Marco Ruckenbrod
Strategy Consulting for Tomorrow

Marco Ruckenbrod
Strategy Consulting for Tomorrow

Startseite2022-12-23T19:11:37+01:00

Slide Hello, my name is Marco.
I am a freelance strategy consultant working on the edge of strategy x creativity x futures.
Slide I help ambitious organizations and people worldwide to reflect and rethink their status quo – and to reimagine and reinvent desirable futures. Slide In turbulent times, I co-create sound, bold and future-ready strategies focusing on bright opportunities and what’s possible. Slide Because I truly believe in the power of unlimited and inventive thinking, perfectly expressed by the question < What if ..?! >

Hello, my name is Marco.
I am a freelance strategy consultant working on the edge of strategy x creativity x futures. I help ambitious organizations and people worldwide to reflect and rethink their status quo – and to reimagine and reinvent desirable futures. In turbulent times, I co-create sound, bold and future-ready strategies focusing on bright opportunities and what’s possible. So: What if ..?

Today, I oversee a 14-years long strategy and consulting experience with a track record of 100+ clients across 25+ categories. I have been collaborating with rising start-ups, hidden champions, and world-leading giants on a wide range of business challenges, including iconic brands like Bosch, BMW, L’Oréal, Porsche, Siemens, Telekom, Toyota, TUI, or Zeiss, to name a few. During the past years, I’ve been also collaborating with 30+ partners including some of the best-in-class companies from the creative industries worldwide as well as with the most forward-thinking companies that actively shape the future. Occasionally, I also do some more things with passion and purpose: sparring, training, speaking, lecturing, mentoring, and some more.

I hold a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing, a Master’s degree in Cultural Management, and a Postgraduate Diploma in Futures Studies from Stellenbosch University, Cape Town. I also attended the Miami Ad School’s Creative Strategy program in Sydney as well as several trainings from some of the most inspiring organizations worldwide, such as IDEO, Hyper Island, Zukunftsinstitut, or Institute of the Future to constantly refine my ways of thinking.

As an independent thinker, I am always on the hunt for courageous clients, exciting challenges, and enlightening collaborations with bright minds. Let’s figure out what’s next.

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years of experience
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partners I’ve worked with
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clients I’ve worked for
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industries I’ve worked in


World-class clients

I’ve worked for rising start-ups, hidden champions and world-leading giants from a wide range of industries. Their history, their status quo and the dynamics of their environment were always quite different. But what they all have in common: the ambition, belief and power to redefine the future of their markets.


World-class partners

During the past years, I’ve had the pleasure to collaborate with some of the best-in-class companies from the creative industries worldwide (incl. the big five Publicis, WPP, Omnicom, Interpublic, and Dentsu plus the leading creative partners from Germany) as well as with some of the most forward-thinking companies. I am happy to feature an exceptional network of outstanding organizations and individuals from all areas in the intersection of strategy, creativity, and futures.


What some say

Michael Jordan once said: “Talent wins games, but teamwork wins championships.” I feel very grateful to have the privilege since many years of teaming up with so many great people, inspiring minds and diverse teams around the world. Here are some of them. Thanks for your kind words. For more quotes check my LinkedIn.

“The quality of his work, strength of his analysis, and unpacking of insights was first class. This enabled us to deliver a comprehensive strategy to a tier one client.”

Stephanie Trachsel, Head of Strategy // TBWA

“Working with Marco is just a pleasure. He is a genius when it comes to strategy.”

Marcel Aberle, CEO // Zukunftsinstitut Consulting

“A fast thinker and a truly creative mind, always looking for the new and unseen.”

Vera Schnitzlein, Head of Strategy // KMS TEAM

“Marco brings a strong creative mind to the table paired with killer business acumen.”

Sebastian Wuerz, Co-Founder & CEO // Homefully

„A visionary and progressive mind. Marco combines smart strategic thinking with a great sense for outstanding creative work.”

Davide Tagliabue, Global Client Lead // Ogilvy

“Marco has done a fantastic job in capturing the complexity of the APF – that will allow us to clarify our future positioning.”

Tanja Schindler, Vice-Chair // Association of Professional Futurists

“He has a broad experience across industries and disciplines, and a passion for people, brands and unexpected business solutions.”

Anna Höhn, Chief Strategy Officer // Leo Burnett

“One of the hungriest, most passionate and committed people I’ve met. His belief that meaningful strategies are those that create value is inspiring.”

Heidi Strunz, Head of Human Resources // Outfittery

“Not only is he a savvy strategic thinker, but also a very nice person who is fun to talk to.”

Johanna Sieveking, Head of Strategy // Jung von Matt

“His view on innovative business models combined with the knowledge to build and develop brands has given the right drive.”

