April 3, 2023


What will brands do if collaborations become uncool?

If you’ve been hiding under a rock and aren’t aware of the trend of de-influencing trend, dive in here.

I have personally been a little shocked with how interesting people are finding this trend. Giving real opinions that aren’t paid for has us shook it seems.

But it has got me wondering what ‘we’re over it’ moment is coming next. 

What other trends are so ubiquitous it has become central to how social media functions.

Is the collab next?!


Will one of brands biggest audience growth mills come to an end?

Are we grown tired of 20 GANNI collabs a year?

Has Mackintosh re-emerged with a new ‘fresh takes’ on the raincoat enough times?

Have Crocs Crocced with too many?

The way BLANK STREET coffee—as Bon Appetit pointed out: basically a brand designed as a vehicle for collaborations—is going, I think the answer is not just yet.

But like with all things. The backlash is coming. It’s not a matter of if, but when. 

Anything does not go anymore. The rose-colored glasses are off.

Beloved Outdoor Voices was recently skewered for their Disney collab.

And what of the collabs' best and worst enemy: AI? When everyone has the ability to dream up collaborations, often with fantastic and over-the-top results, how will real collaborations compete? And will it be worth it for brands, knowing a collab is often a 1-year production versus a 20-prompt exercise? 

So the question is:

Will brands learn to innovate on their own? Sans crutch of another cool brand or influencer to give them the edge. 

Will brands learn to innovate on their own? Sans crutch of another cool brand or influencer to give them the edge. 

Will we push past the blatant PR GRAB?

Will we know how to de-collab?

April 3, 2023



If I told you today to put your website up and leave it alone, alone alone, [without being able to change a single thing] for 5 years would you?! F**k no and you wouldn’t, excuse your language 😂

Would you design the same tee for 5 years straight? Likely not.

Read backdated trends reports for the latest advice? No.

So why do brands spend years working on perfecting their brand strategy and positioning and then leave it as an anchor for teams to sink with?

Today’s reality is that things move fast. New paradigms emerge. Chat GPT3, TikTok, global pandemics, bank collapses. Good brands chase great brands, nipping at heels. Two things are true: Everything moves quickly today. And there’s always someone new coming for you (if you are doing it right).

So what is a brand to do? 

Keep moving. Keep growing. 

Get active 

The problem is, times have changed but the approach to brand positioning has not.

Traditional Positioning = A strategy exercise to define what makes your brand distinctive. It’s often a C-Suite activity and not truly an integral part of every decision a brand makes day to day. Teams often lack the clarity of how the positioning affects everyday decisions leading to reactive decisions that don’t move you forward.

But what if you approach positioning in an active way?

The Active Position = Taking traditional positioning and going one step further. Putting your brand distinction into action in every day and extraordinary ways.

Sounds great, right? It is. 

It is a center for your evolving brand.

There are so many benefits to this approach:

  1. Your brand remains relevant and growth feels distinctive.
  2. Every action you take is a step forward—less chaos and more clarity.
  3. It helps you retain and maintain challenger brand status.
  4. Relationships with your existing customers get stronger, new audiences constantly and consistently get to see what makes you different
  5. And the icing on the cake? Internal alignment and clarity means your team is always ready to execute—content, product and creation comes easier. 

Singular brand visions are dead. 

Singular muse died a long time ago. 

And static brand positions are dead too.

Welcome to the world of an Active Position. 

The world is waiting for you to evolve.

February 7, 2023


How brand positioning makes good brands great brands.

Every morning I make a cup of tea. To get more specific: English breakfast*. Without fail, it’s PG Tips. For me, there is no other tea. Sure, it’s the quality. But it goes beyond that. There’s no messing with little strings and tags—because good English tea is made in a teapot. The taste is so distinctive its referenced in their tagline. And there’s the generational tradition: my mum drinks it, my brother drinks it, my nan drank it. Every sip is a little taste of home. PG Tips is a treatise on brand positioning. They have leaned into what makes them, them. And they are winning. Started in 1930, they are the #1 tea sold in Britain and are on international shelves worldwide. They hold the unique status all brands strive for: distinction + ubiquity. 


There’s a book about it. Many brands can be everywhere with good distribution but the difference between good brands and great brands is understanding your brand distinction—and living it.

Often, brand positioning, or what makes you distinctive, is C-suite activity that rarely trickles down into every aspect of the brand. And yet it should be the culture of the brand. It should be your main squeeze. 

As brands grow, extending into new categories or new audiences, there is often a race to grab every coin. In doing this, brands often lose what made them distinctive. They lose perspective in favor of widening their pie. Yet, historically, successful brands narrow their focus rather than broaden it.


