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By: Selina Phan, Analyst Intern

On June 14, 2018, LEVEL5 hosted its first-ever Women in Consulting panel event. The event welcomed 40 female students to sit in on an intimate conversation with three current LEVEL5’ers as well as a LEVEL5 alumnus. Among the panelists were:

  • Ashlee Goodfellow, Director
  • Sylvia Palka Melo, Manager
  • Mary Wong, Consultant
  • Katie Armstrong, Career Coach at UofT Rotman and LEVEL5 alumnus

Moderating the panel was LEVEL5’s President and Managing Partner, Ian Madell.

Each panelist shared their professional path to consulting, their tips on how to determine whether a career in consulting is the right fit for them, the future of consulting, and what it’s like to work at LEVEL5. Below are some highlights from the panel discussion:



In the age of digital disruption, the fundamentals of consulting will remain the same – organizations are always transforming. What will change is the content, models, and application of tools to help organizations through these transformations… and that’s where consultants come in to help.

To learn more about how digital leaders can navigate today’s digital disconnect, check out LEVEL5’s latest whitepaper here.



Some consulting firms have a technology focus, others are sector specific, and then there’s the decision of working for a large firm or a boutique firm. Decisions, decisions!

If you are interested in getting into management consulting, go out and talk to people. Learn about each firm’s different specialties, and the type of people they employ. Figure out what kind of fit, culture, and atmosphere is right for you. When you’re a member of a consulting team, you’re a member of a tribe, and you must know what is important to that tribe to work successfully with others.

At LEVEL5 Strategy Group, we believe a Brand is the Value of a Promise Consistently Kept™ – this is our unique point of view, and we are committed to helping our cross-sector clients achieve inspired growth strategies through the power of their brands.

We dig deeper into how LEVEL5 helps brands generate sustainable business growth and remain relevant to customers in a recent blog post by one of our Managing Partners, Matt Kelly.



Advocate for yourself. Ask for opportunities and feedback when you can, to identify areas of improvement and communicate what opportunities you wish to pursue. Opportunities are rarely given out on a silver platter, and it’s important to identify what you want and how you want to pursue it. At the same time, it’s equally important to be self-aware, and assess yourself continuously to identify areas for improvement. Identify what your strengths and weaknesses are and focus on improving your weaknesses and leveraging your strengths. Lastly, as a consultant, confidence is critical.


A special thank you to our amazing all-female attendees. The event was a huge success, thanks to the engagement and enthusiasm of everyone who attended.  


LEVEL5 will be hosting more events in the future, so be sure to keep an eye out for further events by following us on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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By Efram Lebovits

In my last post on change leadership, we explored why change is essential to organizations of all types. From government and not-for-profit agencies to successful retailers and other private sector business, change helps to ensure relevancy, sustainability, and in some cases, survival.

In this post, I share four practices that LEVEL5 employs with respect to getting productive, constructive and successful change started and establishing momentum. You may need to apply only some of them or you may choose to apply them all, and the order in which you apply them may vary as you embark on your organization’s change journey.

  1. To build alignment among senior leaders, begin at the end.

I know I just said you don’t need to apply all of these practices, but if you’re going to skip one, don’t let it be this one! In order for change to take place, you need all of those directing the change to be on the same page with respect to your organization’s goals. With this in mind, start by outlining what the ultimate end game looks and feels like.

At LEVEL5, we often work with change catalysts on our C-suite / senior client teams to create a blueprint that helps facilitate the process of obtaining buy-in from others on the leadership team (I wrote about some of them in my previous post). This often takes the form of a multi-page story that we refer to as a narrative. This narrative is built by the change agent(s) in collaboration with their colleagues, and essentially outlines what they want to be when they grow up, so to speak.  The key is to ensure that everyone involved understands that this isn’t a strategic plan or a set specific deliverables, it is simply a story describing a future state and how it looks and feels.  This process really helps shake out otherwise unstated differences and helps ensure everyone is aligned to where the organization is heading.

