Transcend Convention

"All boundaries are conventions, waiting to be transcended. One may transcend any convention if only one can first conceive of doing so." 

 

Robert Frobisher

What We Do

 

We are brand consultants who apply unconventional thinking to achieve results that transcend expectations in each of the following areas:

 

Brand Creation and Brand Optimization

 

Brand Positioning or Repositioning

 

New Product or Service Concept Development

 

Naming Services and Logo Development

 

Consumer Insights

 

Competitive Analysis and Market Opportunity Audits

 

Communication Strategy and Tactics

 

Website Design and Social Media Optimization

Branding Snapshots

 

Phoenix principals have taken part in dozens of branding projects and decisions, either as marketing professionals, consultants or entrepreneurs. Here are snapshots of three such projects.

Brand Positioning

 

Challenge      

 

How to establish a cohesive corporate positioning for Prudential, a financial services conglomerate involved in such diverse company-branded retail product lines as life insurance, securities and residential real estate.

 

Solution

 

To arrive at a solution required a full appreciation of the fundamental challenge: corporate diversification and brand positioning (which calls for focus) are nearly oxymoronic concepts!  The challenge clearly needed to be approached with something other than conventional thinking.  In that spirit, a brand positioning was sought that could transcend the disparate and sometimes competing requirements of the corporation’s individual product line companies.  To do so required looking beyond strictly rational selling propositions to what, instead, might be credible and compelling to the corporation’s diverse consumer groups on an emotional basis.   The process culminated in a positioning expressed this way through the resulting (and highly effective) corporate advertising program: “Peace of Mind: It comes with every Piece of the Rock.” 

Brand Insights

 

Challenge      

 

How to gain deeper understanding of consumers’ evolving lifestyle preferences and product perceptions, and apply the resulting insights to Frito-Lay’s snack portfolio.

 

Solution

 

In dozens of consulting engagements with Frito-Lay over a twelve year period we developed and implemented several forms of non-traditional qualitative research through landmark studies of such issues as the perceived “personality” traits of individual portfolio brands, the most effective “visual language of flavor” to be used in product packaging, and other critical questions beyond the scope of standard research approaches.  For the Sun Chips brand we engaged consumers with an unconventional form of “story telling” research to reveal the brand’s transcendent “truths.”  The resulting insights found application in a number of areas: product modifications to produce better-for-you claims to closer alignment with consumer expectations and desires; packaging changes and flavor line additions to better support the brand’s perceived wholesomeness; and even shifts in the prospects targeted.  These insight-driven tactics catapulted the brand from a middling performer to one of the stars in the Frito-Lay portfolio.

Brand Creation

 

Challenge      

 

How to overcome perceptual stereotypes of Italian restaurants in order to create, brand and bring to life an entirely new and exciting Italian dining experience.

 

Solution

 

Most mainstream Italian restaurants in the United States are grounded in some notion of the “old country” – in other words, in either reality-based or manufactured nostalgia.  In developing the Via Vanti! restaurant concept we chose to buck convention and look forward rather than backward; we also sought to engage our guests on a more active basis.  The result was a total guest experience designed around culinary and cultural discovery.  Most dishes offered an intriguing “twist” on expected Italian forms, ingredients or combinations.  In an unprecedented move, a gelato station was placed mid-restaurant, both to set a celebratory tone and to foster active guest engagement.  The vibrant décor embraced the colorful (e.g., Murano glass chandelier and ceiling pendants in primary hues) and the dynamic (e.g., flat screen slide shows of contemporary Italian scenes) while eschewing traditional Italian restaurant props.  Culinary and cultural events (e.g., region-specific “Cultural Discovery Dinners”) took place throughout the year.  Every table was even supplied with “Cultural Discovery Cards” for the taking, each offering an Italian fun fact.  The restaurant’s distinctive branding and trade dress featured a magical and transformative Commedia del’Arte-style charcter dubbed Zanni.  After only four years Via Vanti! was the highest ZAGAT®-rated restaurant in the dining mecca of Mount Kisco, New York and was designated “Best Gelato Shop in New York.” 

PEOPLE

Carla Gambescia
Principal

Background in a Nutshell


An expert in translating imagination into reality, 35 years of advertising, consulting, research and entrepreneurial experience; dozens of engagements with Frito-Lay and other blue-chip food and beverage clients; founder of Via Vanti! Restaurant & Gelateria; Wharton Business School


Personal Passions


Italy and all things Italian (author of La Dolce Vita University: An Insider’s Guide to Italian Culture from A-Z); active travel, yoga, skiing, cycling and hiking on six continents to date.


Favorite Quotation


Logic will get you from A to Z. Imagination will get you everywhere. (Albert Einstein)

Scott Mason
Principal

Background in a Nutshell


A thinking marketer with both brain hemispheres firing, 35 years of advertising, consulting and entrepreneurial experience; former head of national advertising and public relations at The Prudential; partner at Via Vanti! Restaurant & Gelateria; Harvard Business School


Personal Passions


Haiku poetry (journal editor and winner of 20 international competitions); all the visual arts; active and cultural travel; visiting sacred places; being anywhere in nature, "beach, forest, mountain, the links"


Favorite Quotation


The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but in seeing with new eyes. (Marcel Proust)

Alex Rubeo
Technology

Background in a Nutshell


Serial entrepreneur with 8 startups in the last 25 years. Strong focus on Food Service and Technology.


Personal Passions


Artisan bread baking, Wine Collecting, Coding, and Heavy Metal Music.


Favorite Quotation


“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, design a building, conn a ship, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve an equation, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly.” (Robert A. Heinlein)