Transforming brands together | The Zefco Industrial Flooring case study

brandfiercely1Advertising, Branding, Creative Process

When the Fierce team gets invited to the party, big things happen.
Zefco Industrial Flooring, a South Carolina-based company with customers across the U.S., approached Fierce in need of a bold new brand and a bold new brand strategy. We met with fearless Zefco president Derrick Zearley, toured the Zefco facility, met the team, and spent time listening and learning in our Discovery Day process. And together with Derrick, Fierce began to shape a fresh new strategic direction for the brand.

Our clients share their vision.
At Fierce, we’re privileged to work with the best clients. During our Fierce Discovery Day experiences, clients share their heart and their personal vision for what’s possible, and then this vision guides all of us every step of the way. We keep this vision at the forefront of everything we do so that the Fierce collective and the clients stay on track with our strategic goals during the entire process.

Zefco started something fierce. 
As the company President, Derrick had incredible insights and energy for what was possible with the Zefco brand. Fierce delivered an informed brand strategy, approaches and tactics for accomplishing this strategy, and specific brand components and tools to bring the brand strategy to life for Derrick and his team. The new logo and positioning—Expect More with Us—emerged first. This was incorporated into the new brand family, collateral, social media channels, and many other components. We took new headshots of Derrick and restructured his personal LinkedIn page and profile.

Fierce then wrote and designed a new website for the brand.

We designed new trade show materials and vehicle graphics enabling Derrick’s fleet to advertise the brand. With red-hot custom camo design and black matte finish on the vinyl, Derrick’s fleet is the best-looking set of company vehicles on the east coast.

Fierce reenvisioned the brand architecture as well, creating a family of new sub-brands.

We created 3D renderings and printed labels for all of Zefco’s new products and services to introduce them to the consumer and aid with sales. We also printed and shipped sales sheets, postcards, brochures, and pocket folders to support the sales team.

Apparel is always an important part of a brand—so we create designs and practical pieces that a team can wear on the job. (And thanks, Derrick—we loved getting our own fun care package of awesome apparel that we now wear around the Fierce offices! Thanks, Zefco! You rock.)

Are you ready to get Fierce?
If your company is looking to make a radical brand transformation, or if you’re getting ready to employ an aggressive growth strategy, we invite you to brand fiercely with us. Reach out to and start something fierce today.

How Fierce helps brands (radically) grow.

brandfiercely1Client Highlights, Creative Process, Fierce Strategy + Creative, The Fierce People

PaceMate™ | We never miss a beat.™
When the founders of PaceMate™ made the very first call to Fierce, they knew they were on to a big idea in healthcare. They needed a full strategy, naming, branding, marketing, digital, web, and advertising team to come alongside their idea and their big dreams and create a brand that would be powerful enough to accomplish their mission—advance compassionate patient-centered care through big data. The Fierce people were up for the challenge.

How Fierce helped brand the next big digital healthcare brand
The Fierce people started at the beginning with strategy and direction. PaceMate™ offers cardiac remote monitoring, 24/7/365, so we named the company PaceMate™ and wrote and trademarked their tagline: We never miss a beat™. When PaceMate™ partnered with biocynetic™, we were given the opportunity to brand and position that company as well.

Fierce assists with the day-to-day projects that every brand needs to grow and succeed. 
The Fierce team creates tools for our clients like strategic copy, infographics, brand architecture, secondary logo marks, abstracts, business cards, slide decks, investor decks, swag, press releases, and pocket folders. We also help with the intangible things every team needs—strategic direction, brand strategy, encouragement, a phone call to help vet a new idea or initiative, last-minute edits, flexibility with processes—and a belief in their brand that never wavers.

Fierce also custom designs larger projects when its time for a brand to make a debut on a national or international stage. 
Fierce helped concept, design, produce, and ship PaceMate™’s backlit interactive trade show booth and created both the animations for their website and the video presentation that ran from the booth.

Fierce helps clients with social media strategy, content, and graphics. 

Fierce designs, writes, builds, hosts, and maintains our clients’ websites.
Visit to see more.

Fierce took a brand from a big idea to a place where it is impacting the world and creating global change.
Here’s what this client has to say about the process.

We invite you to brand fiercely with us. 
How can we help your brand grow and thrive today? Reach out to

So—what exactly does Fierce do for clients?

brandfiercely1Creative Process, Fierce Strategy + Creative, From the CEO

So—what exactly does Fierce do for clients?
Each client that comes to Fierce has different needs related to strategy, branding, marketing, and advertising—and the services and expertise we provide one client may not be exactly what another client needs. As a national boutique agency and strategic brand partner, Fierce offers a customized and specialized approach to each of our clients.

