Posted on

Author: Sylvia Palka Melo

Before a CEO can begin to build ownable competitive advantage, there are two very important, yet often difficult questions that he or she must first answer. It’s the ‘WHAT’ and the ‘WHY’ of any business – and in this specific order:

business are you in?

This may seem like an obvious question; however, it always proves to be one of the toughest questions for a leadership team to answer. If I were to ask you what business your organization is in, I bet that I can guess your answer. It has something to do with the product or service that your organization provides to the marketplace… was I close?

This is exactly where leadership teams get trapped when endeavouring to answer this very same question. They look to their competitive frame of reference – which is largely driven by the product or service the brand provides relative to competitors. In effect, they limit their competitive universe and confine their ability to create ownable, competitive advantage.

On the flip side, if the answer is considered carefully, it can be a catalyst for inspired growth opportunities by means of developing new (or enhancing existing) revenue streams, driving new innovation, creating new markets opportunities, and motivating and aligning employees.  The best way to get to your ‘WHAT’ is to think about the benefits that your brand delivers to your stakeholders (i.e., consumers, employees, supplies, shareholders, government, etc.) and the value that it creates.

Here are some examples of organizations that re-framed their ‘WHAT’

Why do you exist?

A brand’s purpose (its ‘WHY’) is influenced by the benefits it creates and value that it drives (its ‘WHAT’). Thus, it is only after leadership teams identify their brand’s ‘WHAT’ can they begin to define the ‘WHY’.

Check out LEVEL5’s latest whitepaper where we share the steps that brand-driven CEOs of Canadian Tire Retail, TELUS, Campbell Company of Canada and Equity Trust Financial took to help define their brand’s ‘WHY’ …and create ownable, competitive advantage along the way.

Asking once is not enough

Markets have never been more competitive or disruptive, therefore it is important for leadership teams to continuously re-think what business you are in because the answer influences the value that your brand creates, and ultimately, why you exist.

Posted on
Author: Sylvia Palka Melo, Manager

LEVEL5 congratulates our client, SoOPAK, on the launch of their new website. Head over to to check it out!

SoOPAK provides inspirational and simple packaging solutions for customers of all industries and size. After experiencing tremendous growth since opening up shop in Mississauga, Ontario in 2014, the company decided that it was time to ensure that their brand promise reflected their position as North America’s most trustworthy and reliable leader in short-run packaging.

LEVEL5’s Perspective: There is no such thing as an “unbrandable” industry or organization
SoOPAK brought on LEVEL5 to help develop a customer-centric, brand-driven strategy that will drive profitable, sustainable growth in a very utilitarian, transaction-driven industry. LEVEL5’s perspective (and experience) is that all brands, including those that operate in what many view as “unbrandable” categories, provide a source of differentiation and competitive advantage. Once brand is recognized and managed as a true “company asset”, it can become a significant source of enterprise and shareholder value. SoOPAK is proving that the packaging sector was never “unbrandable”, but merely happened to be unbranded… until now. In fact, the company even has a website tab dedicated to their brand and brand story.

SoOpak Pic 1

SoOPAK embarked on the website redesign with its brand strategy and customers in mind. The new website’s goal is to provide visitors a seamless, interactive way to explore cutting-edge packaging designs and full spectrum of solutions. The new design allows for easy accessibility, clear navigation and an enhanced user experience.

SoOpak Pic 2

SoOPAK’s CEO, Carole Jiang shares, “our new website will extend our geographical reach and allow SoOPAK to deploy our innovative packaging solutions to a broader base of customers. We are thankful for the assistance we received from LEVEL5 Strategy Group in helping us develop an inspiring strategy that drives what we believe is great ownable competitive advantage.”

LEVEL5 looks forward to continuing our work with SoOPAK to unlock the value of their brand. Congratulations on this exciting milestone in your brand journey!

Posted on

By: Sylvia Palka Melo, Senior Consultant

Brands are critical assets, have equity, and drive business strategy and performance. When a brand is viewed as an asset, multiple opportunities arises to leverage this strategic asset to generate profitable, sustainable growth. CEOs that adopt and successfully implement this perspective see brand building shift from a tactical effort that is typically delegated to their marketing department to a key driver of business strategy. 

The financial impact of a brand-driven business strategy helps make the case for managing brands as an asset. When Brand Finance® measured the share price of brands and their subsequent stock market performance between 2007 and 2015, it found that an investment strategy based on the most highly branded companies (those where brand value makes up a high proportion of overall enterprise value) would have led to a return almost double that of the average for the S&P 500 as a whole. In fact, between 2007 and 2015, the average return across the S&P was 49%; however, investing in companies with a brand value to enterprise value (BV/EV) ratio of greater than 30% would have generated returns of 94%.1


These findings have one common attribute and that is brand-driven CEOs who leverages brand as a key driver of performance and business value. The challenge is that most CEOs don’t know where to begin.

