For years, we’ve heard from CEOs about how their marketing and branding efforts aren’t achieving the results they’re looking for. And they’re frustrated about pouring more money into advertising without any guarantees. We agree. Advertising is about building up brands. And branding or “rebranding” efforts can be tiresome, confusing and expensive. But they don’t have to be. 

The problem isn’t the company’s brand. 

If a company is having issues, it’s because the company is out of alignment with the “authentic brand” that put them where they are today. Since traditional branding efforts look externally, they ignore what made the company successful in the first place – so any advertising efforts will be built on an unstable foundation.

Your brand promise is the experience your customers expect when they interact with your company. All companies have an authentic brand promise—but few live up to it consistently. Companies who are committed to the highest standards of brand presence embrace their authentic brand at all levels and deliver it through their customer service, technology, process and culture.

Your brand promise is the experience your customers expect when they interact with your company. All companies have an authentic brand promise—but few live up to it consistently.

Companies who are committed to the highest standards of brand presence embrace their authentic brand at all levels and deliver it through their customer service, technology, process and culture.

Innovation in Branding

The MBM Smart Branding Process is innovative and intuitive because it focuses internally. The other branding agencies focus on what customers want, and what competitors provide. They look from the outside in – determining what the market wants and creating messaging from that perspective. And then they expect the company will change itself to try to deliver on those brand promises.

In contrast, we find that successful companies have inherent strengths that appeal to their customers. These are the attributes, skills, personality and unique values that make up the authentic brand. These are the promises customers expect, and that the company has traditionally delivered.

When these values are uncovered and articulated, the company can stay true to itself and embrace its authentic brand. It can live up to its promises. And the company, and its people will thrive.

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Clarity in Branding

The MBM Smart Branding Process™ focuses internally to support successful companies in embracing their authentic brand. We talk with everyone in an organization and being heard raises morale. These conversations uncover strengths leadership might not be aware of, as well as gaps where the company is out of alignment with its authentic brand. We report our insights to leadership in clear and simple language. We provide concrete, strategic recommendations to close the gaps and amplify the strengths. We stay with the company to find the resources needed, track progress to ROI metrics and celebrate success.

Why Smart Branding? Because we’ll make sure your brand is

  • Sustainable
  • Measurable
  • Authentic
  • Renewed 
  • Truthful

Why Smart Branding? Because we’ll make sure your brand is

  • Sustainable
  • Measurable
  • Authentic
  • Renewed 
  • Truthful

Case Study: Private College

Problem: client was unsure about their brand relevance, and internal factions were blaming each other for falling enrollment

They Tried: various marketing messages

We Uncovered: their primary audience was on board with the brand, there was an easy fix that repaired  internal communications, and internal factions shared strong personal bonds and dedication to the school’s mission

Solution: reinforced existing brand by using it more intentionally and consistently—with students, faculty, administration and staff exhibiting their shared affection for the brand and each other

Outcome: recommitment to brand and increased morale 

Added Value: moved client one year ahead of their strategic plan goal

The Critical Gap

There is a gap between what the C-Suite believes is critical to the success of the organization, and what the employees know is critical. This gap was first uncovered as the “Iceberg of Ignorance” by Sidney Yoshida in 1989 and was confirmed in a 2020 global study by the IBM Institute for Business Value. 

These gaps are the difference between a company’s ability to deliver 100% on its brand promises, or not. And if a company is unable to deliver on their brand promises, it’s going to lose customers, employees and market share. The company will stagnate and, without intervention, lose money and possibly fail. It’s a distressing situation too many companies are blind to.

But the good news is the gaps are often easy to fix. And as Yoshida and IBM found, the employees in the organization know what the issues are. It’s just a matter of asking the right people the right questions.

If you’re a CEO, don’t take the Iceberg of Ignorance personally. You want to know everything about your organization and your people, but you have a full plate already. The MBM Smart Branding Process is designed specifically to uncover the gaps and hidden strengths within an organization. We’ve found employees more than willing to share with us what they really see happening within their organization. And we provide strategic recommendations to act on what we find.

IBM Study »

Case Study: Private College

Problem: client was unsure about their brand relevance, and internal factions were blaming each other for falling enrollment

They Tried: various marketing messages

We Uncovered: their primary audience was on board with the brand, there was an easy fix that repaired  internal communications, and internal factions shared strong personal bonds and dedication to the school’s mission

Solution: reinforced existing brand by using it more intentionally and consistently—with students, faculty, administration and staff exhibiting their shared affection for the brand and each other

Outcome: recommitment to brand and increased morale 

Added Value: moved client one year ahead of their strategic plan goal

The Rebranding Myth

“When all else fails to ignite a stagnant brand, it’s time to rebrand.” That’s a myth. Here’s the reality:

Successful companies have put a lot of time, effort and money into achieving their current market position. When a company stagnates, rebranding with a new logo or web site doesn’t solve it. In fact, it’s repeating work that’s already been done, wasting valuable time and money, confusing the marketplace and frustrating the team.

The people in the organization know what’s holding the company back—they just don’t know how to tell leadership. MBM listens to everyone in an organization, learns where the strengths and gaps are, and offers concrete, strategic recommendations in clear and simple language.

See our Rebranding Myth blog post for more.

Marketing Malpractice

For most creative agencies, a “rebrand” means changing everything from the logo to the website – maybe even the name. We strongly disagree with this practice. In fact, we consider it marketing malpractice. Why ignore a company’s authentic brand? The external image may need some tweaks or polishing – but first let us find the strengths and gaps in delivering the authentic brand promise.


Case Study: Child Care Center

Problem: stagnant sales

They Tried: marketing, sales training

We Uncovered: onsite visits left prospects feeling the Center was not living up to its brand promises

Solution: redirected the budget to align the brand experience with the brand promises

Outcome: sales increased and new locations were built and filled, with a waiting list

Case Study: Architectural Firm 

Problem: growth plateaued

They Tried: more sector lead meetings

We Uncovered: sector leads were at war with each other, therefore no cross-selling

Solution: used objective data at a retreat to re-engage sector leaders with the brand as a central rallying point and to agree on most effective growth strategies, including a recommitment to cross-selling

Outcome: increased morale, rejuvenated commitment to a team-based approach, firmwide growth

We believe great companies led by great people

can change the world for the better.

The Experts Who’ll Make Your Brand Smarter

Our Smart Branding Process turns branding upside down. We fundamentally disagree with the usual branding approach. And that makes us brand heretics. Aristotle, Martin Luther, Copernicus, Galileo and Joan of Arc were labeled heretics because their innovative thinking challenged and disrupted the status quo. They inspire us to think differently and give us the courage to stand by our convictions. As brand heretics we reject the traditional branding industry by helping organizations use what they already have to get the results they have always wanted.

Maggi Beckstoffer

With over 30 years in the marketing strategy and branding world, Maggi brings experience and insight to the conversation. Her passion is helping leaders connect and succeed. That inspired her to develop a unique process to ensure brand alignment. She’s smart, funny, and has an inherent sense of openness and empathy.

Kurt Steinbock

Kurt’s entire career has been in the creative side of marketing. He’s seen how important it is for organizations to be aligned top-to-bottom on the promises of their brand. Kurt listens more than he talks. But when he does talk, be prepared for often startling insights.

Courtney Sweasy

Look up ‘tenacious’ in the dictionary, and you’ll find a photo of Courtney. She’s passionate about finding the strengths and gaps in organizations to create stronger, more sustainable brands. She’s humble, intelligent and organized — and relentless when it comes to marketing strategy.

So now what?

Let’s talk — give us a call at 804.405.9401 or e-mail us through the form below.