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  • sallydavidson1

CAI, New York



Hmmm, where does this go?

I think of the process of defining a point for a brand is a little like exploring a city.

The only way to know if you are heading up a blind alley is go and have a look – you could end with a brick wall, or maybe you’ll find yourself in a pretty little park with a burbling fountain, a bench to sit on and the sun to warm your face. And the only way to know if an idea has the potential to lead somewhere is to play it out, think it through, test it with the work you have done so far or share it with colleagues.

Once ideas start to coalesce you can explore different options to express the point of the brand – some will work, some will not. That’s OK because to develop a brand strategy is a process of exploration - better to do it in the strategic phase rather than when you are in the throes of designing a new brand identity, developing a marketing campaign or writing a press release.

I went for a bit of an explore in New York a few years ago with Barbara Cicatelli who had founded Cicatelli Associates Incorporated, known as CAI. Founded in 1979,CAI is a pioneer in designing and delivering training to health and social service providers to better support marginalised members of society. Its focus is very much on using the transformative power of education and research to foster a more aware, healthy, compassionate world.

Barbara was at the time thinking of how to transition the brand from an emphasis on her to one that focused more on the benefits her team delivered. During the brand strategy process we kept coming back to the fact that their focus on transformation was in effect a focus on change, and especially their commitment to equip and inspire others to make that change through its training programs.

But here’s the rub. Although well known in their sector, the name CAI did not speak to the exciting idea at the centre of their organization; it did nothing to communicate the point of their brand, or at least provide a useful stepping-stone to deliver their point. But we were stuck with those initials and just had to make them work.

So that’s when we started to explore and found ourselves looking down an alley whose name began with the letter C. C for CAI. And C for Change. Hmmm. How about we change what the initials stand for? From Cicatelli Associates Incorporated to something that lets people know what Barbara and her team deliver – to make the door to their services as wide as possible, to capture the point of their business in the name of the brand.

OK, so we have Change – the positioning of the organisation – as the first word, but what about their need to equip and inspire others through their training programs? What a minute – Inspiration, that takes care of the initial I. Yoke the two words together and you come to CAI: Change and Inspiration.

This repurposing of the name allowed Barbara and her team to capture the essence of the organization in three words that would always appear with their initials and provide a fresh and exciting way of coupling their name to their mission. And, of course, in doing so we delivered the point of their brand.

If you want to explore how brand strategy can help you find your own brand’s point, why not join me for a complimentary 2 hour taster workshop, you can find the details here.

I founded the specialist brand strategy practice The Brand Arrow® in 2009 and have delivered over 120 assignments in Europe and North America in a variety of sectors across B2B and B2C.

In 2019 my brand strategy book,Whats Your Point?’ was published containing the proprietary Brand Arrow® framework, winning silver at the US Business Book Awards - you can buy it at Amazon.

I regularly speak at conferences, business schools and facilitate workshops. As well as that, I’m an accredited Vistage CEO network speaker and a Course Director for the Chartered Institute of Marketing.





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