Our Fierce client Coastal Beverage Company, Inc., demonstrates the many aspects of how we help both start-ups and multimillion- and multibillion-dollar brands grow and thrive with the daily management of their brand.

We rebrand fleets of trucks and vehicles.

We build functional philosophies and core values for brands. We help create inspiring and creative workspaces (note the ping-pong table doubles as a conference table)!

We select and order furniture when a corporate office refresh is needed, like unique plush velvet conference room chairs and concrete tabletops—and help select branded paint and new flooring when asked. We can radically recreate offices to be bright, friendly, brand-centric, and efficient with fun furniture pieces from places like Poppin in NYC.

We brand and rebrand and reposition start-ups and multimillion- and multibillion-dollar brands when a company is going through major transitions and growth.

We do wall graphics and large installations along with fun new signage for both indoor and outdoor applications. And…we create swag, uniform events, t-shirts, and promotional trade show pieces that double and triple quarterly sales orders because our creative work resonates with employees.

Fierce manages social media and digital strategies for clients, from simply posting to multiple social media channels as needed to creating a full digital strategy and ad buy, including writing content, designing creative, creating targeted audiences and campaigns, posting and testing ads across multiple platforms, full execution, daily management, and ongoing review and refinement of multi-faceted digital plans.

We help with print projects, from the small to complex, from concept to delivery. We offer Fierce Photography as well for beautiful and strategic imagery for social media, web, PR, etc.

We also design websites—check out

And we even do fun special projects when our clients get asked to host educational events or present to their community.

Here is what our clients say about working with Fierce:

Brand fiercely with us.

How can we transform your brand? We invite you to brand fiercely with us. Reach out today to

Harnessing the creative firepower of the agency collective model

brandfiercely1Company Culture, Creative Process, Fierce Strategy + Creative, From the CEO

Harnessing the creative firepower of the agency collective model
‘One of the real advantages I see with the Fierce collective model is that your team is always out in front on the cutting edge. Nothing with our brand ever gets stale.’ —Fierce client comment after our annual Year in Review.

More than ever, brands need their agencies to be experts at creating trusted brand and digital experiences while remaining operational and financially transparent. This complex dance of positioning, creative, data and technology is new terrain agencies must be willing to conquer. —AdAge Magazine

The Fierce collective
Fierce Strategy + Creative is a North American agency based in Georgia and comprised of a global collective of experts focused on a highly strategic customized approach for your brand. We are a research-driven creative hybrid, bringing over 25 years of strategy, branding, marketing, advertising, digital, and media expertise to both start-ups and multibillion-dollar brands.

By taking the side of transparency, agencies have an opening to reclaim their role as trusted advisors. They must re-invent agency structure to excel at the art and science of modern marketing. —Shapiro

Agile strategic partners 
The Fierce collective model allows us to be as small or as big as our clients need us to be. It affords us the ability to work profitably with non-profits, start-ups, and multimillion-dollar brands by building custom teams, custom workflows, and custom billing. It keeps us agile and affordable for each of the brands that we serve. As strategic partners, we remain focused on ideas and strategy, allowing us to radically move brands forward and help them thrive.

In the energy industry, our strategic approach helped advance a multibillion-dollar brand from #4 to #1 in brand recognition in less than 12 months. “In my 35 years of doing consumer research, I have never seen a company make that kind of bold move, that quickly.” —Britt Beemer, America’s Research Group

Our core services
We offer the following core services that reflect our expertise: Strategy, Branding, Creative Direction, Project Management, Customer Service, Design, Messaging, Copywriting, Marketing, Advertising, and Web Design. From inception to launch to day-to-day management of your brand’s success.

We bring long-term trusted relationships to the table 
Fierce has built a trusted relationship with each of our collective partners over two decades. As a result, the services we outsource through these partners reflect only the needs of the brands we serve at the exact time they need them: TV + Video Production, Custom Photography, Digital Ad Campaign Strategy + Management, Custom Illustration, Custom Research Initiatives, Web Programming, Custom Swag Resources, Media Placement, PR, and Printers.

Vendor vs. strategic brand partner | Why Fierce operates as your strategic brand partner
Our success on behalf of your brand will be defined by the actionable insights we discover together through research, strategy, collaboration, and creative problem-solving. We’ll build a custom plan, offering clarity for what’s now and what’s next. And as your strategic brand partner, we’ll help you put it into action, execute against it with beautiful and powerful creative, and maintain its daily success.

