BrandLines
BrandLines
We Help CEOs Tell Better Stories
 
 

On Smarter Stories

Our Business Approach

 
 

Brandlines helps CEOs and other leaders craft better stories to align teams, markets, and investors toward better results.

Unlike discipline-specific agencies or consultancies, our thinking focuses at the executive level, above silos and territorial issues, to help you apply the holistic expertise we’ve developed in brand strategy, coaching, sales, product, marketing, employee engagement, and research for clients like GM, Coke, Groupon, ExactTarget, Angie’s List, Twitter, Netgear, Cisco, Johnson & Johnson, Lilly, and a host of high growth B2B tech startups.

We’re built around a very small team with the ability to tap a network of specialists who’ve worked together in various capacities and combinations for years on quite a few remarkable brands. That gives us tremendous flexibility to tailor every engagement according to your needs, not ours. We have no “bench” overhead, there is no “B Team,” and there is no junior staff learning on your dime. The dollars you spend with us will make every dollar you spend downstream more efficient and more impactful.

 
 

How we think about our deliverables.

 
 

Our job is to listen for the gaps. Sometimes that means areas that are getting no attention (but should) and sometimes that means helping your team address areas where the story is less clear to them. We go where we’re valuable to the company as a whole – always with an eye to the story upon which everyone is dependent.

Unlike most creative agencies, we do real research and we demand that our efforts produce real business results. Unlike most research options, we focus on creative application and how you can best leverage what we uncover. We will always have more paths of inquiry, and more routes to market for you to explore, than you will. We will cause you to think about your business more deeply, and find more meaning in your work, than you ever have before. You will love your company in great new ways.

While we offer high quality creative deliverables, our core business is the thinking that comes before those things get built, and in the relationships team have with their story going forward. #WePlayWellWithOthers

We’re built to start with any leader on your team, but we always take a holistic perspective on our clients’ businesses so our work can translate across all departments and especially to the CEO.

We find that the right story makes “command intent” explicit and invites every team member into clearer and more meaningful work.

Once the story is owned and expressed at the executive level, we offer a variety of expert coaching and specific tactical services to help the entire organization. We do some of this directly, some through a partner network, and some through our preferred route of working in concert with the people and vendors you already know and trust.

We price according to the value you perceive in the opportunity we tackle together, and we always seek to structure our agreements with the long-view in mind … aligning our efforts with the increasing success you’ll achieve as we work together.

 

“The average day with Pete is worth about $250k to our bottom line. So we talk about everything and always open more topics than we close.”

- ARI VIDALI, CEO Envisage TEchnologies

 
 
 
 

The Four BrandLines

In traditional stories, there are four critical throughlines. They are (1) the big picture, (2) the main character, (3) the impact character, and (4) the relationship between the main and impact characters. We’ve modified this time-tested framework to help businesses be more compelling, more impactful, wiser, and more successful.

 

THe MArket BrandLine

How you see, fit into, and contribute value to the world. Your “take” on the world and on the work you do, with an eye to yield, investment for sustainability.

THe Customer Brandline

The customer is the main character of your story, and you exist to deliver value that influences their story. Why you matter, and how, is addressed here.

The Company Brandline

Traditional values and standards approaches are “push” minded. Story focuses on “pull” approaches to inspiration, modeling, and creating brand meaning.

The Experience Brandline

This is the real bottom line that drives your financial bottom line. What is the resulting experience you created for your customer, and do they value it?

 

Making One Story

 

There’s an art and a science to building each of the four BrandLines, and in the end they weave into a single story, but there’s a lot that’s missing, messy, or just wrong about the way much of today’s market seeks to apply story to a weak definition of brand. We think the four BrandLines show up in three layers of value for your business success story, and we’ve packaged our approach and our guidance accordingly.

 

The Market BrandLine

Focus: the big picture, the market and the market in light of the rest of life

Goal: community, and a voice among people who value what you value

Approach to market: CEO/leader platform

This works most effectively when you go a step beyond your industry. Until then, you’re just an expression of your brand. The goal is to speak to context that makes your brand an example of a larger insight.

 

Customer & Company BrandLines

Focus: the shared pursuit of a specific solution in the context of alternatives

Goal: contract, and a practical value proposition for the transaction

Approach to market: all operational considerations in the delivery of value to customers

You’ve heard the old phrase “nobody ever got fired for hiring IBM.” That is a statement about the power of IBM’s brand. The key to every business – including IBM – is how well it can express and then deliver the value it promises. This is the foundation of business, yet far too many companies push brand gloss down into the operational cogs of their business and bleed for it. You must have a strong brand story, but your brand story doesn’t make you an effective business. We can help you stay clear on the difference.

 

The Experience BrandLine

Focus: the earned relationship between customer and company

Goal: connection, and an irrational alignment that goes beyond the transaction

Approach to market: brand story, values, image, and what it means to buy from you

You can think of this as the place where customers and companies meet as they pursue a solution within the context of the market. We believe that all brands are lifestyle brands in the sense that all buying decisions, whether personal or in the context of a workplace, are expressions of the values and personality of the buyer. To that end, it is appropriate for your brand to point to something beyond the need your solution addresses, but your brand story is ultimately bounded by that need/solution frame. The money you spend on messaging beyond that is simple philanthropy.

 
 

We focus on packing a punch because we care about leaving a mark. 

 
 

Pete Gall is the Brandlines story lead.

I left a fantastic job leading what is arguably the strongest brand and design firm in the tech space in 2013, a few months after my daughter was born.

When she arrived, every hour I wasn’t home had to defend itself in a new way, and work lost.

More specifically, time spent in meetings, on “run rate” work, or with people who weren’t similarly focused on the life value trades they were making … that’s what lost.

But the important stuff won – in my case and in the lives of the other specialists you’ll meet as you work with us. We’ve put in the time to be able to add value in very high level, very impactful places. That’s where we focus, and we are aggressive about doing excellent work in a targeted and efficient manner.

When we’re finished, you’ll have the ability to give clear direction to other teams who will be thrilled that you arrive with the ability to tell them exactly what you need them to do. Every person in our little network has worked in agency settings and client-side settings, and our deliverables are built to cut through the most inefficient (because it’s hard and complex work) portions of the process.

Every downstream vendor you engage will be more efficient because of what you’ll accomplish with us.

That promise made, you know what you accomplish at work is bigger than the business success you enjoy.

The versions yourself and of your team that go home to their families or out into the world are absolutely influenced by the cultures and principles with which they mingle during their workdays.

Addressing those principles, and building vision that’s strong enough to carry teams and families, is central to the operational success you’ll enjoy. It’s also critical to building a meaningful legacy for yourself, your team, and your product.

We will help your team refine its passion and find greater meaning in everything you do together.

That’s what we’re dedicated to doing, very well, for people who are ready for us. Time’s too short for anything else.