Creative Partner for Progressive Brands

PRO Rugby profiled in New York Times Magazine

First, he needed a name and a logo. He couldn’t use the word “league” because “rugby league” signified a much less popular version of the game that developed after the so-called Great Schism of 1895, when working-class players from northern England who wanted to be paid split off from teams adhering to the supposed purity of amateur competition. A branding firm in San Francisco proposed a number of logos and names.

Some, like the National Rugby Association, or N.R.A., were red carded for unwanted connotations. Logos that looked decent on a ball or jersey might look crummy on a trailer or a pitch. He finally settled on a red oval shaped like a rugby ball with the winning name in block letters: PRO, for Professional Rugby Organization. He added the word “Rugby” below the acronym lest there be any confusion about what PRO actually stood for.

Full article at NYT Magazine

Verlasso’s Scott Nichols named Seafood Marketer of the Year

Beginning in 2008, we began the activities that led to our branding. We knew that it was through the brand that we would tell our story and have the conversation with people. We began our branding work with a group called Addis Creson (a brand building ad agency). We worked with them to take forward our very clear vision of what we wanted to do. With everything, the WHY came first, WHAT came second and HOW came third. The progression is really important. It keeps us grounded in the foundational values that led us want to start this in the first place. With Addis Creson, we developed our logo and name, but most importantly, we agreed on what brand personality should be. This clarity means that all of us within Verlasso are responsible for representing that and doing it properly and taking the message forward carefully so were consistent when we talked to people.

Ok. Where do you go next, to buyers?

We started having conversations with chefs, for the most part, and with small retailers as well. One of the things that my colleagues and I did was, beginning about a year before we launched, we would go out of town a week or more a month. We’d go to a city and visit 10 grocery stores a day, four days in a row. I would just stand at the fish counter, and I would ask shoppers why they chose this, that or the other thing. When nobody was there, I talked to the counter manager. We would just grab ourselves a cappuccino and walk around the store. We developed a shorthand for ourselves to try and draw correlations between other offerings and the seafood counter. So, a store that sold more than seven kinds of peppers was usually a store that was going to have a really complete fish counter. Anybody who had a full line of specialty cheeses usually had a very full seafood counter. The person who would want to have more than seven choices of peppers on their kitchen counter is also the person who would go up to the seafood counter buy a piece of fish and cook it.

full article on Seafood International Digital

Apple gets stars to set Watch’s status

Think of the Apple Watch as a Tesla for your wrist.

The company’s new smartwatch isn’t just another toy gadget for geeks. At least in the early going, the Apple Watch appears to be synced to something else: status.

Consider the recent photos Beyonce released of her jet-setting to Coachella.

The pop star was decked out in denim shorts, a rocker tank top and a headwrap flourished with exotic feathers. But the ensemble’s showstopper was dangling from her arm.

The diva flashed a specially made 18-karat gold link Apple Watch estimated to be worth more than $17,000. And forget about owning one; it’s not for sale.

It’s a new tack for Apple Inc., the Cupertino, Calif., tech giant that focused on functionality and style to sell nearly half a billion iPhones. Before its first deliveries to ordinary customers Friday, Apple has been getting its digital timepiece into the hands of as many A-list tastemakers as possible.

Experts say the nature of the Apple Watch is forcing the company to market more aggressively. For one, Apple is charged with creating a consumer category largely from scratch. At least with the first iPhone, a market for smartphones already existed.
Then there’s the nagging question about whether anyone needs an Apple Watch in the first place, especially if you don’t consider pulling a smartphone out of your pocket or purse an inconvenience.

That’s why Apple’s product rollout is different this time too. Rather than appealing to the masses — and the long lines that ensue — the watch can be seen only by appointment at Apple’s retail stores and at a handful of luxury boutiques across the country.

Enlisting the help of influential stars and style icons builds awareness where there was none — and it’s a stab at adding cachet to a product that needs to transcend the gizmo world and seize broad appeal.

That’s made easier when you have the likes of Pharrell Williams peddling Apple watches to young audiences on the hit show “The Voice” and on his Instagram account.

“They’re breaking new ground with a smartwatch, which has always been a bit nerdy. They have to position it away from the fan boys to get a wider market,” said Steven Addis, chief executive of Berkeley creative agency Addis.

The early marketing blitz appears to be working. Apple is estimated to have already pre-sold 2 million watches, according to research at FBR Capital Markets. The firm also increased its estimate for the number of Apple Watches shipped this year to 20 million from 17 million.

If Apple’s celebrity, status-conscious marketing sounds familiar, look no further than the company’s acquisition of Beats Electronics last year for $3 billion.

Link to Full LA Times Article

Starbucks to junk CDs

It won’t be the day the music died at Starbucks, but it will be the end of the CD.

The world’s largest coffee-house chain confirmed on Friday that it will stop selling CDs at the end of March in its 21,000 stores worldwide. It has not lost interest in music, according to company officials, but they would not say what future offerings will be, beyond something digital.

“Music has always been a key component at Starbucks,” says spokeswoman Maggie Jantzen. “We are looking for new ways to offer customers music options.”

