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  • Paulo Ribeiro | The Agency's Founder | Two Things

    Photograph by Chloe Aftel Paulo began his career in brand advertising first in NYC and then in SF at Hal Riney+Partners, the first creatively led agency, during the dot com boom. At Wieden + Kennedy he was head of global brand strategy for Nike and Electronic Arts through the era of digital transformation. He led the evolution of innovation agency Redscout to better serve Silicon Valley, working with Reid Hoffman on LinkedIn’s positioning and expanding Gatorade’s portfolio from beverages to food and digital products. He was the Managing Director of one of the first Venture Studios-West SF, which was founded by Jack Dorsey to accelerate the growth for many of the world’s most disruptive startups. His portfolio included Venmo, Jawbone, Twitter, Braintree, Anki, Tumblr and many others. More recently he led the creation of the Wieden+Kennedy Lodge the innovation agency, within the W+K Network, with Nike's secretive innovation Kitchen, Samsung and Verizon as clients. The fruits of that labor contributed significantly to W+K earning Global Agency of the Year two years in a row. He is the founder of Two Things, a brand transformation agency that focuses on the active lifestyle category. Two Things serves clients such as The North Face, Timberland, Visit Sun Valley, Mad Hippie, Converse and Arc’teryx. Paulo Ribeiro's expertise is in building strategies to evolve brands. ↗ 2017 AICP Innovation Award ↗ 2016 Adweek Creative 100 ↗ 2012 One Show Pencil - BulletStorm ↗ 2011 Effie - Dante’s Inferno ↗ 2011 4A’s Jay Chiat Award-New Product: Gatorade G-Series ↗ 2010 Clio - Nike Livestrong ‘Chalkbot’ ↗ 2010 - D+D Yellow Pencil - Integrated Campaign ‘Its’ About You’ Select Awards Featured in publications such as: ↗ Creative Boom—Coverage of Novella Launch ↗ Ad Age: Brookfield ↗ Muse by Clio—Brookfield ↗ Communication Arts—Brookfield ↗ Egotist—Stay Sunny ↗ Little Black Book—The North Face: Discover Your Trail ↗ Graphic Design USA—Stay Sunny ↗ ↗ The Drum—Two Things Launch ↗ Adweek—Paulo Leaving W+K Scoop ↗ Fast Company—Paulo leaving W+K Scoop ↗ Adweek—Two Things Launch ↗ Fast Company—Two Things Launch ↗ ↗ Shots Magazine—Lodge Profile ↗ Fast Company—Lodge Principle Profile ↗ Fast Company—Nike Live Design ↗ Fast Company—Anki Lost In Reddit Profile ↗ Monocle—NeedyBot ↗ Meta/Oculus—KFC The Hard Way ↗ TechCrunch—Anki Lost in Reddit ↗ Business Insider—Soylent + WK Lodge ↗ Creative—Soylent ↗ Retail Dive—Soylent ↗ Portland Monthly—NeedyBot ↗ Adweek—100 Creatives Whose Brilliant Ideas will make you jealous ↗ ↗ NYT—Paulo to MD Redscout ↗ The Guardian—Nike Chalkbot ↗ Campaign Live - Nike Livestrong 2010 Integrated Titanium Cannes Lion ↗ Adage - Nike Livestrong 2010 Integrated Titanium Cannes Lion ↗ WSJ—EA Dante’s Inferno ↗ Blog—Dante’s Campaign Profile ↗ Kotaku—Greed (Dante’s) ↗ Joystiq—Greed (Dante’s) Selected Press Speaking Engagements Paulo has spoken at many festivals including Fast Company Innovation Festival, Samsung Galaxy Media Days and Electronic Arts Sales Meetings. He has been asked to speak at leadership retreats for Electronic Arts, Gatorade, Pernod-Ricard, Nike and Target among others. He is frequently asked to present insights and perspectives to boards and investors. ​ Speaker fees vary depending on the length of the presentation, whether preparation is necessary and the amount of time necessary onsite. Travel and expenses will be covered separately. Pro-Bono can be discussed for non-profits or other worthy causes. For Speaking Engagements: talk@twothings.co For Advising: hello@twothings.co Images from the Archives He's earned many accolades' including being listed as one of the Adweek Global Creative 100, he is a Cyber Lion Winner, has won Clios, D+AD Pencils, Effies, AICP Innovation Awards and more. Awards Press He's earned many accolades' including being listed as one of the Adweek Global Creative 100, he is a Cyber Lion Winner, has won Clios, D+AD Pencils, Effies, AICP Innovation Awards and more.

