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tiwtrans

We’re intrigued by the work that people do on their way to becoming successful. You’ve heard it said before, there’s no such thing as an overnight success. There isn’t a bigger truth out there.

Behind every overnight success is hours, days, weeks, months and years of hard work and behind-the-scenes struggle to make it happen. To shine the light on some of that not-so-glamous toil, we’re going to bring back our “This is Working” series to feature metro Detroit businesses and entrepreneurs who are not only working hard, but truly have something to show everyone that what they’re doing is really working.

Let us have it. Tell us about yourself and why you should be featured on This is Working and we’ll get in touch. Email us with “This is Working candidate” in the subject line and two sentences in the body describing why you’re unique and should be featured. Please, no e-mails from PR people representing companies or business owners. We want to hear straight from you. It doesn’t matter whether your company is big or small, new or old. All that matters is that your energy and enthusiasm shows and that you have a product or service that is truly unique in the marketplace.

Here are a few more details about the initiative:

WHO: Entrepreneurs.

WHY: We want to meet and showcase some of metro Detroit’s finest entrepreneurs. Everyone has something to share and everyone has something to learn from others. It’s a perfect way to promote a business and learn from it at the same time. The segment isn’t so much about the company’s product or service, but how they’re going about growing it and how they got to where they are.

WHAT: The format is wide open. The feature may take the form of a video, a Q&A or a feature story. It all depends on how we’re able to connect.

WHEN: Once a week. The first feature will debut the week after the 4th of July.

XSP& — Pronounced "expand"

While we like to keep this blog focused on current events and thoughts on marketing, branding and design, every now and again it’s good to put up some old fashioned shop talk. We hope you don’t mind this small form of self promotion…

XSP& 2.0

You may be familiar with a program we launched a few years ago called XSP&. Well, after receiving some outstanding feedback from our clients we’ve been hard at work to evolve the program to include group workshops, weekly meetings and phone conversations, lower fees and the very exciting living XSP& book. We’re putting the finishing touches on it now and look forward to launching it soon.

Does your business…

If you know anything about SOZO / PIVOTAL, you know about our tagline:  Does your business…

Over the years we’ve had a lot of fun with it and now we using it as the title to our new e-newsletter. Yes, an e-newsletter! For years, we’ve written a blog and now we’re looking to engage even further with our colleagues, clients and friends through this newsletter.

Tips. Commentary. Interviews. Promotions. SOZO / PIVOTAL news. Client News. It will all be there in the DOES YOUR BUSINESS newsletter. Please take a moment to subscribe today!

SOZO / PIVOTAL is growing and rather than looking for individuals jumping from one agency experience to another, we’re seeking entrepreneurial-minded marketing and design professionals in the areas of public relations, web programming, video/photography and business development who clearly understand the business and creative side of a full-service agency. Continue Reading →

Over the past couple years the North American International Auto Show has taken on a more low-key display of the cars and trucks. Gone were some of the over-the-top and impressive stages that showcased the various manufacturer’s product lines. Also missing from the floor plan was Porsche and a few other luxury badges that thought Detroit wasn’t worth including on their auto show circuit. Continue Reading →

Several years ago we created a hardcover marketing piece for a client we were courting. It was back in the day before PDFs were the preferred form of document delivery. My favorite part of the hand-made (yes, hand-made. I actually broke a beer bottle and cut up my hand assembling these) book was the inside front and back covers that listed out a bunch of “Does Your Business…” questions.

The phrase has always been a tagline of sorts at SOZO | Pivotal. I just came across one of those books today and thought I’d share those questions with you. Some may hit home and some may not hit anything. Enjoy! Continue Reading →

If you have kids there’s no doubt you’ve asked them that question hundreds of times. It usually comes after someone has given them something and they’ve forgotten to say “Thank You.”

So, the question is asked of me, What do I say? I have to say Thank You and I certainly can’t say it enough. Continue Reading →


We say it a lot, but the best clients and greatest success stories are with those who are passionate about their business. Without exception that is always the case. So it’s pretty exciting to see a client and entrepreneur who is extremely energetic and passionate about his companies be recognized for his outstanding efforts and achievements.

Last week, Jesse Berger, President of Eastern Michigan Kenworth, received the Young Leadership & Excellence Award from the Automotive Hall of Fame.

SOZO | Pivotal
has had the pleasure of working with Berger for over five years. When we started he operated one location, Berger & Sons, in Clinton Township. Today, Berger has quickly expanded his group of Kenworth truck dealerships and in addition to his original location, has dealerships in Dearborn, Sterling Heights, Lansing. Last year he was named to Crain’s Detroit Business’ 40 Under 40 list.

