At FiveFifty, we’re always on the lookout for industry trendsetters in the marketing and advertising world. Today, we’re introducing you to Brigette Schabdach, who founded Spin Creative Studio in Breckenridge, Colorado circa 1995. They are a niche design shop, specializing in high-end branding, marketing strategy and creative design. Here, Brigette discusses things that make Spin unique and where they are headed in the future:
FiveFifty – Your approach to branding philosophy is based on “archetypes” using organizational and team culture indicators. Can you tell me a little bit about that and how you got to it?
Brigette – Sure, yeah. It’s a psychology approach, so it’s based on the psychographics of the clients, but then also how it relates to the consumer, the customer. I guess it was about 10 years ago, I went through a certification, several of us at the agency went through a certification process. Years ago a psychologist therapist by the name of Carol Pearson and then her partner Margaret Meese, who was a partner at Young and Rubicam in Chicago, took the Jungian theory (he was a psychologist who studied Freudian psychology with the theory of why people relate to or have a relationship with things, or spaces, or products) and applied it to companies and brands. So some of the top brands like Nike, Apple, and Gala Wines have gone through this exact same process. It’s basically a process to tap into your core archetypes, and archetypes are what is innate in us as individuals. They’ve taken that whole idea and applied it to a company. So this process is a certified process that you take a company through that identifies their top three core archetypes. Then you build branding, strategies and positioning off of those core archetypes. The reason you do it is because it’s truly what’s innate with the company, it’s not something that they make up. So for instance, Nike. When they went through this process, they actually developed their name off their core archetype…a hero. That’s what they were about and they built their culture off of that. They identified their culture through that as well. So when Nike recognized their top archetype, hero, thus the name Nike which is the Greek Goddess for heroism, that’s how their name came to be. Then they built all their branding and even, again, their culture, off of being a hero. They’re tagline “Just Do It” is very heroic. All their advertising has been built around being more than you think you possibly could be. It started out with just professional athletes and it’s now down in the mainstream, with women and women in sports, physically challenged industries, and just people. Their whole idea was built around their top archetype, which was being a hero or the hero within.
FiveFifty – That sounds awesome.
Brigette – Yeah, it’s great because we don’t guess, and neither does the company. We take them through this process and we blend it with a traditional SWOT analysis. They’re not guessing. They’re actually telling us exactly who they are and how they operate. Then we take all of that information, crystallize it into strategy plans to say, this is who you are, this is what your voice is, and this is actually how you can speak to the consumer. Then what happens is there are all kinds of like-minded people that are also heroes, so the consumer connects with the brand really easily. In other words, you’ve self-actualized your company. You’re very clear on who you are and what you have to offer. When you crystallize that and you put that messaging out there, it relates easily to all of those individuals who have that archetype. Then all of the other demographics or target groups who aren’t that way but want to be gravitate towards it. So it’s really based on the psychology behind an experience, and it just works really, really well.
FiveFifty – It sounds like, from an advertising/marketing perspective, what would come out of that would be something that would be perceived as very authentic.
Brigette – Absolutely. It’s a very innate, authentic process, and, seriously, an organization can’t even get around that. In the 10 years that we’ve been doing it, every time we take an organization through this process, they’re all just, like, “That’s it. That’s us.” Now, there’s typically, like I said, three archetypes. So we build their strategy and their brand position based on one that’s pure and then one that’s a blend of the other two. (Sometimes they’ll gravitate a little bit more from an operational standpoint or even a development standpoint with some of their second and third archetypes.) So it’s really interesting. We now also blend that with qualifying it through what’s called the “golden circle.” It’s a really powerful messaging strategy where you speak from the inside of your organization out; not the outside in. Most companies speak from the outside in, because it’s really a very simple way of starting to crystallize messaging, but highly successful, unique, standout companies speak from the inside out. Apple’s a really good example of that; they talk from the inside out. They talk about why they do what they do, not this is what we do and this is how we do it. They speak about why they do it, and then their last messaging is, “Oh, yeah. By the way, we sell computers.” But that’s not how they position themselves.