When Crocs trimmed its product selection by 30-40% to focus its efforts in their main clog, business sky-rocketed. When they focused on their main squeeze—they grew. Perhaps they shaved off some underperforming products but that doesn’t explain this level of growth. They leaned into what made them distinctive. Crocs was always for the slightly weird and subversive. Polarizing but delightful. The deeper they leaned into this position at every turn, the stronger they became. They did it with Jibbitz, brand partnerships, the list goes on and on. They narrowed their focus on what made them great and they went big on being everywhere in an unignorable way. Distinction + ubiquity—achieved. 


Take Fishwife. They make tinned fish. They made their brand so distinctive it’s repositioning the WHOLE category. They have 48k followers on Instagram. The incumbents? Starkist, 17.8k. Bumble Bee Foods, 8k. Chicken of The Sea, 5K—Fishwife is clearly doing something right. They have a beautifully distinctive brand. From the illustration style, to their clear POV on who eats their tinned fish, to the partners they collaborate with. They are tuned in to what their consumers love. They ensured their spots at every shoppy shop* nationwide and they just inked a deal with Whole Foods. Distinction + ubiquity—check. If you’re not eating them yet, they’ll be improving your pantry any day now.

Liquid Death—another great example. They sell water. Everything about their success is positioning. And they lived it at every turn. They made distinction so core to their DNA it drove viral fame. Distinction + ubiquity status unlocked. Current valuation: $700 million. 


Tight positioning improves business, yes. And it drives ubiquity—the goal. But what’s often overlooked is how much a clear brand distinction will improve the lives of your team—business even gets better INSIDE the company. All decisions, from platforms to partnership, product categories to campaigns become clearer. When teams are guided by a strong position at every turn, living it daily, when they know your main squeeze, the how/when/where of the brand is clockwork.

This is not a plea to narrow your product categories down to one. The one thing you are good at is not a product. It’s your perspective. Your position is your distinctive take on your category, your audience, culture AND your product. Make it your guiding light. Make it the kool-aid. Make it WWJD. Make it something you live every day. Make it everything you do and everything you love.

Make it your main squeeze and see what happens. 

*Tell me you’re English without telling them you’re English

**We happen to love the shoppy shops

April 7, 2020

FORBES—How This Woman-Owned Design Firm Creates Brands That Last

This article was originally published in Forbes and written by Jane Claire Hervey

We live in a world where the way we get our news, tell stories about ourselves and communicate with each other is rapidly changing. From the latest social media platform to the newest design trend, it can be hard to keep up—let alone stand out.

So, what does it take to create a long-lasting brand for ourselves and for our businesses in 2019?

Kirsten Ludwig and Chris Danton of In Good Co., a brand consultancy based all around the country, have a few ideas. Ludwig, In Good Co's president and founder, and Danton, In Good Co's Chief of Ideas, both come from advertising backgrounds. A few years ago, they joined forces to work on projects that push culture forward. "My idealism was something I had hidden and apologized for in the past. And the idea [for In Good Co.] was just to really believe in brands and really get collaborative with clients and build a great culture. That’s what leads to the best work," Ludwig says. 

And that's what Ludwig and Danton say characterize In Good Co. today. Formed as a B-Corp, the company's team works all over the country and their clients span Capital One, Under Armor and Beats. Moreover, the firm is true to its name—ten percent of In Good Co.'s energy goes toward nonprofit, pro bono clients.

I chatted with Ludwig and Danton a few weeks ago to explore their collaborative process and the design of In Good Co.'s projects. Read on for the five things they think about when creating brands for their clients that last.

Chris Danton (left) and Kirsten Ludwig (right) of In Good Co.

Chris Danton (left) and Kirsten Ludwig (right) of In Good Co.COURTESY OF IN GOOD CO.Today In: ForbesWomen

1.) A solid brand starts with a business' values.

When we think of the word "brand," we often think of marketing tools, like Instagram, and visual, grid-like mood boards. But for Danton, the Chief of Ideas at In Good Co., a company's brand is its decision-making tool. It's the values and ethics that guide the decisions it makes, the conversations it joins and the products it introduces. "There’s a lot of tendency with start-ups to put up a website and a logo, and then they’re done. We very much believe that if you don’t start with the values of your company, it doesn’t mater what your logo is or your name is. You need to know your value and purpose. There’s so much worry when you have no money and your’e a start-up, but it’s the most valuable part of process," Danton says.

