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By Claude Ricks, Managing Partner


Napster hit the scene in 1999. I can still remember the thrill. A world of music had opened up to me and my newly digital-music-enabled computer. A music revolution had begun and I remember thinking, this is it. Digital has arrived!


Back then, digital was a thing. And it remained a thing for many years; a thing people went to IBM for because IBM does technology and that’s what digital’s about, right? Back then, yes, but not anymore. Today, digital is an enabler of things, only some of which actually relate to technology.


As I was getting my fill on Napster, I was clueless about the digital transformation to come. Now, as the managing partner of a management consulting firm that builds and helps implement inspired growth strategies, I live and breathe it. Still, the majority of those who aren’t in my day-to-day shoes continue to wonder…


What the heck is digital transformation?


That’s the question posed by Simon Chan in his article of the same name. It’s a fair question and a complex one at that. In my experience, people seem to have an easier time grasping what it isn’t versus what it is, so let’s start with that.


Digital transformation is not a website or mobile app. It is not social media or e-commerce. It is not process automation or data analytics.


If you knew that already, you’re ahead of the game. If you didn’t, don’t worry. If it wasn’t such a tricky concept to grasp, Chan wouldn’t have written the article in the first place and I wouldn’t have been compelled to join in the conversation.


Digital transformation (DX) has become a nebulous term.


It seems to encapsulate everything that has anything to do with both business and IT, and as Chan rightly points out in his article, that’s way too broad. In an effort to zero in on what DX actually is, Chan defines three words that are key to pretty much every DX conversation – digital, strategy and transformation.


Here, paraphrased, is a summary of what he has to say about each:


Digital refers to communication between electronic devices. It reflects how phones, computers, printers, tablets, etc. communicate with one another using binary code, i.e. ones and zeros. No surprises there.


Strategy is harder to define. It means different things to different people, but Chan settles on it being the accumulation of three things: 1) Taking a stance; 2) backing up that stance with objectives; 3) taking action.


Transformation is way more than change. It’s profound. It’s radical. It’s a complete and utter makeover that touches all parts of an organization.


It’s with his definition of transformation that Chan really starts to speak LEVEL5’s language. As we convey quite passionately in every DX conversation we have, and in our white paper Navigating the Digital Disconnect, DX is about broad organizational change. And just as transformation must touch all parts of an organization, so must digital transformation.


So why all the DX confusion?


As Chan points out, there are several cooks in the kitchen. While all DX initiatives should be run by the CEO, that’s rarely the case. The CMO, COO, CIO and CFO, as well as the average Joe, are all coming at it with their own perspectives. For the sake of simplicity, Chan drops their varying approaches to DX into five buckets:


Bucket #1: The customer experience, driven by the CMOIn light of the customer shift towards digital versus physical (retail) channels, marketing teams are heavy players in the DX movement, leveraging web sites, mobile apps, social media, CRM systems, marketing technologies and more to find new customers and retain existing ones.


Bucket #2: Operational efficiency, driven by the COO and CIODX isn’t about transforming a company’s digital and technical assets. It’s about using those assets to change all aspects of a company, including operations. Technology plays a valuable role in the breakdown of departmental siloes and in the promotion of better communication and culture.


Bucket #3: Cost management, driven by the CFODX is also a vehicle for cutting costs. The virtualization of data centres, Cloud computing, remote working tools and methods, artificial intelligence – these and other digital initiatives can help significantly reduce costs associated with work premises, human resources, IT equipment and more.


Bucket #4: Shift in business model, driven by the CEO
Finally, the CEO! Chan describes this bucket as “a profound business model shift, which permeates every living cell of the company, resulting in changes to structure, capabilities, policies, processes, people, technologies and culture.” It’s what ultimately enables a company to increase market share and compete in new markets.”


Bucket #5: DX as a world view, driven by the average person
Here, Chan’s talking about the big picture. How do the changes that are associated with digital technology impact society? Business aside, what will the impact of those changes be from a political, economic, social, theological, psychological, legal and environmental point of view?