Too often you get wrapped up in the day-to-day work, so it’s refreshing to be able to attend an event like this and see one of your business partners recognized for his contributions to this region. Take a moment to watch this video and listen to one of Michigan’s greatest young business leaders.

Jesse Berger — Automotive Hall of Fame Speech from SOZO Pivotal on Vimeo.

Congratulations, Jesse!


We’ve decided to let you in under the hood, so to speak, here at SOZO | Pivotal with the launch of a behind the scenes video series, This is Working. We figured we’d get two episodes under our belt before we made any type of formal announcement. Sometimes you don’t know how these things are going to work out. We didn’t want to make any grand promise that we couldn’t deliver. Two episodes was our benchmark for saying this is real, and here we are…Episodes 1 and 2.

So why are we doing these quick videos that take you into the inner workings of our small business?

One answer is because The Apprentice misses the mark. It’s not about selling lemonade and designing a brochure. But seriously, we felt it was important to create a running documentation of what we’re experiencing and how we’re growing our business in a tough economy. As we get closer to completing our first decade of entrepreneurship, we reflected on all of our experiences, triumphs and challenges. Good or bad—it’s all part of the adventure. Perhaps us sharing our experiences will help others. Who knows?

We’re excited to start a new chapter in the journey of growing SOZO | Pivotal and building a socially responsible company focused on doing outstanding work. It’s a journey that’s going to bring things back to the drawing board to analyze what the company is doing and how it’s doing it. You’re going to get a look into the inner workings of a real Michigan-based business that refuses to let recessions, FOR LEASE signs, dismal national statistics and unemployment rates drag us down.

There’s excitement and opportunity all around us, but sometimes it’s just a little harder to find. So come along as we show you how we’re repositioning our successful branding and design company.


Four years ago Kimberly Leclercq and I started SOZO | Pivotal. Along with that exciting new beginning came the responsibility of creating a new website full of information and project work to showcase that we really did know what we were doing.

The information part was easy. We are never at a loss of words when it comes to talking about what we do. However, the online portfolio has been a thorn in our sides for a long time. After a year or two we finally got a bunch of screen shots up there showing corporate identity work, screenshots of websites and photographs of printed materials. The problem was that it just didn’t do the work justice.

Sure, it looked great, but there’s so much more to our work than just what you see. An online portfolio is a must for people who solely practice graphic design, printing, photography or website design. But us showing a logo or a brochure design is akin to showing just the answer to a long and difficult calculus problem.

We all remember the excitement in 7th grade when we realized the math answers were in the back of the book. That thrill was dampened when the teacher wanted to see our work to know that we truly understood the problem.

The same can be said for what we do at SOZO | Pivotal. We provide answers to our clients through the use of a wide variety of tools, but it’s the strategy and creative thinking that guides us to the right solution.

So you can see why showing images of our work just doesn’t tell the whole story. Nonetheless we’re excited to have finally figured out a way to capture our process — from strategy to design. The hardest thing for us was getting the term portfolio out of our heads. All we saw was a nicely cataloged booklet of fancy artwork and nice photography. Clearly that was not the right approach in communicating and illustrating what we do as SOZO | Pivotal. Please take a moment to look at our new website and some of the relationships we have with our clients (or as we like to refer to them, our friends). Also, please take a gander at the Beyond Strategy section. Here is where we take a closer look at individual client projects that are the results of clearly developed brand strategy.

It all makes perfect sense to us…finally. We hope that you find it just as informative. If you ever have any questions about the work that we’ve done with our clients or how we can apply what we do to your needs, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Thanks for stopping by and while you’re at it, please consider following us on Twitter and becoming a fan of SOZO | Pivotal on Facebook.

Four years ago today Kimberly Leclercq and I officially formed SOZO | Pivotal and it’s been a fun, exciting and challenging 1,461 days.

It’s amazing what can happen during a span of 48 short months, but we’re excited about the next 48…that’s for sure.

We’d like to thank all of our clients, friends, associates, partners and employees for all of their support. Prior to forming SOZO | Pivotal, Kimberly and I had both run our own companies—her’s SOZO and mine Pivotal—which we had started back at the turn of the century. So actually, we’re both celebrating 10 years as business owners.

You’re probably thinking four years isn’t all that much of a milestone, but screw it, we’re excited! We feel this four-year mark is even more notable not because so many businesses and partnerships fail to make it this far, but because we know we’re just getting into a groove! The next four years are really going to be something special…stay tuned!