  • Two Things | Case Study | The North Face: Vectiv

    In September 2021, TNF called with an interesting proposal: they had their first ever premium footwear platform for trail, but needed to crack their go to market. With only four months until launch, they needed a creative strategy and a non-traditional campaign that shied away from paid media. They had the executional firepower with their rosters of partners, but needed the creative solution to work on both a global and local scale. For years, The North Face has led the charge of peak athleticism in the outdoors. Client // The North Face: Vectiv Assignment // Brand Strategy, Brand Identity, Global Advertising Campaign, Digital Experience Design, Global Messaging and Campaign Toolkit, Photography + Motion Design Leveraging the power of community to elevate a product launch to a brand statement. After spending our discovery and research phase with the technology, VECTIV, we found that this platform was and is the real deal. Elite athletes regularly beat FKTs (fastest known times) on a variety of trails using prototypes; the curved sole of the shoe literally rocked the wearer forward to the point where in our research we often exclaimed, “I can’t walk straight in these!” Now that we had our wayfinding, the next hurdle was execution. With the COVID-19 pandemic still raging around the globe, how could we drive trial and buzz when all trail races, events, and outdoor gatherings were canceled? ​ Enter Further Together. As a direct reflection to the campaign, our internal work flow emphasizes collaboration and building tools for TNF to use across all of their channels and countries. The collaborative concepts resulted in strong brand messaging, positioning toolkits, photography guidelines, motion graphics, and videography for TNF’s global marketing teams to leverage again and again. We knew we had the proof for the power and integrity behind the product; but how could we turn a product into a brand campaign under TNF’s umbrella? ​ Our strategy turned from a traditional product marketing campaign to a product marketing campaign designed to look like a brand campaign. For the story, we returned to the technology innate to VECTIVE: “Energy Multiplier.” The momentum, forward movement, and emotional mindset of the consumers all pointed toward our eventual territory and rallying cry: “Power Further.” Rather than focusing on the innovation story alone, we grounded the campaign in this emotional drum beat bringing the look and feel to life in photography and videography of pushing boundaries, thumping up the trail, the explosive, exponential energy. This campaign could never be about the solo athlete or the individual trail runner—during COVID-19 we yearned for and needed community more than ever. Partnering with Strava we launched the challenge, “Power Further, Together” to the running community, asking over half a million runners worldwide to join TNF in pushing their boundaries to reach extraordinary heights. The campaign generated over 523,000 signups with an 80% active participation rate for a global result of 37MM miles. And that was just month one.

  • Strategy Insights Blog | Articles for Brands | Two Things

    Insights Insight Two Things is Doubling Down Our approach to brand transformation has worked in multiple categories but, we are choosing to focus primarily on the active lifestyle space and audience. Insight Your Brand's History is NOT Your Brand Strategy Why your brand’s past is not what your customers today care about. Insight What Can the Active Lifestyle Industry Learn from Silicon Valley? What does startup land have to teach brands way over in the active lifestyle space? Not everything. Not even most things, but there are a few really powerful ideas that if applied correctly can help a sleepy brand wake the hell up. Insight Brand X's and O's X marks the unforced error for Twitter. And, what can we learn from it? Insight The Urban/Rural Boundary is the Opportunity Cities hold a key to unlock the outdoors. Why is this massive opportunity so often ignored? Insight Include the Critics, Naysayers, and Roadblocks in the Process Why it never works to build a marketing strategy and get other departments to buy-in later. Insight The Terrain is Unsettled and Varied Generating smart ideas is *not* the hardest part of developing effective work. Subscribe to our newsletter ↗ subscribe ↗ Lessons, Tools, Tips and a few rants on creativity and marketing in the active lifestyle space* *What the hell do we mean by “active lifestyle”? We are talking about brands in the outdoor, sports, sports lifestyle and adventure travel business whether they make equipment, apparel or experiences for people to connect IRL move and explore the world. Brands that serve the active lifestyle market generally have a strong sense of purpose and an engaged community of customers. Their employees are also often a real community of like minded people. They are more likely to balance purpose and corporate social responsibility in the core of their operations than many other business categories. Subscribe to our newsletter ↗ subscribe ↗ Thanks for subscribing! Lessons, Tools, Tips and a few rants on creativity and marketing in the active lifestyle space* *What the hell do we mean by “active lifestyle”? We are talking about brands in the outdoor, sports and sports lifestyle business whether they make equipment, apparel or experiences for people to connect IRL move and explore the world. Brands that serve the active lifestyle market generally have a strong sense of purpose and an engaged community of customers. Their employees are also often a real community of like minded people. They are more likely to balance purpose and corporate social responsibility in the core of their operations than many other business categories. Subscribe to our newsletter ↗ subscribe ↗ Thanks for subscribing! Lessons, Tools, Tips and a few rants on creativity and marketing in the active lifestyle space* *What the hell do we mean by “active lifestyle”? We are talking about brands in the outdoor, sports, sports lifestyle and adventure travel business whether they make equipment, apparel or experiences for people to connect IRL move and explore the world. Brands that serve the active lifestyle market generally have a strong sense of purpose and an engaged community of customers. Their employees are also often a real community of like minded people. They are more likely to balance purpose and corporate social responsibility in the core of their operations than many other business categories.

