Client Showcase #24

Danville Services brings joy to people with disabilities. This company of 1200 dedicated people leads with its heart and we are proud to partner with them on key communications initiatives like the launch of their new website.

Taking care of people with disabilities requires patience, compassion and integrity. Many of the roles are entry-level positions but the responsibilities are always immense. By using a combination of custom photographic assets and iconography, we are able to relay the power of the Danville story in ways that words alone can’t touch. Even when it comes to describing the scope of services provided—96 residential and day programs across four western states—it’s best to bring the facts to life in a visual way.

Scrutinize Your Brand Communications Before Someone Else Does

Integrated marketers work to ensure that every customer touchpoint is maximized for the customer’s benefit. When all the touchpoints eventually line up, you can display them on a customer journey map and begin to visualize in greater detail what moves customers to buy.

According to McKinsey:

In most companies, there are a handful of critical customer journeys. Understanding them, customer segment by customer segment, helps a business to maintain focus, have a positive impact on customer satisfaction, and begin the process of redesigning functions around customer needs.

“Redesigning functions around customer needs,” it must be noted, is for the brave of brand heart. Many people prefer to approach their ever delicate sales and marketing problems with a jackhammer.

If you’re concentrating on what you want to say instead of what your customers need to hear, you’re doing it wrong. If you won’t admit that you’re capable of doing it wrong, you’re also doing it wrong. Saying so isn’t a blame game, it’s a reminder to look at your own Marcom practices and see the parts that need improvement.

Novelist, Barbara Kingsolver, recently argued that “politeness is no substitute for morality, and won’t save us in the end.” She was talking about politics, but the same holds true for our businesses. The best work in all fields is the result of ruthless and steady scrutiny and a willingness to re-examine time-tested concepts.

If you’re ready to do it right in 2017 and beyond, let’s outline the opportunities and a plan of action. It all starts with a brisk walk in your customer’s shoes. To schedule the first in a series of brand communications walks, give me a ring at 503-970-3862 or send a note to

Client Showcase #23

HealthCo Information Systems has a compelling brand story to convey to physicians and to clinic admins. We gathered video testimony from customers and company leaders and condensed it into a two-minute narrative.

The Tualatin-based healthcare IT specialist also seeks to reach new staff and its current team with information that reveals company culture, and a clear look at future objectives and directions.

The new video is now featured front-and-center on the company’s homepage.


Major hat tip to Jenn Byrne for her expert shooting and editing on this project.

Only Fully Revealed Brands Are Open To A Customer Relationship

It’s fun to unearth a thoughtful talk on YouTube, one that can help inform your own work. The following offering from Chicago Booth School of Business features two professors and a client. The client is sharp.

Ann Mukherjee, former President of Pepsi Global Insights and current Global CMO at S.C. Johnson, says:

Every corporation today is looking to build sustainable results for their shareholders. What a brand does is connect your product, your service to a consumer. You want that growth to be sustainable? You better have very strong brands.

In today’s world of infinite choices, you have loyalty today and not tomorrow. What brands do is create a relationship, and in today’s world of marketing it’s not just about buying brands, it’s about buying into brands.

I love that she says a brand’s purpose is to connect to a consumer.

When we go to work for clients, we want to win hearts and minds—that’s the path to brand preference and customer loyalty. The question is, how does a particular brand achieve these lofty goals when people don’t like advertising, and they don’t like altering their behaviors?

The answer is simpler than you may think. Companies must peel away their layers and truly reveal themselves. People need something to grab onto and hold in their minds. Something simple but strong.

Columbia Sportswear, for instance, is “Tested Tough in the Pacific Northwest.” That’s simple and strong (and not something we came up with). It also happens to be true.

It’s never easy to pare things down to one elegant thought that perfectly captures the company’s spirit. It takes the kind of focus that a craftsman brings to woodworking or a sculptor to stone. You chisel away—day after day—until the true form is revealed, and the meaning conveyed.

We’re Helping An Original Equipment Manufacturer Bring A New “Made in Oregon” Product To Market

We are pleased to support serial entrepreneur, Pete Larson, in his quest to bring his new invention successfully to market.

Grip Friend is a simple solution for serious golfers.

Rain, irrigation and dew, plus sand, dirt and fertilizer all collect on clubs when they’re placed on the ground. Some golfers will use a towel to address the problem, but towels soak through. Only Grip Friend provides a complete and permanent solution.

To help bring Grip Friend to the golfing public’s attention, we’re strategizing with Pete on the best approaches, including retail, online and the corporate gift and customization markets.

We’re also busy right now remaking, creating a social media presence for the brand, fashioning a hangtag for the product, and more.

If you’re already convinced you need grip insurance for life, buy your new Grip Friend today. The product comes in pink, gray and black.

Make Better Connections And Stronger Bonds By Practicing Conversational Intelligence

conversations matter

Judith E. Glaser, noted author of seven books and the founder and CEO of Benchmark Communications, is an organizational anthropologist focused on “Conversational Intelligence.”

We now know from neuroscientific research how the brain opens up or closes down during conversations. We know from our own personal experience, that when we work with others as ‘peers’ and our ‘peers are open to listening to connect, the quality of our conversations elevates. In addition, our ability to generate new ideas, especially really different and radically new ideas, elevates, and we trust that we will not be rejected, or diminished or judged.

For those of us operating in creative industries, it’s essential to develop a culture that allows for everyone to be genuinely heard. Company leaders must encourage people to speak up, which means leaders must also create organizational fearlessness. That is, it must be safe to oppose the prevailing winds, regardless of their force.

It sounds simple, but deep listening is a skill that’s missing from so many of our day-to-day conversations at work, with friends and family, and online. To me, it’s important that we address this missing piece in almost all content marketing plans. Brands and their agency partners are so wrapped up in what they need to say, they forget to pause, to breathe and to allow for other voices to be heard. I might add, hearing is not an end in itself. We need to hear from our audiences and then apply what we’ve learned to our operations. Otherwise, it’s listening for listening’s sake, and that’s the kind of false politeness that can come nowhere near a thriving brand.

Is it possible for marketers learn to quiet their “mind?” Yes! It means developing empathy for the audience members, or customers, as the case may be. When a company’s leadership team honestly values and consistently promotes empathy inside the organization, it naturally extends to the brand. Customer interactions can be dramatically improved, and loyalty earned through the company’s ability to nurture staff so they can, in turn, extend themselves to others with compassion, heart, and grace. It sounds like I am advocating for a new form of marketing yoga, but I think it’s simpler than that.

Treat people well, and they come back for more. Click To Tweet

In marketing terms, treating people well means shining truth on the product or service. You can imagine how things fly off the rails when the product or service isn’t what it claims to be. When a company fabricates a story, instead of finding the real stories inherent to the brand, it treats people poorly, not well. “Treat people well and they come back for more” means finding the core truths about your product or service and helping people to see how it serves their best interets, not yours. When you get this alignment just right, your own best interests will also be served.