Partial List of Remarkable Brands Served
Simon Property Group
International Justice Mission
Junior Chamber International
Yellowstone Boys & Girls Ranch
Mel Trotter Ministries
Assoc of Fundraising Professionals
Art to Remember
Johnson & Johnson
Pittsburg Tank and Tower Group
* successful exits through acquisition since engagement
Meet Pete Gall
Pete's been a copywriter for the world's three largest ad agency conglomerates: Omnicom (McCann-Erickson), WPP (J. Walter Thompson), and Publicis.
As a young man suddenly disillusioned by the inherently immoral nature of most advertising efforts, Pete burned his portfolio and fled to Denver, where he spent five years divided between seminary, various ministry endeavors, and playing the role of executive director as he helped resuscitate a now thriving non-profit organization.
He also spent two years as perhaps the worst Cisco certified network engineer to ever conjure nightmares of router code.
Pete returned to copywriting when he realized the problem wasn't the industry, but the way people engage the industry. Today he works from a set of basic rules that govern the stories he'll tell. Ask him about them sometime and he'll tell you more.
He spent several years working on a consultative basis for agencies around the country while he wrote and published two books with an imprint of HarperCollins, and collaborated on three others. In 2011, Pete joined the top brand, innovation, and design shop in the tech startup world, Studio Science, where he spent three years as Strategy Director.
There's no question he'd still be there today, but for two great competing loves. Abundant time with his daughter, Mirabelle, and the creation of private memoir packages for prominent families, which you can learn more about at honorpassion.com.
He served on the board of the Harrison Center for the Arts, and is currently involved with several international ministry efforts, placing particular focus on the care of orphans and girls in Egypt, Haiti, India, and Romania.
Pete, Christine, and Mira are eagerly anticipating the arrival of another family member (Codename: Peanut) this fall.
So, What's at the Heart of Brand Vision?
Really, it's business in the context of life, which means we start with – and aim for – something higher.
Truism #1. Whatever you're doing with your days is what you're doing with your life.
If you can't clearly express why your brand is worthy of a portion of the lives spent in its service, you'll bleed passion, miss value, and watch your business underperform, both internally and in the market. Get this right and everything else becomes more efficient and more adaptive.
Truism #2. Vision drives value – especially for high growth technology brands.
People with clarity and belief in their work make better decisions, innovate from passion, uncover value, and express loyalty to the employer who sends them home as better people. Growth means risk. Vision adds purpose to the risk, and separates pioneers from mercenaries.
Truism #3. Your brand is the entirety of your business existence, not your marketing.
Success is fueled by alignment with a single vision, ownership of the right tradeoffs, and a holistic grasp of the impact your business has on the lives of your employees and their families. Brand vision is about making sure the beautiful thing is the compelling thing, for everyone.
Truism #4. There is a huge difference between brand vision and brand management.
Vision is the "why," and management is the "how." You need a variety of discipline-specific agencies and experts to manage the tactical execution of brand management. For brand vision, you're better served by a partner with a narrow focus and a gift for translation.
A little sentimental and corny? Maybe. The good news is that this approach has also generated literally billions of dollars for my clients.
It can make your work more rewarding too.
How Brand Vision Complements Your Efforts
Brand Vision is an amplifying layer, not a competitive or redundant layer of professional services.
In most businesses, there is nobody who truly "owns" the brand. Marketing is often assigned the role, but that's really more about how the story gets expressed in tactical and reactive terms. PR is great at pumping the well to share a compelling narrative with the market, but generally isn't the best discipline for figuring out where to dig the well in the first place. Sales specializes in "the last mile," but is incentivized to cover that mile well, not to choose the best road for the company. Product owners and technical folks focus on feasibility and iteration, but tend to be so wired for accuracy that they struggle to talk about value ... instead falling prey to the assumption that the best product will win, and that buyers will be eager to invest the appropriate level of due diligence in their buying process. Executive leaders are responsible for business viability, but that's a vast and complex balancing act to get right across all audiences. HR keeps a close eye on internal culture, recruitment processes, and "employment experiences," which are absolutely an important part of today's top tier staffing requirements, but often end up disconnected from holistic business discussions and are treated as concession-based costs rather than value multipliers. Add onboarding, support, customer success, channel relationships, philanthropic/social responsibility conversations, and a host of other brand expressions to the mix, and it's no wonder that businesses suffer for a lack of consistent vision.
Brand Vision is where the source of the brand's story lives, and where the entire company finds its resources. It's where the big ideas live, where short descriptions offer guidance, and maybe most important: it's where you define and sharpen the objective tools that help you evaluate and guide subjective decisions. It's the repository of heart for your company that enables people to invest deeply without getting burned by following their own assumptions where you've left important topics unaddressed.
You can find highly valuable partners in each discipline, and you should. But even though an agency will tell you they do branding, and so will an HR company, or a sales consultancy, or a product innovation shop, or any of your board members, their perspective will be skewed by their background and by the services they really offer. Any discipline-specific partner thrives when it gets to do its thing, and when it can execute rolling hours against a clear brand vision that amplifies their services, rather than slowing their processes and core value delivery abilities by walking you through yet another – and discipline-constrained – "discovery phase."
Brand Vision makes every downstream dollar you spend more effective and more efficient. For your other partners, a strong brand vision effort uncovers opportunities, provides direction, reduces rounds of revisions, highlights value, and prepares you to spend the right dollars on the right projects. Your other partners will likely have some variation of their own "discovery phase" baked into their normal processes, and that phase exists for good reasons. Rather than expecting your partners to break their processes and jeopardize the value they can contribute for you, once we've gone through a Brand Vision engagement, I will work as your translator/spokesperson/liaison during that phase at no charge to you. In most cases, I'm able to help your partner get what they need from that phase, saving you time, expense, and diffusion of brand vision.
Brand Vision doesn't require an ongoing relationship. It's a short duration, targeted engagement, followed by check-ins or reviews as your business flows and you complete phases, evaluate new opportunities, or feel the focus getting loose. The offering is decidedly skewed toward senior leadership, or anyone who knows what "heavy is the head that wears the crown" feels like. The outputs include the typical tactical stuff you'd see from other partners (mission, vision, value proposition, product road maps, sales stories, marketing plans, culture books, as well as senior level thought leadership or public messaging when appropriate), but it's wrapped in significantly deeper philosophical and sociological discussions that fuel and frame the way all of the rest is pursued by those who need to actually make sure the stuff works.
Why I do this work. I picture your average employee arriving home at the end of the day, and their kids running up to greet them. The version of themselves the kids meet, and what your employee teaches about the world and life in it, is absolutely influenced by where they spend their day and what sort of people work beside them. People whose work matters to them, who feel valued, who risk safely, who are part of a winning environment, and who understand the impact they can have on the world ... these people actually change the world. And they get paid for it. I'm not the right fit for everyone. But I love what it feels like to see good things happen for the people I serve, so I serve the way I know how.
If this sounds like you, I look forward to our conversation.