Case Studies

Brand Architecture Redesign and Launch of New Corporate IdentityAEP

Client:  AEP – American Electric Power – the nation’s largest provider of electricity and related energy services. 

  • Challenge:  Faced with category deregulation, the largest energy producer in the United States consisted of 10 autonomous unbranded operating companies offering a multitude of regulated and non-regulated products and services, but none shared an overarching selling and value proposition; customers were unfazed, shareholders ambivalent, and regulators hostile.
  • Insight: “AEP was a corporate mystery to most, yet in its value proposition laid AEP’s real competitive edge in an energy category that was growing increasingly more competitive.” 
  • Action/Solution:  Comprehensive due diligence was conducted with all key internal and external stakeholders to define a new brand architecture and unifying value proposition that would be leveraged under one mother brand.  The rebranding would be conducted in phases – starting with a hybrid ‘House of Brands’ which would transform to a ‘Branded House’ over the course of five years. Benchmarks for awareness and attitudes were created for all key stakeholder groups.
  • Results:  Aggressive brand identity, value-of-service, and safety communications ran at saturation levels, and public and shareholder affairs programs were introduced; in under two years, awareness of the AEP value proposition tripled, top-2-box attitude and perception scores rose 21%, and incremental sales of discretionary products increased 22%.
  • Key Tactics:  Advertising, collateral, public relations, investor relations, internal branding.



Brand Repositioning Driven by Digital Marketing TechniquesMessiah Lifeways

ClientMessiah LifeWays (MLW) – one of Pennsylvania’s oldest and largest providers of residential, support and enrichment services for seniors.

  • Challenge:  Continuous care retirement communities (CCRCs) were having a difficult time recruiting new residents especially in challenging financial and real estate times ; they had to expand their suite of services beyond campus-based residences in order to sustain and grow.
  • Driving Insight:  “The old model is broken. Seniors must be engaged credibly, and offered broader services and a better value proposition”. 
  • Solution/Action:  Exhaustive internal and external research was conducted; the business model  was revamped, and a ‘Branded House’ architecture and positioning developed; the new website was recommended to be the major driver that reinforced the new brand via a single cohesive portal; digital marketing and social media tactics were  introduced to facilitate better dialogues between MLW, residents and prospects, and reinforce the expanded value proposition and services offering.
  •   Results:  SEM increased web traffic exponentially during the first 4 months after implementation; in the 18 months since re-launch, MLW has increased it foot print from 1 to 3 markets, and the size of the population of seniors it serves from 925 to 2000+ lives.
  • Key Tactics:  Website, e-marketing, social media, collateral, public relations, internal branding.


Branding a Division of Government – Awarded a Gold EFFIEState of Connecticut

Client:  Connecticut Department of Revenue Services – the tax collector for the State of Connecticut.

  • Challenge:  The Connecticut state house mandated the state collect $32 million in unpaid taxes only five years after an amnesty initiative collected $53 million in low hanging fruit – so how could another amnesty program be successful on the heels of the first one?
  • Driving Insight:  “Tax scofflaws aren’t necessarily criminals, they may just not understand the law”.
  • Action/Solution:  Uncovering this key but simple, powerful insight was paramount to the program’s success;  tax scofflaws most often did not comprehend the complexity of Connecticut’s new tax codes and that led to the creation of a brand strategy driven by ‘The Three E’s – Educate, Empower, Enforce.’  A 360-degree, multi-media communications campaign supported the strategy and created over 90% awareness across the state;  a branded presence and brand persona were created for the Department of Revenue Services in this short but intensely promoted amnesty program.
  • Results:  In just 90 days, Connecticut collected $47 million – 149% of goal; the campaign was cited as one of the five “Best of the Best” by the 4As.
  • Key Tactics:  Traditional and non-traditional advertising, guerilla marketing, collateral, heavy public relations, internal branding.


Internal Branding In a Franchise OperationBruster's real ice cream

Client: Bruster’s Real Ice Cream  –  a premium ice cream franchise with 350 rooftops in 19 states East of the Mississippi.

  • Challenge:  Franchisees were vocal about losing trust in corporate and field management, and were going to stonewall the launch of a new service-based ad campaign that had been developed through a rigorous process of due diligence.
  • Driving Insight: “Management must become more responsive and transparent to regain the franchisees’ trust before they would support the new ‘Treat Yourself’ initiative in their stores.
  • Action/Solution:  Comprehensive online research and 1:1 interviews were designed and fielded on behalf of the corporate management to franchisees, store managers and front-line service employees to identify areas of serious franchisee/employee mistrust and relationship dysfunction between the two groups.
  • Results:  Aggressive new relationship-management, field operations and service initiatives were implemented to bridge the trust gaps, smoothing the way for the ‘Treat Yourself’ promotion launch; the franchisee community were vocal about “finally being heard” and greeted the new positioning and campaign launch enthusiastically when introduced.
  • Key Tactics:  Internal branding collateral, franchisee meeting to launch, ongoing town hall meetings between management and franchisees, training and motivational programs developed for franchisees, strategic listening and sensitivity training completed with corporate and field management staff.