This summer, BrewLife celebrated the successful completion of its first hospitality engagement with the grand opening of Hotel Zephyr, a one-of-a-kind hotel property in San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf. BrewLife collaborated with Zephyr’s management organization, Davidson Hotels & Resorts, for a little over a year to create this fresh, irreverent and standout hospitality brand.

BrewLife kicked off our engagement by using our proprietary social analytics to understand the interests and behaviors of both visitors to San Francisco as well as global travelers who have indicated a preference for visiting boutique hotels. Results from this analysis helped shape customer personas as well as key elements of the brand and guest experience.

Identity design came next, with our talented designers creating a playful and colorful logo for the property that both represents the hotel’s cargo ship design narrative and its centerpiece amenity, “The Yard, ” a 10,000 square foot adult playground. Your standard hotel logo this is not.

Zephyr Logo

With our baseline look and feel established, BrewLife moved on to creative campaign development. Also diverting from the usual, the property’s launch creative campaign, entitled “Twisted”, challenges preconceptions about what constitutes an upscale hotel stay through hotel scenes and characters that have surprising twists related to the Zephyr story. From a bellhop with a fishtail sticking out of a suitcase to a prim and proper maid with a raucous sailor tattoo on her arm, it’s apparent that things at Hotel Zephyr are just a bit different. The creative campaign has made an appearance on Hotel Zephyr’s website and across collateral.

In the months leading up to the hotel’s launch, BrewLife’s PR team worked to raise awareness of the property, engaging national and local travel journalists and influencers through press releases and trend pitches. At project wrap-up, our team had secured over 50 placements, including features in the digital or print editions of Travel+Leisure, The Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Business Times and Hotel Chatter. These placements garnered a cumulative 45 million media impressions.

At BrewLife we often talk about the fact that our clients outside the healthcare space provide a fertile experimentation ground that allows us to explore tactics and technologies that might be a few years away from mass adoption by our biotech, medical device and digital health clients. Hotel Zephyr has certainly been one of those projects.

Visiting San Francisco sometime soon? Book a room at the Hotel Zephyr at

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A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of visiting a few BrewLife clients who were exhibiting at the American College of Gynecologists and Obstetrics (ACOG) conference, one of the largest conferences for women’s health professionals.

Acessa TMWhile at ACOG, I caught up with Halt Medical, the company behind the Acessa Procedure, a safe, effective and minimally invasive procedure that’s seeking to replace hysterectomy as the standard of care for fibroid treatment. Many women prefer to avoid hysterectomy because it’s a significant surgery with long recovery times and a track record of post-procedure complications.

BrewLife began workiAcessa1ng with Halt Medical over a year ago to ready the Acessa brand for a two-market test campaign focused on raising awareness of the procedure among women with uterine fibroids. This included developing strategic positioning and messaging, a creative campaign, a new website, and marketing collateral in both digital and print formats.

Starting at the beginning of 2015, BrewLife’s “A Woman’s Story” campaign has rolled out across a variety of marketing channels in the two markets, and despite the campaign’s young age, there has already been an uptick in the number of procedures being performed.

“A Woman’s Story” highlights the physical and emotional toll that fibroid symptoms, and the decision to seek treatment, take on women. Told through the first person, “A Women’s Story” focuses on a particular woman, her struggle living with a specific fibroid symptom and the positive impact Acessa has had on her quality of life post-treatment. The friendly and empathetic tone, colorful infographic style and use of stylish avatars instead of generic stock photography sets Acessa apart from any other campaign currently in the market in this therapeutic area.

Acessa2The campaign rollout encompassed an integrated array of tactical components including:

  • Website Development
  • Testimonial Videos
  • Patient Directed Materials
    • Print Advertisements
    • Digital Advertising
    • Social Media
    • Print Marketing Collateral
  • Physician Directed Materials
    • Print Advertising
    • Print Marketing Collateral
    • Trade Show Graphics
    • Practice Development Materials

At ACOG, I was proud to be associated with clients doing such important and innovative work in women’s health and to see our marketing materials drawing a crowd to Halt’s busy booth.

In addition, the Acessa Procedure was recently featured on The Doctors, to learn more about the procedure, click here.

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In the one second that passed while I was writing this blog post, there were 100,181 YouTube videos viewed, 2,045 Instagram photos uploaded and 9,109 Tweets. Whether we like it or not, we are constantly bombarded by all types of media and the fight for attention will continue to increase as digital technology enables our 24/7 consumption of content.

