The Farm SoHo Feature Interview: Liz Thompson, Brand Growth Consultancy Expert

FarmSoHo Member Liz Thompson 1

For this installment of our interview series, allow us to introduce you to Liz Thompson, Head of North America at Brand Genetics. Their company is a global brand growth consultancy service that specializes in front-end insight, strategy and innovation.

In addition to that, Liz is also a highly valued coworking member at The Farm Soho.

Read on and learn more about Liz and the reputable brand she represents:

What is your line of business? 

We partner with ambitious brands and businesses around the world – primarily in the CPG (consumer packaged goods) space – think ABinBev (Budweiser, Corona, Stella), PepsiCo (Gatorade, Monster), Unilever – but also in technology, healthcare, retail etc.

We help these companies drive better brand and business decisions by helping them think human-first. Essentially building a deeper understanding of what makes people tick and brands grow.

brand genetics brand growth consultancy website

Our core belief is that while the world around us changes – businesses, markets, technology – the one constant is human nature, so we ground our thinking and approaches in applied psychology and behavioral science.

What is your professional background?

After studying Neuroscience at Duke University, I decided academia and medicine weren’t for me – but I had this underlying passion for human behavior. I fell into brand strategy as a way to apply this love for people and behavior, but in a much more creative and tangible way. I spent a few years working as a brand strategist at branding & design consultancies Dragon Rouge and Bluemarlin in New York. I then realized I missed the research and insights side of things – and wanted to move to London! So I made the move to Brand Genetics, as an Associate Director and now Director, where I’ve been ever since. Ready for a new challenge, I moved back to NYC in January to launch and head up our North American office.

How would you describe your leadership style as the head of a brand growth consultancy company?

Empathetic, challenging and honest. By that I mean I see every person as an individual, and seek to understand what motivates (and scares) them specifically, tailoring my coaching style accordingly. I work to make everyone on my team feel safe and supported, while also pushing them to be the best they can be. I try to be equally direct and challenging, empowering my team to stretch themselves, in the way that’s best for them and the business.

Also, I do my best to instill confidence and reassurance, providing clarity and direction when needed, but remaining curious and open-minded. I believe no voice is too ‘small’, so I work to make everyone on my team feel heard and respected.

Lastly, I look to lead by example. I strive to be a role model for my team, and always look to push myself while setting clear boundaries and prioritizing my wellbeing. That way, my team feels empowered to do the same.

photograph showing big data analysis which brand growth consultancy expert Liz Thompson says is shifting to more qualitative research
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In reaction to businesses’ recent obsession with numbers and ‘big data’, we’re actually seeing a renewed emphasis on and interest in qualitative research, to gain meaning from the hard data. This has made our business and expertise that much more relevant. In addition, it has also required us to become more ‘data literate’ – so that we can better integrate our learnings and tell the most compelling story.

Moreover, as our worlds become ever more complex and abundant, we’re seeing an increased appreciation of integrated and multi-method approaches – e.g. combining qualitative and quantitative research, leveraging semiotics and cultural analysis, psychology and behavioral science. So we’ve been getting more creative with our approaches to new challenges, leveraging a wider toolkit to ensure the right balance of inputs / perspectives to unlock fresh insights.

What apps or tools do you use the most in your work as a brand growth consultancy?

Given the human nature of most of our work, the majority of our ‘tools’ are strategic frameworks and psychological models (vs. tech-driven). The three we use the most are:

  1. The ARC of human happiness which lays out three core psychological needs for subjective wellbeing and underpins much of consumer behavior (Autonomy, Relatedness and Competence).
  2. The COM-B model, the dominant model on the field of behavior change which states that human behavior is the result of people’s capabilities (e.g. knowledge, skills), their opportunities to use those capabilities (e.g. physical availability, the right environment) and their motivation to do so.
  3. The Motivational Matrix, a synthesis of a range of evidence-based motivational models, highlighting 9 positive, higher order goals (e.g. security, belonging, achievement) that have been scientifically shown to motivate behavior across different activities.

Additionally, since the pandemic, we’ve upskilled and adopted more tech-based tools – Zoom, Slack, and Mural – to enable flexible ways of working, and give us (almost!) 24-hour capacity by working internationally and collaboratively (with other offices but also clients!)

What do you love to do during your free time?

Read, do puzzles (especially crosswords and Wordle/Quordle), and work out mostly. I also love traveling – whether around the world or exploring new neighborhoods – and am a massive foodie. Anything that can engage a different part of my brain (or stomach!), I find really refreshing and invigorating.

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What’s the most meaningful advice you’ve ever received in life?

Tough one, but I think it has to be something my Dad taught me when I was younger: “If you don’t ask, you don’t get”. No-one in life – family, friends, colleagues, clients – is a mind reader. Certain things and desires may not be possible, but if you don’t voice them, or put them out into the world, they’re never going to happen. An especially important piece of advice for women in the workplace.

When and why did you opt for a coworking space at The Farm SoHo?

I wanted something flexible while setting up our new office – and The Farm seemed to provide the perfect atmosphere of ‘buzzy’ yet warm, comfortable and down to earth. I’m not a traditionally corporate person. So the warmth and personality of the space, as well as its smaller, more intimate size really appealed. And I must say I’m loving it so far!

Has your work-life balance improved since you started using coworking spaces? How so?

Definitely! Throughout the pandemic and lockdown, all boundaries between work and life ceased to exist (for me at least). Taking on this new role, setting and committing to boundaries have become even more important for me. Having a coworking space where I can go for a change of scenery, as well as to bring back those “dividers” between the workday and home life have been incredibly positive. Additionally, I’m quite a social person who gets energy from being around others. Given the (currently) small size of Brand Genetics North America, it’s nice to go to a place that’s full of people, energy, and noise.

Thank you, Liz, for doing this with us! We truly appreciate your time, passion, and energy. For those interested, you can find Liz on LinkedIn. Meanwhile, you can also check out Brand Genetics via their official website and LinkedIn page.

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