In 2023, empathy is more important than ever for brands to embrace in their marketing efforts

Geile/Leon Marketing Communications

In 2023, empathy is more important than ever for brands to embrace in their marketing efforts

It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost three years. In 2020, the world’s history took a dramatic turn as the pandemic changed the way we lived our lives. It changed how people wanted to interact with businesses and in turn, pushed businesses to change the way they serve customers.  That also means that it’s been nearly three years since we began discussing  Return on Empathy™.  ROE as we call it, states that brands who infuse empathy into their marketing efforts can realize both tangible and intangible benefits.  Empathetic brands experience increased brand loyalty for their efforts.

When we first introduced this metric, we predicted that demand for more empathy in marketing and communications was here to stay and that brands had to get on board if they wished to remain relevant in their markets. That has proven to be true.  While the pandemic seemed to precipitate consumers’ desire for brands to be empathetic,  many other societal topics and consumer concerns continue to drive the empathy movement in marketing.  This graph featured in MarketingCharts  highlights what societal topics are on marketer’s minds:

A 2020  IPSOS study conducted on behalf of PepsiCo Beverages reported that 94% of respondents stated that empathy is important to making society work, and 85% reported that they believe brands demonstrating real empathy is critical to creating customer loyalty. Fast forward to today and we still see marketers addressing empathy in marketing.  A 2022 Vericast Survey of 316 U.S. marketing decision-makers found that almost half (46%) of respondents find it challenging to express empathy in ads, and a similar share (44%)  are struggling to strike the right emotional tone given what is happening in the world.

And that’s not all. Empathy needs to be demonstrated not just in marketing efforts but at touchpoints throughout the customer journey – the total brand experience.  The March/April 2022 EcoConsultancy Future of Marketing Report found that 60% of respondents agreed that the ability to navigate changing consumer behaviors and expectations will be very significant to success, which leads to why “improving the customer experience and customer journey management” is a top-three priority for marketers over the next two years. 

The demand for empathy from brands is nothing new. In the mid-2010s, neuroscientist Antonio Damasio used data from around 20 years of research to determine that emotion is critical to the decision-making process. While it took a pandemic to create a flash point, consumers have shown how deeply they value empathy.   And so, Return on Empathy™ continues to become increasingly important to a brand’s success.

Now is the time to ask yourself if your brand has remained empathetic during these seismic shifts in the marketplace. We would love to discuss how we can infuse some empathy into your marketing and communication and share 5 actionable strategies to ensure your brand is relevant to your target audience. Get in touch with Tim Leon ([email protected])  and he will schedule a quick, 15-minute chat to talk about it.

Gaining Confidence: My Summer as a G/L Intern

Geile/Leon Marketing Communications

Gaining Confidence: My Summer as a G/L Intern

When I found out I got the internship at G/L, I was really excited to finally gain experience at an agency. My goal throughout my college career has been to get experience in as many different industries as I can to have a good idea of what I want to do by the time I graduate from Mizzou. At school, I enjoyed my strategic communications classes that put us students into a team that acted as a mock agency, so I was excited to get an internship with a real agency this summer. 

Admittingly, I was a little nervous at the start. Having to juggle multiple campaigns at once seemed daunting – at my previous internships I only had to focus on one and that got overwhelming at times. I was eager to learn how it all came together and how everyone worked together to get things done. 

On my first day, Tim Leon told me that if there are other things I see in the office that I’d like to try, tell him and he’d make it happen. I decided to take advantage of that sentiment – it couldn’t hurt to gain experience in different areas.

Before I knew it, in addition to writing copy for social media posts and writing blogs for the website, I began to write press releases and take headshots of everyone in the office. I was able to gain experience getting to know our clients in different ways. I was given beneficial feedback to help sharpen my skills as a person in the marketing world. It all clicked: I had to take initiative in order to gain valuable experience.

I learned a lot by taking initiative. I was able to gain more experience and really gauge what role I think I’d like the most in the future. One thing that was always highlighted no matter what area I was working in was just how important it is to pay attention to detail. One word really can really make a difference – especially when it comes to social media that tends to have small copy. Even if you’re posting the same thing to each platform like Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn, your audience is different on each so it’s important to cater the captions to them specifically. You have to make it mean something to them.