It’s about time, says brand guru Steven Addis, CEO of the brand agency Addis. “CDs make them look dated as a brand. They need to move to streaming and have their own streaming service.”

CD sales nationally have been declining; they dropped another 15% in 2014, according to Billboard, the trade magazine that first reported Starbucks would drop CDs. Starbucks declined to disclose its CD sales.

Under CEO Howard Schultz, Starbucks had become increasingly tech-savvy, and was among the first to test and accept mobile payment. It’s always pushing to move the tech needle.

Music and cultural coolness often go hand-in-hand. Selling music, in some form, “might not be much of a revenue generator but it’s a relevance generator,” says Addis.

Addis expects the company to replace the CD racks in front of the cash registers with smaller racks that hold plastic digital download cards — similar to the iTunes card — that are Starbucks branded.

And Starbucks will continue its Pick of the Week, in partnership with Apple, that offers free downloads for those who use the Starbucks app, says Jantzen.

Starbucks’ first CD in 1995 was a compilation CD dubbed Blue Note Blend. Starbucks acquired the record label Hear Music in 1999, and became more serious about music. Over the years, Starbucks has sold CDs by major recording stars including Paul McCartney, Beyoncé, Sam Smith, Ray Charles, Taylor Swift and, recently, the soundtrack to Frozen.

Starbucks has an entertainment team of 15 to 30 people at its Seattle headquarters, says Jantzen, and they will continue to focus on bringing music on different platforms both on the technical and content sides.

Starbucks still is “evaluating” how to sell its remaining CDs, she says.

If only it didn’t take up so much retail space, Addis says, Starbucks also might consider selling music in a particularly unlikely form: vinyl.

Prosper is doing things differently.

By harnessing the power of technology and marketplace lending, Prosper has created a revolutionary product that is changing the financial landscape. Prosper came to Addis to help create a brand that lives up to the potential of the product and the community they have developed.

Addis started by nailing down the vision and tone of the brand. Anchored around a new brand idea of Helping People Prosper, the branding firm developed a visual vernacular that effectively tells their story of creating a platform where both lenders and borrowers can prosper. The balanced win-win nature of their offering is demonstrated in the symmetry of the stylized S that divides the Prosper name into two equal halves.

Addis also created a brand voice and photography style that speaks to trust and innovation while highlighting the very human, real-world benefits of offering fair rates for both lenders and borrowers.

The result is a refreshed brand that positions Prosper as the advocate of both sides of the transaction and tells the story of Prosper’s groundbreaking mission and product.

Review of Print Magazine’s Winners of 2013

We’re pleased that our integrated communications work continues to be called out by respected industry peers. More importantly, we’re excited to see how the brand is performing in the marketplace where Verlasso continues to increase its distribution in restaurants and grocery across the US.

Original article can be seen here on

Updating The Look of A Revolutionary

Since its inception, Nutiva has been on a quest to revolutionize the way the world eats. By sourcing only the purest ingredients, and educating the world about the benefits of organic farming, their coconut, hemp, chia and red palm-based products are changing people’s diets and attitudes about today’s food system.

What hadn’t changed for over 15 years, however, was the look of their products at retail. That is now evolving, for Nutiva will begin rolling out a completely new identity and packaging system we designed for them. Before developing The new look reflects the inspiring purity of their products, and ensures the Nutiva brand will have a unique and unified presence on shelf.


China meat scandal hits Starbucks, BK, Papa John’s

The Chinese meat scandal expanded to at least three new, major fast-food brands and one new nation on Tuesday, and more are expected to soon join the embarrassing fray.

Burger King, Starbucks and Papa John’s all said they, too, have stopped using any meat from the suspect supplier. At the same time, the crisis spread to Japan, where McDonald’s confirmed some of its Chicken McNuggets were made with meat from the supplier, Husi Food.

At issue: A warning signal is flashing for the world’s largest fast-food brands in the world’s biggest growth market. Food safety concerns, taken very seriously by Chinese consumers, have now spread to the major American brands that many Chinese consumers presumed were above that. Suddenly, giants such as McDonald’s, Yum Brands and Starbucks have to earn back the trust of consumers in a growth market where they can least afford image damage.
What to do at this critical juncture?

“I think that all companies need to take an active role in regulating their supply chains,” says Steven Addis, CEO of Addis, a brand-consulting firm. “McDonald’s and Yum Brands in China should announce permanent food-safety procedures where all of their ingredients go through quality-control testing to assure the public of safety.”
They stopped short of that action on Tuesday. But in a conference call with analysts, McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson said McDonald’s is taking the allegations very seriously. “If those things are confirmed at a higher level, we will deal with that effectively, swiftly and appropriately,” he said.

Thompson also noted, for the first time, that the supplier in question tried to fool McDonald’s. While the company does audit its suppliers, Thompson said, “We do feel we were a bit deceived relative to one of these plants.” He did not get more specific.

Chinese authorities expanded their investigation of the meat supplier, Shanghai company Husi Food. A day after Husi’s food-processing plant in Shanghai was sealed by the China Food and Drug Administration, the agency said Tuesday that inspectors also will look at its facilities and meat sources in five provinces in central, eastern and southern China.

Full USA Today Story

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