Kevin Roberts

Andrea Syverson is the founder and president of creative branding and merchandising consultancy IER Partners. For 20+ years, Andrea’s joy has been inspiring clients with innovative approaches to branding, product development and creative messaging. She’s the author of two books about brand building and creating customer-centric products that enhance brands: BrandAbout: A Seriously Playful Approach for Passionate Brand-Builders and Merchants and ThinkAbout: 77 Creative Prompts for Innovators. You may reach her at

Chris Foster has been teaching Brand Strategy and Positioning at UCSD Extension since 2009. He has lead professional workshops and presented at numerous San Diego Marketing Association events as well as national events for the Direct Marketing Association; been guest lecturer at SDSU Marketing Courses; and participated in numerous professional panels.

For the past 20 years he has worked in all aspects of marketing and creative direction for start-up, growing, and established business environments. He has a passion for helping any-sized business transform their brand so they can more authentically connect with their audience.

Back in 2004, Kevin Roberts, CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi, put out the idea of Lovemarks: Brands that rise to such a high level of love and respect that they separate from the rest of the pack. There are a lot of brands out there — most of them are ones that we might like, but not really love.

As a merchandising and branding strategist, I abide by Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen's profound axiom: "A product has a job to do for your customer." In addition, I remind my clients their products (or services) either enhance their brand or detract from it. Right now, I am in the midst of finishing my upcoming book: "ThinkAbout: 77 Creative Prompts for Your Merchandising Muse," and I am living in a verb-saturated world, contemplating all the ways a multitude of products and services from a vast collection of industries live up to Christensen's advice.

What do yogurt maker Chobani, global logistics company UPS and online shoe retailer Zappos all have in common? Think hard. It's probably not what you think: Love.

When was the last time you talked about love in your company meetings? Or passion? Or charisma? Or devotion? Perhaps it’s time to add those topics to your next agenda; not because it’s Valentine’s month, but because it’s the right thing to do all year long. When I facilitate and participate in strategic intradepartmental branding meetings with my clients, these words are always part of our conversations.

Developing and strengthening a company’s brand brings me great joy. It is at the heart of all I do with companies. Before I can help a company develop new plans, new markets, new products, new processes, new ventures or new spin-offs, I must thoroughly understand its brand. I start, much as a potential customer might, by looking for the brand wherever I can—Internet, mailbox, retail store, etc.—and reviewing closely whatever I find. Before I even meet any of the internal brand ambassadors or employees, place an order, or experience a company’s products or services, I have developed a strong sense of what to expect.

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