  • Two Things | CaseStudy | Visit Sun Valley Stay Sunny

    We started with a simple call-to-action (STAY SUNNY) that reflected the optimistic spirit of the Valley. But we also needed a voice that, like the locals, felt honest and to the point. Conceptually, we thought of it as a secret society that anyone could be a part of (assuming they were kind and respectful). Sun Valley, Idaho is one of the most beautiful places on the planet. For years it has existed in relative obscurity. But the approach they pioneered—sponsoring the exploits of extreme outdoor athletes—is no longer as own-able or relevant as it once was. This all changed with the pandemic. Almost overnight, Sun Valley became the place to be. Tourists flooded the valley in droves. And the locals tasked with satisfying the needs of these visitors became, in a word, overwhelmed. Client // Visit Sun Valley Assignment // Brand Strategy, Board Advisory, Campaign Design, Experiential Design, Brand Identity and Messaging, Non-Traditional Media, Measurement Strategy and Metrics Evolving a Destination Brand from Awareness to 360° Marketing. The biggest problem this onslaught of tourism brought to town was, to put it bluntly, assholery: disrespect towards staff, disregard for locals, aggressive driving, littering, and jumping lines. What was needed, we decided, was a campaign that reminded visitors how things are done in the Valley. To date, virtually every piece of communication has been delivered through non-traditional media, i.e., chalked sidewalks, construction site plywood, murals, bumper stickers, viewfinders. The medium truly has been the message. ​ The money saved from not doing a traditional media buy has freed us up to do more local collabs and to execute all production locally. Every execution supports the local community in some way. Each creative piece was informed by what we call a pain point, i.e., specific time or place where tourists were being insufferable. We wrote lines (or messages) encouraging them to stop. But took care not to castigate them. That just felt mean. Humor, we learned, was the most effective way of connecting with others (whether they're locals or not). ​ Around town our voice shifted depending on where you were and what offense (if any) was being committed. So, for example, as people entered town, we welcomed them with a wave and a smile. Alternatively, when people were being jerks on the bike trail, we gave them the business.