Standing out is hard, but building trust is harder.

Rising above the crowd is a tough order today. Marketing by interruption only gets you a few seconds of attention and if there is nothing relevant at that exact moment to engage your audience, you can be sure they have probably already moved on to something else. The fallout from a failed interruptive marketing execution is that the technique starts to get a bad reputation. Just like how I can’t wait to click away any banners that takeover my screen (Where is that clickable X?).

What does this mean for companies? For non-profit organizations? For us personally?

It means that if you are trying to influence anyone, sell anything, or say anything at all, it has to be relevant to your target audience. The message has to be delivered at the right time and be educational or entertaining, or better yet both. To build long-term relationships, your audience needs to trust you and in this world of social media, there is no escape.

You cannot run and you cannot hide in today’s marketplace.

Organizations are made up of people and people leave digital footprints whether we like it or not. Today more than ever, customers interact with companies and organizations at so many levels there is really no desk to hide behind. In fact, the prevailing strategy that seems so obvious but becomes so scary for most is to embrace transparency and utilize it to build your reputation. As Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz stated, “The currency of leadership is transparency”. How companies choose to use this currency determines the fate of their brand.

We need to seek permission through continuous authenticity.

To seek permission from your audience is to establish trust in your relationship. Seth Godin coined the term “permission marketing” years ago, but the concept is more relevant now than ever. He proposed that “Permission marketing turns strangers into friends and friends into loyal customers.” This idea rings true in the newfound popularity of content marketing and is also the core to Gary Vaynerchuk’s book on social media marketing titled “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook”. Establish trust through a stream of relevant content before you offer up a product or service.

Authenticity begins by looking within.

Prophetic, isn’t it? But how do you gain permission by building trust? How do you know what to say? How do you avoid your audience sniffing out your misalignment? You need to start from the core. Branding. Branding is not an icon, it’s not a font, and it’s not a website. It’s the culmination of every touch point between your organization and your audience. And these touch points expose who you truly are. That’s the essence of your brand.

Don’t leave your brand to chance by letting your audience tell you (and others) who you really are through ruthless reviews or buying decisions. Instead, embark on a brand insights process to methodically architect your touch points. Even if your brand is not in your hands, developing a brand strategy is more predictable and infinitely smarter.

Ultimately, a brand needs to align externally.

A winning brand sells more products, services, and ideas. Nothing matters if the brand essence does not translate to a brand promise that is relevant to your audience. Delivering upon that promise every single day is what makes a strong and trusted brand.

Below is a typical process that reveals, builds, and protects your brand. It is comprised of three phases: Self-Discovery, Internal and External Alignment, and Interface Architecture. Some guiding questions are provided to kick start your creative juices.

(1) Self-Discovery

  • Who are you?
  • Why do you do what you do?
  • How are you different?

(2) Internal and External Alignment

  • What is the best way for you to be presented to your target audience?
  • What will you look like?
  • What would you say?
  • How will you say it?

(3) Interface Architecture

  • When are all the times you will interface with your audience?
  • What are the assets, capabilities and systems needed to consistently reflect your brand?
    • Assets
      • What content or materials do you need?
      • What channels will you use?
    • Capabilities
      • What competencies do you need to tell your story over and over?
      • What tools will you need to optimize the experience?
    • Systems
      • How will you measure your success?
      • What processes do you need to automate a consistent experience?
      • How will you incentivize a culture to support your brand?

The next time you find yourself loving a brand, you will instantly understand that it is no coincidence. Each and every touch point is painstakingly orchestrated for you to feel that way. Now the questions is: Is your brand worth caring for?

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Idenix discovers and develops drugs for the treatment of human viral diseases. BrewLife worked with Idenix over the past 6 months to energize the company’s brand as it pushes forward with the clinical development of its HCV drug therapy. This included braving a Boston snowstorm to conduct a brand workshop in mid-December, developing strategic positioning, a new logo, refreshed corporate identity, creative campaign, a new website and their annual report.

Idenix logoThe “X” in the logo Trevor designed with the orange diamond in the center was designed to reflect the targeted nature of the company’s drug delivery capabilities and was then used as an iconic graphic design element across the identity system and all marketing materials.

Idenix Annual Report We officially debuted the brand with the launch of the website in April. A mere two months later, Merck decided to acquire Idenix with the transaction expected to be completed later this month. Coincidence? We think not.

Today we received a package of Idenix goodies, including the annual report and lots of fun schwag. Margot and Ben showed some of it off for the camera before all-out Frisbee war erupted.