  1. Show your leadership team what change could look like by removing blinders.

Not everybody’s chomping at the bit to change. If you want to engage those who are resistant, you need to help them understand the why behind it. By showing them what great looks like in other organizations, both within and outside of your particular industry (take Nordstrom’s digital transition, for example) you can open them up to the possibility of shifting towards a greater future.

I’m not suggesting you copy others. I’m simply saying that education provides perspective. Sometimes even the best leaders think, hey, this works, so why change? They don’t think to look around for new possibilities. Take the blinders off and they may still refuse to shift, but at least they’ll be doing it from an eyes-wide-open perspective.

  1. Subject your senior leaders to the canary in the coal mine.

In some instances, senior leaders have difficulty understanding the need for change because they simply can’t see the problem, even if it’s blatantly clear from the customer’s, employee’s or stakeholder’s point-of-view. So what do you do?

You need to get your leaders to experience the problem first-hand. For example, if it’s a purchasing issue, insist that they walk through the customer’s purchase process. That way, they’ll no longer be blind to the hiccups and they’ll be more likely to accept what needs to change before you reach the point of no return.

  1. Grant permission for company-wide change and go for it!

Getting alignment to change at the top may be tricky but it’s doable (and frankly necessary). Once you have it, pay it forward. Grant permission to the next level of leadership and advise those leaders to do the same so that everyone within your organization is aligned and motivated.

Promote a change-positive environment, with some boundaries, granted, but not so many that people are afraid to think big. Sure, a single change agent can get the ball rolling but at the end of the day this requires organization-wide collaboration. Once people feel like they have permission to see the world differently, it’s amazing what new ideas are born.

Throughout all of these steps, diplomacy rules. Your job isn’t to beat people over the head until they are convinced; that just doesn’t work. The job of the change agent is to educate and help others see the light in their context while creating a shared understanding of the end game.

If you have a hard time presenting your case objectively, consider bringing in a third party to help steward things with you. At LEVEL5, we often play the role of mediator/facilitator/catalyst supporter for this very reason, and help change agents get the buy-in they need to move forward. Contact us if you’d like to know more.

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By Efram Lebovits, Principal

Jack Welch, the former chairman and CEO of General Electric, once said: “Change before you have to.” Easier said than done. Difficult, frustrating, disruptive, risky – change leadership can be all of these things and more, which undoubtedly explains why there is still such great resistance in many business circles.

Nevertheless, change, we must. Customer needs are integral to success; as they evolve, we need to evolve. Economies rise and fall; businesses need to respond. Opportunities that are there for the taking should be taken. And if none of these rationales are enough to inspire change leadership within your organization, here’s one that might:

Do or die: sometimes change is a matter of survival.

Take Blockbuster, for example. (Remember them?) In 2004, they had more than 9,000 stores and employed more than 84,300 people around the world. By 2010, they had zilch. Turns out they shouldn’t have sniggered at the proposal presented to them by Netflix founder Reed Hastings in 2000. (Read more of the demise of Blockbuster here.)

And what about Kodak? Failing to recognize the digital revolution as the tsunami it was, they never fully embraced the new alternative to film. Their active foray into digital was late and half-hearted.  In actuality, they created the first digital camera in 1975 but the organization decided to shun it and not lead the change in how photography was captured.  In fact, quite the contrary; they held on to film as if their life depended on it.

Most recently, of course, was the demise of Toys R’ Us, whose failure to adapt its business model in the wake of shifting parent needs, child play activities and growing online competition – not to mention a mountain of debt – became its downfall.

That said, leadership teams shouldn’t only look to change in dire times.

If change isn’t driven by the need to survive and it’s not simply change for change-sake, what does it mean, then? What role does change play if you’re:

  • An insulated agency of the government operating in a quasi-monopoly?
  • A successful retailer, wealth management firm, entertainment provider or other private sector success story?
  • A business-as-usual not-for-profit organization that’s doing relatively well?

It means evolving so that you can maintain relevancy and sustainability for the longer-term, both of which can only be accomplished when leadership teams agree on the importance of staying ahead of the curve.