By presenting these five buckets – or segments – Chan has done a great job of conveying, in simple terms, just how broad-reaching digital actually is. If I could add just one thing to his commentary, it would be the importance of cross-pollination between these segments.


You can no longer focus on one or two segments and call yourself digital.


In a recent white paper Navigating the Digital Disconnect published by LEVEL5 one of our panel members shared with us that real digital transformation is often messy, that’s because the journey is a bit chaotic and organic, as your organization uncovers the journey that aligns with your strategy.  This is why the CEO needs to own DX journey and the C suite, CMO, CFO, CIO, COO, and every member of their respective teams, need to be aligned if you’re using digital as an enabler to ownable, competitive advantage.  With that many players in the sandbox, you need a leader… that’s where your CEO steps in – and a DX coach.


At LEVEL5, our partners are all great coaches, we’re all operators, have walked in your shoes and understand messy and chaotic digital transformation journeys.  We view your brand as ‘the value of a promise consistently kept’™, and we can help you with the challenge of consistently keeping promises in a world changing at the pace of digital.  Want to learn more? We’re passionate about what we do and welcome every opportunity to talk about it…reach out, with no obligation of course. You’ll find our contact information here.

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By David Kincaid, Managing Partner and Founder L5

At LEVEL5, we define brand as the value of a promise consistently kept™. Keeping a promise is no easy task. No organization knows that better than Mountain Equipment Coop (MEC), who yesterday announced the decision to discontinue selling products tied to a well-known gun manufacturer. Hats off to them.


Brand value is a powerful combination of positive AND negative attributes.

MEC’s recent decision really drives this point home.

As a reminder, MEC doesn’t sell guns. But they do sell outdoor equipment that’s made by guns and ammunition manufacturer Vista Outdoor Inc.

MEC also has more than five million passionate, involved members. Many of these members have a deep, emotional attachment to the brand. They feel they have a voice in how MEC makes decisions. They also have strong opinions on whether or not these decisions live up to the organization’s corporate purpose and values.

MEC should be commended, not only for knowing its members at a deep, emotional level, but for making a fast and informed, data-based decision aligned to its vision and values. 

“This one has been a very emotional issue with a lot of different opinions…requiring listening with the facts at hand,” stated CEO David Labistour when sharing MEC’s recent decision. As of this writing Walmart, Dicks, Krogers and REI in the USA have all taken action related to gun restrictions. There’s no shortage of other companies that could stand to take a leaf out of MEC’s book. Here are just a few valuable takeaways.


Three important lessons for branded organizations:

  1. Acknowledge that brand value is generated largely by associations with positive and negative emotions. And remember, negative emotions are typically three times more powerful than positive ones, i.e. you can’t just bury your head in the sand when things get ugly.
  2. Demonstrating a meaningful social responsibility strategy is quickly becoming a powerful driver of brand value, choice of employer among millennials, and even financing. In fact, in a recent poll conducted among 2,000+ Toronto Star readers, 75% respondents said they prefer brands with a social conscience. (Check out the strong opinion Blackrock shared earlier this year on the topic of social responsibility.)
  3. Know your customers. Really know your customers. And your employees, too. Not just what they say, but how they feel. How do their emotions inform and connect to your brand promise? How does your response to controversial situations align to your organizational values and the behaviours they guide? Social media gives consumers a powerful voice. It’s imperative you understand the thoughts and emotions behind their words, not just the sentiment of their words.

A new day has dawned for brands and branded organizations.

The leaders of great brands understand the emotional impact they can have in the marketplace with their current and potential customers. They pay attention to what’s being said and felt, and rise to the good, as well as the bad and the ugly, in order to keep their promise consistently.

It’s inspiring to see David Labistour use the MEC brand to drive positive social change. Congratulations @MEC!


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“The company’s relationship with its franchisees is a huge challenge for them,” said David Kincaid, managing partner of consultancy Level5 Strategy Group. “The general relationship status with franchisees still feels strained and now this Ontario minimum-wage issue just strained it further.”


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by: Matt Kelly, Managing Partner

If you’re familiar with the work we do at LEVEL5, you’ve no doubt heard us say that sustainable, brand-driven growth comes from understanding the value of a promise consistently kept™. While we maintain that this is the most meaningful driver of an organization’s growth, we recognize it’s not the only one.