PROMOTEDGrads of Life BRANDVOICE | Paid Program3 Ways To Manage The Pressure Of Hiring Right NowUNICEF USA BRANDVOICE | Paid ProgramThe Doctor Is In: Parents’ Questions About Coronavirus AnsweredCivic Nation BRANDVOICE | Paid ProgramCollege Signing Day 2020: Coronavirus Won’t Stop The Celebration

2.) The creative process behind a company's identity and communication should reflect collaboration and communication.

A brand is essentially a company's culture, translated into a logo, website, visuals, graphics and copywriting. For that reason, Ludwig and Danton approach brand-building as a collaborative process. "We always kick every project off with a brand workshop. We have the most fun ridiculous meetings—with dancing and exercises—and it really breaks down the whole client-agency relationship. In those meetings, we establish how to have a dialogue. We’re listening to them have a conversation among themselves, too," Danton says. "Ultimately, we’re just very collaborative in nature and truly believe that when we’re collaborative, the work is going to be better and the ideas are going to better. As you go back and forth and push each other and pull each other, you’re going to get better results. We do that internally as a team and externally with our clients as well," Ludwig adds.

3.) A coherent communication strategy needs focus.

Social media has changed the way we communicate with others, and it has completely revolutionized the way companies communicate with their customers. Moreover, many companies and brands feel the pressure to join any and all online conversations with their digital communities. Danton argues that authentic brands should pick and choose the conversations they join online and off, instead. "The less tacked on that anything feels, the better. The reality of a brand is that it needs to be super focused on what your authentic purpose is. If you can’t really join that conversation, don’t," Danton says.

4.) An authentic brand starts with a company's culture—not its market identity.

Now more than ever, consumers have the ability to measure up a company's external image with its internal structure. To avoid manufacturing authenticity, Ludwig says a solid brand extends throughout a company's internal and external experience. "Internally, we have to change culture, which then externally changes the brand. The bullshit meter has never been higher. It’s all about transparency and incorporating that purpose piece of it in a really authentic way that’s right for the brand," Ludwig says.

5.) A purposeful brand is less about influence and more about meaning.

Although we live in the age of viral media, both Danton and Ludwig argue that a strong brand shouldn't exist solely to chase social media follows and likes. At the core of it, companies should expend their energy on understanding their values and translating those values into how they communicate with their customers.  "I think brands have to really engage their audiences. The rest of it just feels like image," Danton says.

July 20, 2023



The people are loving fakes. And by fakes, we mean CGI advertising.

Yup. Deeply good fakes are having a moment.

Why go through the hassle when you can whip up something larger than life without leaving the office?

The fact of the matter is that people love CGI campaigns. Take the recent viral Maybelline campaign or the internet-breaking Jacquemus version that came first (both from the same creator btw). People are loving fake collabs. People are no longer ashamed of dupes or even good fakes.

We recently were in a pitch for some work and we pitched that the photography and campaign didn’t actually need to be photography. The product was safe and entering a very saturated but slightly stale market and this could have been a great way to differentiate and shake things up.  We wanted to land with a splash. A big computer-generated one. The potential client however, was deeply confused and likely, it lost us the pitch. 

There are other great examples of ‘fake’ work that’s great. What Haruko Hayakawa is doing—stunning. It’s not as stunty but it’s fun and sophisticated.

Obviously, Midjourney and AI have primed a path for otherworld imagery. Machine-learning has taken up right up to the center of the Uncanny Valley. It was shocking and then it wasn’t. 

This Mission Impossible CGI ad of marble run theme song is also pretty magical (and has over 120M views!)

What does CGI ADVERTISING TREthis mean? Are consumers becoming more interested in possibility than reality?

The Shinola watch that was fake and then because reality is another interesting extension of this. It's not exactly CGI advertising but they made a fake watch for April Fools and then ultimately made it in real life.

Fake doesn’t also have to be true 'CGI advertising' to get the love. Take this Self-lender ad. Hugely popular.

Beloved Truff brand also has a shining and funny example with this fake news report to announce being stocked at Walmart.

While we’re seeing more and more brands clam up and do the bare minimum because they’re scared or just wholly unsure,  you have to question if they are missing the opportunity of the moment. 

Consumers are also worried, tired, overthinking. 

How can you inject more joy into their world? More whimsical meanderings.  More out of this world imagining. More banality-busting brilliance that stops you in your tracks or at least gives you a few seconds of “what was that?”

Time for brands to embrace possibility. 

Enjoying these articles? Sign up for our Substack to get them delivered straight to your inbox.

Want to talk about active brand positioning and growing your brand. Let's chat.