This attention to detail will always stick with me in my future work. For example, before I even started to work on anything at G/L, they showed me their social strategy for their biggest clients. They wanted me to fully understand the voice and tone of each brand before I got started so that I could understand the goals. This really opened my eyes – I had never approached social media in such a strategic way before. 

Not surprisingly, this attention to detail has really helped give me confidence in my abilities and what I’m doing. At previous internships, social media was done more on-the-fly rather than planned out. While that taught me many things, being thrown into it made me feel unsure of myself given the fact that I didn’t have much experience in the field. At G/L, I was able to make up for that. I gained confidence in my writing skills and that I can, in fact, write effective copy in specific tones. 

As I wrap up my time at G/L, I can confidently say that I can picture myself working at an agency in the future. The teamwork and variety of clients is an encouraging and fun way to work. It has been fun to flex different parts of my brain to strategize campaigns for clients. I can’t wait to bring this experience with me back to school and into my career.


How Voice of Customer Research Helps You Develop Empathetic Marketing Campaigns

Geile/Leon Marketing Communications

How Voice of Customer Research Helps You Develop Empathetic Marketing Campaigns


You’re probably aware of what your customers want and how they feel. But do you truly understand them? In order to remain relevant, you need to listen to your customers and evaluate why they feel the way they do. This gives you an opportunity to truly connect with them and even increase your Return on Empathy™, making your brand a star in their eyes.


One part of our Dynamic Branding process is conducting voice of customer research. This step is useful to gain an insight on many issues your brand may be facing such as irrelevancy, entering a new market and other shifts in the landscape. It gives us a leg up on what your customers are thinking, pointing us in the right direction. Once we create a new brand positioning statement it validates that we have reached your target audience. Additionally, it can gauge current brand perceptions before the Distilled Thinking process begins. Regardless of where your brand is in the market, voice of customer research can get you back on track and at the top of your game. 

At G/L, we conduct voice of customer research via one-on-one interviews either in-person or online. It typically only takes eight to 10 of these interviews to validate the direction that we are going. This research gives us a clear answer on not only how connected customers are to your brand, but also what they think of it. You want a complete picture of your target audience and what they are thinking in order to be the most successful you can be. What is their impression of your brand? Are they satisfied with the products or services you provide? What do they think can be changed for the better? These are just some of the questions that will be answered and once we understand how the customer is connected with the brand, we can build off that to meet their unmet emotional needs and create a stronger customer experience.


In turn, this connection leads to Return on Empathy™ , which is invaluable to any brand. According to a study by Method Communications, 42% of Americans say that empathy has decreased over the past year and 81% of them find that concerning. If a company can show empathy (and be genuine about it), creating a campaign that acknowledges what your customers are going through and thinking can really leave an impact. In fact, 55% of customers are more likely to purchase from a brand that shows empathy than from one that doesn’t.

Voice of customer research gauges if your customers think your brand is empathetic or not, giving us a good starting point on the direction we should go. If we discover that customers think your brand is empathetic, great! Let’s build on that. If they think it isn’t, we can help your brand get a refreshed look and message to help improve that attitude for the better.


Let’s help your brand create an empathetic campaign to increase your Return on Empathy™. At G/L, we have the tools and personnel you need to conduct voice of customer research to help your brand be at the forefront of customers minds. With the right research, we can help your brand be the best it can be.



Trends on How to Gain, Keep and Break Consumers’ Trust

Geile/Leon Marketing Communications

Trends on How to Gain, Keep and Break Consumers’ Trust

Given how turbulent and uncertain the past couple of years have been, it is more important now than ever for brands to earn and keep consumers’ trust. Morning Consult’s Most Trusted Brands of 2022 report examines the 10 largest economies in the world, including the United States, and unpacks why trust is important, how it’s built and how it’s broken. In this report, they do a deep dive on the most trusted brand in each country and on the top 10 most trusted brands in the United States. Let’s look at some key insights of the results and see how they can benefit your brand.

