QOTW: What brands do you admire most?

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The Breakwater team closes each Monday all-staff meeting with a “Question of the Week” to get the creative juices flowing. QOTWs are posed by team members on a rotating basis and range from prompts on current global issues to the most underrated Halloween candy to imaginary scenarios that call for outside-the-box thinking. Our answers help us get to know one another better and we thought it might do the same for you. We hope you enjoy these snippets and learn more about the people behind Breakwater Strategy.

What’s your answer?

Question of the Week:

We work for several brands and companies that are looking to define their brand voice and industry positioning. Thinking broadly, do you have a brand or company that you admire most? What do you admire about them and why? Any rationale is welcome – be it high-quality products, their voice or ethos in marketing and external communications, or their position on social issues or industry trends.

Amy Benziger, Vice President

Airbnb: I think Airbnb has done an incredible job of authentically promoting and positioning their social impact into their brand positioning and through their CEO’s public profile. The work that Airbnb.org does opening homes in times of crisis showcases how hosts, guests and the Airbnb team all work together to leverage the product in service of a greater good. Chesky has carved out a public image speaking to the power of the platform to drive revenue for hosts and provide ways to help those in need, while never shying away from addressing the vulnerabilities and arguments against the platform. The brand feels honest and genuine in the work it’s trying to do and the work it knows it has yet to accomplish in the world. 

Anurag Andra, Associate Director

HBO: I’m going to have to go with HBO on this one. Year after year, and seemingly every month now, they release original programming whose writing, directing and acting seems to stand far ahead of original content put out by streaming competitors like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and more, definitely surpassing the vast majority of cable programming. As a huge fan of slightly older originals like The Wire and The Sopranos, I’ve been so impressed with how much incredible storytelling HBO has been able to consistently produce over the last decade or so: Game of Thrones (hey, it had 6 great seasons, okay?), Band of Brothers, Boardwalk Empire, The Night Of and so much more (by the way, that’s not even mentioning comedic greats like Curb Your Enthusiasm)Does this mean I only watch HBO content? Of course not. I’m not some elitist. But this network is where I go when I’m looking to watch something high quality and don’t want to question whether I’ll get it. 

Andrew Ritter, Associate

Pete and Gerry’s Organics: What do “cage-free,” “free range,” or “all-natural” on egg carton labels signify? Contrary to popular belief, these terms have no agreed-upon definition or requirements, allowing commercial egg producers to disguise abhorrent factory farming practices behind eye-catching buzzwords. Pete and Gerry’s Organics, on the other hand, proudly displays on their packaging the Certified Humane Free Range seal that indicates, based on a thorough inspection by an independent third party, all of their egg-lay hens have access to fresh, pure water whenever they want it; nutritious and organic, quality feed, free of antibiotics or growth hormones; clean and spacious well-ventilated barns; and, free range, organically grown pasture. Next time you purchase a carton of eggs, make sure it’s Pete and Gerry’s.

Fiyin Akinyede, Intern

Ben & Jerry’s: Not only is Ben and Jerry’s the company behind some of my all-time favorite ice cream flavors, but they are also a brand with a reputation for taking a politicized stand on many different issues. I admire Ben and Jerry’s for authentically making activism and advocacy a part of their brand and ethos, and for not shying away from pressing political issues in the hopes of keeping their image light and fun. It’s a smart marketing ploy, which evidence shows that consumers respond well to. More than that, it’s a reminder to speak up for what you believe in, even when it feels like you don’t have to.

Haley Prince, Intern

Starbucks: This answer might solidify the fact that I am a pretty basic 22-year-old, but I admire Starbucks. In a world as chaotic as the one I have experienced, I crave the consistency and nostalgia Starbucks offers. It is universal. No matter what state or country I end up in, there is a decent chance I can find a Starbucks. Admittedly, this may come across as a pro-gentrification stance unintentionally. I also admire the health and education benefits offered to employees. They offer impressive maternity leave benefits that extend to cases of adoption/fostering as well as childcare support. Additionally, unlike many cooperations, they are willing to sacrifice profit to preserve ethics. Recently, they suspended all business in Russia to protest their Ukraine invasion. Overall, I think they have quality products, marketing, and values. I am not saying Starbucks is perfect by any means, but I am saying the baristas at my local Starbucks know my name and order. 

Shahan Shahid Nawaz, Data Fellow

Moment: Smartphone lens and accessory maker, Moment, is one of my favorite brands. Their ethos—of democratizing creativity, in the form of video-based content—shines through not just in the products they make but also in how they market it. Today’s smartphones carry staggeringly powerful tech which reduces the barrier to entry to creative expression be it music production, drawing, or filmmaking. Though Moment’s core offering, of lens attachments, was superseded my smartphone manufacturers adding multiple lens to phones, it has been interesting to watch the brand argue, and show, why there continues to be a place for them (e.g., one of their products, the Anarmorphic Lens, offers a unique, cinema-like aspect ratio as well as a lens flare effect which filmmakers use to accentuate drama). Their YouTube channel which serves as a natural outlet for Moment to demonstrate how their products work is very interesting to follow not just for how well-crafted the content is but also because it “shows” what the brand preaches: a smartphone with Moment’s tech is a highly capable, production-grade piece of equipment which doesn’t cost a fortune.