures talk from 2013 'Sell Your Pursuit Not Your Product' is a pretty good overview of my approach.
I start with questions to guide us somewhere new.
I'm not a theorist. I have been hands-on and instrumental within some of the world's most meaningful, powerful companies creating lasting impact. Every project starts with understanding the situation and our blindspots. What are your current assumptions about your customers? Why do you believe that and what's stopping you from thinking about them in a different way? What don't you know about them?
What wider culture is your brand a part of? How do people already connect with each other through your product or service - or even just the wider category of products? How and why do they want to talk about you? What meaning do you actually create in their day to day lives? What stops them from talking about you? Who are the tribe leaders shaping your customers' values, thoughts and behaviours? In what way are other brands (or your own) out of step with culture these days?
Why does the world actually need your company to exist? How is everything you do evidence of this? Is there something you do, say or create that undermines it? What do you have cultural permission to talk about? Where do you need to gain credibility?
I always work collaboratively and embedded within client teams.
From research and market insight work through to honing the strategy and eventually implementing it across marketing, product and HR, a client team must feel the strategy is theirs to own. I can lead and guide a strategic project and help ensure it's effective and powerful, but the brand strategy must also be internally self-sustaining once I've finished. This is one of the most important things I've learned in the 12+ years I've spent doing this work.
Yes, I've founded an ambitious startup, and I failed.
I believe it has also made me better at helping other companies because I know what it truly means to put my heart, soul, my entire savings account, sweat and a few too many tears into a business and see it all fall apart. I've learned by getting my hands dirty and I've come to believe that implementation is the only real way to know the effectiveness of a strategy.