Consumers are more likely to trust local brands 

As they say, there’s no place like home. A shared home, whether it’s local, regional or national, gives consumers a reason to trust your brand and even take pride in it. While it may take awhile, spending time to gain consumers’ trust and loyalty will pay off. In fact, in six out of the 10 countries surveyed, the most trusted brand originated right there. The most trusted brand in 2022 in the United States is Band-Aid, which was founded in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Making your civic and/or national pride a central part of your brand messaging to your fellow citizens can help establish your brand and increase its popularity – simply because they share an origin.

Consumers tend to trust small businesses

The popularity of shopping small has increased ever since the creation of Small Business Saturday in 2010. They have become the most trusted in the United States, with 77% of Americans saying that they trust “a lot” or “some” of small businesses. While it can be difficult for small businesses to gain a large following, they can give their consumers a personal and memorable experience. This makes consumers feel good, earning their trust and satisfaction. Also, Gen Z is less likely than older generations to trust established brands, which means there is no better time for your small or new business to enter the market.

Engender trust through high quality and value

One way to gain – and keep – consumers’ trust is to provide them with a good value for the price and high-quality products and services. These two factors are the highest rated among Americans when it comes to factors that build trust with a brand. Consumers feel good when they can be confident that they won’t be wasting their money when spending it on your brand, so don’t make them regret it. If consumers can’t trust their money with your brand, then it will be difficult for you to regain their trust and convince them to purchase from you in the future.

You can lose it all with one bad experience

According to Morning Consult’s report, bad customer service experiences were one of the top three reasons that global consumers lost their trust in brands. Picture this: you’re shopping for a new product at your favorite store. You ask an employee for advice on what to get, and instead of being helpful, the employee is judgmental and rude. You’re shocked – you’ve always had a great experience with this brand. It turns you away because you feel betrayed and hurt. 

That’s the thing about trust. You can spend years working hard to gain it But with just one mistake, your brand could lose it all. Consumers want brands to deliver on promises, so make sure that you provide excellent customer service with great value and follow through when you say you will. It goes a long way with consumers.Here at G/L, we can help ensure that your consumers will continue to trust your brand. We have created successful campaigns in the past to earn and keep consumers’ trust and we’d love to do the same for your brand! If you’re interested, contact our president, Tim Leon at [email protected], to find out how we can help you gain trust in the marketplace.

Dynamic Branding: Refresh vs Rebrand

Geile/Leon Marketing Communications

Dynamic Branding: Refresh vs Rebrand

It’s important to remain relevant in this fast-moving world, especially as a brand. When your brand falls behind and loses its luster in the marketplace, it can quickly feel daunting and nearly impossible to catch up. Here at G/L, we want to help brands become dynamic so they are able to adapt and remain aligned with the world around them. This does not require having to do an entire brand overhaul, but rather a refresh.

Think of a brand refresh as a home renovation. You evaluate and decide which elements are structurally sound and which elements need to be reinforced or redone. We understand that your brand still likely has valuable brand equity and that some of what inspired the brand still may be true. It just needs a little touching up. We make slight changes to the graphic identity, tone, presentation, and/or messaging to create value and relevance between your brand and the marketplace.

A total rebranding is like completely destroying a building and building a new one to serve new needs and functions. This means creating a new brand identity, brand standards, and/or new message architecture. Our team at G/L will conduct voice-of-the-customer research to identify the problem and fully understand what it will take to regain your brand’s relevance with your audience. Then, we reposition the brand, develop new brand architecture, and communicate this new brand messaging both internally and externally. This ensures that the brand is embraced and understood by all audiences.

That doesn’t sound too bad, right? With our experienced team, we can lead the way to help your brand find relevance with the customer, no matter what path you choose.

One of our many successful rebranding campaigns was with Cottey College, an all-women’s school in rural Missouri. They challenged us to update their brand to be relevant, especially with prospective students that sought a specialized college experience. That’s when we developed the ‘Creators of Incredible Futures’ branding, tagline and campaign. This bold look highlighted the unique students at Cottey College with hero portraits to make them stand out. This messaging was all about Cottey offering students not just a college experience, but also a life experience, which caught the attention of many prospective students. Not only did the fresh modern look catch their eye, but the powerful messaging did too.

