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Chapter four:
Mark my words

what our clients say

“The process has been fascinating, and the conclusions are spot on. We have hit on something that really makes sense, and it is going to be breakthrough for the brand.”

— Mary Dillon, Global Chief Marketing Officer McDonald’s

 

“First of all, you guys are fast. Never in 15 years have I experienced a process that delivered such a fresh perspective—and one that we could actually use—in just three days. Second, and more important, acknowledging the value of story gave my team permission to stretch. A massive, iconic brand like Cheerios can be very intimidating. Working with you gave my team a sense of possibility and hope, courage and confidence.”

— Ann Simonds, Chief Marketing Officer General Mills

 

“Character’s Story Framework analysis has given us a great bead on where our opportunities lie. We’ve now got a clear understanding and alignment to start moving forward, free from the baggage that would otherwise hold us back. This will be a very useful tool for managing our teams.”

 Michael Francis, Chief Marketing Officer, Target

 

“Character Camp was amazing. Your team pulled insights out of us that are generally guarded or unspoken and you made us think differently about the story of Verizon.”

—Suzy Deering, Executive Director of Media and Sponsorships, Verizon Wireless

 

“I can honestly say I’ve never seen our team—brand, insights and agencies—as energized and optimistic as I saw them today.”

—Justin Lambeth, VP of Marketing, Frito-Lay

 

“I think that your approach to character provides a strategic framework that is very liberating. By knowing the key elements that make a character engaging to an audience, one gets more conscious of what to do and not to do with the character—which ultimately opens up more possibilities.”

— Mathilde Delhoume, Director Advertising Development Global Baby Care, Procter & Gamble

 

“I’ve been with Unilever for some 28 years and attended numerous marketing strategy workshops. But the one led by the Character guys was the most powerful. I Iearned a great deal about the art of character building, but what I didn’t expect was to gain so much insight about branding and consumers in general.”

— Geoff Wilson, VP Marketing, Unilever Asia (Ice Cream) and International Brand Director

 

“Character Camp is notably free of PPT and data, which is unique and fresh. It uses the science of story development to focus us on elements of the brand that don’t occur in other offsites. Your team truly does an amazing job of putting the story together in a short amount of time.”

— Julie Roehm, SVP Communications Walmart

  

“I was blown away by your ability to get all of the information, research and opinions out in the open and then for your team as an independent group to reassemble all that material into an intelligent, insightful, simple story. Many times we have so much information, with so many opinions, it is difficult to clarify and get to that simple idea.”

 Jim Trebilcock, Executive Vice President Marketing, Dr. Pepper Snapple Group

 

“Just some feedback, the team here are raving about you guys— the best consultants they’ve ever worked with and the best money they’ve ever spent. Couldn’t believe how you guys could so quickly crystallize the issues and move them forward.”

— Mark Buckman, CEO McCann Australia

 

“Your whole team is amazing. They were engaged, engaging, passionate, knowledgeable, approachable and creative.”

 Chris Thompson, Group Account Director, Euro RSCG Worldwide

 

“Character Camp really allowed (forced) us to do a deep dive into what makes our brand a brand. In doing so, we not only got to the major issues with our character, but it helped clarify what the brand is all about in a way I hadn’t seen before. I see the results impacting a lot more than the character ultimately.

The holistic approach was truly unique. Using acting / storytelling to get to a brand essence in such an integrated way was fascinating—not the usual ‘pretend you’re a piece of furniture’ stuff.”

— Blake Glenn, Brand Manager Cadbury Adams, USA Cadbury Schweppes, Americas Confectionery

 

“I think now we have a way to talk about the brand as a brand instead of talking about the product, the claims, the packaging, all as separate entities. We now have a way to gauge whether future activations build the story or take away from the story. Previously, we had many disconnected thoughts about the brand and they didn’t flow together into a cohesive whole.  Now we have our story for all these things to orbit around.”

—Kathy Hayes, Marketing Intelligence Manager, Stouffer’s, Nestle USA

 

“Character Camp is an amazing process for getting at a brand’s story and its character, providing a basis for the emotional backstory. It is valuable for inspiring the organization as much as inspiring the consumer.”

—Bob Jacobs, Brand Manager, Kandoo, Procter & Gamble

 

“Your work is the lynch pin in our brand going forward.”

—Jenny Peterson, Director of Consumer Insights, Yoplait, General Mills

 

“The camp was beyond educational; it was also inspirational. Incredibly valuable.”

—Nicole Balderas, Brand Manager, Mighty Dog, Nestle/Purina

 

“I was surprised at how this work ended up tying back to the brand and to the equity. Even in product development we started having conversations connected to the story.”

