Brand Positioning Case Study: The Sequence Board Game Box

Last weekend I played Sequence with my friends Jeff and Crystal. It’s a neat game that combines several standard game mechanics (deck of cards, board, tokens) to make for a rockin’ good time that can also turn super ugly and make your best friends into your worst enemies.

(Jeff, Crystal- if you’re reading this, I will get you back.

Also you’re my buddies and you deserve the best.


So as I was saying…

I couldn’t help but analyze the brand position of the game because…

Well, because I’m a nerd.

But my nerdiness is your gain, because I notice little elements of positioning strategy in everyday life and can pass those little nuggets on to you.

The Sequence board game box is a great brand positioning case study.

Here’s what I saw:

Brand positioning case study

The cover of the Sequence box communicates four key elements of the brand that our company always creates with our clients before they just start pushing out content left and right:

The Name (Sequence)

The Category (Board Game)

The Tagline (An exciting game of strategy)

The Key Benefits (Fun, Challenging, Exciting)

You can also see two credibility builders on the front:

Millions sold!

Recommended by Bill Barrett

Not gonna lie: I don’t know why Bill Barrett’s recommendation matters.

I don’t know him.

That may not even be part of the original box.

Maybe some guy named Bill Barrett just stamped the silly thing.

(UPDATE: My apologies to Bill Barrett. Apparently he helped Jax Games get off the ground, and the stamp is a sign of appreciation. Way to go Bill!)

But so far the brand is still solid. You know what you’re getting, and if you’re a dude like me, it sounds fun.

The side of the box top is less impressive.

The designers did make the good decision of repeating the name and tagline so you can see them even when the game is on the shelf.

Then they wrote that the game instructions are in English and Spanish…

But only write that in English.


Seems like a missed opportunity to speak to a Spanish-speaking audience.

When you rotate the top of the box, you can see the name again, along with the recommended age range for game play and number of players.

OK, not bad information.

You can also see the parent brand company name, which is smart. Sequence is a divergent brand of the larger game company, Jax Games. If you like Sequence, you might like some of the other games.

Maybe they should cross-sell them, right?

Well guess what, gaming buckaroo?

They do!

On the side of the box bottom, you can see all of the other Jax Games, along with the Jax Games website and tagline:

The Fun and Games People.

And when you rotate the box bottom, you see the parent brand again with an alternative tagline:

For Fun and Games.

So on a single box, they have managed to show you:

The game brand

The product category

The tagline

The benefits

One good credibility builder

The parent company

The parent company website

And two versions of the parent company tagline

Not too shabby for an old cardboard box.

Of course, they didn’t just think all of that stuff up when they were coming up with the box.

The marketers took their time to determine the right message for Sequence, and for the Jax Company, long before the game was ever brought to market.


The lesson:

When you build out your own brand, take the time to figure out your positioning before you ever launch.

Let the Sequence box be your muse.

TL;DR: The Sequence board game box is a great brand positioning case study because it manages to communicate many of the key elements of the brand in a quick and easy way, building credibility and loyalty from players before and after game play.

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Daniel J. CohenBrand Positioning Case Study: The Sequence Board Game Box

The Official RedShift Writers Core Values Speech

Recently, RedShift Writers held our annual production meeting, where we delivered our speech on our company’s core values.

As messaging strategists, we have consistently supported other companies in defining and describing their own core values. After pinpointing their values, we similarly encourage our clients to develop a core values speech of their own so they can get everyone on their team on the same page.

As an example to our clients and to companies everywhere, we have released the full transcript of our core values speech.

Hello everyone. I want to take a moment to talk about our team, but I’d like to start by rewinding a bit further back, to the beginning of our company.

When I was originally choosing the name of our company, I found myself gravitating toward concepts that had immense meaning in the universe. Two lists formed: one list with names of gods and goddesses, and one that listed intergalactic terms. I soon decided to go with the second list, striking our chances of ever becoming Zeus Writers, or Hermes’ Lightning Fast Scribes company.

After first narrowing options to those on the intergalactic list, I found myself gravitating toward the name, and concept, of RedShift. It was partly for writing purposes: RedShift alliterates with “writers”, and it’s easy to type. If you look at your keyboard, you’ll notice that the letters are pretty close together. There was a certain memorability to it that was fitting for the era when we were formed: thanks to new technologies, marketers were taking a more scientific approach to their work, and RedShift is a scientific concept.

What really intrigued me, though, was the concept itself. Have you ever noticed that when a fire truck passes you, the sound changes to be lower in pitch? The same thing happens with light. Light appears to become more red as it moves away from us.

