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January 10, 2023

Confessions of a Brandaholic

This is a guest blog post by Elevate Marketing Advisors Doug Parker, FSMPS, CPSM & Jen Newman, FSMPS, CPSM. Jen will be the moderator for the upcoming ACEC Business Development & Marketing Forum.

What’s the secret to building a great brand? For years, building “authentic brands” has been on trend. If you Google “authentic brands” today, you’ll hit hundreds of articles focused on authenticity – defined as “not false or copied; genuine and real.” Now don’t get me wrong, that’s good stuff! Authenticity is incredibly important. But isn’t that (or shouldn’t that be) obvious? Like maybe “don’t lie about who you are” shouldn’t be the north star for creating your brand and representing who you are to the world. Authenticity in a brand is just the beginning.

Brand building is much, much more than just authenticity. One of the greatest brand-building influencers we know and collaborate with is Savage Brands, a 40+-year-old firm in Houston, TX. Our good friends and two of the smartest, most passionate people we know – Jackie Dryden and Bethany Andell – co-authored a book titled, Get Your Head Out of Your Bottom Line and Build Your Brand on Purpose that is focused on – yep, you guessed it, purposeful brands.

Branding experts Dryden and Andell state, “we know from experience that great brands are built from the inside out. They are much bigger than logos and slogans. Everything a company says and does contributes to the building of its brand. Because of this, the actions and attitudes of employees are central to the brand experience. For many companies, especially service companies, you could argue that your people are your brand. When your people come together around one meaningful purpose, you can’t be stopped.” BINGO!

When companies “shift from a bottom-line focus to a purpose-led philosophy” transformation occurs. When you clearly define and share your purpose (which is step one in building mission, vision, core values, and behaviors): 

  • you’re able to identify real differentiators that set you apart in the way and why you do what you do rather than just what you deliver (mission)
  • your people feel a sense of connection with something greater than the firm’s billable services (vision)
  • culture comes to life as your people live the principles (core values) established by firm leadership and are held accountable to behave and interact (behaviors) in line with those values both internally and externally

When leaders invest in building a purposeful firm, business grows, retention rates go up, recruiting strategies secure candidates who align with firm culture (and often seek you out), and so much more.  Your authentic brand becomes a true representation of all that is you and serves as your greatest differentiator. Because in the end, there is no other firm – or brand – in the world that is uniquely you.



Tamarack Grove Engineering
Tamarack Grove Engineering (TGE) developed a new corporate identity to modernize its brand while emphasizing core differentiators to stand out in the industry. The updated brand reflects TGE’s strong culture and foundation while bringing in new elements evocative of their values which are focused on a client-centered approach, built on a core of valued team members, and geared toward a partnership with clients and solving their most difficult challenges. Messaging reflects TGE’s mission/vision/core values while capturing team members’ sense of adventure. 

CORE began its business as a trusted civil engineer for land development projects. Over the years, the firm added additional services and markets and differentiated through a unique and employee-focused culture with multiple “Best Places to Work” awards from national and local media outlets. Through refinement of its purpose, mission, vision, values, and behaviors CORE arrived at an evolved brand better representing its markets, services, and culture. Primary goals included capturing CORE’s unique and employee-focused culture, representing all of CORE’s markets and services, and differentiating CORE from competitors. 










All comments to blog posts will be moderated by ACEC staff.


January 10, 2023



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