—Jenny Kinard, Design Manager, Dawn, Procter & Gamble

 

“Character Camp was very different from other brand analysis I have experienced. In every other approach, we try to analyze the brand and the consumer at the same time and we end up tying ourselves in knots. The most valuable thing about Camp is ‘purity’ of the approach. It was magical the way the brand conflict and story evolved so organically.”

—Padmini Sharma, Group Manager, Strategic Insights, Frito-Lay

 

 “I’ve been through Character’s story framework process four times in my career, and it has always added extraordinary value. It was a central piece of Walmart’s rebranding effort in 2006, as we sought a new articulation of our brand narrative and our purpose. It’s an equally powerful tool for us now, as Walmart defines its place in a rapidly transforming retail envi¬ronment. And we are currently using it to do the same for Sam’s Club.”

—Tony Rogers, US Chief Marketing Officer, Walmart

 

“Character gets to the heart of what good storytelling is all about. They’ve helped Wendy’s focus on what makes us unique, different and special and that’s helped us to get people’s attention, keep their interest and keep the business growing. We compete with much larger brands, but by being overt about how we want to attack those differences, we’ve been able to have a lot of tension and conflict in the story that we are telling. That allows us to keep the story fresh and to fuel it. The more we do that the more positive attention we get as a brand and the more the brand continues to grow, which, in turn, builds our confidence in our storytelling and keeps the courage level high.”

 Kurt Kane, President U.S. & Chief Commercial Officer, Wendy’s Corporation

 

“Seattle’s Best Coffee turned a corner after Character Camp. Before working with Character, we were treating SBC like it was a mini Starbucks with a different name for people who had some issue with Starbucks. Now, we have a fundamental mission that is clearly distinct from Starbucks. We are growing market share in packaged coffee and our volume is growing at the expense of other mainstream coffees. This is a huge change. Now that we’ve so clearly defined the story, our cannibalization rate is well below fair share and our growth is coming instead from our competitors.”

Chris Bruzzo, Chief Marketing Officer, Seattle’s Best Coffee

“When I first heard Character mentioned, I was skeptical. Gallo Family Vineyards doesn’t have a literal brand character. But their way of looking at brands through the lens of story is a highly effective strategic tool. Since articulating our story framework, Gallo has had its best year. We’re up 10% and we’re outpacing the category. From a creative standpoint it’s been great because we’re all in alignment. Now that we have the articulation of our story, our social media, our partnerships, our programs, our packaging—it all makes sense. Of course, we brought them back to work on Apothic, Darkhorse and half a dozen other brands”

— Stephanie Gallo, Chief Marketing Officer, E. & J. Gallo Winery 

our clients have used our process to:

  • Define brand purpose (Amazon, Walmart)
  • Clarify positioning in a volatile category (Gallo Family Vineyard)
  • Optimize portfolio strategy and minimize cannibalization (Seattle’s Best Coffee)
  • Outline launch strategy for a new brand or product (Dark Horse Wine)
  • Reassert leadership against a formidable challenger (Old Spice)
  • Define brand voice for new channels–especially social media (Wendy’s)
  • Create, revitalize or reimagine iconic brand characters (Ronald McDonald, Juan Valdez, Laughing Cow)
  • Maintain brand identity and culture in the face of changes in ownership (Goose Island Brewery)
  • Crystalize and articulate the “founder energy” in a brand story (Perdue Farms)

“Character gets to the heart of what good storytelling is all about. They’ve helped Wendy’s focus on what makes us unique, different and special and that’s helped us to get people’s attention, keep their interest and keep the business growing. We compete with much larger brands, but by being overt about how we want to attack those differences, we’ve been able to have a lot of tension and conflict in the story that we are telling. That allows us to keep the story fresh and to fuel it. The more we do that the more positive attention we get as a brand and the more the brand continues to grow, which, in turn, builds our confidence in our storytelling and keeps the courage level high.”

—Kurt  Kane, President U.S. & Chief Commercial Officer, Wendy’s Corporation

“I’ve been through Character’s story framework process four times in my career, and it has always added extraordinary value. It was a central piece of Walmart’s rebranding effort in 2006, as we sought a new articulation of our brand narrative and our purpose. It’s an equally powerful tool for us now, as Walmart defines its place in a rapidly transforming retail environment. And we are currently using it to do the same for Sam’s Club.”

—Tony Rogers, Chief Marketing Officer, Walmart

“Since articulating our story framework, Gallo has had its best year. We’re up 10% and we’re outpacing the category. From a creative standpoint it’s been great because we’re all in alignment. Now that we have the articulation of our story, our social media, our partnerships, our programs, our packaging—it all makes sense.”

—Stephanie Gallo, Chief Marketing Officer, E&J Gallo Winery