Summit Executive Resources

Consulting CASE STORY

Branding a brand new business model

Discover how Hinge helped bring an innovative idea to life — and reinvent the way executive search is done.

“Retained search is broken.”

When Summit Executive Resources came to us, they wanted to revolutionize executive search. “Retained search is broken,” said Melissa Henderson, Summit’s CEO and President. She believes the current model costs companies too much, takes too long and produces an uneven pool of candidates. Worse, traditional search removes the executives from the process entirely, putting all control and influence in the hands of the search firms and hiring companies.

Melissa had a better idea. Why not represent C-level executives directly, much like a high-end sports agent? Executives in the technology industry would pay a flat fee for high-touch service, coaching and personal introductions to technology companies, PE firms and venture firms. They in turn would get access to fully vetted, perfectly-suited executive and board candidates — at no cost!

To find out what Hinge did, read on…

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First, understand the market

To better understand the opportunities and challenges in the marketplace, Hinge conducted a detailed competitive landscape review and interviewed key audiences. A primary objective of this research was to make sure the market was ready for this radical change. It also informed the direction we would take the firm’s brand.

Second, establish credibility

Once we had validated that the business model could work, we formulated a positioning and messaging platform that would present Summit Executive Resources most advantageously in the marketplace. The messaging included 1) a carefully worded positioning platform that would support all subsequent messages and content; 2) a detailed messaging architecture consisting of objections, responses and proof points targeted at their various audiences; and 3) a new tagline.

Next we tackled the firm’s brand identity, creating a new logo and stationery package that fit their image as a high-end service provider. Then we designed, developed and wrote Summit’s new website, which explains the executive agent model to three specific audiences: C-level executives, hiring technology firms and venture & private equity firms. Built into the website is a custom portal where hiring companies can access their portfolio of candidates.

Third, generate visibility

The final piece of the brand launch? Build market awareness. As part of an ongoing engagement, we’ve helped the Summit team develop a successful content-based marketing approach, including blogging, guest writing and speaking opportunities, executive guide development and search engine optimization.

“We would not be here today, pioneering this new business, without having that strategy right. We’ve seen a dramatic growth in our business.”

Melissa A. Henderson, President & CEO, Summit Executive Resources

An exceptional outcome

“The visibility we thought would take months to accomplish happened almost overnight,” says Henderson. Since launching its executive agent model, Summit Executive Resources has experienced phenomenal success, placing top C-level executives in major technology firms across the nation. The average time to placement is three months — a fraction of the time it takes to place an executive through traditional retained search.

What we did


  • Research
  • Differentiators
  • Positioning
  • Messaging Architecture
  • Logo
  • Tagline
  • Stationery
  • Guide Design
  • Collateral Design

Content Marketing

  • Content Strategy & Calendar
  • Keyword Research
  • Guest Blog Outreach
  • Guest Speaking Outreach
  • Writing Support
  • Print Ads
  • Email Template
  • Landing Page Design
  • Custom Photography
  • Press Kit

High-Performance Website

  • Design
  • Online Strategy
  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Website Development
  • Writing

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