Florian Wienbrügge, Partner // Martian & Machine

“Someone who is able to map the unmapped – and inspires others to follow him.”

Wolfgang Tonninger, Co-Founder // Beyond Storytelling

“He brings order to the chaos.”

Dorothea Eckhardt, Creative Director // Publicis

“He manages to solve even complex strategy issues creatively and efficiently.”

Benjamin Trogisch, Creative Director // Saatchi & Saatchi

“Two skills inspired me: simplifying complexity and turning an uncertain future into exciting strategic perspectives.”

Eduard Posch, Consultant // Zukunftsinstitut

“Marco has shown a deep understanding of our client’s business challenges and turned it into real opportunities through reasonable strategic advice.”

Jasmin Isabel Wodniok, Account Executive // Publicis

“Marco is one of these super rare pros who are hard to find: he is creative and strategic both ways. A true hybrid.” 

Petra Sammer, Storytelling Expert, ex-CCO // Ketchum

“Marco is a quick thinker. He grasps a strategic task and at the same time his brain is already looking for solutions.”

Erich Posselt, Independent Consultant

“An absolute engaged and inspired strategist. He was always on fire, very focused and result-oriented. Our collaboration was very flexible and reliable.”

Jens Erichsen, Managing Director // Carat

“His strategic thinking is sharp and is creative approach inspiring – a combination that is rarely found. He brings passion, curiosity and playfulness into each project.”

Kira Tschierschke, Freelance UX Consultant

“Clear, smart, open-minded, a good listener, a consultant, fast, intelligent, helpful, empathic, structured, and highly creative. Always on my wishlist.”

Markus Freilinger, Director Client Services // Publicis

“Marco has got a very sharp mind combined with the ability to reveal business issues and turn them into strategic solutions.” 

Katharina Lohse, Vice President Marketing // E.ON

“Marco is a brilliant strategist. His strategic vision was always incredibly clear which created an inspiring direction for the team.”

Thilo Friedrich, Executive Client Service Director // Saatchi Pro

“Inspiring, humble, and fun. He makes people, teams and projects better. One of my favorite all-round pros with broad and deep knowledge.”

Sebastian Strubel, Executive Director Strategy // Leo Burnett

“A fresh mind and exceptional attentiveness to detail combined with great expertise.”

Andreas Schill, Client Service Director // SYZYGY

“A solid strategist with a strong creative lead, a driving force in proactive thinking with a wide range of skills. Someone who brings energy and passion to the table.”

Hugo Moura, Head of Design // BBDO


World-class education

To my mind, one of the best ever-written statements is: „Stay hungry, stay foolish.“ by Steve Jobs. As corny this quote might sound like for some, as pinpoint and true it is for me. Because it reminds one not to remain in the comfort zone of your status quo. But instead, it challenges you to aspire for more and to keep on learning ad infinitum.

BA

Bachelor of Arts
Marketing
2011

MA

Master of Arts
Cultural Management
2013

PGD

Postgraduate Diploma
Futures Studies
2021

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Various
Trainings
on-going

The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.

The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.

Albert Einstein

As a curious and critical mind, I aspire to reflect and rethink the status quo. Because “We’ve always done things this way” might be neither the smartest possible answer nor the most thriving mindset. Together with forward-thinking partners and ambitious clients, I help to reimagine and reshape the world of tomorrow: how humans behave, how markets work, how environments change, how organizations tick. Always in the right balance of profit, people, and planet. I am happy to partner up with all those organizations and people that are sharing this ambition and want to jointly figure out what’s next.

As a consultant, I work on the edge of strategic, creative, and futures thinking. I combine the intelligence and acumen of business and brand strategy, with the intuition and unruly power of creativity, and ultimately with the unlimited spirit of imagination, inspired by bold futures thinking and backed by sound foresight. I am confident that this mighty blend enables us to solve almost any strategic challenge of the modern age – and leads the way to a brighter and more inspiring future. I call this blend Hybrid Thinking.

Hybrid Thinking makes the difference: The sweet spot of strategy x creativity x futures brings intelligence x intuition x imagination together. This is what I call ‘Hybrid Thinking’ – the combination of different schools of thought and different ways of thinking, cross-fertilizing each other. Ultimately, this combination creates true momentum and leads to real business impact. It’s about making business and brands the best they can be. Incremental changes can keep you in the game, but it requires bold and even iconic moves to redefine the game. Look out: someone else is already rethinking your category, trying to redefine the game. So: invent the future before someone else does. Because strategy is always a bet on the future.

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.