At the very least, organizations need a handful of change leaders within their most senior ranks who understand the dynamic nature of our world.

At LEVEL5, we have the privilege of working with such leaders. They understand that competitors, consumer expectations, engagement, digital and delivery are all shifting quickly, and they’ve built mandates for change leadership to ensure they keep up with the pace.

Is your organization struggling to mobilize a change agenda?

And if so, why? A couple of quotes come to mind: “Good is the enemy of great” (James C. Collins), and “Success breeds complacency” (Andy Grove). Just as every organization has naysayers, every organization has forward thinkers. It is up to the latter to be a catalyst for organizational leadership by rallying behind a change agenda.

In an upcoming post, I’ll share fours steps you can take to align senior leaders to change. Until then, if you need a hand formulating a change mandate or engaging your team in an existing mandate, feel free to reach out for support. You’ll find us here.

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By Claude Ricks, Managing Partner


Napster hit the scene in 1999. I can still remember the thrill. A world of music had opened up to me and my newly digital-music-enabled computer. A music revolution had begun and I remember thinking, this is it. Digital has arrived!


Back then, digital was a thing. And it remained a thing for many years; a thing people went to IBM for because IBM does technology and that’s what digital’s about, right? Back then, yes, but not anymore. Today, digital is an enabler of things, only some of which actually relate to technology.


As I was getting my fill on Napster, I was clueless about the digital transformation to come. Now, as the managing partner of a management consulting firm that builds and helps implement inspired growth strategies, I live and breathe it. Still, the majority of those who aren’t in my day-to-day shoes continue to wonder…


What the heck is digital transformation?


That’s the question posed by Simon Chan in his article of the same name. It’s a fair question and a complex one at that. In my experience, people seem to have an easier time grasping what it isn’t versus what it is, so let’s start with that.


Digital transformation is not a website or mobile app. It is not social media or e-commerce. It is not process automation or data analytics.


If you knew that already, you’re ahead of the game. If you didn’t, don’t worry. If it wasn’t such a tricky concept to grasp, Chan wouldn’t have written the article in the first place and I wouldn’t have been compelled to join in the conversation.


Digital transformation (DX) has become a nebulous term.


It seems to encapsulate everything that has anything to do with both business and IT, and as Chan rightly points out in his article, that’s way too broad. In an effort to zero in on what DX actually is, Chan defines three words that are key to pretty much every DX conversation – digital, strategy and transformation.


Here, paraphrased, is a summary of what he has to say about each:


Digital refers to communication between electronic devices. It reflects how phones, computers, printers, tablets, etc. communicate with one another using binary code, i.e. ones and zeros. No surprises there.


Strategy is harder to define. It means different things to different people, but Chan settles on it being the accumulation of three things: 1) Taking a stance; 2) backing up that stance with objectives; 3) taking action.


Transformation is way more than change. It’s profound. It’s radical. It’s a complete and utter makeover that touches all parts of an organization.


It’s with his definition of transformation that Chan really starts to speak LEVEL5’s language. As we convey quite passionately in every DX conversation we have, and in our white paper Navigating the Digital Disconnect, DX is about broad organizational change. And just as transformation must touch all parts of an organization, so must digital transformation.


So why all the DX confusion?


As Chan points out, there are several cooks in the kitchen. While all DX initiatives should be run by the CEO, that’s rarely the case. The CMO, COO, CIO and CFO, as well as the average Joe, are all coming at it with their own perspectives. For the sake of simplicity, Chan drops their varying approaches to DX into five buckets:


Bucket #1: The customer experience, driven by the CMOIn light of the customer shift towards digital versus physical (retail) channels, marketing teams are heavy players in the DX movement, leveraging web sites, mobile apps, social media, CRM systems, marketing technologies and more to find new customers and retain existing ones.


Bucket #2: Operational efficiency, driven by the COO and CIODX isn’t about transforming a company’s digital and technical assets. It’s about using those assets to change all aspects of a company, including operations. Technology plays a valuable role in the breakdown of departmental siloes and in the promotion of better communication and culture.