Our brand experts spend a lot of time in primary research, quantifying the most powerful drivers of behaviour in order to help inform our clients’ growth strategies and transformation efforts. One driver we haven’t yet explored in this space is the CEO’s public profile.


When it comes to corporate leader profiles, less is no longer best


In a pre-digital era, flying under the radar was the norm. In fact, it was the preference. Only those associated with scandal tended to make headlines. In other words, no news was good news. These days, however, we expect to know what everyone is doing at every minute of every day – CEOs and top executives included. Indeed, those of us who don’t have some sort of social media presence actually risk being regarded with suspicion.


In a survey[1] conducted by Weber Shandwick in partnership with KRC Research, 81% of global executives expressed their belief that external CEO engagement plays an essential role when it comes to building a company’s reputation. Furthermore, they believe that the reputation of their own CEO accounts for nearly half of their company’s reputation (45%) and half of its market value (44%). And that applies regardless of whether their reputation be good or bad.


What also came out of this survey was the strong and positive correlation between a CEO’s reputation and his or her ability to attract investors, generate positive media, maximize crisis protection, and attract and retain talent.


Ask yourself this: what has your profile done for your company lately?


Have you, and do you give your stakeholders a clear picture of what the individual behind your organization stands for? Have you taken and are you taking steps to build a deeper connection with your public? How aligned and supportive is your messaging to your brand’s promise to the marketplace?


Keep in mind it no longer takes a press release or book deal to reach a mass audience. Simply look to the content marketing and social media capabilities within your own company. Therein lies the means with which to reach your customers, investors, employees and other stakeholders regularly and authentically.


For inspiration, you need only look to Elon Musk. With a following of 17 million or so, the co-founder, product architect and CEO at Tesla is a perfect example of how:


“leaders in the making can leverage social media to not just create impact but also encourage debate, generate conversations, and show what it takes to be a leader, through something as simple as a message on social media.2


Most would agree that highly regarded CEOs have a clear vision for the future. They inspire and motivate others. They communicate well and are acutely focused on delighting customers. At LEVEL5, we’d add two points to this description of the esteemed CEO. First, brand-driven CEOs know what truly drives their marketplace. And second, they create, deliver and advocate for their organization, internally and externally, through their brand strategy and the stories they tell. The same goes for all senior executives in highly regarded branded organizations. 


To stay on course, make time for an alignment check.


Ask yourself, is your  brand’s growth strategy clear and broadly understood within your organization? And if so, does it align with your own reputation-building strategy? If you want to go the full distance, it’s not enough to be remarkable on the inside. You need to have a clear and compelling go-to market approach that stretches beyond the confines of your organization. Only then can you, personally, make a positive impact on your company’s reputation and its value.

Need a hand leveraging your personal profile to your ownable, competitive advantage? Get in touch. We’d be glad to help.


[1] The CEO Reputation Premium: Gaining Advantage in the Engagement Era
[2] Creating Brand Value on Social Media the Elon Musk Way

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by: Matt Kelly, Managing Partner

Reflections on BlackRock’s C-Suite ultimatum

CEOs and CMOs take note. On January 15, 2018, a provocative article published in the New York Times advised corporate leaders of impending pressure to dial up social responsibility. According to the article, chief executives of the world’s largest public companies will soon be receiving a letter from the CEO of BlackRock, one of the most influential investors in the world, stating that “their companies need to do more than make profits – they need to contribute to society as well if they want to receive the support of BlackRock.”

This article landed on the heels of Apple being told last week by two of its largest investors to make its devices less addictive to children.

Today’s leaders are feeling more pressure to contribute to society than their predecessors ever did

“Society is demanding that companies, both public and private, serve a social purpose,” wrote BlackRock CEO Laurence D. Fink in a draft letter that he shared with the author of the NY Times article. “To prosper over time,” Fink wrote, “every company must not only deliver financial performance, but also show how it makes a positive contribution to society”. Companies that don’t serve the community and demonstrate a sense of purpose will lose the license to operate, he contends. 