In our latest white paper, LEVEL5 takes a closer look at why brand management needs to start at the top – with the CEO – and the six critical success factors for transforming a company into brand-driven organization to unlock new profitable, sustainable growth:


As part of the white paper, we showcase four prominent brand-driven business leaders – Allan MacDonald, President, Canadian Tire Retail; Joe Natale, former CEO, TELUS; Ana Dominguez, President, Campbell Company of Canada; and Michael Jones, President & Chief Executive Officer, Equity Financial Trust – who have successfully embraced the concept of brand as an asset and unleashed extraordinary new sustainable value for their organizations by putting these six success factors into practice.


Brand Finance Press Release 

Posted on

By Sylvia Palka Melo, Senior Consultant


What do all brand-driven CEO’s have in common? They treat their brands as assets and align all the elements of their business system to make sure that their brand delivers consistently on its promise.

On October 5th, 2016, LEVEL5, in partnership with Spencer Stuart, hosted our Leaders Forum series power breakfast to offer senior executives a new way to think about and manage their brands as assets. Ken Wong, renowned professor at Queen’s Smith School of Business, moderated discussions with brand-driven CEOs who have successfully brought their brand to life profitably across their business system including:

  • Allan MacDonald, President, Canadian Tire Retail
  • Joe Natale, former CEO, Telus; Managing Director, BearingPoint; Managing Partner, KPMG 
  • Ana Dominguez, President, Campbell Company of Canada
  • Michael Jones, President & Chief Executive Officer, Equity Financial Trust

Each panelist openly shared their learnings and experience with integrating their brand’s vision, purpose and promise across all functions and departments within their organization through the power of people, processes and partnerships.

The prevailing keynote that came out of the discussion is that the management of a successful brand begins at the top. It’s the responsibility of (and an opportunity for) C-suite executives to identify the changes required to lead a brand forward, and to support the team within the organization that will make those changes happen to generate competitive advantage and sustainable, profitable growth. As the leader of an organization, you are not just an ambassador for your brand – you are also its guardian. That’s why managing and building a brand begins not in the marketing department but at the top of the organization.

A big thank you to our partner, Spencer Stuart, for helping us host this event, our panelists for sharing their experience and learnings, and our guests for attending and engaging in meaningful dialogue.  

Stay tuned for our white paper on key considerations, actions and best practices for bringing your brand to life profitably across your business system.

Posted on

L5 wants to congratulate our client, Keyspire, on their ranking as the #1 fastest growing consumer service company and the 11th overall fastest growing company in the country. Last week Profit Guide released their 2016 Profit 500 ranking, highlighting Canada’s quickest growing companies. Published in the October issue of Canadian Business and online at, the PROFIT 500 ranks Canadian businesses by their revenue growth over five years. Keyspire made the 2016 PROFIT 500 list with five-year revenue growth of 5,446%.

Keyspire is a real estate investor community that empowers personal freedom and financial security amongst its members. They have something to offer for everyone, from educating someone who is new to real estate about the basics to facilitating land development opportunities for the seasoned investor.

We look forward to continuing our work with Keyspire and wish them all the best in their exciting year ahead.

For more information on Keyspire, visit:

Tags: | Posted on

michaelBy: Michael Maringola, Analyst Intern, Summer 2016

After four months and lots of beer (clients), my summer at LEVEL5 has been a fulfilling and valuable experience. As an intern I was given an inside look into the management consulting industry, with a special L5 spin. It has been a long journey from that first interview with my orange tie to a long and hard good-bye. In that time, I’ve learned that it does not end with just the analysis, nor with the insights. It’s about the story, and LEVEL5’s story is one of the most compelling I have ever experienced.

Throughout my LEVEL5 journey, I was given ownership over various projects. Each project was a challenge of its own and I truly believe that is what made my experience at L5 unique. From focus groups to client meetings, I learned essential skills that created a foundation for communicating with different groups. The combination of mentorship and collaboration with executives at focus groups taught me how to draw useful insight from large amounts of information. The workshops provided me with an opportunity to create an effective analysis and uncover insights. The combination of opportunities and support I received at L5 through every step was unparalleled.

L5 really embodies their core values, which allows everyone to provide the best value to their clients. Over my four months, I found myself reflecting those values as well. Every piece of analysis conducted for clients had a credible basis, central to the beliefs of accountability and integrity. The openness at the firm created an ideal environment for collaboration where I felt comfortable asking questions and everyone was willing to share their perspective. The positive energy from everyone at LEVEL5 created an environment where I felt driven and motivated to conquer the next challenge.

