Kevin Roberts

Andrea Syverson is the founder and president of IER Partners, which has guided and strengthened brands of all sizes with savvy best practices for creating customers for life. Combining her passion of adventurous listening and working across diverse industries, her "outsider-insider" creative branding and merchandising expertise and objectivity has been valued by companies as diverse as Spanx, Ben & Jerry's, Celestial Seasonings, CHEFS and Boston Proper.  She holds an MBA and has dedicated more than 20 years to providing clients both domestic and international with innovative approaches to branding, product development and creative messaging. She is the author of  two books in which she shares her hands-on approach for both brand building and creating customer-centric products that enhance brands: ThinkAbout: 77 Creative Prompts for Innovators, and BrandAbout: A Seriously Playful Approach for Passionate Brand-Builders and Merchants. You may reach her at asyverson@ierpartners.com.

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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