In the original iteration of MBM Marketing, Maggi called on me frequently for concepts and copy for her clients. It was always a pleasure to work with her, and her feedback over the years made me a better copywriter. We worked together so often we also became very close friends. 

She’s great company, and over the years we’ve had a lot of after-hours conversations about New Yorker articles, recent films, worthwhile books and the country’s political and social issues. Maggi is quick to laugh and has a fine mind. So a call from her in late 2018 was disappointing.

A major shift in direction

She shared with me that she was intending to take her business in a different direction and focusing much more on consulting. She said it was unclear how much creative work she’d need from me—something a freelancer never wants to hear from a regular and valued client.

But six months later, we got together several times and she spelled out her vision for what we call MBM 2.0. Her intention to focus on Smart Branding was exciting, and I was struck by the intelligence and originality of the approach to branding she wanted to pursue. As the conversations went on, she invited me to play a major part in the business and I was, well, honored.

So, where do I sign?

Maggi had formulated the basis for MBM 2.0 over a number of years, giving it careful thinking, refinement and articulation with help from her extensive network. Her view of branding was original and unique, and the process she described to lead organizations through self-examination before making decisions about brand aesthetics was a genuine marketing breakthrough. Certainly, I’d want to be a part of that. 

Just as impressive, though, was how she saw the company’s day-to-day workings. She had spelled out who we would be—advisors and partners for the best companies in fulfilling their true purpose. Maggi insisted that we will only serve the right people, doing the right things for the right reasons. And beyond that, we would engage with interesting people who enjoy working with us and who insist on two-way respect. 

As someone who has had very profitable clients who were also difficult and demanding to work with, I could fully embrace those tenets.

Our first client, and a first test for Smart Branding

By the time our first big project rolled in, Maggi had invited Courtney Sweasy to join 2.0. Court had been a valuable account executive in the earlier days of MBM, and both Maggi and I had worked with her in subsequent positions. She is an omnicompetent addition to the team.

That first project was worthwhile in a number of ways. It reaffirmed the value of our Smart Branding approach and also the uniqueness of our process. We uncovered the many strengths of the client’s existing brand, made strategic suggestions on how to use it more effectively and ultimately shaved a full year off their organization’s strategic plan.

We put pandemic downtime to good use

We were just wrapping that project when Covid came along, and the pandemic slowed us down a bit. But it also gave us an opportunity to refine our thinking and build out great educational content to help us share the concept of Smart Branding.

After decades of doing purely creative work this has been an invigorating challenge for me, and I’m thrilled to be doing work with this insight and originality. The longer Maggi and I have engaged in this process, the more excited we’ve become about the value we can provide our clients. 

We’re lucky that our personalities share some strengths—we support one another when things are tough, we acknowledge each other when we’re shining, and we challenge each other when we’re not. As we look forward, we’ll remain true to Maggi’s initial vision: We see the world where the best companies led by the best people operate with clarity, ease and purpose. And we support those companies by aligning their brands to deliver 100% on their brand promise.

 

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