The One-Day Focusing Strategy Session.


While the ultimate objective of a Ries & Ries consulting program is to develop a visual hammer, verbal nail and battlecry for your brand, that’s not the place to start.

Almost every brand is too broad in scope to lend itself to a visual. Most brands have too many features, too many benefits and appeal to too many market segments.

How can you develop a visual hammer for a brand like Chevrolet which has 18 different models, including sedans, trucks, SUVs and sports cars?

You can’t. You first need to focus the brand.

First you need to focus.


Most marketing consultants have no coherent strategy themselves. They are perfectly willing to tell you what to do, but they seldom take their own advice. We do.

Our approach is called “Focus,” the subject of a book we wrote 20 years ago.

We call ourselves “focusing consultants” and we help clients build or refocus their companies around a singular idea. If you study successful companies in the past, that’s exactly what they did.

Dell . . . . . .  Computers sold direct to business.
Zappos . . . Free shipping. Both ways.
FedEx . . . . Overnight delivery.

One-day Session.

Why does Ries & Ries conduct one-day sessions when most marketing consultants work on a 30-day or 60-day cycle?

Most companies don’t need a consultant to generate a lot of facts, opinions, ideas and concepts, all packaged in an expensive binder.

Most companies already have more information than any one person can absorb.

That’s exactly why we conduct one-day sessions. On a single day we can keep the group focused on a single issue. There’s not enough time to cover a lot of secondary problems.

Both Al Ries and Laura Ries will personally conduct the session. We also do international consulting assignments in partnership with affiliates in Germany, Austria, China, Mexico and Spain.


Every brand needs two names: A brand name and a category name. Marketing people often overlook the opportunity to create a new category. Yet many brands owe their success to this strategy.

Chobani . . . The first Greek yogurt.
Red Bull . . . The first energy drink.
Activia . . . .  The first probiotic yogurt.

In our book, “The Origin of Brands,” we explain how divergence is creating endless opportunities to create new categories. The first companies to launch new brands to exploit these new categories will likely become the long-time winners.

That’s what Apple has done with the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad.

Verbal nail.

Al Ries wrote “Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind,” the book that revolutionized the field of marketing. The concept: Own a word in the mind. In today’s overcommunicated society, that’s not nearly enough. Words are weak and don’t have the emotional power of visuals.

But this is the more important point. While the visual hammer is more powerful than the verbal nail, the place to start is with the verbal. Not the visual.

It’s like building a house. The hammer is just a tool. It’s the nails that hold the house together. It’s the verbal nail that holds the brand together. You need to determine what nail to use before selecting your visual hammer.

Visual hammer.

When you combine a verbal nail with a visual hammer, you can build a brand that can be exceptionally powerful. Some examples.

Marlboro, Masculine cigarette & the cowboy.
Coca-Cola, The real thing & the contour bottle.
Tropicana, Not from concentrate & the straw-in-the-orange.

Visual Hammer, a new book by Laura Ries, explains the 10 different ways to create a visual that can hammer your verbal concept.

Our philosophy is simple: never settle for just a verbal approach. Rather, try to find the right combination of a visual hammer and a verbal nail.


Every brand needs one more thing. The verbal nail needs to be converted into a memorable slogan as outlined in Laura Ries’ soon to be published book “Battlecry.” Some examples.

Ace Hardware: Ace is the place with the helpful hardware man.
M&Ms: Melts in your mouth, not in your hands.
BMW: The ultimate driving machine.

How do you convert an ordinary slogan into a memorable battlecry?

There are five techniques you could use: Rhyme, alliteration, repetition, reversals and double-entendre.

What else?

In addition to developing an overall visual/verbal strategy, our consulting sessions include discussions about executing the strategy.

For example, it’s usually a mistake to try to put a new idea into prospects’ minds with advertising. Advertising doesn’t have the credibility to do that. Rather, a company should use PR, or public relations, to establish the position. At some point in time the company can switch to advertising to maintain that position.

PR first, advertising second is what we recommend in our book, “The Fall of Advertising & the Rise of PR.”

But PR is just one of the ways to execute a new strategy.


Other recommendations.

There are many other ways to build strong brands. Packaging, trademarks, distribution, pricing, websites, social media. These and other issues will also be explored during the one-day consulting session.

Our branding philosophy is outlined in our book, “The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding.”

The book covers such issues as the use of second brands, the shape and color of logotypes, techniques for online branding and other issues often overlooked by marketing people.


Who should attend?

We suggest the entire top-management team (up to 8 or 10 people) attend the session. Every company has people who literally think differently, as explained in our book, “War in the Boardroom.”

There are right brainers (visual, intuitive, holistic) and there are left brainers (verbal, logical, analytical.) In other words, free thinkers and button-down practical types. Both types should attend the consulting session.

One of the purposes of a strategy session is to assure that everyone participates in developing the company’s visual/verbal strategy and that everyone enthusiastically supports the strategy that is developed.

If at the end of the day everyone doesn’t agree on the proposed strategy, then Ries & Ries will have failed in its duties.


Written report.

A week or so after the session is completed, Ries & Ries will send the client an eight to ten-page report summarizing the recommendations made at the consulting session.

In addition, at no additional charge, we are always available via phone or email to answer any questions you might have.


Review Client Cases.

Read how our process worked for these brands.

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What Others Say.

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