Crash Course: Building Your Brand in One Day
Distility works to harness the power of groups to solve their problems and unscramble the
branding puzzle, according to Davids.
At a young age and barely out of college, Davids was tapped for a digital skill set that company
veterans lacked and entrusted with building websites as a creative director for companies like
Disney, Hearst, and Lands’ End amid the early days of the internet revolution. “A client would
say, ‘We need this product by Christmas—you’ve got five months to make it’; I had to develop
techniques to get my team and the client’s team aligned in a very short time,” he recalls.
In a nod to necessity being the mother of invention, Davids intuited his father’s work as a
psychiatrist and his mother’s work as an artist, “bringing psychology and art to bear on
[the process],” he explains. The process developed into one-day workshops that are the key
element of Distility, which Davids established in 2001.
Rather than a branding firm telling a client who they are, Distility instead extracts that definition
from each client through guided workshops, which runs counter to how the process typically
works, notes Davids. In the usual scenario, “branding agencies and consultants will say, ‘We want
to meet with you, interview you, and we’ll go away and think about who you are.’” Months later,
a 30- to 40-page document prescribes “here’s who you should be, here’s your brand promise and
your personality, these are your top features and benefits.” For the most part, the process “doesn’t
stick,” as companies “need to have an awareness of what these [concepts] mean in depth. You
wouldn’t work with a therapist that way,” Davids says.
In contrast, the firm subscribes to the belief that the answer is within you.
Distility’s philosophy is to get executives not to “buy into” ideas, but to “build in to them
via roundtable brainstorming sessions to get at the essence of what their brand is about.”
Interviews with a client’s team are the raw material of its workshops. Distility draws from those
key insights with the client team to nail down and flesh out a brand’s DNA.
During the workshops, the Distility and client teams home in on a sustainable brand promise,
personality, and key attributes, fine-tuning the focus with questions like “which brand promise
are you more passionate about delivering?” During that process, Davids might say to a client
group, “Here’s 50 brand promises you came up with. Let’s look at them—pick your top
five points of difference.” The result is that “we get them in one day to a point of consensus.”