Another rebrand we are proud of was for our client Clayco, a full-service national real estate, architecture, engineering, design-build and construction firm. The challenge they presented us was to evolve their brand from a local design-build firm to a national design-build firm that was building the structures that significantly improve healthcare, the environment, and our future. The messaging reflects the company’s holistic approach to creating buildings that have an impact beyond the physical structure. As a solution, we created the “Beyond These Walls” brand campaign that highlighted Clayco’s forward-thinking passion to deliver building solutions of the highest standard. This branding campaign is over four years old and still as relevant as ever. We are thrilled to have been involved in the national success that Clayco has had and it has been exciting to see what they have accomplished as a result of the “Beyond These Walls” campaign.

Finally, we sometimes recommend a lighter-touch refresh, like the one we developed for Upper Iowa University’s (UIU) brand. UIU, located in Fayette, Iowa, is a private, not-for-profit university that challenged us to develop an integrated marketing plan to create a cohesive brand and message. Through a comprehensive brand discovery session with UIU leadership, our team developed the ‘Education Built for Life’ campaign. This new brand identity gave prospective students a better perception of the UIU experience for both undergrad students and adult learners who were looking for a university that met them where they were in life and designed an educational experience that helped them succeed. Don’t take our word for it, studies show that after launching this campaign, UIU experienced growth in applications and enrollment.

Doing a brand refresh or rebrand is not something to shy away from or delay. In fact, most companies wish they had done it sooner! Our team at G/L is ready to help you with whatever path you choose. Take the survey on the homepage of our website to find out if your brand needs a rebrand or refresh. If you have any questions about the dynamic branding model or process to help brands regain their relevance, email our branding expert Tim Leon at [email protected].



HIRING: Brand Manager

Geile/Leon Marketing Communications

HIRING: Brand Manager

Geile/Leon Marketing Communications is now hiring a brand manager!

The Brand Manager ensures that client needs are met by completing a variety of tasks that guarantee projects are completed on time and on budget and agency workflow is managed appropriately. 

This person has a drive to provide excellent client service and has 4-5 years of experience within the marketing communications field (agency or client side). Excellent verbal and written communications skills, personal organization, interpersonal dynamics and an eagerness to learn are keys to success. 

Reports directly to VP, Director of Brand Strategy



Client Interaction

  • Serves as day-to-day point of contact for assigned clients
  • Leads tactically-oriented client meetings and discussions
  • Gathers and assembles background information and analysis as needed by Brand Management in development of reports, plans and strategies    
  • Manages client expectations and alerts supervisor to any potential issues/problems that jeopardize the account
  • Addresses scope challenges/issues/status with client; alerts VP, Director of Brand Strategy, when needed
  • Articulates client’s brand strategy and ensures strategy carries through in service delivery
  • Manages third-party relationships and identifies possible new relationships that enhance capabilities of the agency
  • Develops and provides direction for client and media materials: plans, presentations, reports, and communications documents

Project Management

  • Develops and executes high-quality programs from conception to execution 
  • Provides input during brainstorming sessions for new ideas and development of client strategies    
  • Prioritizes project tasks so that tasks stay on track
  • Handles and maintain files on all client activities, competitors and industry   
  • Proofreads copy, artwork and layouts 

Financial Management

  • Develops and manages budgets and ensures profitability
  • Develops scope of service and project agreements, in conjunction with clients and available consultation with senior level staff
  • Works with Senior Brand Manager/Assistant Director of Brand Strategy /VP, Director of Brand Strategy to facilitate resolution, with clients of budgetary issues
  • Provides forecasts for agency income to senior level staff


  • Learns, understands, and internalizes assigned brands in detail; deeply knows brand’s competitive positioning and messaging
  • Understands internal project and operational processes
  • Stays current with interactive trends and developments; shows ability to suggest application to clients’ needs
  • Develops and maintains communications plans
  • Brings new, innovative thinking to clients
  • Analyzes competitor activity and consumer trends related to client accounts

Business Development

  • Assists with new business pitches by researching, developing a deeper knowledge of the prospect and industry 
  • Ensures case studies are created at the conclusion of projects to assist agency in new business efforts

To apply, send your resume to our Vice President and Director of Brand Strategy, Randy Micheletti at [email protected]  

To keep your brand relevant, don’t blow it up. Get Dynamic Branding!

Geile/Leon Marketing Communications

To keep your brand relevant, don’t blow it up. Get Dynamic Branding!


The world is changing more quickly than ever. And so are consumers. With that in mind, do you know if your brand is still relevant? We’ve been working on a strategy to help brands be dynamic, so they can shift with behavior changes and stay aligned with consumer sentiment.

We’re pretty excited about it. It’s the culmination of what we’ve done successfully for over 30 years in creating new brands, refreshing brands and helping them adapt.

You might be going through a merger, gaining new leadership with a new vision, entering into a new market segment, experiencing a market shift in attitude towards your product, or simply just having an outdated brand visual identity, logo, or message. There are countless ways a brand can lose relevancy, and sometimes it happens so gradually that you don’t even notice.

As they say, the only constant is change.

That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s time to blow everything up and start over. Your brand may still have a lot of equity. A recent DENTSU survey found that the top concerns for CMOs are understanding consumer shifts and behavior changes, as well as staying aligned with ever-changing consumer sentiment. Our dynamic branding process helps brands remain relevant in a world where change is constant.

It’s something we preach AND we put into practice. We proudly point to our new website as an example of not throwing the proverbial baby out with the bathwater. Our brand needed to reflect how both we and our marketplace have evolved over the past few years. So we surveyed the landscape of our industry, took some time to assess our own brand’s relevance, and worked to align it with who we’ve become and how we serve our clients.  This refreshed branding is being reflected in our newly launched website, social media efforts, and public relations.

But like anything, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. That’s what dynamic branding is all about. We get to learn about brands, get to know them, gain a deep understanding of their market and find a unique solution to regain brand relevance.

If any of this resonates with you (and in 2022, it would be surprising if it didn’t), then we would encourage you to get in touch to schedule a quick, 15-minute call to assess your brand’s relevancy. It’s easy and pretty enlightening.  We also have a quick self-assessment survey available on our GL homepage that helps identify why your brand may need a refresh. Lastly, check out our video series all about dynamic branding – you can start your viewing here:



Construction + Tool Brand Portfolio

Geile/Leon Marketing Communications

Construction + Tool Brand Portfolio

We like to consider ourselves a design-build marketing agency

Having worked in the construction industry and other related trades over the last 20+ years, we were exposed to a term in the industry called “design-build”.  A design-build construction firm provides the architectural design, engineering, and construction on a project… a one-stop-shop in theory.   From initial planning and design through finished construction, a design-build firm assumes responsibility for all phases of the construction process.   

I like to think of our marketing communications agency as a design-build marketing firm. We handle projects from the initial brand/communication planning phase through design/concept and finally campaign implementation /execution.    So if you want to see how we’ve helped bring our design-build marketing approach to the construction and tool category, check out our newly released portfolio of work!

WE’RE HIRING: Bookkeeper/Business Manager Position

Geile/Leon Marketing Communications

WE’RE HIRING: Bookkeeper/Business Manager Position

Geile/Leon is seeking a Bookkeeper/Business Manager to join their team. If you’re enthusiastic, fun, energetic and love to work in a team-oriented, high energy, client-focused environment, this might be for you.

Company Overview

Yes, it’s pronounced Guyel-Leeon. But, we aren’t French. We’re Midwestern. We’re a lean pack of professionals. We aren’t about talk. We’re all about results. We work hard to make sure everything we do means something. Every project, every interaction and every relationship. We’re a close-knit agency that resembles a family more than business. We like to do great work and have fun doing it. And our clients feed off that energy – and appreciate it, too!

Why Choose us

  • Flexible schedule. We work from home on Wednesdays.
  • The safety of our employees is at the heart of everything we do. We are heavily invested in measures aimed at keeping employees healthy during COVID-19.
  • We’re fun and we like hanging out together (when we can). Our yearly Fun Calendar has everything from potlucks to parties. Every month there’s something to look forward to. And we enjoy our summer Fun Fridays where we leave the office early and enjoy all things St. Louis.
  • Our culture is amazing. You’ll love working here as we treat everyone with respect. 83% of our employees have been here 5 years or more!
  • We enjoy a great work/life balance. We understand that there’s a time to work and a time to take some time off and enjoy life.
  • Our benefits are awesome. Here are just a few:
    • PTO days that increase the longer you’re here & you get your birthday off
    • Medical/dental/401k and more
    • Tuition reimbursement opportunities

Who We’re Looking For?

We’re looking for someone that will roll up their sleeves and make things happen. Our Business Manager will take on ownership and management of all aspects of the accounting function at the agency. They will work with agency leadership to help guide the financial health and performance of the business, providing reports, insights, and perspectives to aid in decision-making. In addition, they will help administer HR functions related to onboarding, documentation, timesheet oversight and PTO tracking. We’re looking for an experienced accounting and financial professional who enjoys working in a close-knit environment, solving problems, contributing to the success of a business, and having a little fun along the way!

A Couple Requirements

  • Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting, Finance and/or Business Administration or equivalent degree.
  • Agency experience is a plus

Job Responsibilities


  • Management and execution of all accounting functions- AR/AP, invoicing, payments, reconciliations, month-end, year-end, etc.
  • Records all entries and generates monthly financial reports through agency financial software Workamajig.
  • Administers payroll in third party system
  • Administers 401(k) and makes scheduled deposits
  • Issues payment for vendor/supplier invoices, company credit cards, etc.
  • Maintains all digital and hard copy agency accounting files.
  • Generates and issues invoices to clients.
  • Provides partners with financial information when required.
  • Makes bank deposits and reconciles bank statements.
  • Processes estimated tax payments and tax filings as needed.
  • Works closely with accounting firm on year-end and other tax-related matters.
  • Produces monthly summary reports of aged accounts receivable and contacts clients’ accounts payable when overdue.
  • Issues, manages, and reconciles company credit cards.
  • Reviews and authorizes all capital asset purchases.

HR Responsibilities:

  • Maintains employee records including PTO tracking and other information affecting wages, deductions, vacations, etc.
  • Assist with onboarding new employees, ensuring proper documentation is administered.
  • Maintains benefits programs and provides employees with necessary claim forms and assistance when needed.
  • Work with partners annually to update Employee Handbook.

Time Requirement

Full-time, possibly 3-4 days/week

Salary Range

Commensurate to experience level and number of days worked

How to Apply

Please email your resume to Tim Leon, President, [email protected]

Geile/Leon Announces New Member of Ownership Team

Geile/Leon Marketing Communications

Geile/Leon Announces New Member of Ownership Team

St. Louis (Feb. 15, 2022) – Geile/Leon Marketing Communications is pleased to announce that long-time team member Randy Micheletti is now a shareholder of the company and has an ownership stake in the business.

(From Left to Right): Dave Geile, Randy Micheletti, Tim Leon

Micheletti, who joined the St. Louis agency in 2014 is Vice President, Director of Brand Strategy. This move helps Geile/Leon cultivate a new generation of leadership ensuring the legacy and future of the agency, said Tim Leon, president and brand strategist.

“Over 32 years, we’ve built a great business and reputation. We can attribute much of this success to our people,” Leon said. “We want to recognize Randy for his hard work and commitment and are excited to have him as part of our management team helping us execute our business plan and achieve our growth goals.”

Dave Geile, owner and creative director, added: “Randy has proven himself to be a true dedicated partner. Much of our growth and client satisfaction levels can be attributed directly to Randy. We are proud to have him as part of the ownership team.”

About Geile/Leon Marketing Communications Geile/Leon is a brand-driven strategic marketing communications firm that helps clients solve their biggest brand challenges. The company offers a full range of services including brand development, advertising, design, public relations, video content, digital and social media. The company has a staff of 14, serving clients that include Lincoln Electric, Metro Imaging, Grant’s Farm, Hussmann Corporation, Washington University and the Archdiocese of St. Louis.