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Business focus

Strategy - Everyone knows brands have value, but figuring out how to make the most out of that value is what we focus on. Connecting your brand strategy to business strategy, understanding the needs of your customers and developing a clear vision for what you do is always our starting point.

Positioning - Developing a clear brand framework that succinctly defines who you are, what you do, why you’re different and why your customers will care is the structure for all positioning work. Defining why your brand is essential is one thing. Turning it from an academic exercise into a meaningful and executable plan of action is where we excel.

Architecture - How you organize your business, products and services needs to balance the needs of your internal organizational structure with those of your customers' experiences. We look at brand architecture from a holistic perspective to understand how it can be more relevant and effective.

Process - Developing a clear strategy is one thing, getting that bought into and sold through the organization is another. We partner with our clients to develop the best process, tools and materials required to ensure education, alignment, agreement and execution both inside the company, and with partners, investors and influencers.

Creative Expression

Naming - Sometimes we create unique, stand-alone names for companies, products and services. But, just as often we’re looking at naming systems, hierarchies, and structures to define what role naming plays within an organization. Knowing when NOT to name something is as valuable as knowing when you should. And, we really understand the legal side of things.

Messaging - Knowing what to say to who is the primary function of messaging. It’s about turning your strategy into action. We help you identify what matters to your customers and express that in a way which is engaging and consistent with your brand. Messaging needs to ground a brand’s narrative in language and content that is impactful and compelling.

Design - We believe in looking at brands broadly and contextually. Logos may be the tip of the iceberg, but considering the role of visual language, digital experience and emotional connection are key to making creative work more effective across the many channels and touchpoints that essential brands need to compete in.

Digital - No brand today exists without some form of digital experience, from web, mobile, apps, social media or marketing channels. Considering how your brand will develop and leverage these is what we focus on. We don’t do the technical, but rather focus on the strategic and creative role for how to build your brand in today’s digital landscape.

Audience Engagement

Voice - Most brands struggle with expression. Developing an authentic, natural and relevant way to speak is hard. Executing that consistently across different teams and applications is even harder. It starts by truly understanding who you are and what you need to say, then developing the language, tools and examples to bring that alive.

Communication - Essential brands create clear narratives and creative expressions about what they do and why it matters. That starts inside the organization and extends out across business, sales, marketing and technical materials. Telling your story in a compelling way helps you connect with your customers, regardless of whether you’re a consumer, product or service brand.

Campaigns - Brands have to think both long and short-term. Some aspects of brand building are enduring, evergreen, built to last. Brand campaigns have the ability to focus on the now, to define and tell the story in the moment. Creating, extending or redefining your brand through a successful campaign can be key to defining its place in the world through the broadest set of channels.

Content - For us, content is where the rubber really hits the road. It’s where vision gets delivered and where strategy comes alive. You can wrap it in great creative and serve it up with a bow, but if the content isn’t accurate, relevant and engaging, everything is wasted. Defining and delivering compelling content that works across all of your audiences is what makes or breaks most brands.

Program Management

Assets - Every brand needs the right combination of assets to deliver on their strategy, from messaging frameworks to logo artworks. Developing the right set of assets are the essential building blocks for every brand. With our approach, we don’t just create those elements, we define the essential mix for how they can be used (fixed, flexible and free) to ensure the right solution.

Tools - Brands are not built by agencies. They are built by the teams who own them, inside every organization. Our focus is to give them the best tools to do that. From guidelines and templates to best practices and inspiration - we develop what’s right for you. For some businesses that’s about rules, for others it’s principles, but for all it’s about leading by examples.

Training - No one likes to read (or follow) complex, technical and frankly, boring guidelines and rules. Yet, too many people keep making them. We use the “teach them to fish” approach, providing internal teams and external partners with the right starting points. We deliver them with the relevant training to ensure better understanding, practical support and effective execution.

Events - Too often brands live buried deep within the marketing departments, unknown or unseen by the rest of the organization. We believe that brands need to be connected to and embraced by the whole company. Creating engaging activities and events to bring your brand into the light really helps develop the understanding and ownership every great brand needs.

Essential Starts Here. Contact Us.

San Francisco

1620 Montgomery Street, Suite 120
San Francisco, CA 94111
415.616.1500

New York

110 Leroy St #9
New York, NY 10014