How We Do It.

Over the years, we have distilled our approach into a clear and effective four-step process. We call it the MacPhie Way.



There’s a story about two ships sailing next to each other across the ocean. The captains both knew they were trying to get to New France, but their compasses were set two degrees apart from one another. Sure enough after months of voyaging, the ships arrived at completely different locations.

This story reminds us that when we start engagements we need to be 100% aligned on where we are, where we want to be, and how we’re going to get there. And that means taking the time to precisely define a clear plan. By ensuring clarity on our objective, consultation plan and critical path, MacPhie designs victory into every engagement.



You may have heard of how Coke decided their customers needed a sweeter drink, and spent all kinds of time and money creating New Coke. When the beverage launched, it was an abysmal failure. Coke didn’t understand that their primary audience viewed Coke as more than just a drink – it was an experience for its consumers, extending far beyond its sweetness. Even though the sweeter drink wins blind taste tests, Coke’s core fan base rejected New Coke as it was at odds with the nostalgic essence of the Coke Brand.

At times, strategy, brand, and communications can seem technical, but in reality they are all about tapping into the values, and emotions of your audiences. How people feel about your organization is just as important as how they think about your organization. With this in mind, we use a mix of quantitative and immersive qualitative research methods that enable us to uncover rich insights into the needs, preferences, attitudes, behaviours, and aspirations of key audiences.



In 1982, two friends opened a little deli in Ann Arbor, Michigan called Zingerman’s. Yes, Zingerman’s offered a great turkey sandwich, but its superb customer service made it truly stand out. So, rather than pursuing the standard model, which would dictate opening dozens, or even hundreds, of additional delis all over the country, Zingerman’s decided to pursue a more unusual plan, which involved developing ZingTrain, wherein they share their unique approach to customer service to help other businesses make meaningful culture and bottom-line-enhancing changes in their own organizations. And that’s not even the half of it. The Zingerman’s Community of Businesses, which includes ten different business lines ranging from catering to candy to cooking demonstrations, has had success to the tune of sixty million in revenue annually.

Great solutions to organizational challenges can be found in unlikely places. And that’s why we present strategic options that boldly draw on our cross-sector experience while uniquely leveraging your organization’s core competencies. We aim to help our clients see their organizations through different lenses, just as Zingerman’s smartly did. To do that, we draw on our cross-sector experience, knowledge of your audiences and understanding of the organization’s context to identify options. We take a bottom-up and top-down approach to insight development, which helps us to consistently transform learning into opportunity.


Decision Making

Frederick the Great once said, “He who defends everything defends nothing.” This quote is fitting of the man who would unify much of German-speaking Europe into a single nation – Germany – much to the chagrin of the larger, more established Austrian Empire. Frederick’s ability to see the larger, strategic picture was the central driver for success.

We know that strategy, brand and communications are all about making choices and that’s why we define unique strategic choices for our clients to discuss, debate, refine, and decide upon. We present the outcomes of our analysis and facilitate informed, inclusive decision-making, because we know that a direction is only right when your key stakeholders are behind it.

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