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A Brand Consulting Offer For GM


Brand Strategy Consulting

It’s a new day at General Motors. Fresh out of bankruptcy the company is moving to restore its leadership role with the spirit that fostered pride and ingenuity for more than a century. The Blake Project, the brand consultancy behind Branding Strategy Insider wants to help this American Icon strengthen its brands for the road ahead. So to Fritz Henderson, Bob Lutz and other respected GM executives here is our sincere offer:

A day together to share insights, ideas and expertise free of charge outside of economy travel expenses. (A 100k value) We will structure the day based on your needs and will share specific recommendations. I’m proud to say my team is ready, well respected and well suited to assist you in building a future of success.

Jack Trout – World Class Brand Consultant, originator of the Positioning concept.
Brad VanAuken – World Class Brand Consultant, led Hallmark to emotional branding success.
Mark Ritson – World Class Brand Consultant, Educator at MIT, London Business School and other respected institutions.

Please see their full bio’s below. This offer can be accepted confidentially at my address or openly here on Branding Strategy Insider.

Here’s to reinvention for a stronger GM.

Derrick Daye
Managing Partner

The Blake Project Team:

Jack Trout
Jack is the acclaimed author of many marketing classics including: Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind, The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing, Differentiate or Die, Big Brands. Big Trouble, A Genie’s Wisdom, Trout on Strategy and others. He co-authors the popular branding blog Branding Strategy Insider.

As a consultant he has guided such companies as AT&T, IBM, Burger King, Merrill Lynch, Xerox, Merck, Lotus, Ericsson, Tetra Pak, Repsol, Hewlett-Packard, Procter & Gamble, Southwest Airlines and several other Fortune 500 companies. Recently, he consulted with the U.S. State Department on how to better sell America.

Recognized as one the world’s foremost marketing strategists, Jack is the originator of Positioning and other important concepts in marketing strategy. He has over 40 years of experience in advertising and marketing and is a boardroom advisor to some of the world’s largest corporations. Jack has gained an international reputation as a consultant, writer, speaker, and proponent of leading-edge marketing strategies.

Brad VanAuken
Brad is The Blake Project’s chief brand strategist. He brings an un-equalled level of expertise in branding to his clients, leading them in the collaborative discovery process that results in strong brands. Brad gained his experience as director of brand management and marketing for Hallmark Cards, Inc. and as vice president of marketing for Element K, a leading e-learning company.

During his tenure as Hallmark’s chief brand advocate, Hallmark rose to 4th in the EquiTrend national quality brand ranking and received the Brand Management of the Year award. At Element K, he moved the brand from relative obscurity in a highly fragmented market to one of the top 10 e-learning brands in the world in less than two years.

Brad’s clients range from Fortune 100 and start-up companies to not-for-profit organizations and municipalities. He has helped position Bangkok, Thailand as a global fashion capital and The Nature Conservancy as the answer for saving the last great places on earth to name a few.

Recognized as one of the world’s foremost experts on brand management and marketing, Brad is a much sought after speaker, writer and consultant. A keynote speaker at some 20 major conferences a year, he writes extensively for the business press and academic journals and is regularly quoted in trade publications.

He has been a guest lecturer on marketing at Stanford University, Northwestern University, Vanderbilt University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, RIT, University of Rochester, University of Kansas and University of Missouri at Kansas City. In addition, he frequently conducts brand management and marketing workshops throughout the world, from Barcelona, Brussels, Milan, Moscow and Vienna to Almaty, Bangkok, Dubai, Kiev and Kuala Lumpur.

Brad has been the American Management Association’s featured speaker on measuring corporate brand value. He was a member of The Conference Board’s working group on Managing the Corporate Brand and APQC’s Brand Building & Communication Benchmarking Study sponsor group. He chaired the IIR Brand Masters conference and the IQPC conference on Internal Brand Building. He is a founding member of the World Class Branding Association.

He has authored two books on brand management: The Brand Management Checklist and the best selling book Brand Aid, the first comprehensive and practical, ‘how-to’ guide on building winning brands. He co-authors the popular branding blog Branding Strategy Insider and the Brand Management Newsletter.

Brad has a BS degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Mark Ritson
Mark has a Ph.D. in Marketing and has been a faculty member at some of the world’s leading business schools.  He has taught MBA courses in brand management at London Business School, MIT Sloan, the University of Minnesota and the University of Melbourne in Australia – where he is an Associate Professor of Marketing. He is an acclaimed MBA instructor having won the teaching prize at all three of his last schools: LBS (2002), MBS (2008, 2009), MIT (2009).

