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Navigating turbulent times requires brands to change in ways that are more than skin-deep

By Emma Seely

Weight today is more than just a number on a scale. Where being “fat” was once a shameful secret hidden behind oversized clothes and burned off with whatever magic pill was most readily available, people of all shapes and sizes are now encouraged to own their humanity regardless of their BMI — even to consider themselves beautiful. These relatively new norms have pushed brands to offer expanded sizing, equitable wellness education, and other inclusion initiatives.

Hidden behind these programs is a struggle for…

Separating Fact from Fiction in Your Brand Story

By Hannah Landers

On New Year’s Eve, the unthinkable happened to a group of tourists in New York City: An undetected home invader violently sexually assaulted a woman in the rental property that she had booked with some friends to ring in the new year.

This may sound more like fodder for a true-crime television series than a workplace discussion, but it’s just one of many similar stories that vacation rental giant Airbnb grapples with on a regular basis. Following the incident described above, which occurred in 2015, the assailant was caught by the police, and Airbnb provided the woman…

When Community and Quality Find Its Footing

By Rachel Fox

When Sidra Qasim finished high school, she was faced with a situation in which nearly all young Pakistani women find themselves: under constant pressure from her family to find a husband. Matchmaking attempts began at age 16, but Qasim rejected every suitor who came to visit. While Qasim’s parents, both of whom were educators, were considered fairly liberal, according to Qasim, a pilgrimage to Mecca brought more rules to her house: “Suddenly the science and literature books disappeared from our home … The rules were tightened. Our dress code became very strict.” So Qasim doubled-down on her…

Robinhood told a story that didn’t line up with its reality

By Jeromey Lloyd

GameStop sells video games the old-fashioned way: peddling physical media in brick-and-mortar stores in an industry where digital downloads now account for the majority of sales. It was 2013 when every major gaming device provided a way to circumvent stores and download its games directly, and GameStop has been struggling since. It has made flailing attempts are reinvention , but over time its value (NYSE: GME) started to suffered — between January 2019 and January 2020 alone, GME fell from $16 per share to $5.

GameStop’s 2021 trajectory has been anything but linear. Since New Year’s, GameStop…

Keep Spending More Money on Marketing That Doesn’t Deliver? That’s a Tough Pill to Swallow.

By Meghan Termat

For those seeking job security, it might be best to avoid the role of Chief Marketing Officer. Search firm SpencerStuart has reported that the median CMO tenure at the 100 most advertised brands in America is only 30 months. At less stable companies, a marketer’s time in the c-suite can be even shorter, with turnover consistently greater than other positions.

Difficulty proving effectiveness may have something to do with the revolving door of CMOs, but a Korn Ferry survey indicated only about 9 percent can’t quantify their impact. The real problem? A mismatch in the expectations of…

Tapping into New Markets through Brand Story

By Meghan Termat

Imagine this scene: A large arena with blinding lights illuminating a captive audience; loud music pumping from speakers; people sporting Gucci and Balenciaga sneakers amidst the crowd. BMW sponsorship signs line the walls, and screens displaying a Louis Vuitton collection hover above the masses. It’s New York Fashion Week, right?

Wrong, this is the scene at the League of Legends World Championship.

League of Legends is a team-based online game where two opposing forces battle against one another, taking over enemy bases on their way to victory. As a professional esport, League of Legends has an annual…

When Your Brand Becomes the Monster It Set Out to Destroy

By Hannah Landers

Music is intensely personal for each listener; it’s the soundtrack to first love, heartbreak, celebration, and loss. And no matter what kind of emotional state someone’s in, Spotify probably has a playlist for it.

Amongst the massive streaming service’s myriad “Mood” playlists, users can match their emotional state to: “my life is a movie,” “Life Sucks,” “idk.,” “Sad Bops,” “Cranked Up,” and “Tear Drop” — described as “Emo rap feelings for the misunderstood.”

Thanks to its deeply personalized suggestions and massive overall library of tunes, Spotify has quickly become the streaming service of choice for millions, providing…

Throwing Weight Behind the Right Brand Message

By Hannah Landers

Make yourself a gift to the world.

This is the message that fitness brand Equinox chose to broadcast to its more than 300,000 Instagram followers just days into 2020 — the key moment when New Year’s resolutions drive gym memberships higher than any other time of the year. Accompanying this message was an ad in which a woman details the story of a slim, muscular, and barely clothed Narcissus — but positions his self-obsession as a virtue.

“If you are your best self, whatever self that is, you’re going to be your best for the world,” explained…

By Rachel Fox

It’s been called “the most important company to come out of Silicon Valley that no one has ever heard of.” A future-focused Apple spinoff 20 years ahead of its time, General Magic accurately predicted what technology consumers of the future would find essential. General Magic’s founders, Marc Porat, Andy Hertzfeld, and Bill Atkinson — all members of the original Mac team — envisioned both a personal computing device that would evolve into the smartphone and the services that would be integral to the experience of using it.

Like Apple, media and industry lore shot General Magic into…

When Strategy Doesn’t Align with Story

By Hannah Landers

2020 began as another year in the Golden Age of television. It was also supposed to mark the dawn of the Quibi era — at least according to Jeffrey Katzenberg, the creative mind behind the streaming service that officially launched on April 6.

“Five years from now, we want to come back on this stage and if we were successful, there will have been the era of movies, the era of television and the era of Quibi,” the DreamWorks co-founder and Disney veteran prophesized to a crowd at South by Southwest in 2019. …


Story Architects: drafting narratives that propel organizations forward.

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