Bucket #3: Cost management, driven by the CFODX is also a vehicle for cutting costs. The virtualization of data centres, Cloud computing, remote working tools and methods, artificial intelligence – these and other digital initiatives can help significantly reduce costs associated with work premises, human resources, IT equipment and more.


Bucket #4: Shift in business model, driven by the CEO
Finally, the CEO! Chan describes this bucket as “a profound business model shift, which permeates every living cell of the company, resulting in changes to structure, capabilities, policies, processes, people, technologies and culture.” It’s what ultimately enables a company to increase market share and compete in new markets.”


Bucket #5: DX as a world view, driven by the average person
Here, Chan’s talking about the big picture. How do the changes that are associated with digital technology impact society? Business aside, what will the impact of those changes be from a political, economic, social, theological, psychological, legal and environmental point of view?


By presenting these five buckets – or segments – Chan has done a great job of conveying, in simple terms, just how broad-reaching digital actually is. If I could add just one thing to his commentary, it would be the importance of cross-pollination between these segments.


You can no longer focus on one or two segments and call yourself digital.


In a recent white paper Navigating the Digital Disconnect published by LEVEL5 one of our panel members shared with us that real digital transformation is often messy, that’s because the journey is a bit chaotic and organic, as your organization uncovers the journey that aligns with your strategy.  This is why the CEO needs to own DX journey and the C suite, CMO, CFO, CIO, COO, and every member of their respective teams, need to be aligned if you’re using digital as an enabler to ownable, competitive advantage.  With that many players in the sandbox, you need a leader… that’s where your CEO steps in – and a DX coach.


At LEVEL5, our partners are all great coaches, we’re all operators, have walked in your shoes and understand messy and chaotic digital transformation journeys.  We view your brand as ‘the value of a promise consistently kept’™, and we can help you with the challenge of consistently keeping promises in a world changing at the pace of digital.  Want to learn more? We’re passionate about what we do and welcome every opportunity to talk about it…reach out, with no obligation of course. You’ll find our contact information here.

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By David Kincaid, Managing Partner and Founder L5

At LEVEL5, we define brand as the value of a promise consistently kept™. Keeping a promise is no easy task. No organization knows that better than Mountain Equipment Coop (MEC), who yesterday announced the decision to discontinue selling products tied to a well-known gun manufacturer. Hats off to them.


Brand value is a powerful combination of positive AND negative attributes.

MEC’s recent decision really drives this point home.

As a reminder, MEC doesn’t sell guns. But they do sell outdoor equipment that’s made by guns and ammunition manufacturer Vista Outdoor Inc.

MEC also has more than five million passionate, involved members. Many of these members have a deep, emotional attachment to the brand. They feel they have a voice in how MEC makes decisions. They also have strong opinions on whether or not these decisions live up to the organization’s corporate purpose and values.

MEC should be commended, not only for knowing its members at a deep, emotional level, but for making a fast and informed, data-based decision aligned to its vision and values. 

“This one has been a very emotional issue with a lot of different opinions…requiring listening with the facts at hand,” stated CEO David Labistour when sharing MEC’s recent decision. As of this writing Walmart, Dicks, Krogers and REI in the USA have all taken action related to gun restrictions. There’s no shortage of other companies that could stand to take a leaf out of MEC’s book. Here are just a few valuable takeaways.


Three important lessons for branded organizations:

  1. Acknowledge that brand value is generated largely by associations with positive and negative emotions. And remember, negative emotions are typically three times more powerful than positive ones, i.e. you can’t just bury your head in the sand when things get ugly.
  2. Demonstrating a meaningful social responsibility strategy is quickly becoming a powerful driver of brand value, choice of employer among millennials, and even financing. In fact, in a recent poll conducted among 2,000+ Toronto Star readers, 75% respondents said they prefer brands with a social conscience. (Check out the strong opinion Blackrock shared earlier this year on the topic of social responsibility.)
  3. Know your customers. Really know your customers. And your employees, too. Not just what they say, but how they feel. How do their emotions inform and connect to your brand promise? How does your response to controversial situations align to your organizational values and the behaviours they guide? Social media gives consumers a powerful voice. It’s imperative you understand the thoughts and emotions behind their words, not just the sentiment of their words.