Project work vs. retainers | Short-term vs. long-term strategy
Transforming a brand’s position, defining its consumer-engagement model, or pushing the threshold for innovation cannot be completed in project-by-project increments. A retainer that is correctly staffed can enable agencies to dedicate the appropriate assets to any given project well ahead of the deadline. Project-based work forces agencies to redistribute members of their team among projects they are not all familiar with. In other words, it slows them down. With a good retainer, they can put the right people in the right place at the right time, so when the client asks for something on short notice, they’ll have the pieces in place to deliver excellence under pressure. After spending a decade in project management and operations, an appropriately staffed retainer has two critical benefits: higher quality work and a faster turnaround. —AdAge

We invite you to brand fiercely with us.
Work with the Fierce people on digital and web and get to know our incredible creative partners. Reach out to Beckie Manley today at 

Fierce in the Press:

brandfiercely1Creative Process, Fierce Strategy + Creative, From the CEO

Fierce in the press

We were thrilled to see Fierce quoted in a recent article at “Well-Oiled Machine: How Brands Can Improve Relationships with Agencies and Vendors,” by Kat Boogaard. 

Here’s an excerpt: 

Before kicking off a project, host a meeting (whether it’s virtual or in-person) where you can all get on the same page about what would make this collaboration a success. This way, you can rest assured that you’re all actually working toward the same goal as you move forward.

“The less assumptions the better in a collaborative environment,” shares Beckie Manley, CEO of Fierce Strategy + Creative. “Sometimes in our fast-paced world, taking time to kick off a project properly and strategically gets overlooked and causes many issues down the road that could have easily been avoided.”

“We get consensus on the creative brief or ‘roadmap’ for the project before beginning,” explains Manley about how her own agency operates. “From there, we share milestones like links they can view to see progress, detailed reports outlining workflow and progress, video meetings where we can talk through what’s happening behind the scenes and discuss any concerns or changes, and manage deadlines and budget expectations along the way.”

Put simply, you want to avoid surprises. That doesn’t mean you need to be in constant contact at all hours—but setting these regular check-in sessions will help keep things in order.

Read the rest of the article here:

We invite you to brand fiercely with us.

Reach out today to

The Fierce people travel to Restenäs, Sweden

brandfiercely1Communication, Company Culture, Creative Process, From the CEO

Photo by Marieke de Klerk


Last week Fierce traveled half way around the globe to Restenäs, Sweden to teach a branding seminar to attendees who travelled in from all over the world. In our sessions, over twelve languages and dialects were represented: English, Swedish, Dutch, French, Nepali, German, Norwegian, Latvian, Estonian, Russian, Finnish, and Spanish just to name a few! The conversation around the importance of translation alone with word usage in branding was awesome. We were so privileged to teach these incredible world citizens a little bit about the power, strategy and magic of branding.

Defining what a brand is and how to communicate its power

Our classroom for the week was set at the top floor of what used to be an old orphanage. The seagulls in the distance and the cows in the fields below us provided the sound track for our discussion. We used our white boards and shared our discussion decks on the large TV screen in the room and together worked on the basics of learning what a brand is, why does it matter, what is brand architecture, how do you properly communicate a brand, and many other important lessons about communication. Fierce pulled from over 20 years of experience of branding non-profits, faith-based brands, start-ups, and multi-billion dollar brands to give perspective.

We loved some of the definitions of brand that the students shared with the class: 

Our ability to consistently communicate who we are and build trust with our audience

The reason why people choose you; the core of who you are

Your reputation

World changers

The attendees who came to listen to Fierce speak about branding are people actively working to effect change in our world every day. They are building non-profits and organizations working to eliminate sex trafficking, helping people with disabilities, and many other critical causes worldwide. It was our great joy to share our stories and case studies and expertise on branding, marketing, and advertising and guide them along their journeys in some small way. Fierce has had the opportunity to teach branding now in Kona, Switzerland (twice), Nigeria (via Skype), and now Sweden. We can’t wait to see where we head next and what amazing people we will get to meet. Follow all our Fierce travels with our hashtag #FierceOnTheRoad.

We made new friends and were touched with their kind words: 

We would like to thank you so much for coming to Sweden and sharing with our class.  You provided us with so much wisdom and insight into the world of branding and marketing, and we’re walking away from this seminar knowing how we can be a bright light in the creative industry. Thank you!

Thank you to all the attendees. It was we who left inspired and we are cheering on all your amazing endeavors from the US. Rock on. You are fierce.

Do you want to invite Fierce to speak to your team about branding?