FiveFifty – So how does all of the philosophy and psychology impact the way that you position your company in the market place and how you talk to your clients?
Brigette – That’s a good question I think, because we are one of about only 15 agencies in the States that actually have this type of certification or process. Typically most agencies, when they’re identifying a position for their clients or their client’s products, they’re doing it through those traditional SWOT analyses – strength, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Which is great, and it’s a qualifier. But to go through this process, it really does identify what the core of either the organization or the product is. For us, it really helps us to stand out because we bring this whole other angle and this whole other depth to their communication and their strategies. Building strategies around knowing clearly who you are and what differentiates you as a client, when we tap into that as an agency it gives us so much insight into truly how to speak to their product or their product’s offering. It also allows us to educate the organization, the internal parts of the organization – really the brand ambassadors, because they get a very clear understanding of who they are and what they’re offering. So I think it really helps us stand out.
FiveFifty – That sounds great. You said you’ve been doing it for about 10 years. Has it been a big evolution over that 10 years, or has it kind of stayed sort of true to course on what works and what doesn’t work within that philosophy?
Brigette – No, it’s been staying true to course; I think it has been for years. The one piece that we’ve added in the last year or two is the “golden circle” philosophy and methodology (which is the speaking from the inside out, not the outside in) and that’s really added some huge value. Not only does it add value, but it really does confirm the approach that we have been taking is the right approach.
FiveFifty – Switching gears a little bit, your company started in Breckenridge, and then you guys moved about five-and-a-half years ago to Denver?
Brigette – Yes, we started in Breck almost 20 years ago. We were there for close to 15, and then when Vail Corporate, which is one of our signature foundation clients, moved their corporate offices from the Avon area to Broomfield, it made sense for us to have our core team right in their backyard.
FiveFifty – Yeah, that makes sense. Has the move to Denver impacted your business in any way?
Brigette – I would say it really hasn’t except that it’s allowed us to build from a different pool of talent. When we were living in Breckinridge, we were extremely fortunate. We had just an incredible national base of clients and we had a lot of luck getting people that were highly creative and sophisticated, that understood design, marketing, and advertising and that wanted to live in the mountains. The hard part was getting anybody to stay up there for more than three or four years. So I think probably the impact was it’s given us a bigger talent pool to consider. Again though, we had amazing talent when we were up in Breckinridge because everybody wanted to live there.
FiveFifty – Did you guys bring anybody down with you when you made the move?
Brigette – We did. We had about 30 people on staff, and when we moved to Denver I would say half of the team came down that had been there for two or three years. The other half of the team stayed in Summit; they had lived there for years and are still living there.
FiveFifty – Where do you see Spin at the end of the year or in a couple years? Do you have any big goals that you’re trying to achieve?
Brigette – Yeah, I think one of our biggest objectives over the next 12 to 24 months is to really grow our digital side of the agency; that’s across the board from strategy to media, to overall applications and implementation. I want to make our mark in Denver as being one of the top digital agencies that’s recognized nationally; that’s really my goal.
FiveFifty – That’s a big goal.
Brigette – It is a big goal. It’s a really big goal because there’s a lot of competition; really amazing competition. I’m hoping that as we grow, with the caliber of clients that we have and the unique brand position that we work with, we will bring all of our background in traditional marketing strategies and execution to the whole digital world. Not that we haven’t been doing it for the last five to eight years, we have, though not as aggressive as we should’ve been and that’s kind of where we are now.
FiveFifty – Are there any other aspects of Spin that are unique which I haven’t really touched on?
Brigette – I think the one part of Spin that a lot of people don’t know about is that we’ve been for years, mainly because it’s my drive and it’s my passion, supporting an alternative or complimentary health care center that was based in Breckinridge. It is now is being built in Glennwood Springs as an education center and though not open yet, we hope to have it fully opened in the next 24 months. It truly is possible because of all of what comes out of Spin. The center will support youth, youth education and creating leadership skills; it is a big passion of ours. So I think that when you work with Spin, whether you know it or not, it goes into supporting youth and youth education, which is really an interesting component.