A new day has dawned for brands and branded organizations.

The leaders of great brands understand the emotional impact they can have in the marketplace with their current and potential customers. They pay attention to what’s being said and felt, and rise to the good, as well as the bad and the ugly, in order to keep their promise consistently.

It’s inspiring to see David Labistour use the MEC brand to drive positive social change. Congratulations @MEC!


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“The company’s relationship with its franchisees is a huge challenge for them,” said David Kincaid, managing partner of consultancy Level5 Strategy Group. “The general relationship status with franchisees still feels strained and now this Ontario minimum-wage issue just strained it further.”


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by: Matt Kelly, Managing Partner

If you’re familiar with the work we do at LEVEL5, you’ve no doubt heard us say that sustainable, brand-driven growth comes from understanding the value of a promise consistently kept™. While we maintain that this is the most meaningful driver of an organization’s growth, we recognize it’s not the only one.


Our brand experts spend a lot of time in primary research, quantifying the most powerful drivers of behaviour in order to help inform our clients’ growth strategies and transformation efforts. One driver we haven’t yet explored in this space is the CEO’s public profile.


When it comes to corporate leader profiles, less is no longer best


In a pre-digital era, flying under the radar was the norm. In fact, it was the preference. Only those associated with scandal tended to make headlines. In other words, no news was good news. These days, however, we expect to know what everyone is doing at every minute of every day – CEOs and top executives included. Indeed, those of us who don’t have some sort of social media presence actually risk being regarded with suspicion.


In a survey[1] conducted by Weber Shandwick in partnership with KRC Research, 81% of global executives expressed their belief that external CEO engagement plays an essential role when it comes to building a company’s reputation. Furthermore, they believe that the reputation of their own CEO accounts for nearly half of their company’s reputation (45%) and half of its market value (44%). And that applies regardless of whether their reputation be good or bad.


What also came out of this survey was the strong and positive correlation between a CEO’s reputation and his or her ability to attract investors, generate positive media, maximize crisis protection, and attract and retain talent.


Ask yourself this: what has your profile done for your company lately?


Have you, and do you give your stakeholders a clear picture of what the individual behind your organization stands for? Have you taken and are you taking steps to build a deeper connection with your public? How aligned and supportive is your messaging to your brand’s promise to the marketplace?


Keep in mind it no longer takes a press release or book deal to reach a mass audience. Simply look to the content marketing and social media capabilities within your own company. Therein lies the means with which to reach your customers, investors, employees and other stakeholders regularly and authentically.


For inspiration, you need only look to Elon Musk. With a following of 17 million or so, the co-founder, product architect and CEO at Tesla is a perfect example of how:


“leaders in the making can leverage social media to not just create impact but also encourage debate, generate conversations, and show what it takes to be a leader, through something as simple as a message on social media.2


Most would agree that highly regarded CEOs have a clear vision for the future. They inspire and motivate others. They communicate well and are acutely focused on delighting customers. At LEVEL5, we’d add two points to this description of the esteemed CEO. First, brand-driven CEOs know what truly drives their marketplace. And second, they create, deliver and advocate for their organization, internally and externally, through their brand strategy and the stories they tell. The same goes for all senior executives in highly regarded branded organizations. 


To stay on course, make time for an alignment check.


Ask yourself, is your  brand’s growth strategy clear and broadly understood within your organization? And if so, does it align with your own reputation-building strategy? If you want to go the full distance, it’s not enough to be remarkable on the inside. You need to have a clear and compelling go-to market approach that stretches beyond the confines of your organization. Only then can you, personally, make a positive impact on your company’s reputation and its value.

Need a hand leveraging your personal profile to your ownable, competitive advantage? Get in touch. We’d be glad to help.