  • About Us | Our Process Working Together | Two Things

    Two Things about working together: Advisory Formats Executional Advisory Two Things can oversee execution of the work if needed from guidance to establishing long-term plan. Includes: Production Oversight Strategy +Creative Consistency Budget Management Strategy Implementation Measurement + Research Methodology Analysis and Recommendations Future Proofing Identifying long-term partners Training and Handoff to client team Strategic Advisory Two things can engage as a strategic advisor to the board and/or leadership team on long-term strategy evolution. Includes: Performance Benchmarking Analysis and Recommendations Guidance on Org Design and/or AgencyRoster Customized options available Custom Retainer Strategy + Creative Partnership 6–12 Months ↗ Creative Strategy Development Deliverable: Brand Audit, Research + Insights Presentation, Creative Territory Presentation 1 + 2 (if needed), Design Challenge Briefs ↗ Concept Development Deliverable: Two Rounds of Creative Development, Brand and Product Marketing Concepts combined, Concepts fleshed out to match production considerations ↗ Comms Strategy and Pre-Production Deliverable: GTM Rollout Calendar, Production Recommendations and Budgets, Recommended Channel Prioritization and Measurement Recommendations ​ Core Team: Strategy Lead, Design Lead, Brand Manager/Producer. Creative Concept Teams (selected based on brief). Studio Design Team: Graphic Design, Part-time Researcher. Creative and Strategy oversight by Leadership Team. Strategy Sprint Foundational Creative Strategy 4 Weeks ↗ Opportunity Mapping Deliverable: Brand Audit, Product/Category/Cultural Research ↗ Insights + Creative Territories Deliverable: Presentation with findings and recommendations ↗ Creative Territory Refinement Deliverable: Revisions to Creative Territories based on feedback, Design Challenge Briefs to guide work, Recommended path forward ​ Core Team: Brand Strategist, Design Lead and Creative Director with support from Producer and Studio Design Team. Creative and Strategy oversight by Leadership Team. Comprehensive Project Creative Strategy, Concepts + Rollout 12–14 Weeks ↗ Creative Strategy Development Deliverable: Brand Audit, Research + Insights Presentation, Creative Territory Presentation 1 + 2 (if needed), Design Challenge Briefs ↗ Concept Development Deliverable: Two Rounds of Creative Development, Brand and Product Marketing Concepts combined, Concepts fleshed out to match production considerations ↗ Comms Strategy and Pre-Production Deliverable: GTM Rollout Calendar, Production Recommendations and Budgets, Recommended Channel Prioritization and Measurement Recommendations ​ Core Team: Strategy Lead, Design Lead, Brand Manager/Producer. Creative Concept Teams (selected based on brief). Studio Design Team: Graphic Design, Part-time Researcher. Creative and Strategy oversight by Leadership Team. Many of our clients have internal creatives or some kind of an agency-of-record. We can work with your existing team as we set the vision and develop the roll-out. Once we are sure that the team understands the new playbook we'll step aside. ​ Some of our clients don't have any executional resources on their team. In these situations we'll bring in the right partners, oversee execution and ensure that there is a team in place over time to match the strategy. We are Player-Coaches. We are in the transformation business not the maintenance business. We take pride in helping our clients take giant leaps forward, not incremental optimizations. So our game isn't to hang around for too long because that means we didn't solve the problem you hired us for. The ongoing campaign and updating work is done more efficiently by employees or perhaps an AOR. ​ Our work begins with a goal but no clear solution. Our work ends when our clients have the creative solution and the tools and confidence to maintain that work over time. We make ourselves obsolete. Ways we can work together: Foundational Creative Strategy Strategy Sprint 4 Weeks Opportunity Mapping Deliverable: Brand Audit, Product/Category/Cultural Research Core Team: Brand Strategist, Design Lead and Creative Director with support from Producer and Studio Design Team. Creative and Strategy oversight by Leadership Team. I. Insights + Creative Territories Deliverable: Presentation with findings and recommendations Creative Territory Refinement Deliverable: Revisions to Creative Territories based on feedback, Design Challenge Briefs to guide work, Recommended path forward II. III. Creative Strategy, Concepts + Rollout Comprehensive Project 12–14 Weeks Creative Strategy Development Deliverable: Brand Audit, Research + Insights Presentation, Creative Territory Presentation 1 + 2 (if needed), Design Challenge Briefs Core Team: Strategy Lead, Design Lead, Brand Manager/Producer. Creative Concept Teams (selected based on brief). Studio Design Team: Graphic Design, Part-time Researcher. Creative and Strategy oversight by Leadership Team. Concept Development Deliverable: Two Rounds of Creative Development, Brand and Product Marketing Concepts combined, Concepts fleshed out to match production considerations Comms Strategy and Pre-Production Deliverable: GTM Rollout Calendar, Production Recommendations and Budgets, Recommended Channel Prioritization and Measurement Recommendations III. II. I. Strategy + Creative Partnership Custom Retainer 6–12 Months Opportunity Mapping Core Team: Brand Strategist, Design Lead and Creative Director with support from Producer and Studio Design Team. Creative and Strategy oversight by Leadership Team. Insights + Creative Territories Creative Territory Refinement III. II. I. Timelines can be customized to clients needs and additional workload can be absorbed by dedicated team assigned to client’s business. Monthly Work-Plan Alignment with senior stakeholders to calibrate work to client's business. Custom Retainer option for more complex assignments. Two Things will generally follow its process working systematically through: Executional Advisory Strategy Sprint 4+ Month Commitment Two Things can oversee execution of the work if needed from guidance to establishing long-term plan. Includes: Production Oversight Strategy +Creative Consistency Budget Management Strategy Implementation Measurement + Research Methodology Analysis and Recommendations Future Proofing Identifying long-term partners Training and Handoff to client team Strategic Advisory Two things can engage as a strategic advisor to the board and/or leadership team on long-term strategy evolution. Includes: Performance Benchmarking Analysis and Recommendations Guidance on Org Design and/or AgencyRoster Customized options available Month-to-Month or Quarterly Two things can engage as a strategic advisor to the board and/or leadership team on long-term strategy evolution. Includes: Performance Benchmarking Analysis and Recommendations Guidance on Org Design and/or AgencyRoster Customized options available Two Things can oversee execution of the work if needed from guidance to establishing long-term plan. Includes: Production Oversight Strategy +Creative Consistency Budget Management Strategy Implementation Measurement + Research Methodology Analysis and Recommendations Future Proofing Identifying long-term partners Training and Handoff to client team 4+ Month Commitment ​ ​ ​ ​ Executional Advisory Advisory Formats Monthly or Quarterly Strategic Advisory Dedicated Team: Strategy Lead, Design Lead, Brand Manager/Producer. Creative Concept Teams (assigned based on brief). Studio Design Team: Graphic Design, Part-time Researcher. Creative and Strategy oversight by Leadership team. I. III. II. Comms Strategy and Pre-Production Concept Development Creative Strategy Development Custom Retainer option for more complex assignments. Two Things will generally follow its process working systematically through: Timelines can be customized to clients needs and additional workload can be absorbed by dedicated team assigned to client’s business. Monthly Work-Plan Alignment with senior stakeholders to calibrate work to client's business. 6–12 Months Strategy + Creative Partnership Custom Retainer Core Team: Strategy Lead, Design Lead, Brand Manager/Producer. Creative Concept Teams (selected based on brief). Studio Design Team: Graphic Design, Part-time Researcher. Creative and Strategy oversight by Leadership Team. I. Comms Strategy and Pre-Production Deliverable: GTM Rollout Calendar, Production Recommendations and Budgets, Recommended Channel Prioritization and Measurement Recommendations III. Concept Development Deliverable: Two Rounds of Creative Development, Brand and Product Marketing Concepts combined, Concepts fleshed out to match production considerations II. Creative Strategy Development Deliverable: Brand Audit, Research + Insights Presentation, Creative Territory Presentation 1 + 2 (if needed), Design Challenge Briefs 12–14 Weeks Creative Strategy, Concept + Rollout Comprehensive Project Core Team: Brand Strategist, Design Lead and Creative Director with support from Producer and Studio Design Team. Creative and Strategy oversight by Leadership Team. Creative Territory Refinement Deliverable: Revisions to Creative Territories based on feedback, Design Challenge Briefs to guide work, Recommended path forward III. Insights + Creative Territories Deliverable: Presentation with findings and recommendations II. Opportunity Mapping Deliverable: Brand Audit, Product/Category/Cultural Research I. 4 Weeks Foundational Creative Strategy Strategy Sprint start a conversation → our point of view →