What’s with BlackRock’s activist point of view on social responsibility?

Fink believes that “having a strong sense of purpose is inextricably linked to a company’s ability to maintain its profits.” At LEVEL5, we happen to agree. In fact, we would add that a strong sense of purpose can also build culture, align organizations, help to attract and retain the best talent, and become a meaningful point of difference in crowded, highly competitive categories.

So, what’s your organization’s stated sense of purpose?

How is it supported or embedded in your strategic plan, your vision, mission and shared values? Could your brand promise and purpose be one and the same – much like Princess Margaret Hospital’s promise to ‘Conquer Cancer in our Lifetime?’ Do you have strategies and tactics to implement and measure your contribution beyond fundraising or goodwill?

If you’re looking for sustainable growth in a low-growth marketplace, as many of our clients are, embracing and operationalizing your firm’s contribution to society makes sound business sense. What’s more, it happens to feel pretty good!

Get in touch if you’d like to learn how we can help you take your social initiatives to the next level.

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by: Matt Kelly, Managing Partner

Be it a product or an experience, the choice to buy is driven by both the rational and the emotional mind. In fact, the same is true for any decision, including one as seemingly simple as whether to make yourself a cup of tea or coffee.

While most business leaders understand the role of the rational mind, few have a clear understanding of how emotions influence their customers. Price, convenience, safety, ease of use – there are hundreds of rational attributes that brands hang their hats on. But what about their customers’ feelings?

As the following example proves, the times, they are a-changing.

“Twenty years ago, who would ever have believed that people would line up outside a store to buy a coffee for at least double the price of the norm? Who would believe that people would camp overnight in front of an electronics store in order to be one of the first to own a smartphone especially since, two months later, you could walk into that same store and make that same purchase at the same price (if not cheaper)? These are not rational rea­sons but emotional ones and the ability for organizations to identify the emotional attributes and purchase drivers associated with their brand(s) is a competitive advantage that can lead to long term growth and success.”

Source: The Emotional Science Behind Effective Branding – a Better Way to Grow Your Branded Business, September 2011. Download the whitepaper >

Of the 184 personality types and 96 human emotions your customers envelop, you need to identify one or two that you can build your brand or organization around to drive sustainable growth. Without the right tools, it’s an exercise not unlike looking for a needle in a haystack.

What if we told you that we could quantify the role of emotion in your customers’ decision-making process?
A few years back, market researchers used to focus almost exclusively on the rational mind. In recent years, however, psychological and neurological findings have highlighted the flaw in this approach, prompting new methodologies to surface – ones that focus on both rational and emotional drivers over the course of an entire customer journey, not just at point of purchase.

Although they still represent a vast improvement on the ways of old, many of these newer approaches remain fairly superficial, often surveying a short list of drivers and usually category antes. Not ours, though. BrandMap™, our proprietary research tool, helps C-suite executives identify feelings about their brand at a very deep level and explore the subtle dimensions that their customers associate with their brand’s personality, needs, wishes, and values, as well as its more rational attributes and benefits.

Using a mathematical projection technique, BrandMap™ literally quantifies emotional drivers with 87% accuracy. As a result, brands don’t need to operate on gut instinct. Rather, they can effectively determine both the emotional and rational space they want to operate in and then develop measurable ideas, claims and tactics accordingly.

By the way, BrandMap™ isn’t just for B2C. Emotion drives all sectors.
As we’ve come to learn at LEVEL5 Strategy Group, it’s equally important for B2B brands to understand the emotional drivers behind their offering. 

“Customers can fall in love with a brand. So when a brand falls short of its promise, customers react in the same way that they do to any broken promise or failed romance: with disappointment, sadness, anger, resentment, self-doubt, and bewilderment. In other words, they react emotionally.”

Source: The Value of a Promise Consistently Kept™, What I’ve Learned About Managing Brands as Assets by David Kincaid.

Having researched enterprise software and services a number of times over the years, we’ve concluded that emotion (how you make customers feel and how you personify your organization) can often account for as much as 60% of the final purchase decision and the primary reason why you could end up losing an account. 