[1] The CEO Reputation Premium: Gaining Advantage in the Engagement Era
[2] Creating Brand Value on Social Media the Elon Musk Way

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by: Matt Kelly, Managing Partner

Reflections on BlackRock’s C-Suite ultimatum

CEOs and CMOs take note. On January 15, 2018, a provocative article published in the New York Times advised corporate leaders of impending pressure to dial up social responsibility. According to the article, chief executives of the world’s largest public companies will soon be receiving a letter from the CEO of BlackRock, one of the most influential investors in the world, stating that “their companies need to do more than make profits – they need to contribute to society as well if they want to receive the support of BlackRock.”

This article landed on the heels of Apple being told last week by two of its largest investors to make its devices less addictive to children.

Today’s leaders are feeling more pressure to contribute to society than their predecessors ever did

“Society is demanding that companies, both public and private, serve a social purpose,” wrote BlackRock CEO Laurence D. Fink in a draft letter that he shared with the author of the NY Times article. “To prosper over time,” Fink wrote, “every company must not only deliver financial performance, but also show how it makes a positive contribution to society”. Companies that don’t serve the community and demonstrate a sense of purpose will lose the license to operate, he contends. 

What’s with BlackRock’s activist point of view on social responsibility?

Fink believes that “having a strong sense of purpose is inextricably linked to a company’s ability to maintain its profits.” At LEVEL5, we happen to agree. In fact, we would add that a strong sense of purpose can also build culture, align organizations, help to attract and retain the best talent, and become a meaningful point of difference in crowded, highly competitive categories.

So, what’s your organization’s stated sense of purpose?

How is it supported or embedded in your strategic plan, your vision, mission and shared values? Could your brand promise and purpose be one and the same – much like Princess Margaret Hospital’s promise to ‘Conquer Cancer in our Lifetime?’ Do you have strategies and tactics to implement and measure your contribution beyond fundraising or goodwill?

If you’re looking for sustainable growth in a low-growth marketplace, as many of our clients are, embracing and operationalizing your firm’s contribution to society makes sound business sense. What’s more, it happens to feel pretty good!

Get in touch if you’d like to learn how we can help you take your social initiatives to the next level.

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by: Matt Kelly, Managing Partner

Be it a product or an experience, the choice to buy is driven by both the rational and the emotional mind. In fact, the same is true for any decision, including one as seemingly simple as whether to make yourself a cup of tea or coffee.

While most business leaders understand the role of the rational mind, few have a clear understanding of how emotions influence their customers. Price, convenience, safety, ease of use – there are hundreds of rational attributes that brands hang their hats on. But what about their customers’ feelings?

As the following example proves, the times, they are a-changing.

“Twenty years ago, who would ever have believed that people would line up outside a store to buy a coffee for at least double the price of the norm? Who would believe that people would camp overnight in front of an electronics store in order to be one of the first to own a smartphone especially since, two months later, you could walk into that same store and make that same purchase at the same price (if not cheaper)? These are not rational rea­sons but emotional ones and the ability for organizations to identify the emotional attributes and purchase drivers associated with their brand(s) is a competitive advantage that can lead to long term growth and success.”

Source: The Emotional Science Behind Effective Branding – a Better Way to Grow Your Branded Business, September 2011. Download the whitepaper >

Of the 184 personality types and 96 human emotions your customers envelop, you need to identify one or two that you can build your brand or organization around to drive sustainable growth. Without the right tools, it’s an exercise not unlike looking for a needle in a haystack.

What if we told you that we could quantify the role of emotion in your customers’ decision-making process?
A few years back, market researchers used to focus almost exclusively on the rational mind. In recent years, however, psychological and neurological findings have highlighted the flaw in this approach, prompting new methodologies to surface – ones that focus on both rational and emotional drivers over the course of an entire customer journey, not just at point of purchase.

Although they still represent a vast improvement on the ways of old, many of these newer approaches remain fairly superficial, often surveying a short list of drivers and usually category antes. Not ours, though. BrandMap™, our proprietary research tool, helps C-suite executives identify feelings about their brand at a very deep level and explore the subtle dimensions that their customers associate with their brand’s personality, needs, wishes, and values, as well as its more rational attributes and benefits.

