Lessons In Failure: Brand Without Adoption

Building a brand is relatively easy, the hard part is client adoption of the system.

‘Brand’ can be a very tricky concept. One that is best applied not as quick fix or a band-aid to company discord. And changing the culture of an organization is a very complex undertaking that can be emotionally taxing on those closely tied to the brand. In the case of Northlake we came to help reposition the brand – mainly their reputation – after a tumultuous few years after the great recession. Along with the repositioning, we were tasked to strategize and automate an online marketing system and private client-portal to help automate lead generation for their business model.



This model was developed to help the customer create “hot leads”, but also to build a reliable information source to create additional value for customers in a traditionally opaque business.

We worked closely with the Northlake staff on the development of their brand and marketing tools for this transition. During our tenure we saw great success in the wholesale adoption of the brand, but saw degeneration of the new culture as leadership and internal struggles persisted.

We often hear debates over the value of the brand versus the value of the business function. We can generally sum this up to a total misunderstanding of the concept of brand. Leaders that prescribe to the contrary position argue that a brand is something of an afterthought, that customers are either (a) not intelligent (b) don’t need all of this reinforcement. This attitude results in undervaluing research, the piecemealing projects, disorderly execution of the brand, or the lack of institutional buy-in. In the case of the Northlake the latter ultimately lead to the disintegration of the brand. Shifting a company’s culture is very difficult and one that needs to be constantly tended to help it adapt to real-world circumstances that affect all businesses, from market fluctuations to employee satisfaction.

We worked consistently with the brand during the development and positioning phase, built the tools and trained the team. And, while building a brand is relatively easy, the hard part is client adoption of the system.


Project Info
Role: Brand Development, Creative Direction, Photography, Systems Design, Interactive Design.
Project: Building a brand is relatively easy, the hard part is client adoption of the system.
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