We are a Brand Performance Firm. We build Culturally Resonant Value Propositions for our clients. We do this through the discovery of important customer insights, which are culturally based, and are critical to the objective assessment of brand and product attributes.
STRATEGIC FRAMING AND CONSULTING
Acknowledging that there are phenomena impacting our world that also affect our business and our customers is an essential step in maintaining relevance and a sustainable business model. However, the next critical move is making a point to understand what these seemingly elusive forces mean to strategic planning and the day-to-day reality of doing business.
Macroforces: These are the pervasive shifts and realities present in our ecological and social environment that have a profound impact on shaping our subsistence and our culture. These constraints can offer both challenges and opportunities. Understanding the most relevant forces to your business is a choice to be proactive about long-term success rather than reactive and constantly buffeted by change.
Trends: These are the cultural reactions to the constraints and opportunities presented by the larger forces at work in our world. They are present in popular culture, lifestyle behavior, government and business. Understanding the context and role of what is happening now allows brands and corporations to not just prepare for what’s next, but to be a part of the evolution.
Putting macrofores and trends in context of specific business categories provides an opportunity to harness control over the future to create thriving business models and disruptive innovations.
We leverage a long history of analysis of the macroforces and trends that make up our global context to provide directed points of view for our clients on the opportunities for their businesses as they prepare for the long-haul. Services offered include focused macroforces and trend analyses, presentations and interactive strategy sessions with corporate leadership & brand teams.
HUMAN & CULTURAL RESEARCH
Profitable and sustainable relationships between brands and their constituents are always meaningful relationships. However, this meaning exists on two separate but interrelated levels that can often be erroneously dismissed in more traditional research approaches.
Cultural Context: Culture comprises the many ways that humans discover and communicate meaning in the world – it’s an aggregate of our experience, traditions and efforts. And cultural meaning can only be fully understood by gaining a clear view of how this meaning came into being in the first place.
Personal Meaning: Personal meaning exists in our hearts and minds and manifests itself in our value systems. This innate ‘meaning equity’ is a set of personal values and judgements (shaped in part by the cultural context we mentioned above) that we use to assess everyone and everything in our world – including brands.
By understanding these cultural and personal values, in context, we can predict how people will act or respond when presented with certain stimuli as well as understand the root cause and implications of their unmet needs. But perhaps more importantly, this helps us shape brand offerings for participating in culture in more meaningful ways.
We utilize a variety of research techniques that are rooted in or heavily influenced by Anthropology and Sociology. These processes include Quantitative and Qualitative Research and Analysis, Semiotics, Ethnography, Archetype Identification, and Collaborative Strategic Workshops.
We drive brand performance, reflected in Key Performance Indicators, by aligning a brand’s value proposition with the value systems of the customers that matter most. To achieve this, we use an array of quantitative and qualitative research methods.
Simply put, values are beliefs that motivate. When people encounter value systems that accurately reflect their own motivating beliefs they make strong connections; they experience recognition and affirmation, and enthusiastically offer it in return. And because they like this feeling of connection and genuine reciprocity, they seek it out, time and again.
We determine who the Most Valuable Customers for the brand are, and identify the cultural context in which they live. We then immerse ourselves in their worlds by observation of behavior and identification of the guiding principles that this behavior reflects. These principles for action are always direct – if not always explicit – outgrowths of fundamental values. We then conduct an objective assessment of the brand and its value proposition.
By understanding the hard and soft equities that most directly affect performance, we help our clients design a Resonant Value Proposition that is tuned to their Most Valuable Customer’s belief system. We then help various divisions within the organization apply what we’ve learned to the business in various areas such as Development, Operations, Innovation, and Marketing.
Our goal is to develop resonant Value Propositions that are culturally relevant and thus fit naturally into the end user’s world. Innovation can take many forms; we are often called upon for Marketing and Service Innovation as well as Product Innovation. We approach innovation by applying a 5 stage process of research and ideation methodologies, both quantitative and qualitative, all grounded in Anthropology and Sociology.
Opportunity Identification: Depending on the engagement, we begin by analyzing the target groups and opportunity areas based on Category Landscape, Attitude & Usage or other similar Market Segmentation study.
Inspiration Through Immersion: After identifying areas with potential for development, the search for inspiration often begins with contextual observation and inquiry. By observing and analyzing cultural trends and themes we identify opportunities based on real human needs and desires – sometimes explicitly referenced by fieldwork respondents, but often latent, unconscious, or not yet fully articulated.
Collaborative Development: We conduct collaborative workshops designed to draw on the collective intuition and experience of various stakeholders, such as Marketing, Operations, or Procurement teams, as well as a select group of external participants with project-specific expertise.
Analysis & Prioritization: We work with the client to conduct a strategic review of workshop and analysis output to focus on the product and platform combinations that are most attractive in the context of the overall organizational strategy or mandate.
Articulation, Visualization & Refinement: Marketing ideas and product concepts are developed into written and visual Concept Briefs. Visually these can take the form of sketches or be detailed ‘photo-realistic’ renderings including brand identity and market context documentation.