Using a mathematical projection technique, BrandMap™ literally quantifies emotional drivers with 87% accuracy. As a result, brands don’t need to operate on gut instinct. Rather, they can effectively determine both the emotional and rational space they want to operate in and then develop measurable ideas, claims and tactics accordingly.

By the way, BrandMap™ isn’t just for B2C. Emotion drives all sectors.
As we’ve come to learn at LEVEL5 Strategy Group, it’s equally important for B2B brands to understand the emotional drivers behind their offering. 

“Customers can fall in love with a brand. So when a brand falls short of its promise, customers react in the same way that they do to any broken promise or failed romance: with disappointment, sadness, anger, resentment, self-doubt, and bewilderment. In other words, they react emotionally.”

Source: The Value of a Promise Consistently Kept™, What I’ve Learned About Managing Brands as Assets by David Kincaid.

Having researched enterprise software and services a number of times over the years, we’ve concluded that emotion (how you make customers feel and how you personify your organization) can often account for as much as 60% of the final purchase decision and the primary reason why you could end up losing an account. 

Your customers want to ‘feel’ successful, inspired, reassured, perhaps even brave – complimenting rational attributes like performance, value, and being liked by employees. Features (the rational draw) are well down the list of importance. This begs the question:

What emotions are driving your category, and are they positive or negative?
If you read our recent article entitled Your Brand: One of Your Most Underutilized Growth Drivers, you may recall that we define a brand as “the value of a promise consistently kept.”

So, what is the promise you intend to keep and what positive emotions can you leverage? More importantly, what negative emotions are standing in your way? We’ve been able to quantify that negative emotions can be up to three times more powerful than positive emotions, so addressing any negative associations with your brand should be a priority.

On the flip side, are there any negative associations with your competitors’ brands? If so, exploit them. Turn their emotional downfalls into your emotional drivers.

You’ve identified your brand’s emotional drivers. Now what?
Take these five steps to create an ownable competitive advantage; one that enables you to motivate, maintain and attract more customers and ultimately realize the growth you seek.

  1. Quantify the most powerful emotional drivers of choice – of the category, your brand and competitors
  2. Position your brand against a core subset of those drivers
  3. Create and deliver a powerful and compelling brand promise
  4. Align your organization to operationalize that promise 
  5. Measure and track progress against those drivers in your balanced scorecard

If you’re interested in harnessing the power of emotional science to guide your organizations growth strategy, to fulfil your brand promise and to drive greater business results, get in touch. We’d be happy to walk you through some of the tangible benefits of LEVEL5 BrandMap™ and show you how you could leverage insights from this tool to enhance your competitive advantage and make 2018 exceptionally prosperous.

On that note, here’s wishing you the very best for the holiday season and the year ahead!



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By David Kincaid


Still searching for that perfect gift for the business booklover on your holiday shopping list? Or perhaps you’re looking for an inspiring book to add to your winter reading list.


Look no further! THE VALUE OF A PROMISE CONSISTENTLY KEPT is an essential read for anyone overseeing (or interested in learning more about) brand management – and what it REALLY means to manage your organization’s brand as an asset.  


No dull, dry textbook here. The Value of a Promise Consistently Kept is 170 pages of insightful, practical (and at times witty) inspiration for managing your brand as an asset.

In this book, Kincaid shares the concepts behind the business system and the tools that C-suite executives can use to create value from their brands. Along the way, he describes the path that led him to his current role as a globally recognized brand builder.


“With this book, we get to learn from the victories, mistakes and revelations of an executive who made brand-building a mission, and who successfully motivated entire organizations to share in it.”
Mike Rapino, CEO & President, Live Nation

“His insights and advice, drawn from broad and diverse experience, are invaluable to business leaders committed to maximizing enterprise value.”
Susan Helstab, Executive VP, Marketing Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts


All orders placed by December 15th will receive a free copy of LEVEL5’s special release book: Brand Forward, Brand Back