Steven Addis: Managing brands with his ideals

Although he has been involved in the brand-management industry for nearly 20 years, in many ways Steven Addis is just now beginning to trulywork.

A year ago, Addis offered partnership of his firm to longtime co-worker John Creson, and the two decided to focus specifically on companies that reflected their ideals. With that, the Addis Creson brand-management firm was born.

“We decided that we didn’t want to be all things for all people. We wanted to be narrow and deep,” said Addis, who graduated from UC Berkeley in 1983 with a focus on marketing. “We wanted to be explicit, and expressively state that we want to work with customers who share our values, and want to bring about positive change.”

The personal values Addis covets in his clients are expressed in the firm’s four main tenets — shared experience, healthy lifestyle, future tense and social change — established along with the Addis Creson partnership.

Despite the stricter philosophical view, Addis said many of his existing clients naturally fell into one of the four desired categories, and prospective clients are now eager to work with the firm.

“If anything, this has created more opportunities for us,” Addis said. “We’re able to focus our resources more specifically on our older clients, and the companies that are referred to us know exactly who we are and what we represent.”

The firm’s client list includes Planned Parenthood, UC Berkeley and Kidfresh.

Addis said the urgency to provide meaningful change through his work is heightened now that he has two children, 11-year-old Sabina, and 7-year-old Cameron.

“Sure, I want them to be proud of their dad, but more importantly, I want them to be good citizens,” Addis said. “They see in me a father who loves what he does, and I hope that shows them everyone has a calling, not just a job.”

Acknowledging the connection between family and his work as a strong motivator, Addis said he tries to create a similar, yet ultimately unique atmosphere among his employees at Addis Creson.

“It would be a cliché to say the company feels like a family, because it doesn’t,” Addis said. “I don’t think companies should have the dynamics of families. But, I will say that the place sure doesn’t feel corporate.”

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