Your customers want to ‘feel’ successful, inspired, reassured, perhaps even brave – complimenting rational attributes like performance, value, and being liked by employees. Features (the rational draw) are well down the list of importance. This begs the question:

What emotions are driving your category, and are they positive or negative?
If you read our recent article entitled Your Brand: One of Your Most Underutilized Growth Drivers, you may recall that we define a brand as “the value of a promise consistently kept.”

So, what is the promise you intend to keep and what positive emotions can you leverage? More importantly, what negative emotions are standing in your way? We’ve been able to quantify that negative emotions can be up to three times more powerful than positive emotions, so addressing any negative associations with your brand should be a priority.

On the flip side, are there any negative associations with your competitors’ brands? If so, exploit them. Turn their emotional downfalls into your emotional drivers.

You’ve identified your brand’s emotional drivers. Now what?
Take these five steps to create an ownable competitive advantage; one that enables you to motivate, maintain and attract more customers and ultimately realize the growth you seek.

  1. Quantify the most powerful emotional drivers of choice – of the category, your brand and competitors
  2. Position your brand against a core subset of those drivers
  3. Create and deliver a powerful and compelling brand promise
  4. Align your organization to operationalize that promise 
  5. Measure and track progress against those drivers in your balanced scorecard

If you’re interested in harnessing the power of emotional science to guide your organizations growth strategy, to fulfil your brand promise and to drive greater business results, get in touch. We’d be happy to walk you through some of the tangible benefits of LEVEL5 BrandMap™ and show you how you could leverage insights from this tool to enhance your competitive advantage and make 2018 exceptionally prosperous.

On that note, here’s wishing you the very best for the holiday season and the year ahead!



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By David Kincaid


Still searching for that perfect gift for the business booklover on your holiday shopping list? Or perhaps you’re looking for an inspiring book to add to your winter reading list.


Look no further! THE VALUE OF A PROMISE CONSISTENTLY KEPT is an essential read for anyone overseeing (or interested in learning more about) brand management – and what it REALLY means to manage your organization’s brand as an asset.  


No dull, dry textbook here. The Value of a Promise Consistently Kept is 170 pages of insightful, practical (and at times witty) inspiration for managing your brand as an asset.

In this book, Kincaid shares the concepts behind the business system and the tools that C-suite executives can use to create value from their brands. Along the way, he describes the path that led him to his current role as a globally recognized brand builder.


“With this book, we get to learn from the victories, mistakes and revelations of an executive who made brand-building a mission, and who successfully motivated entire organizations to share in it.”
Mike Rapino, CEO & President, Live Nation

“His insights and advice, drawn from broad and diverse experience, are invaluable to business leaders committed to maximizing enterprise value.”
Susan Helstab, Executive VP, Marketing Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts


All orders placed by December 15th will receive a free copy of LEVEL5’s special release book: Brand Forward, Brand Back



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by: Matt Kelly, Managing Partner

Having worked with CEOs across all industries for the past 15 years, we’ve observed two chronic worries that preoccupy them all.

NUMBER 1: Generating sustainable business growth

In a hyper-competitive, slow-growth world, how do organizations generate sustainable, long-term growth – be it growth in revenue, ridership, donations, margins, profit, customers or funding? For many it would be a significant accomplishment to see growth for two consecutive quarters, let alone two consecutive years.

NUMBER 2: Remaining relevant to customers

How do leaders align and integrate their organizations to effectively focus on the core activities that really matter to customers?

Few CEOs realize that the solution to both of these concerns is right in front of their eyes. All they need to do is look to their brand – through the correct lens, of course.

Unfortunately, most CEOs fail to see the distinction between a brand strategy and a marketing strategy. As a result, they end up divesting their brand. What they should be doing, however, is investing in their brand with a view to driving growth and improving organizational alignment. That’s how you manage your brand as an asset.

To effectively invest in a brand and brand strategy, you need to understand what a brand actually is.

At LEVEL5 Strategy Group, we define a brand as the value of a promise consistently kept™. Let’s break that down.

