In my 2003 book, The Brand Gap, I made the bold prediction that branding would be the most important business tool since the spreadsheet. It seemed laughable at the time—most business leaders still thought a brand was a logo.

Today branding is central to business. If you have customers, you have a brand. If you don’t manage your brand with strategy and skill, your brand can easily turn against you. A brand is what customers say it is. It cuts both ways.

With this new understanding, business leaders are down with brand. Billions are being spent on strategy consultants, design firms, market researchers, ad agencies, and organizational designers, not to mention the programs and initiatives they develop. Good branding is good business.

What does this mean for you? 

That depends. Branding is a big world, and there’s plenty of room to grow within it. Are you a manager who wants to lead creative teams? A designer who wants to be more collaborative? A strategist who wants to harness design thinking? A marketing director who wants to be more strategic? A consultant who wants to offer brand planning? An advertising planner who wants a more visionary role? A CEO who wants to lead culture change? These are only some of the ways branding can bring professional growth.

I’ve been working on brands for fifty years now—fifteen of these with brand in my title. My dream is to teach the next generation of professionals how to bring a brand-first sensibility into the C-suite of every company in the world.

How will I do that? 

Not by teaching at a university or writing more books. I have eight books now; even eighty wouldn’t do the job. And a university instructor can only educate a single cohort in a single location.

What about teaching online? Despite solid advances in online learning, virtual classes won’t build the kind of community that drives industry-wide change.

We need a different kind of school. Set in the real world. Taught by real experts. For professionals who are ready to collaborate, communicate, and form business alliances across multiple disciplines, businesses, and geographic boundaries.

Meet my partner, Andy.

Marty Neumeier and Andy Starr, co-founders of Level C

Marty Neumeier and Andy Starr, co-founders of Level C


Andy Starr is a manager, marketer, and educator. We’re taking the band on the road to bring five levels of brand training right to your doorstep, starting in Europe and North America. Next we’ll be popping up in the Middle East, South America, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand. If you’re like me, you’ll want to travel around and learn with branders from other cultures.

I’ll be teaching the first few years of masterclasses personally, with assistance from Andy and others. Before long, our higher-level graduates will start teaching their own classes, allowing Level C to scale up and evolve the discipline of branding. No virtual classes. Just real people making real relationships to drive change.

Five levels, no limits. 

Where you want to go determines what you’ll need to learn. We’re building a progressive series of five courses, each taught as a two-day masterclass. Those who pass each class will receive a certification they can use on their CVs, networking platforms, business cards, and websites. Your title will take on more and more significance as more and more Level C graduates demonstrate their skills over time.


The first level is Certified Brand Specialist. Learn to collaborate across disciplines. Find your best position on the playing field. Use the language and principles of brand to establish your credibility.

Next is Certified Brand Strategist. A brand strategist envisions a new destination and plans the tactical steps to get there. Good strategists are more than idea people. They know what it takes to execute a project—because they’ve done it.

The third level is Certified Brand Architect. Architects see the big picture and can organize all the parts into a cohesive whole. They manage or direct entire portfolios of brands, orchestrating the connection between brands and the companies who build them.

Those who can do, teach. They become Certified Brand Instructors. They lead the first three masterclasses, not only helping Level C scale up, but deepening their domain mastery and building their presentation skills at the same time.

At the top of the Level C ladder are the Certified Brand Masters. These are people headed for a role as chief brand officer in a top organization or as a thought leader in a brand-related domain. Graduates at all levels will benefit from their influence and achievements.

These five levels are progressive, meaning that you have to take one masterclass to get into the next. The classes will get smaller (and therefore more expensive) as you go. Take your time. Gather strength. Squeeze every ounce of goodness from each level. The next class, when you need it, will be waiting for you.

Where will we pop up next?

Our first event was in London last March. This led to an explosion of interest in Europe, so that’s where we’ll be this fall, in five locations. Next spring we’ll hold events in the US, Canada, and again in Europe. If you’d like to host an event in your city or country, talk to Andy. We’re looking for partners.

Thanks for reading! I know you wouldn’t be a subscriber if you weren’t interested in branding, but I don’t take your time for granted. Here’s the new website if you’d like to enroll.