Schwartz Launches Brand Management Practice
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Schwartz Launches Brand Management Practice

Gary Thompson is launching a new strategic brand management practice within Schwartz. The service is being targeted at companies that need assistance creating, defining and promoting their brands.

Paul Holmes

  SAN FRANCISCO, August 27—When Gary Thompson was president and chief reputation officer at Shandwick International, he was instrumental in designing that firm’s reputation management methodology and in establishing the Reputation Institute, a partnership between Shandwick and New York University professor Charles Fombrun.
 
When he joined high-technology specialist Schwartz Communications a year ago as co-manager of the Boston-based agency’s west coast office, it was not immediately clear whether he would be able to put his reputation management experience to good use. While Shandwick’s reputation practice had been designed to work with big blue-chip companies, Schwartz’s client list consisted primarily of start-ups and other small, entrepreneurial tech companies.
 
But now Thompson is launching a new strategic brand management practice within Schwartz. The service is being targeted at companies that need assistance creating, defining and promoting their brands.
 
“Our clients recognize that branding strategy must be integrated into overall corporate strategy to be effective,” says Steve Schwartz, president of Schwartz Communications. “Effective brand management can mean the difference between long-term success and failure. Gary brings years of experience and proven results to the practice.”
 
Thompson says the process is similar to the one he developed at Shandwick, although the nomenclature has changed. He cites research by former AT&T communications expert Bruce Jeffries-Fox—now executive vice president of Insight Farm, a PR research company—indicating that “what we in public relations call reputation, everybody else calls brand.”
 
Schwartz employs extensive internal and external brand and reputation audits to assess brand strengths and weaknesses, and in-depth messaging and positioning workshops with senior executives to develop and execute a strategy for communicating core values to stakeholders including current and potential customers, investors and employees.
 
He feels the process is particularly appropriate for technology companies. “For technology companies, the company itself is the brand, and that corporate brand must be clearly defined, communicated and managed,” he says. “We use innovative methods for brand management that allow a company to make its brand one of its most valuable and enduring assets.”
 
The process has a particular appeal for CEOs and marketing directors who have experience in larger corporations but who have chosen to work in a more entrepreneurial environment, Thompson says. They have enough experience to understand the value of a strong brand, but may not have the budget to spend with advertising agencies and others who often charge huge amounts of money to develop positioning and messaging. For many of these individuals, PR is the lead marketing discipline, and the place they turn for thinking on broader communications issues.
 
“The survivors in the tech industry are not those CEOs who didn’t even have a business plan, they’re the tried and tested executives who have been drawn to smaller companies by the opportunities they offer. They want to build their brands, but they don’t necessarily want to spend a lot of money,” Thompson says. “They’re the people who like this service.”
 
Among clients using the service already are Focal Point, Intershop, and Sanctum.
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