Value: LEVEL5 quantifies and tracks the most powerful drivers of value – both the rational drivers of value, like quality, price and convenience, and the critically important emotional drivers of choice, such as trust, love, passion and excitement. We’ve discovered that the negative drivers of value (e.g. unreliability or lack of appreciation) associated with your brand can be three times as impactful as positive ones. Have you quantified what drives your brand value? Have you addressed your negative attributes?


Quite simply, a valuable brand spurs demand and creates pricing power. Forbes values the Apple brand as $170 billion, representing 21% of the company’s recent market value of $806 billion. Why do consumers line up to pay over $1500 for the new Apple X iPhone when their current cellphone is working just fine? Because Apple has figured out what really motivates their customers.

Strongly branded organizations tend to outgrow competitors, weather downturns better, deliver superior margins, and attract more loyal customers willing to pay a premium for that relationship.

Promise: Based on what the marketplace really values, what inspired promise is your organization making to customers to drive growth and competitive advantage?

When Starbucks promises indulgence to its customers across the globe, it materializes not just a Grande Pumpkin Spice Latte for $4.69, but comfortable retail environments, customized products and services, valuable loyalty programs, and employees trained to do whatever it takes to please customers. Compelling promises are simple, differentiating and inspiring, and they deliver against what customers really value.

Consistently kept: One of the greatest dangers of making a promise to customers lies in not consistently keeping that promise. Breaking a promise erodes trust. And eroding trust compromises price premiums, loyalty, and any competitive advantage you might have realized.

What branded organizations do effectively is not only quantify what drives value and turn that into a compelling brand promise; they also leverage that insight to align their organization to deliver against it – consistently.

Delivering consistently is no small task, especially in today’s digitalized world where the customer’s journey is evolving at the pace of technological innovation. However, understanding your brand value drivers, and more importantly, having your people in tune to how you consistently deliver your brand promise is how the best of the best continue to grow and outperform their peers in every sector.

Think about Starbucks. They rarely drop the ball and disappoint because they have aligned their entire organization to operationalize their promise.

Ultimately, if you want to realize meaningful growth in a low-growth world and align your organization on what really matters to your customers, you need to be a brand-driven leader. Start with quantifying the most powerful driver of value. Build an inspired brand strategy and promise, and keep that promise consistently by operationalizing it throughout your entire organization. Therein lies your path to achieving inspired growth and an ownable competitive advantage.

Brands may be the CEO’s most underappreciated asset at their disposal. If you’re interested in getting more out of your business, put more of your brand into it. Let us know if you’d like us to show you how.


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Author: Sylvia Palka Melo, Manager

Majority of CEOs and C-Suite Executives will agree digital is no longer a thing, it is a way of being… But what does that mean? The good news is, there’s a number of business leaders who have figured it out, and achieved inspired growth strategies in the process.

On Tuesday, November 14th, LEVEL5, in partnership with Spencer Stuart, hosted the eighth annual LEVEL5 Leaders Forum Power Breakfast: THE BRAND DRIVEN CEO – DIGITAL 2.0

At LEVEL5, we have built our business and brand around the perspective that your brand is the value of a promise consistently kept™. Today, digital is emerging as a key “way of being” to consistently help shape and deliver that promise and achieve ownable competitive advantage. So how do today’s CEO and C-suite leaders use digital to keep their brand promise consistently?

To move the C-suite digital agenda forward, we brought together an unmatched group of leaders from digitally led organizations, to offer insights and best practices on what can be a confusing environment:

  • Drew Green, CEO, Indochino
  • Steven Goldsmith, President & CEO, Brookstone
  • Andrew Zimakas, AZ Consulting Services
  • Claude Ricks, Managing Partner, LEVEL5 Strategy Group

The panel discussion was moderated by Amanda Lang, renowned Canadian business journalist and currently the host of Bloomberg North on Bloomberg TV Canada.


