Branding
& Strategy.

About


A brand is not a logo. A brand is what an audience expects. Strong organizations understand the promise that they’re making: they know and name their audience, offer transformation, communicate with powerful emotions, and make sure to keep their promises. 

Many firms can struggle to follow these basic precepts. That’s where I come in. Regardless of where you are in your strategy, or where you want to go, I can help lead you through the conceptual process of building an authentic brand and communicating effectively to those that matter most to you. 

Whether it’s through personae exercises, market research, voice & tone work, building out your brand ladder, or acting as your Chief Content Officer to give you a content strategy that’ll work – I’ll be your trusted partner to deliver what you need. Your brand doesn’t need to be perfect. It just needs to be you. 

Your brand doesn't need to be perfect. It just needs to be you.

Look through my case studies



Case
Study

NONPROFIT Research in the age of Trump

Finding the right words just got a lot more difficult.

Problem:

How to persuade conservative lawmakers?

A nonpartisan research center came to me with a careful design challenge. The client wanted to ensure that one of their key federally-funded research wouldn’t be mistaken for partisan polling (for confidentiality I refer to it simply as “the Poll”). They needed to persuade conservative politicians to keep their funding. But how do you tell a great story about a jumble of statistics, data, and estimates?

analysis:

Conservatives and liberals hold different moral values.

The client needed clear talking points for executive management to follow when defending the important work their Poll has done.

I began where I always do, with audience. To speak effectively to conservatives, I must be fluent in what they care about. Fortunately, sociologists have done the hard work, cataloging the underlying moral values that influence U.S. political ideologies. In particular, Robb Willer shows that conservatives, unlike liberals, specifically value concepts like tradition, purity, authority, and hierarchy. I started here.

solution:

Prove that the client’s Poll is as American as apple pie.

With these moral attributes as my guide, I rewrote and revised a two-page memo designed to hit all the right notes while remaining subtle and factual.

America is at its best when individuals have the freedom to live by their own values. The recent Tax Cuts and Jobs Acts is one important victory by keeping the government out of needy families’ wallets while fostering individual self-reliance. But the fight for America and its traditions of liberty and self-reliance isn’t over. It requires every weapon at our disposal.

I began by establishing some basic warrants in order to cue conservatives that they should keep an open mind. Words like “freedom,” “self-reliance,” and “liberty” all tell sympathize with conservative reader’s values.

Now, more than ever, political leaders need to reach the hearts of real Americans. The next battle will be to encourage working-age adults to achieve self-sufficiency by allowing states to add work requirements to Medicaid. This alone can increase productivity, promote jobs, raise incomes, support the free market, and ultimately, build stable families. Yet these visionary changes will come with forceful opposition. That is why institutions like the Heritage Foundation and the CATO institute turn to the Poll for help. As America’s most trusted poll, the Poll is an essential tool for politicians looking to back up their family-oriented and pro-growth policies with accurate, comprehensive, and incontrovertible data. By collecting rigorous polling data from across the country, the Poll can measure a broad array of changes in American society and culture. For years, the Poll has been a valuable tool for patriotic and family-oriented leaders

I wanted to credential the Poll through conservative institutions that held the most authority and prestige – namely the Heritage Foundation and the Cato Foundation. By setting apart a clear and prominent list of conservative think-tanks, I hoped to quickly legitimize the Poll as, at the very least, a politically-neutral project.

Some might question whether the Poll is worth the money simply because its modest budget is funded by the federal government. In fact, the Poll has historically been so cost effective that several Republican administrations have supported it.  

Most importantly, all Poll data are available for free to the public. The Poll online system is clear, easy, and accessible. Anyone can access Poll data and everyone can evaluate the rigor and quality of its standards. Unlike other kinds of research, the Poll is designed with the American people in mind.

I also wanted to address fiscal concerns head on. By describing the paltry price (which in the classified version I state outright), I argued that the Poll provides conservative politicians with the data they need to support their policies and win their elections. Because the Poll tracks many cultural values, I chose the ones that might best resonate based on my researched conservative persona: religious liberty, immigration, and national spending.

Professionally trained expert investigators collect all of the data by conducting in-depth interviews at the convenience of each respondent. These interviews are the only source of data for the Poll and have proven to be remarkably accurate. All respondents are free to say no—though most people are eager to share their opinions and have their voices heard. The Poll has even studied its own past polls to ensure its continued accuracy. Most importantly, by law, the Poll cannot report an individual’s responses to government agencies or anyone else. Every respondent’s data is completely confidential.

Finally, I thought it prudent to be particularly sensitive to fears around data security and privacy. Americans from all parties are afraid of data misuse. Many conservative lawmakers are deeply skeptical of the government’s reach into private life. Just like any good PR strategy, I addressed these fears honestly and carefully.

Marketing 501

Case
Study

NeigerDesign & The AMA

Who markets to the marketers?

Problem:

How to sell a marketing firm to marketing experts.

While NeigerDesign are masters at branding and marketing for their clients, they’d continue to overlook their own business development. When the American Marketing Association (AMA) offered them the chance to publish a sponsored article on their blog, NeigerDesign turned to me for help. This was a big challenge. I’d have to write inbound content for expert marketers in NeigerDesign’s voice while leveraging the firm’s years of experience.

analysis:

Conduct a rigorous brand audit and competitive analysis.

I knew that the sponsored article would have to be concise, knowledgeable, engaging, and completely airtight. I also knew that before I could start writing, I’d have to possess a both a strong sense of NeigerDesign’s brand while quickly becoming an expert on the audiences and content found on AMA.org. I’d be threading the needle.

solution:

Focus on thought-leaders and concrete takeaways.

I learned that NeigerDesign takes specific pride in their past branding projects–a topic that many readers at AMA.org might find interesting. I also discovered that the content with the best engagement usually offered insights in a listicle format. Because I would be speaking to experts, I focused on building from the insights of key thought-leaders. Their voices would lend legitimacy and substance to my article while also improving SEO results. Finally, I focused on providing clear and concise tactics–not just abstract thoughts–through a personal and down-to-earth tone that would convey NeigerDesign’s years of business and extensive experience.

Ex.
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Scroll down to see about media literacy


Case
Study

Fiskkit

Taking media literacy into the classroom.

Problem:

How does a news literacy app become a teaching tool?

Fiskkit is a unique app that let’s anyone close read the news. As a fledgling startup, we need as many new users are we can get. I knew that, repackaged, our product could really help instructors teach close reading and critical thinking. How can we get teachers to actually start using our product in their classrooms?

analysis:

Teachers are reluctant to change their habits.

As a former university lecturer, I knew that once a teacher has designed and taught a course before, they’re often loathe to make any new changes to their system. In addition, many teachers–especially at the university level–are already weary dealing with frustrating course management products. To convince them, I’d have to answer their skepticism and prove our product’s value off-the-bat.

Solution:

Make engaging lesson plans to build trust in Fiskkit

Email marketing pitches alone wouldn’t be enough. I knew that I’d have to get creative. What better way to generate teacher signups than by removing the biggest barriers to adoption? A strong and brief lesson plan might both interest the weary pedagogue looking for a quick syllabus fix, while also educating them on Fiskkit Classroom’s unique tools through example.

Let me show you how I designed one of my lesson plans:

Ex.
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Design

I had to give Fiskkit Classroom a brand identity through a unique logomark that could clearly differentiate it from the open Fiskkit site–one that conveyed its new use to a new audience. With my limited toolkit I chose the casual and handwritten Amatic font for the “Classroom” logo–perfect for teachers and college students. I used Amatic in my headers while repeating Fiskkit’s unique two color tone to convey a brand-consistent style.

Strategy

I knew that my lesson plan would have to be one-page, organized, easy to understand, and very easy to implement for teachers. Let me take you through my thinking: 

Setup“: I made sure to provide clear links to our dedicated set-up guide.

Objectives”: Perhaps the lesson plan’s most crucial element, I knew that the better I defined the objectives the better I would communicate Fiskkit Classroom’s value to teachers. These had to be short and specific with strong verbs defining important skills.

“Materials”: Our biggest hurdle would come down to materials. Fiskkit Classroom allows teachers to take any current article in the news and turn it into a shared document for students to comment and tag. Without an article to teach, instructors would easily forget our product. My solution was to create a library of current articles, sorted into theme, core lessons, and source.

Definition”: Because one of Fiskkit Classroom’s key value propositions is it’s tagging feature, I crafted a lesson around this tool. In this case I thought it important to define “biased wording” both for students and for teachers. After all, if teachers and students are not on the same page our Fiskkit Classroom analytics could be compromised.

Example”: Good examples are the absolute backbone of good communication. Here I model exactly how I believe teachers should convey this lesson.

“Assignment”: This portion was quite straight forward: just teach it.

  “Evaluation”: Finally, I could not miss a great opportunity to highlight Fiskkit Classroom’s unique features. By showing teachers how they could use the analysis function to track student growth, I could both better sell the product and better address teacher’s reluctance towards adoption.

Results

As of late May 2019, Fiskkit Classroom is still under construction. However, we have circulated these lesson plans to teachers, instructors, and course designers across the country. We’ve received overwhelmingly positive interest and feedback in the product. These lesson plans have been so successful that we’ve converted potential new users into strategic partners who’re now stumping on our behalf to their colleagues and friends.


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