  • Brand Strategy Insights Blog | Twitter v.s. X - Brand Value

    Brand X's and O's By Paulo Ribeiro X marks the unforced error. And, what can we learn from it? What the hell does this have to do with the Active Lifestyle Business? Nothing. And everything. This spectacular implosion has everyone talking about ‘Brand’ and this gives us an opportunity to break down what a powerful brand is (and isn’t). ​ From Linda Yaccarino, CEO of Twitter (really?!? Does anyone believe Elon’s ceded control of anything?): [Tweet from Linda Yaccarino] Um, ok…. First, let’s establish what we mean when we are talking about ‘brand’ An intentionally strategic focus that guides the services, experiences and messages from a company. The purpose of that strategic focus is to form an emotional connection in a consumer’s mind of what the brand’s values are. People align with brands that share their values. That emotional connection delivers real monetary value to the company. Actions speak louder than words (or images, no matter how well designed) Exhibit A: Many Nike sneakers and smaller brands are made in the same factories using the same materials with often very similar form factors. When the Nike sneaker is sold for $175 and a comparable Saucony sneaker (made in the same factory) goes for $105, that $70 difference is the real value of the Nike brand. The thing that makes the boneheaded Twitter to X shift so damn fascinating is that it was made by an absolutely legendary brand innovator: Elon Musk. Exhibit B: Every single move by brand Tesla, particularly in the early days, served as a master class in how to build a focused brand through consistent ACTIONS instead of through say advertising impression for example. Instead of car lots, Tesla’s were hyped in small ~1,000 sq foot footprints in malls. Forget test driving, many could barely hold a single car you could sit in. This yielded the amazing benefits of saving money on real estate and showing up in a completely differentiated way from the competition. Customers used iPad screens where they virtually designed their car, or signed up for a waitlist. Potential customers logging in from home had all the same tools and soon learned they didn’t even have to go to the mall. The waitlist highlighted scarcity (which is Luxury’s playbook to increase margins). They gave everyone on the waitlist sneak peaks and special content—allowing customers to feel special. And we all heard about it. The waitlist spawned rabid, vocal fans who snowballed the company’s marketing through word of mouth. They were not just buying a car, they bought into a movement. Elon as Founder leaned into even more audacious pursuits like designing the HyperLoop to ferry people between SF and LA in minutes and then gave away the plans (hello, PR mentions). He built a real rocket company, SpaceX, which generates endless PR, this in turn delivers credibility back to Tesla. The Tesla brand now has permission to enter into a range of businesses including some very expensive and technically complex ones such as home and corporate energy storage. All of this because of a singular brand focus: delivering the future of transportation. I could write for a month and not be able to adequately convey how good the bird logo is and how bad the X is. Full disclosure, I’m biased. My friend and former collaborator Martin Grasser Designed it. And Jack Dorsey co-signed with this. Agreed. Exhibit C: Twitter is a communication platform. A tweet is (was?) a short burst of information first 140 characters and over time added a bit of imagery and/or video. But always short, focused, timely communication flying around the internet. With this it's easy to see how that focused brand position provides permission to grow into sharing other types of timely information…or connections…or moving money. All of this focus was encapsulated in that elegant blue bird. Prof G estimates the current value being thrown away to be in the range of $10B (or more). Conversely, what is X? Well, it's everything they say. Right but what is it for? Everything. Ok, cool. When I need everything I’ll make sure to use that. For the next decade or so though, I’ll use products that have PROVEN their focus and expertise to me over time. I’ll make decisions faster where I don’t have to think too hard about their values or what they do well. In the outdoor arena brand identities (name, logo, etc…) like Patagonia and The North Face were intuitively appropriate (good enough for those demanding environments) AND over time they were imbued with meaning and carried that value. Dave Lane has a nice backstory about why the Dead Bird became arc’teryx’s logo. But he’ll be the first to say that they initially chose it as a logo because it was unlike anything in the market. But now… Well the dead bird is completely imbued with the credibility of intensely tested products with high design. Nike was an academic choice (and a bit obscure) choice when it came out, but it is now imbued with decades of performance and empowerment proof. Whereas, On Running’s proof of cushioning as good as running on air is more recent. In all cases these brands have value PRIMARILY because of the actions taken by the companies to prove their credibility in a focused way. And now, well let’s just say none of those organizations are dumb enough to throw that value away. A brand can launch with the advantage of a thoughtfully designed and wordsmithed brand identity and/or campaign (like the blue bird was for Twitter). But regardless of whether a brand got a headstart or not, the real value is created over time by consistency of actions. Brand equity is built and proven by a focused brand strategy. Recently, there hasn’t been any focus from the brand formerly known as Twitter. This will be fun to watch because if we all learn from mistakes, then we stand to learn quite a lot from a dumpster full of them. back to insights → [Retweet from Jack Dorsey, CEO of Square]