Leonardo da Vinci

Today, we live in a world which some characterize as being VUCA: volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous. In this world, business models are changing dramatically. Organizations from all industries, sizes, regions and cultures are increasingly faced with massive ‚wicked problems‘: problems that are too complex to be solved. Instead, these kind of problems can be tackled, tamed, and ideally managed. Translating those wicked problems into manageable challenges, and ultimately into smart strategic solutions, which not only address current issues but rather focus on future opportunities, is the ultimate sign of intelligence – it is the ultimate sophistication. Strategy deals with uncertainty and with the tensions between today and tomorrow. It’s all about moving from problems to possibilities.

Strategy

Strategy

Don´t do the right thing.
Let´s do the brave thing.

Don´t do the right thing. Let´s do the brave thing.

Lee Clow

Creativity

 

Creativity

Don´t do the right thing.
Let´s do the brave thing.

Lee Clow

Strategy alone can’t win. It can’t inspire people, it can’t move people. What it needs to make a big move: game-changing creative thinking. Strategy is great in defining the right playground and the right direction, but only creativity adds the punch. To frame it with the words of Lee Clow from TBWA: “Don’t do the right thing. Because the right thing is good enough. But good enough is not enough. Don’t do it. Don’t do the right thing.” Instead: “Do the brave thing. The thing that troubles your sleep. The thing with the million unknowns. Do the brave thing.” Creativity is bravery. It’s not the safe bet. Creativity aspires to challenge the status quo and to invent the new. It means to discover new and oftentimes unknown territories: “Do the thing that disrupts. Do the thing that does not just defy the status quo but reshapes it, forever.” That’s why I absolutely believe in the creative impetus of strategy. The mantra for each strategy should be: no idea is off limits, no vision too bold. Because in these rapidly shifting times, iconic moves are needed.

Everything you can imagine is real.

Everything you can imagine is real.

Pablo Picasso

Good strategy is creative: it moves people. But great strategy is anticipative and imaginative, great strategy follows a ‘future-first’ approach: it not just moves people but it moves people forward. It thinks about strategic opportunities that don’t yet exist – and it gives the right direction for reaching them. Let’s be clear: The future is an unknown space that doesn’t exist yet. From a today’s perspective, the future is not the future but multiple ones. This means: anything is possible, anything can happen. It is on us to shape it. Reshaping the future requires two things: First: exploring and understanding what’s currently and perspectively going on in the world. Sense making of major shifts. Sound foresight with comprehensive trend monitoring helps us to gain a critical knowledge base of what might happen and what’s possible. It’s all about opportunities. Secondly, shaping the future requires a visionary and inventive mentality that defines what’s desirable. And ultimately: make it happen. Or to quote the unmatched Walt Disney: “If you can dream it, you can do it.” I truly believe: futures thinking makes strategy bold. It has the power to leverage momentum and shape the zeitgeist of tomorrow. It even puts progressive businesses at the forefront of tomorrow’s zeitgeist. Great strategy opens the space for new ideas and solutions.

Futures

Futures

Pablo Picasso

Everything you can imagine is real.

How we can work together, where I can help you with

I offer a wide spectrum of strategy services, from discovery to doing, from where to play to how to win. All services can be booked separately as individual modules or as a comprehensive strategy package. If you are not decided yet where to start and what to do, let‘s figure out what‘s the right starting point and the appropriate approach: book a Strategy Sparring Session.

DISCOVER
& DECODE
I analyze and decode the status quo of a business
and its brands to identify future opportunities.

#01 What‘s going on in your category and beyond?
And what's the impact on your business and brand(s) in the future?
Services: : Brand Analysis
: Portfolio Analysis
: Customer Analysis
: Competitive Analysis
: Category Analysis
: Stakeholder Analysis
: Benchmark Analysis
: Trend Analysis
DEVELOP
& DEFINE
#02 : Strategic Scenario Building
: Brand Strategy Development
: Portfolio/Brand Architecture Building
: Target Groups & Stakeholder Mapping
: Persona Development
: Customer Journey Development
: Corporate Design Advisory
: Ecosystem & Touchpoint Development
: Comms & Messaging Development
: Go-To-Market Approaches
What makes you relevant, authentic and differentiating, today and tomorrow?
How can you stay ahead of the game in rapidly shifting times?
I rethink businesses and reshape brands
to co-create a future reason for being.
Services:
What’s the iconic idea a brand wants to share with the world?
What makes a brand standing out in highly competitive markets?
I co-create bold visions and compelling narratives
to inspire and move people, internally and externally.
#03 DREAM
& DESIRE
What’s the iconic idea a brand wants to share with the world? What makes a brand standing out in highly competitive markets? Services: : Vision Development
: Story & Narrative Development
: Campaign Idea Development
: Ideation Processing
: Brand-led Innovation Advisory
I help executives in their decision making process and
in designing ways to get a new strategy implemented.
What‘s the most promising strategic direction for a business? And how can we prepare its implementation effectively? #04 DECIDE
& DESIGN
I help executives in their decision making process and in designing ways to get a new strategy implemented. What‘s the most promising strategic direction for a business?
And how can we prepare its implementation effectively?
Services: : Decision Making Assistance
: Definition of Actionpoints
: Process Design & Planning
: Backcasting
: Framework Development
What are the critical success factors to deliver a winning strategy?
How can we make it ultimately happen?
#05 DELIVER
& DO
I advise executives in implementing a strategy and make it work across all disciplines and partners. What are the critical success factors to deliver a winning strategy? How can we make it ultimately happen? Services: : Advisory on Strategy Implementation
: Advisory on Brand Activation & Trainings
: Advisory on Change Management
: Advisory on Employee Engagement
: Advisory on Brand Management
: Advisory on Measuring & Monitoring
: Advisory on Agency Set-Up & Steering
: Advisory on Agency Briefings
: Advisory on Brand Communications