I was immediately given interesting work that allowed me to challenge myself. Over the last four months, I’ve had the pleasure of working on projects in various industries, from real estate (a personal interest of mine), to breweries (which at the time wasn’t a personal interest, but definitely is now!). From the very first day, I was embraced by the culture and people at L5. My colleagues were extremely supportive in providing me with help and guidance throughout my internship. I was able to build strong relationships and share many positive experiences that will stay with me for a lifetime.

Ultimately, my internship at LEVEL5 Strategy Group has provided me with numerous opportunities for growth, both professionally and personally. The L5 culture is unlike any I have seen before. I was welcomed into the firm and will fondly remember the projects I was able to work on. What made my experience truly special was the time spent after work connecting with colleagues through activities such as disk golf and volunteer initiatives! Getting to know all the L5ers is definitely what took my summer internship experience from great to truly exceptional. It was a summer full of SMART, BRAVE, ACTION.

Posted on


By: Sylvia Palka Melo, Senior Consultant

On August 23rd, 2016, LEVEL5 opened its doors to over 60 of the best and brightest students from the top business schools in Canada for our annual Open House. The event kicked off with a keynote speech by LEVEL5’s Founder and Managing Partner, David Kincaid, on the company’s history, our unique perspective on Brand as a Business System™ and our culture – which is at the heart of the LEVEL5 brand. There’s a magical ingredient to the LEVEL5 culture that makes all the hard work worth it. It’s summed up in the answers to two simple questions that we ask ourselves every day:

1. Did you learn anything?
2. Did you laugh?

As David explained, “whether it’s four in the afternoon or eleven-thirty at night, I can ask anyone in the office those same two questions and feel pretty confident about their answers. When they say yes, I know that our culture is in good shape.” At LEVEL5, our employees are not just part of the company, they’re part of a family in which there is no shortage of laughing and learning.

Following the keynote speech, the students were broken into three groups for a panel discussion, where LEVEL5 team members fielded questions, sharing experiences and shedding light on the most interesting aspects about working at LEVEL5 – from our culture, to the different types of client projects and industries we work with to how we define and help organizations manage their brands… and everything in between. After the panel discussions, the groups all came together to network and connect. In true LEVEL5 fashion, there was plenty of laughing and learning throughout the evening.

LEVEL5 thanks all of those who attended our Open House and wishes you much success in the upcoming school year!

Be sure to check with your university’s events calendar to find out when LEVEL5 will be at your next on-campus recruitment event.

Posted on

WNC Group shot_permission granted

Author:  James Madell, Summer 2016 Intern Analyst

For a day in July, LEVEL5 shut down the office to volunteer at Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre (WNC). Serving a client base of 50 children between the ages of 6 to 12 (below our ‘typical’ client age range), we worked together to serve a BBQ lunch to fuel the kids for an afternoon filled with fun hands-on activities that we also participated in.

Following a successful partner led BBQ, we switched roles from consultants to activity and group leaders. As the afternoon progressed a courageous group of L5’ers helped take the reins of several groups of kids, of varying ages, and helped steer them through the activity stations that the rest of the firm had helped organize. Activity stations included, slip and slides, water balloon capture-the-flag, egg and spoon races, however the most popular stations definitely involved covering the WNC staff, and some unsuspecting L5 staff, in paint. To finish off the afternoon, the remainder of the five hundred water balloons that were purchased for the day were put to good use as the kids participated in a massive water fight. While the majority of the LEVEL5 staff refrained from taking part in the water fight, a few water balloons were reportedly thrown into the fight from the L5 sidelines. However, at this time all consultants and partners are refusing to confirm or deny this claim.

This day allowed us to give back to a community centre that is close to home and is helping make a difference in local resident’s lives in our neighbourhood. We had a great time working with the awesome team of WNC staff and we look forward to helping out more in the near future.

Thanks WNC for a fantastic day!

Posted on

With heightened competition, digital shifts, an onslaught of e-commerce and the rise of global marketplaces, several major retailers are shaking up their top ranks (think: Sears Canada, Canadian Tire, Sobeys and Holt Renfrew).

“The competitive space is shifting. What worked 10 years ago doesn’t work now,” says David Kincaid.

The ferocious competitiveness and wild unpredictability of today’s market make sustainable competitive advantage a function of an organization’s ability to react and regroup their branded business system smartly and quickly.

Read the full article here:  Shakeup in retailing being felt at highest levels

Posted on


The L5 team congratulates our favorite USA Sports Team and client – the San Jose Sharks – on their very successful Stanley Cup run.

LEVEL5’s definition of a great brand is ‘the value of a promise consistently kept™.’ This powerhouse sports and entertainment brand definitely kept its promise of providing a season of gritty, gutsy, never-say-die hockey and a truly memorable fan-centered experience – on and off the ice.

Thanks for inviting us into Sharks territory… a very special destination.