starfish brand design

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Brand eXperience.

X. Where Experience Meets Design is Brian Solis’s new book, one I suspect will be a big seller. Why? Because product and brand experience are critical customer care-abouts. Another reason? Advertising and marketing agencies can bill for it; it’s a business. Brand experience was a smart business the first time I ran into it at Megan Kent and David Kessler’s Starfish Brand Design. They were, and are, big fans of what Mr. Solis is now branding X.

Dare I say brand experience will become the pop marketing term of the 20 teens? Maybe not a whirlwind term such as “transparency” or “authenticity,” but it’ll be a thing. Bet on it.

That said, anyone can talk experience. Anyone can even build an experience. But for it to be meaningful and make deposits in the brand bank, it cannot be random. A brand experience needs to be on brand strategy – defined as an “organizing principle containing a claim and three support planks.”

Experience in brick and mortar and online are manageable, but certainly not easy. Without a brand strategy it will not only be messy — it may be counterproductive. Let’s see where Mr. Solis takes us. Off to order the book.


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Brand planners are architects and builders.

I once hired an architect to build a garage onto my house — with a room above. He was masterful. The front elevation looked amazing. But the builder looked at the drawings and said “It can’t be done.” Not based upon what was behind the elevation. All façade no structural depth.

Brand planners make the façade – something that looks beautiful, feels right and sells, but they also create a structure that creates the depth. The there that needs to be there. Brand design, as my friends at Starfish Brand Design like to say, is not only the strategy but the execution of the strategy.

It’s nice to determine you are “a customer service company,” but then you have to out-deliver the competition and leap and exceed consumer expectation. Claim and proof in branding is the grail. (Organized claim and proof. ) The architect is about the claim, the builder the proof. Together they build a brand. Apart they shake the money snow globe. Peace.

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I went to a workshop yesterday hosted by Starfish Brand Design in NYC.  It not only reenergized me, it reminded me there are still some really smart people in the branding business.  Starfish preaches that a powerful branding idea is, indeed, indelible but they don’t just preach theory, they make it happen.  Unlike some brand consulting companies, Starfish doesn’t stop at the paper strategy — or after the logo, mission statement, and style manual have been delivered.  They don’t rest until clients “get” the branding idea and as a company “live” the branding idea.


Starfish goes into overdrive when it comes to helping brands manifest, operationalize and broadcast their unique selling proposition. That’s their point of difference. (My peo-ple!)


Megan Kent and David Kessler, along with the other Starfish tentacles, have a genetic predisposition toward understanding selling culture. They know which parts of the brain light up during the different steps to a sale and apply that learning to help companies sell more stuff. They’ve got the tools and know the tricks. Glad to have been invited to the workshop. Peace!




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