  1. Real digital transformation needs to start at the top of the organization – with the CEO and C-suite. If there’s a gap in organizations around digital, it is the CEO’s role to provide the vision for where the organization needs to go, and then engage employees to make that vision a reality. The transformation cannot start from the bottom-up – staff need digital vision leadership.
  2. There is a technology component to digital, but CEOs don’t need to be “techie” to lead digital transformation within their organization. If you have a smartphone, shop on Amazon, bank online, or watch Netflix, you can lead your organization’s charge on digital. Technology is merely the means for digital transformation.
  3. Digital transformation is not about finding and implementing new technologies as fast as budgets will allow for. Nor is it simply about adapting to new environments in an effort to maintain ownable competitive advantage vis-à-vis your competitors. Digital is a tool to meet business objectives in new ways and continuously explore “what’s next” when it comes to meeting the needs of your customers.
  4. Digital transformation journeys will be different for each organization. There’s no such thing as a linear “best in class” roadmap to follow. Digital transformation is going to be needs to be agile and messy. However, many CEOs are reluctant to be perceived as “disorganized” or “not in control”. You have to take chances, fail fast, learn from failures, and keep moving forward with your digital journey.
  5. Digital has enabled customers to take full control of the customer journey, making these journeys more complex, but also more important than ever. Digital enables organizations to engage with customers in new and creative ways; leveraging the valuable data they create to find new ways to address unmet needs.

The event was a huge success and it’s thanks to the support of Spencer Stuart for helping us host, our panelists for sharing their experiences, Amanda Lang for facilitating, and our guests for attending and engaging in meaningful dialogue.

A LEVEL5 white paper discussing key success factors and practical roadmap for implementing digital across your branded business system will be released in January 2018.



Leaders Forum Power Breakfast Panelist Bios

Drew Green, CEO, Indochino – a seasoned entrepreneur and an expert in managing fast-paced, high-growth companies; since joining INDOCHINO as CEO in 2015, Drew has tripled the size of the company through a commitment to an experience-based omni channel commerce strategy.

Steven Goldsmith, President & CEO, Brookstone –  a retail leader and expert in ecommerce, Steven is leading Brookstone’s expansion into domestic and international retail markets and new product development; previously President of The Shopping Channel, and EVP of Merchandising for Sears Canada and Victoria’s Secret.

Andrew Zimakas, AZ Consulting Services –  25+ years’ cross-industry experience, including Loyalty, Financial Services, Media, and CPG. Andrew led the digital launch of Tangerine and as SVP of Corporate Strategy for LoyaltyOne, he’s helped the organization navigate the increasingly digital nature of the loyalty and analytics space.

Claude Ricks, Managing Partner, LEVEL5 Strategy Group – leads the Digital Strategy and Transformation practice at LEVEL5 leveraging his deep understanding of digital technologies with an agile implementation lens. He has also been COO of gShiftlabs (a leading digital content SEO platform), co-Founder and CEO of SQI Diagnostics (a publicly traded biotechnology firm), and co-founder of the ATKearney change management practice.


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A huge congratulations are in order for Hua Yu, Managing Partner at LEVEL5, for being awarded the most “Influential Woman in Ethnic Brand Strategy, Canada” as part of Acquisition International Magazine’s 2017 Influential Businesswoman Awards.

The 2017 Influential Businesswoman Awards honour the remarkable achievements made by women from a diverse range of industries. These outstanding individuals have been breaking down barriers with their hard work, devotion, innovative thinking and high impact leadership.

Hua’s 25+ years of experience in brand management, multicultural strategy and international marketing enables her to help clients of all sizes and industries to achieve ownable competitive advantage through their growth strategies.

Hua remarks, “Building inspired growth strategies is why our clients partner with LEVEL5. By 2030, visible minorities in Canada are expected to account for one-third of the country’s population, therefore the importance of identifying and understanding the ethnic consumers is becoming critical, and represents a major growth opportunity for Canadian companies.”

In 2015, Hua founded #WeWorkingWomen, which has grown to be the no. 1 Chinese women leadership digital platform in Canada with over 30,000 subscribers.

LEVEL5 extends our congratulations all the 2017 Influential Businesswoman Award winners – your high impact leadership stories and experience are an inspiration to us all.

Read Hua’s interview with Acquisition International Magazine here:

To learn more about the award winners visit the Acquisition International website: