See and realize what's possible.

KHJ Brand Activation is an independent, woman-owned, full-service brand strategy and activation firm with deep expertise in healthcare, real estate, business-to-business and consumer brand marketing strategies. Situated in Boston's Seaport District, KHJ is widely recognized for its ability to bring the 'heart and soul' of a brand to life, igniting internal cultures and engaging external stakeholders to achieve a higher level of performance.

The midsized firm helps clients across the country and around the world achieve what's possible with its proprietary approach, the See and Realize™ Pathway. 

 
$25,000+
 
$150 - $199 / hr
 
10 - 49
 Founded
1986
Show all +
Boston, MA
headquarters
  • 155 Seaport Blvd, 3rd Floor
    Boston, MA 02210
    United States

Portfolio

Key clients: 

Quest Diagnostics, Circle Health, Webster Five Bank, Massachusetts Gaming Commission, GameSense, Encore, MassDevelopment, The Davis Companies, Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy, Nordblom, Winn Companies, Pembroke, Benchmark Senior Living, Cambridge Health Alliance, Abbott Molecular, Abbott Nutrition, Instrumentation Laboratory, PerkinElmer, Genomind, Haemonetics, Boston Municipal Research Bureau, Bulfinch, REFA, Columbia Construction, Cresset, National Development, Padgett, VIPcare.

Reviews

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Custom Branding Campaign for Real Estate Developer

"We have been able to build a significant buzz in the market."

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
4.5
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
Confidential
 
Oct. 2018 - Dec. 2020
Project summary: 

KHJ Brand Activation provided a custom branding campaign for a real estate developer. Their team built a dynamic website, print materials, collateral, and marketing sales kit for the project.

The Reviewer
 
1-10 Employees
 
Boston, Massachusetts
Laurel Beyer
Head of Marketing, Cronin Development
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

KHJ Brand Activation built strong recognition in the market through their efforts. The quality of the website and presentation materials are very high. The team was effective in designing templates and coordinated all aspects of the project with passion and ease.

The client submitted this review online.

BACKGROUND

Please describe your company and your position there.

Cronin Development is a prominent residential and commercial real estate developer in Boston. As the Head of Marketing, I oversee all of the marketing, advertising, media, events and public relations for the company with a focus on The St. Regis Residences, Boston.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

For what projects/services did your company hire KHJ Brand Activation?

The branding for The St. Regis Residences, Boston. KHJ created our brand campaign including branding film, sales kits and packaging, marketing collateral, website design and ad templates.

What were your goals for this project?

To reflect the level of quality and sophistication the St. Regis brand is known for. To create a buzz targeted to high net worth individuals and to clearly communicate that this is a residence-only tower with no hotel component.

SOLUTION

How did you select this vendor?

As a Marriott licensee we needed an agency that understand this highly competitive market and could help us to create a brand that gives us a true point of difference. KHJ assisted in convincing Marriott that we needed a custom brand campaign as their Live Exquisite campaign for residences was too similar to other campaigns for competing projects and a bit too presumptuous and over the top for the Boston market.

Describe the project and the services they provided in detail.

KHJ developed a custom brand campaign called Live as you wish. The campaign has a playful sophistication about it that allows consumers to see that The St. Regis Residences, Boston delivers such bespoke living experience with personalized service at every level, owner can truly live they way that suits their lifestyle. KHJ created and presented the campaign to Marriott for approval. They designed a splash page and full website, brochure, sales kit and packaging, marketing collateral, a brand film, billboard, maps and advertising templates. All has to be vetted and approved through Marriott and St. Regis brand team.

What was the team composition?

Mike Panagako was the lead strategist and handled presentations to Marriott. He was assisted by Sheree Dunwell. Rachael Bellwood was our account representative and my day to day contact. Rachael is in every sense of the word "a rockstar". Attentive, clear commmunicator and highly engaged in every step. As the project matured, Mike was able to take a step back from the day to day management and left us in capable hands with Rachael and Sheree.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

Can you share any information that demonstrates the impact that this project has had on your business?

We have been able to build a significant buzz in the market. The quality of our website, presentation materials is a strong reflection of The St. Regis brand and have been well received by prospective buyers. Interest in the project and pre-sales are going well and the project is still two years from completion.

How was project management arranged and how effective was it?

The three person account team at KHJ was very effective as it compensated for any vacation or travel time for team members to keep us on track. In the early stages of developing this campaign there were many moving parts and elements to coordinate including securing timely feedback and approvals from Marriott.

What did you find most impressive about this company?

As the first residence-only St. Regis, we were creating templates and marketing materials that were new to the Marriott brand team and system. KHJ was extremely flexible in vetting and managing the many comments and edits that came through from various stakeholders at Marriott. At times, KHJ helped us to convince Marriott to let us design things that worked for the brand which at times stretched beyond the strict St. Regis guidelines. As a result, we were asked to create a full case study for Marriott to use when marketing their branded residences to other developers. They are able to show a complete campaign and with the help of KHJ, we created templates that will continue to be used corporately.

Are there any areas for improvement?

In hind sight, I wish that we were able to more clearly identify the scope of work for all of the marketing elements. In the early stages, we could not identify all of the marketing assets we would need and ideas came up as we started the sales cycle which at times were more costly to execute than if they had been negotiated in the initial scope. For this project, there were layers of approval that required numerous graphic edits which cost money and time on both sides. KHJ worked with me on costs whenever they could. With such customized copy, I would have included copywriting and proofreading as part of each element. We were all moving so quickly and had so many marketing pieces being created at once, it would have been helpful to have had a second set of eyes that was not so ingrained in the process.

5.0
Overall Score They are an all around strong agency who offers quality insight, competitive analysis and flexibility when faced with corporate brand guidelines.
  • 5.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
    They were flexbile and accommodating in scheduling meetings and were an active participant in our St. Regis brand immersion.
  • 4.5 Cost
    Value / within estimates
    Just as talented but less expensive than a NY agency and their market knowledge is invaluable.
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
    Highly creative agency. Strong Real Estate experience and an effective account team.
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer
    I already have

Branding & Marketing for Large Local Law Firm

“KHJ Brand Activation navigated our needs and produced the highest quality of work.”

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
5.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
Confidential
 
Jan. 2015 - Mar. 2018
Project summary: 

Working with several stakeholders, KHJ Brand Activation found a common message to align a diverse group under a new brand message. They then designed marketing assets, created a logo, and updated the website.

The Reviewer
 
201-500 Employees
 
Boston, Massachusetts
Paul Ayoub
Executive Committee, Nutter
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

KHJ Brand Activation demonstrated an incredible talent for unifying multiple viewpoints into a common identity. They took a nuanced approach to the engagement. Not only did their brand strategy help differentiate the business, but they also empowered internal teams to pitch themselves to the market.

A Clutch analyst personally interviewed this client over the phone. Below is an edited transcript.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

Nutter is a large Boston-based law firm with a national presence. We have a broad range of practice groups within our firm.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with KHJ Brand Activation?

We wanted to create an external marketing and branding strategy but hadn’t done that before. With 150 lawyers across multiple practice groups, we’re very diverse in many aspects as a firm, so we needed to market ourselves under a common brand identity.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

KHJ Brand Activation helped us coalesce as one firm under a unified brand identity. When they interviewed people internally and externally, they found that we were remarkably different in our approach compared to our competitors. To highlight this, they helped us understand who we were as a company and what our common bonds were.

In many ways, the venture was heavily an internal alignment project. It’s no easy task getting partners not just to agree on things but also to embrace ideas and get excited about them. However, their process was able to foster an internal understanding. That’s something that even larger organizations have trouble with when undertaking a rebrand.

From there, they helped us develop our brand statement before updating our marketing materials. Depending on the piece, they either refreshed or redesigned our collateral. This included designing a new logo and tagline, updating our website, and branding our stationery.

What is the team composition?

We worked with Judy (CEO and Founder, KHJ Brand Activation), Michael (Senior Vice President, KHJ Brand Activation), and a few other people.

How did you come to work with KHJ Brand Activation?

We issued an RFP to multiple firms and screened them based on their response. Then our practice development committee held in-depth interviews with the 3–4 finalists, including KHJ Brand Activation. Their team rose high and above the competition; they’d clearly done their homework about who we were and had a clear vision of how to get us where we needed to go.

What is the status of this engagement?

Their work lasted from January 2015–March 2018.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement?

We were initially skeptical of whether we could comfortably align under one brand message, considering our breadth of local, national, and international clientele. However, our team all agrees that KHJ Brand Activation found our message and identified our brand. They internally aligned us as a firm to define who we are, where we’ve been, where we want to go, and what our common bonds are.

The team itself was incredibly smart, instinctive, and brilliant in their field. They had an incredible talent to listen and execute. Their brand strategy was instrumental not only in helping us emerge in the marketplace but also to stand out from the competition. Prospective clients and firms alike noticed us. Thanks to their efforts, we’re now able to distinguish ourselves and can stand up for who we are, which is something unique and very special.

How did KHJ Brand Activation perform from a project management standpoint?

They performed project management tasks with excellence. We got together a lot in-person. It took much longer than anticipated but that was 100% on us. They were really good at shepherding us forward, meeting deadlines, and encouraging us to do the same.

What did you find most impressive about them?

They saw in us what none of us were able to see. The team showed a great deal of respect and patience, considering the number of stakeholders in the project. They were able to manage disparate viewpoints, personalities, and styles.

What’s more, they took our ideas and brought us to where we needed to go as a firm. It’s a rare talent to take a brand and elevate it successfully. I’ve been involved with a number of organizations that wanted to rebrand, and many of these exercises fail. However, KHJ Brand Activation navigated our needs and produced the highest quality of work.

Are there any areas they could improve?

No, I can’t think of anything. Judy and her team are second to none.

Do you have any advice for potential customers?

Hire them and listen to them! It’s no more complicated than that.

5.0
Overall Score
  • 5.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
  • 5.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
    They’re flawless and amazing in every respect.
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer

Branding & Design for Stem Cell Research Company

“Their strategies had a huge impact on the success of our growing business.”

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
4.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
Confidential
 
Jan. 2017 - Apr. 2018
Project summary: 

KHJ provided research, brand development, and communication strategies to identify a profitable audience and effectively allocate resources. They also named the product and created a logo and website.

The Reviewer
 
1-10 Employees
 
Natick, Massachusetts
Advisor, LifeVault
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

KHJ’s efforts had a huge impact on business growth by attracting both consumers and potential investors. The team’s open communication, top-notch creative skills, and invested approach to the partnership led to high-quality and profitable results.

A Clutch analyst personally interviewed this client over the phone. Below is an edited transcript.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

I am the advisor at LifeVault. We are a stem cell research preservation company based in Massachusetts.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with KHJ Brand Activation?

We are a startup, so we were looking for a branding partner to help us develop our product, our identity, and company narrative.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

We started with only a beta product, which KHJ updated and prepared for its market launch. Their team conducted research to help us define our target audience and most profitable markets. They developed a communications strategy, to introduce our brand to consumers and potential investors, and a marketing strategy to best allocate our time and resources to optimize our ROI. Additionally, KHJ created a trademarkable name and product logo and built a user-friendly website that aligned with our newly established brand identity. The team implemented these initial efforts, then formed a forward-thinking architecture to guide the brand as it grows.

What is the team composition?

We worked with one main representative that we spoke with weekly. We also interacted with the CEO, two additional representatives, and a sizable design team.

How did you come to work with KHJ Brand Activation?

We were researching branding agencies, with experience in healthcare, that were located in either New York, Chicago, or Boston. Out of ten potential agencies, we ultimately chose KHJ for four main reasons.

First, they seemed very invested in our product. They understood that we were a startup and didn’t have a concrete direction of the company, and they were willing to work with us on that. Second, they offered a very experienced team that consisted of both entry-level and senior employees. Third, they boasted an impressive roster of previous healthcare clients and came with great references. Finally, I personally liked that KHJ is a woman-run business, I was very impressed by the CEO.

What is the status of this engagement?

We worked together on this specific project from January 2017­–April 2018. We plan to engage with them again very soon.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement?

With KHJ’s help, we were able to identify our most profitable audiences, on both the consumer and investor side, and effectively articulate the value of our services. Because we offer a complex product, it was necessary that KHJ relay those sophisticated elements in understandable and inviting terms. Their strategies had a huge impact on the success of our growing business.

How did KHJ Brand Activation perform from a project management standpoint?

Their team was available and responsive in our phone and email interactions and always willing to meet in person.

What did you find most impressive about them?

I think they are great listeners. The team understood the dynamic and culture of our business and had the ability to positively exploit unique elements for market gain. KHJ is extremely creative and determined to deliver a great product.

Are there any areas they could improve?

I can’t think of anything off the top of my head. We are very pleased with the results of our partnership.

Any advice for potential customers?

It is important to treat KHJ as an extension of the internal team. Clients should be very honest with them about their business and goals so that the team is best equipped to solve problems and meet all of the requirements. This was our approach, and I think we got the most out of our partnership.

5.0
Overall Score Their team is experienced, knowledgeable, creative, fun, with great leadership skills.
  • 5.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
    Their strong project management approach helped them meet each deadline.
  • 4.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
    Their services are on the expensive side, but we had a great experience.
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
    They were extremely organized and showed consistent communication skills.
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer
    I would definitely recommend them to anyone looking for branding services.

Full Re-branding for Copyright & Licensing Company

"They are very proactive and excellent at managing expectations at both the operator and executive levels."

Quality: 
4.0
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
3.5
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
Confidential
 
Aug. 2017 - Ongoing
Project summary: 

KHJ Brand Activation is conducting a five-step rebranding process. They are currently determining market perception and creating an initial set of core messages for a target audience.

The Reviewer
 
201-500 Employees
 
Massachusetts
Head of Marketing, Copyright & Licensing Company
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

Providing an outside perspective, KHJ provides valuable insights and consumer feedback on current product offerings. Their proactive and adaptable approach to different company cultures eases workflow. This, along with their proven marketing strategies, sets them above the competition.

A Clutch analyst personally interviewed this client over the phone. Below is an edited transcript.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

I am the head of marketing for a global organization with a vision to create global licensing and content solutions that are copyright compliant.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with KHJ Brand Activation?

We needed a complete company repositioning, rebranding, and renaming.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

We are currently nearing the end of phase one of a five-step project. KHJ is working our corporate marketing team to determine how the market perceives our company—with both prospects and customers. Their team is helping create an initial set of core messages that will resonate with our target audience.

During phase two, KHJ will be transforming the data into a roadmap to reposition and rebrand the company. They will be helping us modernize what we offer as a company by highlighting our evolution by acquisition and product developments.

What is the team composition?

We are working with their lead strategist, two senior VPs, and their CEO.

How did you come to work with KHJ Brand Activation?

I knew about KHJ through my history of working in the Boston marketing and sales space. I have connections with their high-level executives and trust their methodology. Others in my community have done similar projects with them and produced very good results.

What is the status of this engagement?

We started working with them in August 2017 and the engagement is ongoing.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement?

Before we started working with KHJ, we just assumed that certain responses from our customers were true. And although we asked our customers for feedback, we wouldn’t receive the clearest answers—just the ones we wanted to hear.

Though phase one is yet to be finished, so far, we have been able to obtain an outsider's view of our customers feedback regarding our current product offerings. 

How did KHJ Brand Activation perform from a project management standpoint?

They are very proactive and excellent at managing expectations at both the operator and executive levels. Their team keeps the whole company in the loop and informed about the important aspects of the project. I can always contact them for any updates or meetings.

What did you find most impressive about them?

During the bidding process, we reviewed many qualified professionals, but they were always trying to sell their workflow to us. They weren't really embracing our company and taking into consideration our workflow.

KHJ, by comparison, embraces our culture, understands it, and can navigate our culture smoothly. They work with us instead of having a “take-it-or-leave-it” approach.

Are there any areas they could improve?

Their listening skills could be improved upon. They could try to understand some functions we can’t change. But in the end, we’ve seen positive results so far—so maybe I'm wrong.

Do you have any advice for potential customers?

They have a deep expertise in strategy and you should let go a little bit. Be open to their advice, even though it’s sometimes hard to hear. Have an open mind because these guys have a proven process. If you've given the right information upfront, your project will be a success.

5.0
Overall Score
  • 5.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
  • 3.5 Cost
    Value / within estimates
  • 4.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer

Long-term Marketing & Branding for Community Savings Bank

“Our creative has been very consistent and our brand is recognizable because of KHJ.”

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
4.5
Cost: 
4.5
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
$200,000 to $999,999
 
Dec. 1995 - Ongoing
Project summary: 

KHJ Brand Activation has a long-term collaboration with a savings bank, working on a variety of marketing and branding projects. This includes social media, public relations, website design, and logo design.

The Reviewer
 
51-200 Employees
 
Webster, Massachusetts
Holly Deslauriers
Marketing Manager, Webster Five
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

Other similar local banks try to imitate the marketing and branding materials the team works on, with the website and logo still receiving positive feedback, several years after the work. They are attentive collaborators who ensure consistency across the brand and are well organized and responsive.

A Clutch analyst personally interviewed this client over the phone. Below is an edited transcript.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

I am the assistant VP and marketing manager for Webster Five Cents Savings Bank. I oversee the entire marketing department. We offer retail, business and investment products.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with KHJ Brand Activation?

We’ve been working with them for over 20 years, which is before I started. At the time, the bank was much smaller in size, but we saw the need to outsource our marketing in order to elevate our presence and there wasn’t the necessary talent in-house.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

I can’t really speak about the period before my time, but my impression is that they’ve handled much of the strategy, media placement, creative copywriting, and development. They’ve helped us with both our external strategy and with internal marketing, in terms of employee communication and engagement.

In the past few years, the relationship has been shifting more towards digital. We’ve been exploring our media strategy, and they are a great partner to have, since this is not our area of expertise. In 2015, we went through a complete website redesign. They were able to bring in their areas of expertise, and utilize some of the vendors they’d used for other clients.

At the same time, we launched our social media, which they were instrumental in getting off the ground. We’ve since taken social media in-house, since we’ve learned from them and are able to move on. We’re currently focusing on public relations, making sure we are not just responding, but helping contribute content to local papers or in trade publications.

What is the team composition? 

For the creative services we use, we’ve had one main contact, Adam Cramer [Principal, KHJ Brand Activation]. He’s kept everything consistent across the board. On a day-to-day basis, we interact with our account manager. There have been several different ones, and everyone who was brought in was polished, learned quickly, and made sure that everything was coordinated correctly. We consider them a part of the Webster Five family, given how closely we’ve worked together over many years.

How did you come to work with KHJ Brand Activation?

They were found by a predecessor of mine, the head of marketing at the time. He had worked with them at another bank. He was obviously impressed and when he came to Webster Five, he decided to bring them onboard.

How much have you invested with them?

Our spend changes from year to year, depending on the project. As we’ve grown, so has our budget. We typically spend 1% of assets on marketing. The cost so far has been above $2.5 million. We understand that using a local agency would be less expensive, but we’ve gotten what we paid for.

What is the status of this engagement?

We started working with KHJ Brand 22 years ago, around 1995. We have an ongoing relationship.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement?

We’ve always had an internal struggle to quantify results numerically for any campaign. We don’t engage in too much direct marketing, so it’s more about the broader audience. Our creative has been very consistent and our brand is recognizable because of KHJ. That aspect of our collaboration has been great.

I’ve heard recognition from our lenders and branch managers out in the market. To this day, I still hear compliments on our website, even though it’s almost three years old. Our logo refresh was done in 2013 and it gave us a breath of fresh air. The biggest form of flattery is imitation, and we’ve seen other banks try to use similar look-and-feels or copy. It goes to show that we’re using top-notch resources.

How did KHJ Brand Activation perform from a project management standpoint?

They made sure we felt like their number-one client. We never had the impression that we weren’t getting the right attention or quality levels. I’m sure they have bigger clients, but we still feel like the most important one.

Every year, we go through an iteration of the next big thing. They sit with us and go through our strategy, actively listen, and help us get to the end-point of what to execute in the next year. We work closely on a day-to-day basis, have regular status calls, and the fact that we’re not in Boston has not been a problem. Phone, email and in-person meetings work fine and this is because of the employees on their team. They take things seriously, and, when they see a red flag, they have no problem getting in touch with us. If I’m out of the office, they have no problem finding me on my cell phone. From a project management standpoint, this is one of their strong suits, which is a tremendous help since it’s one we struggle with internally.

A recent example is the website redesign — there’s no way in which we could have juggled all those moving parts, as well as made final decisions. They helped us get to the final point, determining what made the most sense and making sure the project was done within the timeframe. They’re great at managing times and budgets. 

What did you find most impressive about them?

It doesn’t seem that there’s a project for which they won’t have either the in-house resources or know of a resource we can tap into. They have someone who specializes in social media marketing, someone for websites, for digital, and so on. They are structured to ensure they have subject-matter experts in quite a few areas.

Are there any areas they could improve?

We’ve been with them for over 20 years, but I can’t think of anything. Not even the location is an issue.

Do you have any advice for future clients of theirs?

I haven’t had the chance to work with another agency to this depth before, but I wouldn’t change anything about our relationship with them. They are great at acting on things they pick up, they’re active listeners, hear what we’re trying to say, and articulate it. 

My advice would be for clients to make sure they communicate clearly what projects to execute. We talk a lot with them in order to make sure things run smoothly.

5.0
Overall Score They deliver quality service and the output helps us stand out in the market.
  • 4.5 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
    We’ve had many projects and had hold-ups from our end and theirs. We’ve never missed the mark and they’ve been great at adapting.
  • 4.5 Cost
    Value / within estimates
    Other banks have imitated us because they’re using the local talent and not high-quality agencies like KHJ.
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
    Our part of Massachusetts is heavily over-banked, but we’ve been able to stand out.
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer
    They’re a great team to work with, down-to-earth people who understand the human element.