Building business amid a constant state of consumer change.

As a society we’ve become inundated with new and better ways to be our best selves. The pursuit of optimizing peak physical and psychological performance has become the ‘new normal.’

While the desire to be healthy isn’t new, the way consumers approach health and wellness has changed. Consumers are seeking out products with meaningful benefits that also assist with health issues.

Consumers want more than just hydration from their beverages and more than just nourishment from their food. They require products and brands to deliver specialized better-for-you advantages that meet their specific health and wellness needs.

More than a thirst.

27.2% of all beverages launched globally feature functional benefits.



Nutrisoda was facing increased competition in a market saturated with enhanced beverage options and a marketplace of skeptical consumers who were consistently abandoning traditional sodas for healthier options.


Nutrisoda had it all: the fun of soda combined with the benefit of nutrients. However, consumers were skeptical of the brand proposition and leery of a price point that was two times higher than traditional soda. Its packaging only compounded the problem—since Red Bull effectively owned the 8.4 oz. can, people assumed Nutrisoda to be an unhealthy energy drink. With all of these issues, plus a confusing brand hierarchy on its packaging, Nutrisoda was sending mixed branding messages that left consumers scratching their heads. Was this an enhanced beverage, a soda or something else entirely?


Align Nutrisoda’s smart concept with a strong executional strategy and revitalized brand identity.

  • Embrace identity as a soda by doing away with the 8.4 oz. can and package it in soda-like 12 oz cans.
  • Create a clear packaging hierarchy so that at a quick glance people would know Nutrisoda was a better-for-you soda.
  • Design elements of bubbles and colors on each can displayed the fun, fizz, and flavor that consumers look for in a soda, while allowing the unpainted aluminum to speak to the clean, modern and healthy beverage qualities.


  • Exceeded cases-sold-per-week-per-outlet goal by 900%.
  • Volume increase of 200% in one year.
When “Why” and “How” lead to the “What.”

Once reserved for those with food allergies, specialized diets have gone mainstream. Paleo. Gluten-free. Keto.

Consumer culture’s increased focus on personalization is motivating consumers to more closely monitor their health and wellness.

These personalized diet tribes seek out specific ingredients to avoid or include. While there certainly is some overlap, a one-size-fits-all approach is becoming an antiquated concept.

Today, the “why” and “how” behind the products have become as important as the product itself, and are becoming the primary decision-making criteria that drive brand preference and purchase.

Bard’s Beer


Formerly Bard’s Tale Dragon’s Gold, Bard’s Beer was the first gluten-free beer to use 100% malted sorghum to achieve traditional beer taste and aroma. Although they quickly became one of the top four players in this niche market, they began to see major competition from Anheuser-Busch. They had to quickly find a way to separate themselves from these interlopers while staying true to their craft origins.


Rebrand Bard’s so it spoke to the gluten-free enthusiast market without alienating the craft-beer drinker—those who will not compromise one iota on taste. Bard’s needed to speak to the beer drinker in all of us instead of the gluten-free beer drinker in some of us.


To position Bard’s as the gluten-free beer of choice and to get it into the consideration set of all beer drinkers, we leveraged the essence of Bard’s, which was that Bard’s was created out of a love for beer. Bard’s was created to protect everyone’s inalienable right to pull up a stool and drink a cold one with friends.

Bard’s hadn’t just given people a great beer; it had given them camaraderie. It had invited them back to the stool where they could “Discuss it over a Bard’s.” From posters to packaging and from a complete website redesign to the underside of every bottle cap, we gave Bard’s drinkers something to talk about. What does it take to be enshrined in the North Dakota Irony Hall of Fame? What exactly is the best course of action in the event of a zombie attack? These topics du jour reminded us that the best part of having a beer is having it with friends.


Within the first year, the new identity and campaign helped to increase: US and Canadian distribution by 13%; volume amongst new and existing accounts by 30%; and number of wholesaler accounts by 100%.



Dine in. Dash on.

The expansion of digital technology into at-home lifestyles, particularly mobile ordering and entertainment streaming, have changed how and where consumers eat their meals.