  • Strategy Insights Blog | Your Brand History | Two Things

    Your Brand History is Not Your Brand Strategy By Paulo Ribeiro Why your brand’s past is not what your customers today care about. We work with many brands that have an illustrious history. The founder stories are often magical and brands do well to celebrate them. But too often there is an assumption that brand strategy IS the brand story. Let me share a thing that happens over and over again. We recently took a call from a former client who had moved on to another brand in the same category. They had a rich history abroad and were making significant investments in growing the brand in the US. Owned retail, product line extensions and a significant e-commerce push were all part of the brand. Brand awareness was well over 75% in their region and close to 95% in their home country (!). But awareness was well below 25% in the US. When we asked what their strategy was to position the brand in the US, they shared their origin story. That's it. To be fair it is a rich story, set in the 60’s and a continent away. No doubt it is a valuable brand asset but the brand’s history is not even close to a strategy to connect with today’s US consumers. Factions inside the company had decided that since brand awareness was the problem here that all that was needed to move the needle was just to tell Americans about the brand's history. They would produce some films about that history, buy the media and Americans would open their wallets. Um, where do I even start with this? The thing is that this kind of misunderstanding is contagious because it gives license to avoid the hard work of coming up with something new and powerful. It buys time, while wasting money. Who is going to blame an employee for celebrating the company’s history? A brand’s history is just a backdrop to a strategy that might cut through the noise and connect with people. What about the audience definition? What about their needs? How will the brand differentiate from the competition in terms of the CATEGORY context, the CONSUMER context and the CULTURAL context??!? If people made decisions on where to spend their money based on a brand’s origin story then Wikipedia wouldn’t be a non-profit. I was lucky to be responsible for Nike’s brand strategy for some years at Wieden + Kennedy. That gig demanded that you understand the history and figure out a new expression if you expected to keep your job. Every brief, every category, every year. Know where you came from and figure out something new. Before Serena Williams there was Prefontaine . He was the spirit of Just Do It. The wild child runner who was the face of a brand that was growing fast in running (but not much else). Nike wanted to expand to other categories. What the hell did Pre mean in basketball? Nothing. The movie AIR , which in addition to having Ben Affleck do the worst Phil Knight impersonation imaginable, tells the business story of signing MJ. This deal unlocked an opportunity for the brand that goes way beyond basketball - as big as that business was and now is. This shift proved that the power of the Nike brand wasn’t just embodied in a person, it was an idea. The idea? That the potential for achievement exists in all of us and it can manifest in so many damn ways. Pre - > MJ and then when Nike made it a mission to rip soccer from Adidas control -> in the Brazilian National Team and their Ginga style of play. They applied this strategy as they looked to dominate each category Tiger Woods in Golf , Roger and Serena in Tennis that is until she became Nike’s most powerful ambassador for all of sport . And then this strategy hit a wall with Skateboarding (see skaters don’t always follow superstars because, you know, counter-culture ) . Then the brand took a grassroots approach partnering with local skate shops and eventually quietly funding parks and tours. Holy shit, the spirit of JDI can live in concrete?!?!. Below is a JDI (Just Do It brand campaign) creative brief circa 2009 that is a great example of taking an existing brand and shifting its voice while staying true. There are myriad ways of doing this. This is just one example. [The Just Do It creative brief from 2009 which kicked off a search for a more inclusive brand voice.] This is the playbook. To define a brand in a multi-dimensional way so that the creative expression can change to connect with new humans in ways that they care about. This notion is so obvious, but it is an approach that is often ignored. The business landscape has become complicated, but simple truths remain. If you want to connect with people you have to meet them where they are. Yes it takes a bit more effort to do it right but we have a playbook to set that strategy in a way that will move the needle today. A year from now wouldn’t you rather look back knowing that you took the time to do it right? It's only money that you are throwing away when you skip the strategy. Only money, and time, and opportunity to connect beyond your current universe… A brand’s history is just a backdrop to a strategy that might cut through the noise and connect with people. This is the playbook. To define a brand in a multi-dimensional way so that the creative expression can change to connect with new humans in ways that they care about. back to insights → [The Just Do It creative brief from 2009 which kicked off a search for a more inclusive brand voice.]

  • Brand Strategy Insights Blog | Urban vs. Rural Opportunity

    The Urban/Rural Boundary is the Opportunity By Paulo Ribeiro Cities hold a key to unlock the outdoors. Why is this massive opportunity so often ignored? So many of the brands we work with have a desire to be more inclusive. More and more frequently they have a stated mission to share the outdoors (and sport and breathing fresh air) with a wider group of people than those that have historically have had access. Corporate social responsibility is often behind this. Just as often it's straight up business that motivates: growing the size of the market a brand serves. This post isn’t going to get into litigating values. For the record we are supportive of both of those motivations. This post is focused on an opportunity the size of the Empire State building that is constantly missed. We’ve been asked to think a lot about how we might grow the audience and user base for multiple brands, in multiple categories with different brand histories, challenges and capabilities. All of this against a backdrop of the massive population growth of cities. For decades cities have been growing as a rebound from the growth of suburbs that the Boomers drove. While there has been a lot of noise recently about cities like NYC, SF and Chicago losing population in 2022 that is already starting to reverse with people coming back to offices (slowly). Los Angeles, San Jose, and Washington, DC all experienced migration gains in 2022. TL;DR, cities keep growing. The Gen Z and even Millennials are much more likely to be renters as compared to their parents and grandparents at the same age. They are less likely to own a car, or even have a driver’s license. Their work often involves staring at a screen for hours on end. The pitch to move their bodies during their downtime shouldn’t be that hard as evidenced by the radical growth in almost every sector of outdoor activity since the pandemic. If we really want to encourage movement and be inclusive in the outdoors. The most powerful tool we have is to rethink what the outdoors can be. What are the easy local “onramps” to the sports that are best done on massive fields or above 10,000 feet? So many heritage outdoor brands are stuck showcasing the most remote, world class edge of the world environments. Those spaces can inspire the hell out of many, but they are often disconnected from someone who hasn’t grown up in a culture of mountaineering (or skiing or insert any pursuit that requires travel and piles of expensive gear). When a brand exclusively leans into that world, the door is closed to starting a relationship with someone new to the space. Why are brands missing this? There is such a lack of creativity by active lifestyle brands in the places that have the biggest concentration of human beings: Cities! Most cities sprouted up because of their proximity to some amazing natural feature: The ocean, a river, a lush valley. And just because it started to fill up with buildings those features are still there if you know where to look. The biggest opportunity for outdoor brands is to create bridges to the outdoors and to start with what is at hand. [Mont Royal, Montreal] [Willamette River, Portland, Oregon] [The Hudson River Valley which leads to Manhattan Island] Creativity is the art of combining two things in an unexpected way: If your brand history is in climbing - what could you climb downtown? If you have retail outposts in cities - how can they become knowledge centers for what is within a few miles and accessible by public transportation? If you have a rugged brand what could you build in an urban area that lasts? How might you spend your brand dollars on improvement projects that last for decades rather than ads that last for days? When we talk about inclusion in the outdoor category the most potent way to think about it is by relooking at what we include as outdoor exploration. If we want people to move their bodies on a progression of challenges that might end up in the backcountry…then might we use our platforms physical (stores) and digital to help them start? EVO hotels are a rare example of experience innovation for active lifestyle brands as an urban outpost of trial and community. Please share examples of doing something (anything) innovative and we’ll be sure to compile and share. The city of LA set the bar really low with La Sombrita . If the bar is this low then what are you waiting for? Physical Retail locations might be the single most underutilized marketing tool. They are a literal toe-hold in the largest markets. These true stories of Next Gen trail lovers is only the beginning. In the months to come, we'll be exploring activations that actually help people discover their trail. In the meantime, thanks for listening and see you out there. back to insights →