Mark has worked extensively as a consultant for some of the largest brands in the world. His clients include McKinsey, adidas, PepsiCo, Glaxo SmithKline, Eli Lilly, Johnson & Johnson, De Beers, Ericsson and WD40. For eight years he has also served as advisor and in-house professor for LVMH – the world’s largest luxury group – working with senior executives from brands like Louis Vuitton, Dom Perignon, Fendi, Tag Heuer, Dior and Hennessy. In a recent national survey in the UK he was voted one of the country’s most admired marketers.

An avid writer on branding, his prize winning thought pieces on the topic appear on Branding Strategy Insider and in London’s leading trade magazine, Marketing.  In 2009 he won Columnist of the Year in the British press awards, for his branding column. His more scholarly publications include articles published in Sloan Management Review, Harvard Business Review and the Journal of Consumer Research. Ritson won the 2000 Ferber Award, one of the most prestigious prizes in marketing, for his Ph.D dissertation on the social uses of advertising. His research on pricing was recently cited in the acceptance speech of the winner of the Nobel Prize for Economics.

The Blake Project Can Help: The Brand Positioning Workshop

Branding Strategy Insider is a service of The Blake Project: A strategic brand consultancy specializing in Brand Research, Brand Strategy, Brand Licensing and Brand Education

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Matt Daniels on July 24th, 2009 said

GM has had a revolving door of consultants recommending every brand strategy one can fathom. what would you recommend that these execs don’t already know and understand?

Derrick Daye on July 25th, 2009 said

Hi Matt,

Jack has some preliminary thoughts here:


It’s important to have some ideas based on what you know but not to assume anything. We don’t know what they already know and/or understand. The ‘Guru’ mindset is all assuming. Our approach is collaborative – it has to be to achieve the best results.

I see you work at Prophet. What would you recommend to GM?



Matt Daniels on July 26th, 2009 said

Hi Derrick,

Thanks for the response.

You’re right–I can’t assume that GM execs are all-knowing.

But it seems to me that in past 20 years, every type of consultant, from a brand-strategy firm to McKinsey has likely had a chance to re-invent GM.

People have pointed to lack of differentiation among their portfolio, but this was the consequence of many factors, particularly their dealership network and state laws prohibiting the elimination of a brand.

Now that GM is down to 4(?) brands, execs can focus more and remove operational redundancies. But in my opinion, I can’t possibly fathom what another brand-strategy project would do for GM. Will another segmentation and positioning report really make any difference to turn the company around before collapse?

With limited funding, I imagine that investing in tactical initiatives and product development will support GM far longer than a consulting gig to create differentiated “words” for each brand.

You mentioned being collaborative…could you clarify?

Brad VanAuken on July 27th, 2009 said

I agree with you, Matt. GM has used many consultants in the past and its problems extend well beyond branding. Tactical initiatives and product development will be key to their future success, but so will sound business strategies and intense, disciplined focus. We are offering one day of free brainpower on the topic – no more, no less. And we will be thinking far less about “differentiating ‘words’ for each brand” than we will about brand and marketing strategy as it relates to business model and strategy overall. If I were GM, I would take us up on the offer.

Lee Conn on July 28th, 2009 said

Derrick, great offer to GM. Tell you what, our company, Motus Motorcycles would love to take you up on your generous offer. GM has made our concept possible because we have leveraged the collapse of the US auto industry to help us build the first American sport touring motorcycle. We have retained Tier 1 R&D companies to do our development and dramatically subsidize the costs. This would have been impossible 5 years ago, but strange times make strange bedfellows… Beside developing a next-generation eco friendly sport tourer, Motus is the antedote to the current malaise. We call it- the Comeback.

I’ll sweeten the deal even more, though, How about we even come to you for a 1/2 day review of our marketing/ branding strategy?

Remiss not to ask,

Lee Conn
Motus Motorcycles

Matt Gassen on July 28th, 2009 said

Mr. Daye:

I read with great enthusiasm of your firm’s offer to GM. I have also made a similar public offer and believe that perhaps we could work together.

Will you need any assistance/input?

Thank you,

Matthew W. Gassen & Company
Sustainability Refined

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