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BrewLife’s “Together ForEVAR” campaign for Aptus Endosystems received 2nd Place in its category (Healthcare Campaign, Less Than $100 Million).


But the true star of the night may have been Tom Haan, BrewLife’s managing director, who accepted the awards with a haiku each time. Every time he took the stage, the crowd roared for more… “Haiku! Haiku! Haiku!

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Aptus_corp_logoAptus Endosystems is a medical device company that is pioneering solutions to enhance endovascular aneurysm repair (EVAR). The company’s flagship product, Heli-FX, delivers a set of helical screws to anchor the endograft to the aorta to prevent endoleaks and graft migration.

Aptus printBrewLife was brought in to refresh the corporate identity, solidify the product brand positioning, and develop a creative campaign to highlight the product’s value proposition.

Our “Together ForEVAR” campaign debuted at the VEITH Symposium in November 2013 and was well received by physicians.

“Together ForEVAR” leverages a play on the classic phrase, “Together Forever” to highlight the long-term durability that Aptus EndoAnchors provide by locking the endograft to the aorta in EVAR (endovascular aneurysm repair). It also suggests the combination of forces coming together: EndoAnchors and physicians, EndoAnchors and endografts.

 The campaign rollout encompassed an integrated array of tactical components, including:

  • Website Development and Digital Promotions
  • Social Media Properties
  • Print Advertisement
  • Trade Show Graphics
  • Print Marketing Collateral
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We are happy to announce that our client Benvenue Medical has received FDA clearance for their Kiva® VCF Treatment System. This novel implant-based solution is the first new approach to treating vertebral compression fractures (VCF) in over a decade—in clinical studies the Kiva System was shown to meet or exceed the performance of balloon kyphoplasty (the current standard of care for VCF).

Robert_WeigleWe are excited to bring the Kiva System and its clinical benefits to the large and growing population of VCF patients in the US market,” said Robert K. Weigle, CEO of Benvenue Medical, Inc. “The VCF segment has little Level I clinical data, and we are proud to have sponsored one of the largest randomized studies in this space to date.”

BrewLife recently redesigned Benvenue’s corporate identity, including logo, developed brand positioning for Kiva, and is currently hard at work translating that positioning into creative executions for packaging, website, sales materials and more. Although today, we’re mainly just celebrating their 510(k) clearance.

Well done, Benvenue team!

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Interview In Progress Sign

Job-Interview-Tips-and-adviceI moved to San Francisco in July 2011 searching for an advertising job in account and brand strategy, and reached out to hundreds of brand strategists for informational interviews. A month later, I took part in an informational interview with BrewLife’s very own Managing Director, Tom Haan—at that time, a Brand Strategist with WCG, another W2O Group company. The interview that I had with Tom was eye opening. He spoke about his philosophy of loving the work that you do so much that you no longer see it as a job. In his words, “You don’t want to go into work on Monday wishing it was Friday.” As someone who shared these musings in a blog himself, Tom especially liked my writings about “How Not to Get a Job in Advertising.” I sent a thank you email after the meeting and continued my search, eventually landing at Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners.

Informational interviews may not seem to be directly tied to employment opportunities in the short-term but you never know where they can lead; which, is exactly what happened with Tom. In October 2012, more than a year after our informational interview, Tom emailed and asked if I would be interested in working for a new W2O Group company as an Account Associate. At first glance, I was not sure BrewLife was for me. I did not have extensive experience in the medical device/biotech space; my experience was mostly consumer. When I expressed this to Tom, he asked that I come in and simply meet the team. And I agreed. 

While interviewing with more and more Brew members, I began to realize how smart and fun this group of people are. They work hard and are very passionate about what they do. They offered me the job and it was an opportunity I could not pass up. 

While my background is not in healthcare or biotech, I’m finding these clients both more interesting, and far more impactful than others that I’ve worked with. Our clients are developing technologies and tests that are saving and improving lives every day. At the end of every day, I feel amazing about the work that I’ve accomplished.

Since joining Brew about eight months ago, the team has grown and excelled in all areas for our clients. We are building a team that compliments each other, supports one another, and allows everyone to grow. And while everyone is so  determined and driven, we are nothing without each other. As Kim Kraemer puts it, “Individually, we are good. Together, we are great.”

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BrewLife Video: Susan Parker

Get our take on what BrewLife brings to the table and why we’re all so passionate about working here.


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