Brand fiercely with us today. Reach out to:


A sunshiny brand immersion story with Pictsweet Vegetables.

brandfiercely1Client Highlights, Creative Process, From the CEO

*Image generously shared with us from the awesome Libby Williams. See her work here:

At Fierce, we work hard to elevate brands. And elevating brands demands the very best from our highly strategic creative process. It requires both personal brand immersion time and intense and intimate strategy sessions with the executive teams of each brand we touch—and it always means a visit to our client’s headquarters.

All of our brand immersion stories are my favorite. But today I want to share a story about my time with Pictsweet Vegetables. As we began to do our due diligence with Pictsweet, they told us that their products were so fresh that they can go straight from the farm to the grocery store the very same day. So we asked to be a part of watching their process at Ten Pictsweet Drive in Bells, Tennessee. We believe in truth in advertising and if we were going to help them craft their story, we needed to witness it first hand. We needed to experience the magic.

We arrived at their plant early in the morning and sure enough, a turnip truck was parked out front, fresh from the farm and ready to be processed. We put on our steel toe boots and safety glasses and watched as the turnips came across the assembly lines where workers expertly sorted and cleaned them. Then they went through the signature Pictsweet “flash-frozen” process where all their farm goodness and flavor were locked in. And then out the door they went for delivery. It was awesome to see and it made us instant believers and fans of their brand. It helped us know exactly how to share with the consumer what makes Pictsweet Vegetables so very special.

To this day, every time I buy a bag of Pictsweet Vegetable I know with confidence that they will be fresh and sweet and perfectly delicious every time. We were able to watch their process that day but we were also able to meet their executive team, hear stories about how they used to pick the vegetables on the farm when they were children, we got to see the passion and drive of their research team, and we were able to hear victories and challenges from their sales team first hand. We were also able to notice small details like the weathered and worn Bible on the front seat of the pick up truck and the respect and admiration the family had for each other and for their customers. This brand immersion time is critical to the success of our strategic relationship with each of our clients and every detail matters.

banner - pictsweet with quote on brand immersion

We went on to name Pictsweet Vegetables signature product, “Steam’ables”, and did meaningful work that helped position their brand for ongoing success. When we and our clients are disciplined about our strategic creative process, we set ourselves up for success. Julia Wells, VP or Marketing, said, “Beckie Manley can speak my language. She has such a way with words and has done a lot of creative things for us. I love the way she talks about ‘sunshiny vegetables,’ and she can really capture the essence of what we’re all about.” Kind words like these from clients are hard fought through hard work, being dedicated to a strategic creative process, and from taking the time to have sunshiny brand immersion days like this.

Check out their recipe for crustless spinach quiche today:




*Pictsweet was Beckie Manley’s account while she was Owner, Partner, and Creative Director for JDA. 

The answer is no. But yes.

brandfiercely1Creative Process, Fierce Strategy + Creative, From the CEO

(A guest blog post written by Beckie Manley, Founder + Idea Chief of Fierce Strategy +Creative, for Black Sheep Agency, Houston, Texas.)

The answer is no. But yes. 

One of the questions new clients always love to ask in that first meeting is: “Do you have any prior experience in our particular field?” In the early days of my career, this question would easily intimidate me, especially if my answer was no. It doesn’t any more, because after 20+ years of experience, I know with confidence the secret to success with great brands, products, services and ideas: a highly strategic creative process.

One of my favorite things about the creative process is that it’s constantly evolving. It’s a living, breathing magical force that we are relentlessly committed to each time we undertake a new project at our shop. Every time we push its boundaries, when we study more, learn more, experience more, interact more, ask more and allow the process to change us and make us and our work more meaningful, it surprises us with some unexpected learning. It’s part of what keeps this business new and fresh and exciting every day.

But as metamorphic as the process can be, the fundamentals always remain the same—another of my favorite things about the creative process. When the moment comes, the moment when we are set free by our clients to wonder and imagine and strategize and create, we know just where to start. We know what questions to ask first and how to be open to new ones. We know how to listen and be insatiably curious, and we know there’s more to know, which is why we believe so deeply in research and in doing our homework first. We’re not doing work that is simply clever for clever’s sake; instead, we’re disciplined. We roll up our sleeves first.

And we love every minute of it.