The Redshift effect of light observed from distant stars and galaxies demonstrates that the universe is expanding. And over time, scientists figured that if the universe is expanding, there must have been a moment when it all started about 13.8 billion years ago, AKA “The Big Bang.”

As you all know, our company’s big bang happened about 10 years ago. Since that moment, much like the universe, we’ve expanded too. We’ve worked with dozens of writers and more than a hundred clients, turning a two thousand dollar investment into hundreds of thousands of dollars in annual revenue year over year, not to mention regular work for a staff of 5-7 writers, and foundational messaging for companies across a wide variety of industries.

Much like the creation of the universe, the beginning of RedShift Writers was chaotic but highly energetic, birthing something unique. Our writers have always been unique, but those who have stayed together as a team for years have all rallied around common values, around which our universe took on structure and order in the form of core values: the values of being mindful, constructive, creative, and strategic.

At RedShift, we are mindful of the present: our feelings, the feelings of those we work with, and how we operate. Sometimes it shows up in small ways: we take the time to give each other credit through Monday kudos, or a high five on a Google Meeting. While it’s common in our industry to work long hours and push through situations, we think about the present and say, “Hey, we’ve been at this for a while. Let’s take 5 so we can refresh ourselves, relax, and come back with new vigor.”

Our mindfulness shows up in larger ways as well. Everyone on our team has provided insights into how to navigate a client situation in ways that have led to better results.

And we don’t stray from dialogue about the world at large. We directly discuss ideas that challenge us and do everything we can to push each other to make an impact both in our roles and in our lives outside of work. We are selective about who we work with. We discuss how to help the world and challenge ourselves to be better during our ethics checks, and every song we’ve analyzed, from Tracy Chapman to Gil Scott Heron to Toomaj Salehi, reveals how to better understand the struggles and challenges of other people. We can never know what it’s like to be someone else, but we do our best to consider their perspective, and we come by it honestly.

We’re mindful of each other. We give each other insights, ideas big and small, and credit for doing well in our roles. When we need to take a step back, we do. We’re mindful of our place in the room, contributing as needed, and leaving space for others to contribute in kind. We’re even mindful of people outside the room. We take the time to realize that everyone has a life as complex as our own, with challenges and triumphs, love and difficulties, and personal perceptions and considerations that are every bit as valid as ours.

Our feedback is mindful; we all think differently, and are motivated differently, so we tailor our communication to our clients, our partners, and to one another so that we are upholding our second core value by being constructive. 

RedShift Writers’ creative sessions between writers, directors, and editors always incorporate positive creative tension.

We even have a whole conceptual explanation for it that accompanies our creative tension exercises, an explanation that goes like this: 

“When we write collaboratively, or when a Director and Writer work together to finalize direction, we seek to find a balance in our creative tension. Too much tension, and the pair will pushback at one another and won’t be able to develop a piece. Not enough tension and the piece will fall flat, as both collaborators will allow every part of the draft to stay standing, even areas that could and should have been improved before reaching the editing phase of the project.

The purpose of this creative tension is to be constructive, to always consider one another’s ideas and edits before pushing back, and trying to find ways to say yes or include elements of an idea that were positive and fitting for the piece.

We notice when something can be improved, but also consider the outcomes of our actions and words, and how we might make a change.Years ago, we picked up a saying from one of our clients:

“Blame destroys accountability.”

Blame makes folks defensive, and it’s just plain ugly as a way to solve problems. Instead of blame, we hold ourselves and one another accountable by getting to the bottom of challenges, identifying causes, and coming up with solutions through honest feedback and the knowledge that our fellow writers are there to support us in our goals.

As a result, we are grateful for one another’s feedback, making hard conversations and transitions just a little bit easier. We value one another, listen to each other, and learn lessons from one another. We maintain regular touchpoints and intentional conversations. If we need to make a change, we talk about it. Every Wednesday, we meet to surface and address ongoing challenges in the company related to both accounts and other day-to-day activities.

We take a constructive approach to conferences and processes. RedShift Writers is more organized than it ever has been, and our team’s individual growth is the main reason why. We solve issues quickly with templates and checklists, as well as a strong meeting pulse. We see constructive improvement as an ongoing effort, and our systems, information governance, and workflow undergo continuous yet measured changes as we construct a company that grows more and more dynamic by the day.

Seeing opportunities to construct a better company means seeing things differently and materializing ideas that others may not think of. Fortunately, our team lives up to our third core value: we are nothing if not creative.