Because food tastes best when delivered as a hassle-free experience, and with eating at home becoming a new trend in convenience, brands have more opportunities to make “simple” their freshest ingredient.

Pre-made meals, meal kits and online grocery delivery services are on the rise for both active families and busy singles because they make eating at home easier. However, these types of meals and services also provide consumers with an emotional connection to cooking—a sense of pride and accomplishment—they don’t get when dining out.



Schwan’s Home Service has been delivering delicious, easy-to-prepare meals to people’s doorsteps for over 60 years. With over 6,000 Customer Service Managers across the country, they deliver hundreds of products to homes every two weeks.

However, Schwan’s Home Service was facing two challenges during this time:

  • They were operating as a transactional product versus a lifestyle solution and sales were starting to decline.
  • They had to convince skeptical customers that Schwan’s better-for-you line of products, LiveSmart, were just as affordable, easy-to-prepare and tasty as their other signature products.

Hunt Adkins recognized that we had to transition Schwan’s from a product-centric strategy to a people-centric one. We had to position the brand as more than just a box of frozen chicken tenders and show that Schwan’s was about convenience, enjoyment with family and time back we gave to moms. But before we could speak to moms, we had to align internal support and understanding of the true face of the brand—the Customer Service Manager. So first, we launched an internal campaign that focused on education and training of employees.

When it came to Schwan’s better-for-you line, we positioned LiveSmart as an extension of the familiar service moms had already grown to love and as an ally that brought harmony to her life and her family’s health.


  • Within the first two months, the sell-to-rate rose 2% after a steady 10-year decline.
  • Overall Home Service units purchased per buying occasion increased from 3.88 units to 4.0, or 4 million incremental units per year.
  • Ticket average grew by $0.43.
  • The number of new LiveSmart products grew quickly, contributing to the average sales increase of all new products by 13% in 12 months.

Total Monthly Consumer Meal Kit Spending

In 2017, in-store meal kits generated $154.6 million in sales, posting growth of more than 26% year-over-year. While a ways from center store edibles’ $374 billion, they continue to gain traction.

Distinct in a sea of sameness.

Sameness, not difference, seems to be the common denominator for many brands today. This is especially true within mature market segments, where the proverbial ‘sea of sameness’ runs rampant.

Based on this, it’s no surprise that research by Ehrenberg-Bass Institute tells us that brands are more substitutable than previously thought. In marketing, branding and life, differentiation is key.

The best strategy for standing out is to embrace the distinctive qualities of a brand. This means increasing the visibility of the brand in its competitive environment by championing the sharp corners and rough edges of what is enduringly different about the brand—and making it look even more like itself.


brand campaign

Pig’s Eye Pilsner is named after a one-eyed settler who made St. Paul history in the late 1830s by living in a cave along the Mississippi River and trading as a bootlegger. Like any good pirate, he was fond of eye patches and beer. The buzz generated by this new “pirate” pilsner led to strong initial sales—but then the fad abruptly ended due to lack of promotional support.

Our first thought was to change the hideous packaging; however, subsequent research showed that people liked the brand precisely because it wasn’t slick—it was an honest, unpretentious beer. What followed was the unprecedented use of truth in advertising. Three months after this campaign’s introduction sales were up 37%. Elvis sightings were up 43%.

Different drives brand value.

Brands perceived to be both highly disruptive and different increased in brand value by 28%, whereas brands that were perceived as both low in disruption and differentiation decline by 5%.



ROHOL means “crude oil” in German. It’s certainly not for the faint of heart or the weak of taste bud. In order to gain distribution in a massively crowded market against competitors, we had to position ROHOL as the dominatrix of liqueurs.

We built intrigue by making Rohol an industrial product that was being churned out in giant, smoke-belching German factories and imported through a pipeline to be packaged in metal drums. Distributors were certainly intrigued—during their initial foray into one state our client expected to sell-in 30 cases; they ended up with orders for 300.

Distinctive assets amplify ad recognition.

Advertising featuring known distinctive brand assets achieve an average +34% higher advertising recognition.