  • Brand Strategy Insights Blog | Two Things New Direction

    Two Things is Doubling Down By Paulo Ribeiro Our approach to brand transformation has worked in multiple categories but, we are choosing to focus primarily on the active lifestyle space and audience. Two Things Inc started up in 2018. The agency was founded as a vehicle to combine a deep strategy process with a creative culture to help clients evolve how they go to market. We’ve operated as a creative consultancy with a goal of breaking down the wall between product experience and marketing experience. Along the way we’ve worked with clients in the entertainment, sports, outdoor, transportation, gaming, food, and retail industries. We’ve been trusted to develop strategies to transform how those brands go to market. To bring those strategies to life we’ve helped our clients reimagine advertising campaigns, mobile UX, created new to the world 3D creation tools, conversational interfaces, tik-tok campaigns, reimagined media plans, built websites and designed research methodologies to measure effectiveness. In two instances we’ve breathed life into entirely new businesses. We are proud of the work we’ve created together with our clients. We’ve learned and grown with each engagement. But TBH, too often we’ve had to learn on the job. There is a significant difference between the assignments we’ve explored with our clients and the assignments where our expertise led the way. Going forward, we are going to focus all of our energy on what we know inside and out. 1. We are experts at designing new ways for our clients to Go To Market. We shine when helping our clients evolve how they Go To Market whether the need is driven by launching a new product, a desire to connect with new audiences or markets, or for any reason that requires building new creative muscles. We are at our best when designing the strategy and creative concepts to evolve how a brand is experienced. We think hard about the business context, and also how the work will be made. We develop creative ideas to stand out from the noise in terms of their format AND their message. The fact that we consider the execution in our strategy work does NOT mean we need to be the ones making all the work. In many cases there are teams that are better at the craft of producing work (even if our clients are more comfortable working with us). So we are going to focus our attention on the moment of change and the systems to bring that work to life over time. ​ 2. We are creative people which means we can get distracted or curious about many different categories, but expertise comes from deep experience. We’ve had the honor of working with brands like The North Face, arc’teryx, Converse, Timberland, Visit Sun Valley, Nike and others on some of their most mission critical projects. This has given us depth of experience with the active lifestyle consumer that they target. So we are choosing to focus our work in the active lifestyle category. Going forward Brand Transformation for Active Lifestyle Brands will be the agency's focus. This is a mission for us. Too many brands in this space have marketing that is stuck in the past. Sure, there are players like Nike that are constantly re-writing the brand playbook. But brand’s that are innovating in this space are the exception, not the rule. So much of the work is sleepy and backward looking, reinforcing historical brand equity but not doing a great job of reaching out to wider audiences. This may not be a popular opinion but it's true. It is a shame because us humans are at our best when we are connecting with other humans IRL. We need to shake up the category that is all about movement, outdoors and human connection. We’ll use all the modern tools of creativity to make this happen. Stay tuned for more from insights@twothings.co . back to insights →

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