Cause+Affect launches first of its kind Brand Academy in Vancouver


I’m thrilled to bring you the news that one of the city’s leading brand consultancies,  Cause+Affect, is launching a new initiative called The Brand Academy out of their Vancouver studio. Aimed at entrepreneurs, small business owners, non-profit directors and marketing leaders, it’s first offer is a 5 week intensive program that you can enroll in to learn everything you need to know about successfully launching a new brand or overhauling an existing one.

Designed by Steven and Jane Cox, Principals of Cause+Affect, Brand Academy’s Foundation course takes you from the initial visioning process, right through audience and competition identification, to attributes and personality development and finally completes with the brand naming process.

“The Brand Academy is our way to work with the innovative entrepreneurial force of Vancouver within a unique structure”, says Jane, “as a small group we are able to not only achieve a financial model that works for everyone but we all gain from the cross pollination and community that forms”.

Jane and Steven Cox. Photo: Adam Blasberg

Brand Academy is certainly the first of its kind in Vancouver. Have a read through my interview with Steven below for some further insight then be sure to visit their web site and download their brochure and consider enrolling.

BK – So how big are the classes? And are the 5 weeks full time?

SC – For our inaugural course, we are going to accept no more than 6 students. It seems like the most manageable size to guarantee the necessary attention to each participant, plus we only have 8 chairs at our boardroom table! The course will be built around one 3 hour class per week, taught by Jane and I and then students are given “assignments” to complete for the next class. It gives students the opportunity to learn in our office and see the kinds of things we do every day. We will also share with them a ton of information about global brands, trends, patterns and best practices. Whole thing will be alot of work for the students and us, but I am very confident that it will be great value.

Where did the concept come from?

Vancouver is inherently an entrepreneurial city. This program allows us to play a bigger role in shaping this entrepreneurial spirit. It also aligns with the more personal, intimate and community focused nature of our company.

See, most businesses are small and developing a brand can be extremely challenging. Evolving and leveraging a brand can be almost impossible. Most people hire a third party to create their brand for them but due to budget constraints, end up with little more then the design of a logo – a process that generates a symbol for the brand but provides little insight on actual brand behaviour.

Through our work at Cause+Affect, we have created, what we believe, is a more rewarding branding process underlined with the idea that a brand is personal and must not only be embodied by its founders; it must be created by them. We act as a guide working alongside our participants as they build their brand and grow to truly understand its potential.

Lately in the tech world there have been a lot of “accelerator” programs launching. Can you tell me how this is different from what’s being offered over there?

Accelerator and incubator programs are designed to help small businesses and start-ups grow their product or service in order to take it to market. This involves chasing investment with the hopes of being one of the few success stories that come out of this model.

What we are offering is a course to define “who you are”, rather than “what you do”. Our class is going to be helping people build the brand rather than the product or service. Too many businesses launch without an informed understanding of their audience, their competition and their own personality making it very challenging for them to know how to be unique in a crowded marketplace.

We are hoping that most of our participants have somewhat resolved business models although the branding process always reveals flaws in assumptions. In many ways, the members of the accelerators and incubators could be some of our most likely participants as brand program could act as a high value addition to their business modeling focus.

Will you cover the basic nuts and bolts of starting a business? Like name registry and setting up HST/PST accounts? Funding?

Ours is not a business course, it is a branding course. We are going to take our participants through an intense creative process to cover the broad spectrum of developing a brand in order for each to develop their own unique Brand Foundation. The course purposely stops short of logo design as we cannot really offer that service in a group dynamic. The student will graduate however, with their own unique Brand Foundation providing the necessary information to generate an authentic and unique identity from a designer of their choice.

What types of businesses are you anticipating will enrol?

We are anticipating two main groups, those that are starting something new, and those that are finding challenges within their existing venture. We also anticipate helping marketing professionals and business coaches who may want to enlarge or improve their services.

How much does is cost?

The course is $2,500.

$2,500 seems like a pretty good deal, what do participants get for that?

Graduates from the Brand Foundation course will leave with a collection of insights and decisions regarding all aspects of their brand including Vision, Audience, Competition, Uniqueness, Personality and Name. The work will provide strategy and guidelines for the future including the ability to:
– clearly understand their brand
– identify the needs and wants of their target audience
– articulate what their brand should look like
– define their brand personality and brand story
– create brand touch points with consistency
– direct strategic business decisions