The Center for Retail Leadership

Portland State University’s Center for Retail Leadership offers students on campus access to some of the nation’s most exciting companies: Nike, Adidas, Stumptown Coffee, and the booming food and entrepreneurial scene in Portland, Oregon. But the center suffered from a story problem: the word “retail” conjures thoughts like, “worst job I ever had” or a “dead” industry, a la J.C. Penney and Sears. We applied the ALICE framework and created a new central narrative and brand for the center: “The Proving Ground,” a place where ideas come to life. The calls to action revolve around this concept: “Prove It,” which can be aimed at students in search of an internship, or industry leaders looking to recruit talent to companies that might otherwise be seen as bland. We are now working with the center to activate this narrative via a revamped website, ongoing consulting on the center’s strategic goals, a new logo, a short video that lays out the new story, and an annual event. Since the center engaged ALICE, student enrollment in its programs has doubled.

Frogsong Farm

Frogsong is a craft hemp farm that makes two life-changing products: a salve and a tincture infused with cannabidiol, better known as CBD. The farm engaged ALICE because it faced two critical challenges: consumers who might benefit from the effects of CBD often mistakenly associate the compound with its more intoxicating cousin, THC; and the market is flooded with “green rush” entrepreneurs hawking expensive, impure and ineffective CBD products, which could create a generation of people who disregard CBD as snake oil. CBD’s many selling points and the complexity of the issues facing the industry left Frogsong in need of strategic clarity and a compelling brand, powered by storytelling. We developed a new brand and strategic story for Frogsong, encapsulated by the tagline: “Impeccable CBD. Crafted by Family.” We expect to work with the farm this year to activate that brand.

Ratio Coffee

Ratio is among the first to innovate the automatic coffeemaker since days of Mr. Coffee. The company makes the most beautifully designed and high-quality pour-over style device on the market. Ratio’s story challenge was to overcome consumers’ preconceived notions about the value and price-point of an automatic coffeemaker. We refocused the narrative from vague platitude about its design (which speaks for itself) to how the machine is made, and why it makes such a good cup of coffee. Our new tagline: “The morning’s best ritual. None of the stress.”

The Spokane Tribe of Indians

The Spokane Tribe of Indians is dedicated to overcoming the monumental challenges it has faced over the past several hundred years: the loss of economic opportunity, the degradation of sacred lands and historic resources such as salmon fishing grounds and medicinal plant gathering sites, and the resulting health disparities. ALICE began its work with the Tribe on a project to improve engagement around healthy food access at the Trading Post, the small market on the reservation that could serve as a hub for community building, but instead has historically operated as a typical convenience store. Via our assessment and systems analysis at the Trading Post, we found an opportunity to step back and envision a broader wellness initiative that will roll out in 2019 and 2020, anchored by the construction of a new store. This wellness strategy is powered by a strategic narrative that connects the Tribe’s broad vision for physical, mental, spiritual and economic wellbeing with its cultural values. ALICE is coordinating a network of partners to activate the Trading Post as a catalyst of change and a new center for fellowship, connection, health and wellness.

© 2019 ALICE Strategy

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