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Client products, services align with agency values for brands that are love

Rochester Business Journal
March 23, 2012

Brand Cool Marketing Inc. doubled revenues and staff in 2011 with as little stress as possible.
The Pittsford marketing communications firm is driven by an eastern philosophy of mindfulness and all the cozy little touches that come with it, from origami and inspirational quotes to massive cups of chai.
When it comes to clients, Brand Cool wants customers to not only recognize the brand but also fall head over heels for it. It even says so on the firm’s website: “You live your brand. People notice. They fall for you. You love them back. And so it goes, happily for all.”
Brand Cool’s unique approach is a product of the company’s leadership. CEO Susan Kochan, 48, is an ordained Buddhist teacher. While Kochan says that no one who works at Brand Cool is required to subscribe to Buddhism, the religion’s fundamental building blocks of mindfulness and self-awareness certainly are a driving force.
“We do have an environment that is focused on mindfulness,” Kochan says. “It’s a true advantage in the market. Through mindfulness you’re able to build a culture and environment that enables people to bring all of their resources to the table.”
Brand Cool has spent the last several years working with clients in growth industries such as green energy and health care, where a commitment to mindfulness mirrors that of Brand Cool’s.
“We’ve actively sought out businesses in the world that are delivering amazing products and services that are aligned with our values as a company,” Kochan says. “We see those industries having substantial growth that will be sustainable.”
The approach appears to be working. In 2011, Brand Cool increased its revenues by more than 240 percent and doubled its full-time staff from eight to 16, which is a far cry from where the company started. The agency declines to disclose billings for 2011.
Kochan founded the business as Collaborative Communications with a previous business partner in 1997, working out of Kochan’s home. By 2001 the company had worked its way up to more than $10 million in capitalized billings.
Then, in 2004, the firm underwent a change in identity. Kochan brought on Kathleen Muscato, a former advertising director at Rochester Institute of Technology, as co-owner and chief creative officer. The duo changed the company’s name to Brand Cool.
Since that time, Brand Cool has used a three-pronged approach to its branding that includes identifying a client’s brand, establishing a business strategy and engaging customers through an authentic sense of passion.
Currently, Brand Cool has 15 active clients, including local organizations like Henrietta accounting firm EFP Rotenberg LLP, the Bivona Child Advocacy Center, and the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at RIT.
“Our mission is to help our clients become the brands people love,” Kochan says. “Love is the ultimate measure of brand loyalty. All our engagement with new clients begins in the research phase. If we hear from customers that they love that brand, we know we’ve really got something to work with.”

Small Business is a weekly feature focusing on entrepreneurs. Send suggestions for future Small Business stories to Associate Editor Smriti Jacob at (c) 2012 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email

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