We taste test the client’s salsas and meet the passionate artists behind the secret recipes in their kitchens before we start to brainstorm names for their products. We visit the ranch in Austin and have a true cowboy breakfast around the campfire before we attempt to write copy about an authentic Texas-style barbecue sauce. (I have never had coffee so delicious!) We put on steel-toed boots and visit the plant where fresh vegetables come in at dawn from local farms, get flash-frozen to seal in all that garden freshness and get trucked out to grocery stores later that afternoon. We put on a hard hat and drive out to the oil wells and meet the guys who work on the rigs seven days a week. We listen as they tell their stories in the scorching 100-degree heat before we ever pretend to understand and capture into words the pride and love in their voices for their work, their company and their country. We try new shrimp recipes in our beer and brainstorming sessions; we do guest appearances in college classrooms; we eat in college cafeterias and interact with our clients’ apps, websites, products and services every chance we get.

We totally dig this stuff. And we get how brand immersion—really, truly, madly immersing yourself into your clients’ brands and the research that is available to you—matters. It all gets you to the good stuff that endears consumers and motivates action and sometimes changes the world.

As an agency, we don’t have knowledge about every product, every service, every field or every brand. And we don’t pretend to. But what we do have is a thorough understanding of the creative process and a complete confidence in its results. We’ve tested it over and over again and it works. Every. Single. Time. Bring us a new product, service or idea and we will apply our proven methods to it and create meaningful strategies, messaging, creative and connections on its behalf. A few years ago we didn’t know everything there was to know about shrimp or dinosaurs, but after building meaningful relationships with our clients and applying the creative process to their brands and working with our research partners to gain new insights, we know more about this protein and these museum-worthy creatures than anyone on the planet.

It works. We believe in it. We practice it and we’re committed to it. And we love to see the positive impact the creative process has on our clients’ behalf every day.

Fierce Excerpts: Reframing stress as a challenge.

brandfiercely1Creative Process, Fierce Excerpts, Fierce Strategy + Creative

Now Reading | Minimize Stress with these 4 Mental Techniques 

Managing stress is key to having a healthy, productive work environment. Knowing how to identify stress, being aware of its effects on your mind and your body, and knowing what to do with it are critical to success—and to your sanity. Around here at the Fierce offices, we like to look at stress as a challenge and as an opportunity to learn something new. This little article had four great tips that we pulled out below in this little excerpt:

1. Reframe the stressor as a challenge.

Often, how we see the problem is the problem. Ask yourself: “How can I turn this challenge into an opportunity?”

2. Focus on the process, not the outcome.

In the book Performing Under Pressure: The Science of Doing Your Best When It Matters Most, the authors cite a study of two groups of mechanics tasked with assembling an engine.

The first group was given one chance to prove they could build an engine, but they had to do so in a specified time period. To increase the pressure, they were told that if they built it correctly and within the allotted time, they would be in line for a promotion.

A second group was given the same task with the same promise of career advancement, but they were told that if they made mistakes that they would be given additional opportunities to build.

Who do you think built the engine faster? Yup, the second group, because they were focused on the process, not the outcome.

3. Have a plan, but be ready to adapt.

It has been said that “chance favors the prepared mind” (Louis Pasteur). To the extent that you can minimize the degree of uncertainty associated with the unexpected, the more confident you’ll feel and the less stress you’ll face. To do so, always have a contingency plan for everything you do.

4. Step outside.

Exercise, more than anything, is the single greatest stress reducer on the market. Get outside and take a breath of fresh air. It always helps your perspective.

Read the entire article here:

All transformation takes place in liminal space. (Richard Rohr)

brandfiercely1Creative Process, From the CEO


We are so lucky to be surrounded by intelligent creative people every day at Fierce. They say and share the most inspiring and amazing things and sometimes we just have to pass it on. This comes from a facebook post by Jack Burgess today. It’s from Adams Return by Richard Rohr.

All transformation takes place in liminal space.

Midway in life’s journey, I awoke to find myself alone in a dark wood. –Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy, Opening Stanza

Liminal space is a concept refined by Victor Turner in his classic study on initiation and ritual. The Latin word limen means “threshold.” Liminality is an inner state and sometimes an outer situation where people can begin to think and act in genuinely new ways. It is when we are betwixt and between, have left one room but not yet entered the next room, any hiatus between stages of life, stages of faith, jobs, loves, or relationships. It is that graced time when we are not certain or in control, when something genuinely new can happen. We are empty, receptive, an erased tablet waiting for new words. Nothing fresh or creative will normally happen when are inside our self-constructed comfort zone, only more of the same. Nothing original emerges from business as usual. It seems we need some antistructure to give direction, depth, and purpose to our regular structure. Otherwise structure, which is needed in the first half of life, tends to become a prison as we grow older.

Read more here:

Also recommended: Falling Upward and Immortal Diamond.