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Case Studies

See how we drove growth for these clients:

Broadening Customer Base Calls for More Intentional Positioning

Challenge

As online retailer Zulily grew, the company broadened its product offering from children’s merchandise to merchandise for the whole family. This called for renewed clarity and vitality in the positioning.

Solution

We began by culling existing customer research to identify functional and emotional benefits. We then divined common qualities among diehard customers: not just demographic markers, but psychographic, behavioral and attitudinal characteristics. We matched this fully-fleshed-out target customer with what Zulily uniquely brings, culminating in the creation of a new tagline, “Something special every day.”

Codifying Brand Promise for Evolving Specialty Business

Challenge

Cypress Grove’s founder had instinctively known and understood the cheese company’s brand, but hadn’t put it into words. As more and more people needed to represent the brand, from a burgeoning marketing team to a growing number of partners, it became a significant hindrance not to have it codified into a single brand promise.

Solution

We culled existing qualitative research to identify key consumer insights and create psychographic and demographic profiles for the target consumer. We started with foundational brand strategy elements – brand promise, value proposition, brand personality, brand pillars – then, after executive team input, produced an extensive compilation of deliverables for them to act on. Retained in an advisory position as the team implemented its updated brand, we coached them through building a marketing plan, expanding the marketing team, and identifying new PR and design vendors – ultimately helping them make powerful decisions as they brought the brand to life.

Distilling Complexity into a Succinct Startup Strategy

Challenge

Poised to launch, this startup had a multifaceted yet extremely powerful business idea. It needed its complex offering streamlined into a succinct brand strategy, plus a name and identity that were differentiated and that resonated for its consumer target.

Solution

We conducted qualitative research that revealed the target customer’s key emotional and functional needs. Based on these insights, we segmented the market into primary and secondary targets then built a positioning strategy, highlighting brand promise and brand character. Our work ultimately resulted in a name, visual identity and messaging hierarchy that informed marketing communications as well as product design and internal team alignment.

Healthy Treat Wins Customers’ Hearts

Challenge

Starbucks wanted to expand its line of healthy beverages while preserving the brand’s indulgent halo.

Solution

We conducted market research to identify the vulnerabilities and strengths of the product, and learned that customers would be open to it if it was positioned as a treat for them – albeit a healthy treat. With this insight, we developed a communication strategy that resonated with customers. The product and its messaging won accolades in the media, and informed subsequent messaging strategies for Starbucks.

Revitalizing a 100-Year-Old Brand

Challenge

Diamond of California, the flagship brand for Diamond Foods snack company, was a 100-year-old brand of nuts that had not been actively managed or nurtured for a decade.

Solution

We synthesized customer insights to paint a picture of how the customer relates to cooking, baking, nuts, and Diamond of California nuts in particular. Based on these insights, we crafted a brand positioning playbook: an ongoing guide for managing the brand. Diamond now reaps the rewards of a differentiated and ownable position in the category that competitors cannot emulate.

Distinctive Positioning for Coin-Cashing Kiosk

Challenge

Coin-cashing machine icon Coinstar wanted to grow its flagship business through disciplined positioning.

Solution

After articulating the business growth goal, we pinpointed the target customer and competitive frame of reference. At the intersection of those points, we identified Coinstar’s ownable, differentiating benefit, and built a positioning strategy around it – which now serves as an ongoing North Star toward growth.

Shining New Light on Ownable Benefit Territory

Challenge

Krusteaz had a legacy brand strategy that its business leader had never been able to fully embrace, as it did not feel distinctive. Rather, it felt like something any product in the category of baked goods could have claimed.

Solution

To enable Krusteaz to confidently increase their investment in building brand awareness, we started by examining their customer insights. We analyzed what market space their competitors commanded, and where in the market Krusteaz stood out, to identify their Zone of Dominance. Our analysis revealed that their previous brand emphasis was a category benefit: a benefit anyone in this space could have messaged. The Zone of Dominance shined light on the benefit territory only Krusteaz could claim. The business leader reported for the first time having conviction of the brand for Krusteaz, and being able to engage his peers with the same level of conviction.

Tech Company Supercharges Brand-Building

Challenge

This thriving educational technology company had a brand identity in place, and a strong point of view on the brand’s promise and character. The team was working hard to make significant inroads in building their brand from one that is passively found on Google to one that students actively seek. The high-performing marketing team craved validation and up-leveled thinking as they activated their ambitious brand strategy.

Solution

Course Hero purchased our Sounding Board Intensives to supercharge their brand-building. We began with an overview and quick-value feedback on the brand book and the most hard-hitting marketing vehicles to use for go-to-market. We then moved to discussing and pressure-testing the marketing decisions the team was wrestling with that month. Lindsay was there to guide, encourage, challenge and sharpen the choices the team is making, so that they could expand with high ROI.

Evolving Business Defines Brand with Precision

Challenge

This thriving business had a new focus, having shifted business models and brought on a new veteran CMO in the past year. The vision and fundamentals were strong and ambitious, yet the business had not yet put a stake in the ground on what the brand would stand for, and what the business would uniquely own and celebrate.

Solution

Through the Foundational Plus Method, we took the business’s existing point-of-view, isolated the element that was differentiated to Cornerstone, and codified a brand strategy that would work hard to grow the business in a focused, inspiring way. We began by gathering insights the company had already gathered about the customer, and then zeroed in on several directions we could sharpen. Over the course of two half-day work sessions, the team used Ironclad’s initial point of view as a starting point, and defined with precision the brand positioning Cornerstone could claim for its own.

Solving Unmet Needs with Perfect Food

Challenge

Starbucks had been hounded in the press for its high-calorie food offerings, and its reputation was suffering. The company wanted to bolster its offerings with healthier menu items but was vague on what “healthier” meant in the minds of Starbucks customers.

Solution

We worked with a research team to uncover customers’ unmet needs with respect to healthy menu options. We translated those needs into six distinct product platforms and collaborated with chefs to create ideas for each. Our systematic approach enabled Starbucks to turn its PR problem into ten new products that delighted customers and differentiated the company from competitors. One of the products – Starbucks Perfect Oatmeal – became Starbucks’ best-selling food item ever.

Keeping the Strategic Vision Alive for a VP

Challenge

As the general manager of his business unit at T-Mobile, this Vice President sought a strategic marketing advisor and thinking partner. His goals were twofold: to achieve business growth objectives through excellent marketing, and to increase his own professional development and day-to-day job satisfaction.

Solution

We served as a sounding board for the strategic issues this Vice President faced. We provided frameworks for evaluating creative; we helped reconcile his business’s brand direction with the master brand; and when he faced a strategic dilemma, we brainstormed how marketing could address the gap. He was then able to tackle a broad range of responsibilities confidently with us as his “secret weapon” marketing strategy expert.

Streaming Video Pioneer Pivots to a Benefit Focus

Challenge

An early leader in streaming video for daycare centers, WatchMeGrow wanted to build on its consistently healthy business and ramp growth more aggressively. The CEO sought a robust marketing strategy to guide marketing and enable steeper growth.

Solution

We interviewed key customers to identify the growth insight – that critical benefit and source of credibility that made these centers choose WatchMeGrow rather than its competitors. We then articulated a positioning statement, value proposition, brand promise and brand architecture to serve as a foundation for the company to market in earnest. As a result, the company’s marketing has evolved from technical and feature-oriented to emotive and benefit-oriented.