We are makers, artists, crafters, dreamers, musicians, and last but not least, writers! We like to create, and have a deep appreciation for the meaning behind the things that other people create. We could have been bankers or insurance agents, but we chose to make the timeless craft of writing a key part of our lives.

We’re curious, unafraid to experiment. We like to try new things! We value different perspectives and experiences. There is always more to learn from the world; we know that we don’t know everything, and find beauty in discovering whatever we can. Whether it’s the particular rhythm, diction, connotation, or reference of a specific passage, sentence, or even a single word, or something entirely different from writing, such as a movie scene or a musical riff, we are fascinated with the artful nuances that are responsible for so much of the beauty around us. We share those details with one another regularly, in passing and as part of projects.

And we play games! Every Monday, we spend one of the first parts of our week creating together. We ideate and build fantasy worlds for brands and projects: a frog band, a Dog boot company, and the fictional town of RedVille Shiftland. We grow our understanding of theories, models, strategies, and tactics while expanding our own mentalities and those that are external to our company. We work together to create solutions across all aspects of what we do: in our client work, our internal work, across all departmental functions, and how we make a positive impact.

Our creativity opens up opportunities because we can see more solutions to the challenges before us, and the challenges faced by the entire world. We live our fourth core value by using our creativity strategically.

We’re dynamic and are always considerate of dynamics: the intricacies and ongoing changes of our team, the industry we are working with, the situation, and our history. When we run into a writing challenge, we think of the audience in all of its nuance and find ways to structure our writing to fulfill their wishes and achieve the business objectives of our partners and clients. We outline every project with a RACI to ensure accountability, and track time, deadlines, steps, communication preferences, and a host of other details and considerations that keep us oriented toward our goal and informed of complexities.

We’re willing to follow a path, but we’re not afraid to pave our own path, too. If a strategy or tactic isn’t working, we try something else. All of us keep our eyes naturally open to spot tools, tips, insights, and snippets of information that might be helpful for us in our work. We know that nothing is static, so we consider different approaches and strive to implement what is maximal.

When we discuss challenges, we discuss not just the surface level issues, but also how best to approach the discussion itself, tailoring our approach to the scenario at hand. We think forward and reason backwards by considering the end goal and figuring out the best way for things to play out. All of our strategy is backed by a principle of connections, the idea that there are relationships between almost everything in the universe. We are mindful of cause and effect, and how multiple causes can lead to single effects or ripple into much larger consequences. RedShift may be a space-related term, but nothing we do is completed in a vacuum.

We think about how our actions affect the whole:

How will this impact the client?

The client’s end customers?

Partners on the project?

We ask:

How will this make the other person in the conversation feel?

What is the best way to communicate this idea?

What will be their response? Are we achieving what we set out to do in this situation?

We think of the relationship between the company’s business plan, the marketing tasks we have been asked to execute, and different team business functions. We think of the need: of the reader, the clients, and ourselves. 

These values are not the only values we exemplify, individually, or as a team. And much of what we do exemplifies more than one of these values, as each tends to reinforce and bolster the others. But what is for certain is that the RedShift Writers’ team is universally mindful, constructive, creative, and strategic, and by living our core values, we can continue to reach for the stars and expand our universe in ways that are positive for every person we encounter, and every endeavor we embark upon.

Each and every one of us lives and works by these core values. We are mindful. We are constructive. We are creative. We are strategic. We are RedShift Writers, and I am grateful to work with you as we embrace the next chapter of our adventure, together.

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Daniel J. CohenThe Official RedShift Writers Core Values Speech

What Ryan Holiday’s Philosophy Suggests About Gini Dietrich’s PESO Marketing

Several years ago, PR professional and Spin Sucks founder Gini Dietrich shifted the perspective of PR practitioners and content strategists by introducing the PESO marketing model. PESO refers to the kinds of media you might pursue as part of your business marketing model:

  • Paid media refers to media such as advertisements.
  • Earned media refers to publicity such as interviews in the press.
  • Shared media refers to co-owned spaces such as social media channels or events paid for by you and your partners.
  • Owned media refers to content that is 100% owned by you, such as your website.

Some forms of media fall into more than one category, but you get the big picture: the PESO marketing model details your entire media marketing mix.

Which media should you invest most of your budget in? We’ll return to that in a moment, but first, I’d like to discuss a recent blog post that offered a unique, implicit perspective on how to prioritize PESO marketing in a way that goes beyond the standard business case.

If you read books about strategy, you have probably heard of Ryan Holiday. Once an intern for Robert Greene, Holiday is now a best-selling author in his own right, moving millions of copies of Trust Me I’m Lying, The Obstacle is the Way, Ego is the Enemy, and eleven other books to date, all of which detail strategic insights on topics such as PR, marketing, the art of creating timeless work, and the philosophy of the stoics.

For years, Holiday leveraged the PR and advertising strategies he learned early in his career to sell his books, courses, and other products. However, just last week in a blog post titled “This Decision Changed My Life and My Business,“ Holiday revealed that he has recently stopped investing in publicity and advertising in favor of content he himself creates with the help of fellow creative vendors.

He explains his rationale in the piece:

“…instead of using your energy and resources and effort to make stuff that converts, you should use your energy and resources and effort to make stuff that matters.

Because it is valuable in and of itself.

Someone gets shown an ad and buys something, that’s great. But the people who get shown an ad and do nothing? What a lost opportunity! What a waste of their time and yours. It’s nice for the ego to get profiled in some publication…but it is quickly forgotten.
Deciding to make videos, write articles, produce thousands of hours of audio–what I decided to prioritize my work around was making work.
Creating value for others that lasts.”

So, in Holiday’s opinion, owned content is the way to go, but not because it widens margins or drives sales. He even goes so far as to point out that he is not measuring “Strategy A vs. Strategy B” and suggests that his approach may not be the most cost effective.

But is that assessment correct? Certainly, owned media content offers you the opportunity to create something timeless, and that’s an invaluable resource unto itself, but you do have a business to run. If you need ROI, what kind of media should you start with?

Let’s consult Dietrich herself for the answer:

“As the industry began to take a hold of this process, communicators began to ask me, “Why PESO? What we do never starts with paid.”
I agree!
If I were to order the media types in order of importance, from a communications perspective, it would be OESP—owned, earned, shared, and then paid.
But that’s a lot harder to remember, isn’t it?
And what’s the number one rule of branding?
Create something memorable.”

As it turns out, Dietrich and Holiday both agree on prioritizing owned media content. Dietrich says you should put it first for the good of your business; Holiday says put it first for the good of the world.

At RedShift Writers, we believe owned media content has the power to accomplish both. As an expert in your industry, you have plenty to offer the world in the way of insights about your field. And if you share these insights based upon a carefully crafted positioning brief that tells people who you are, what you do, and who you do it for, it should yield returns on your investment by carrying you and your business from launch to legacy.

To learn how, book a meeting with one of our strategists.

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Daniel J. CohenWhat Ryan Holiday’s Philosophy Suggests About Gini Dietrich’s PESO Marketing

Want a better content strategy? Start with a positioning brief.

Want a better content strategy? Start with a positioning brief.

When you first start a business (or even if you’ve been in business for a century!), it’s important to do things in the right order. As a longtime business strategist and mentor once explained it to me:

“A lot of entrepreneurs start off marketing and selling to customers. They accept the money into a personal account, don’t track their expenses, and don’t know the laws in their industry. Then they have to go back, collect all of their receipts and hire a lawyer and accountant to make up for all of their early mistakes. It’s better to go in the reverse order: talk to a lawyer to make sure you’re operating legally, then analyze the market and financial implications with an accountant, and then get to operations and marketing so you can grow your business sustainably and aboveboard.”

The same principles apply to your content marketing strategy. While writing new content for your website or cranking out blog posts and sharing them with the public may feel exciting, writing effective content requires a strong foundation. If you have not established your company’s driving purpose and written it down so you can keep it in mind as you produce content, you’re going out of order and may end up with content that doesn’t attract the customers you’re looking for—or worse, actually drives them away.

Instead, maximize your brand’s potential. Champion your brand’s purpose and rallying cry with the foundational document upon which all other elements of your brand strategy rely: your positioning brief.

What is positioning?

To fully understand the purpose and value of a positioning brief requires understanding the definition of positioning. Positioning is the theory that in order to become a leader in your market, you must establish and safeguard a market position.

What is a market position? According to the classic marketing book Positioning by legendary thinkers Jack Trout and Al Ries, a market position is an idea that your brand owns in the mind of the market.

In the grocery store market, Whole Foods owns the idea of “high-end organic foods.” Walmart owns the idea of “cheapest foods.” HEB owns the idea of “affordable local Texas products.” La Michoacana is where you can go to get “Mexican foods that are not available at most other stores.” Each store is positioned differently, speaking to a different audience and occupying a different market position.

In automobiles, a Camry represents the position of a reliable, affordable, no-frills vehicle. A Charger is a muscle car. A Ford F-150 is for people who either haul stuff or want to flex their country credentials. An Aston Martin is for someone who wants a unique, expensive, luxury vehicle. Camry buyers aren’t interested in an Aston Martin; an Aston Martin occupies a different position.

The same can be seen in virtually every market. If you think of a product that you personally use, you can probably also think of a competitor to that product, and spot the differences between them because they each have a different position in the market.

What is a positioning brief?

A positioning brief is a document made up of smaller, fragmented pieces of commonly used content that put your market position in writing. You will commonly use your positioning brief to communicate ideas to people both inside and outside your company, and to guide the actual execution of securing your market position.

Because your positioning brief helps you create a clear vision for your brand and its messaging, it should precede any piece of content, even if it’s just an email newsletter or blog post. Ideally, you should produce a positioning brief even before you establish a content calendar, content guidelines, or any other content strategy documents. All content follows your positioning brief.

Why should I spend time creating a positioning brief?

The main reason to create a positioning brief is the same reason you do anything else in business: it preserves resources and drives profit.

When your market position is unclear, you can never know whether or not your marketing strategy is based on a solid foundation, and can therefore never test whether or not your marketing is effective. You have to constantly reinvent the wheel (or in this case, the brand). 

Conversely, a solid positioning brief helps you: 

  • Seamlessly launch sales and marketing campaigns
  • Edge out competitors
  • Appeal to the right customers
  • Impress a wide variety of stakeholders with tailored messaging, including employees, partners, investors, media, prospects, and customers

What is in a positioning brief?

A positioning brief includes:

  • Audience Analysis
  • Competitive Analysis
  • Name Analysis
  • Category
  • Unique Value Proposition
  • Mission
  • Vision
  • Values
  • Brand Voice Statement
  • Tagline
  • Brand Story
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Daniel CohenWant a better content strategy? Start with a positioning brief.

Houston Content Strategy Firm Turns Ten

For Immediate Release: Content Strategy Firm Celebrates Ten Years in Business

Houston, TX (December 12, 2022) — RedShift Writers, a content strategy agency based in Houston, TX just hit a key milestone: 10 years of telling stories. 

Over the past decade, RedShift has evolved from a one-person shop into a team of writers with diverse yet complementary skill sets. We’ve represented award winning brands across various industries, from startups to well established companies. No matter the stage of the company, we make sure the content we write aligns with their vision, connects with their audience, and creates a strong position in the mind of the market.

RedShift Writers has grown with our clients by committing ourselves to understanding their cultures, their pain points, and their objectives. By focusing on strategy, we’ve been able to help companies tell stories that resonate with their audiences through a comprehensive, well-planned marketing mix: blogs that establish authority, emails that drive engagement, and websites that are optimized to meet the needs of both search engines and potential customers. 

RedShift Writers Founder Daniel J. Cohen remarked, “I’ve always been passionate about getting people where they’re going, whether it’s getting a company to find their place in the market, or getting a writer to build on their strengths. And I’m extremely grateful for the people who have reflected that back to us. Thank you to the clients who have trusted us to find their voice and grow their position in the market. Thank you to the mentors who have provided us with support and insights along the way. And thank you to our writers for all of your hard work and dedication in building and growing RedShift Writers. I couldn’t have done it without y’all, and look forward to what we can accomplish together over the next ten years.”

Turning ten is just the latest in a long list of milestones for RedShift Writers. We’ve ghostwritten a Penguin-published book. We’ve helped start ups make a name for themselves and secure eight-figure investments. We’ve written articles for major publications such as Forbes, InnovationMap, and Houston Chronicle. We’ve helped our clients win awards such as Houston Business Journal’s 40 Under 40, Nasdaq’s Milestone Makers, and the Inc. 500’s list of the Most Successful Companies in America. We’ve optimized content to ascend search rankings, maximize site traffic, and convert more prospects into customers. And we’ve successfully implemented strategies that elevated our clients’ reputations and secured their place as leaders in highly competitive markets.

As we enter the next chapter of our story, we will continue to help companies achieve their business objectives by leaning into what makes them unique so that they can grow into the companies that they were always meant to become. 

Here’s to the next 10 years. 

About RedShift Writers
RedShift Writers is a content writing company dedicated to the principle that stories change history. We capture the spirit of who you are through in-depth research and develop content writing and strategies so you can build a relationship with your audience. RedShift Writers helps businesses through all stages of the writing process from conceptualization to the final draft. Services include content strategy, brand positioning, and content writing such as websites, blogs, white papers, case studies, editorials, books, guides, and press releases.

To inquire about our services, visit

Media Contact:
Alexander E. Oriani
Creative Director, RedShift Writers
[email protected] // 832.671.8333

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Daniel CohenHouston Content Strategy Firm Turns Ten