What else I do with passion and purpose

Besides co-creating strategies, I do some more things with passion and purpose. Over the years, I’ve done lots of different things: I facilitated workshops, ranging from go-to-market strategies for Japanese B2B corporates to brand narratives and for rising start-ups. I gave keynotes about creativity near the northern polar circle at the Arctic Design Week and about the power of momentum at the global gathering of futurists at PRIMER. I mentored top talents from German Universities in collaboration with the GWA as well as upcoming Sri Lankan strategists at the Miami Ad School. I launched blogs about the creative industries in the Baltics and about my sabbatical in Down Under some years ago. I trained the strategy department from Jung von Matt in futures thinking and I contributed a chapter to a book named Beyond Storytelling, published by Springer Science. I represented the state Baden-Württemberg aka THE LÄND at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity in 2021 and 2022. And I did some more stuff. If you are interested in collaborating in one of the following areas, please let me know.

  • Sparring

    Coachings, Sparrings & co.
    I CHALLENGE LEADERS.

    From time to time, we all need a sparring partner at eye level, another brain, to share or thoughts with, to question our thinking and to sharpen our mind. And sometimes it’s even better to share it with an independent expert. That’s why I’ve launched Strategy Sparring as a dedicated service for executives. It creates a space to reflect and reshape your thinking. I offer one-time sessions as well as packages. Schedule your session on strategysparring.com

  • Training

    Trainings, Seminars & co.
    I COACH TEAMS.

    Working together with teams and making them better in their day-to-day work is a passion of mine. That’s why I help teams to refine their current skill set and to explore new horizons. All training programs are rooted in the areas of strategy, creativity, and futures. They are available as half-day and full-day programs, remote or on-site. I also offer training sessions as part of offsite team events. Please reach out for further information.

  • Facilitating

    Workshops, Sessions & co.
    I FACILITATE WORKSHOPS.

    During the past couple of years, I've successfully designed and facilitated 100+ workshops and working sessions across all kinds of categories, addressing a wide range of issues, realizing them on-site, hybrid or fully remote, moderating them in German and English, and involving all kinds of stakeholders (from customers to inter-divisional teams to C-suite). I am happy to discuss how I can help you in designing and/or facilitating your workshop.

  • Speaking

    Keynotes, Talks & co.
    I GIVE TALKS.

    On occasion, I happily attend conferences and events as a speaker or as a panelist to share my thinking in the intersection of strategy, creativity, and futures. Among others, I’ve had the pleasure of speaking at international conferences like PRIMER, Beyond Storytelling, Arctic Design Week, German Marketing Associations, Plot, or Gravity. Recent topics: Mighty Momentum, Unlimited Creativity, Beyond Tomorrow, A collaborative culture, etc. Feel free to reach out for discussing an engagement.

  • Lecturing

    Lectureships, Classes & co.
    I EDUCATE TALENTS.

    Transferring knowledge to young talent is something I really enjoy doing. Because I strongly believe that the vivid exchange of perspectives stimulates new thinking from rising talents. That’s why I lecture on occasion, e.g., at the Baden-Wuerttemberg Cooperative State University, at the European Academy of Media and Business (EMBA), at the Hochschule der Medien (HdM), and at the globally operating Miami Ad School.

  • Exploring

    Trend Safaris, Visitations & co.
    I CREATE EXPERIENCES.

    During one of my first jobs at Saatchi & Saatchi, we conducted so called "Xplorings". We visited people in real life: at home, at work, at university, etc. We observed keenly and we understood better. The idea was: “If you want to understand how a lion hunts, don’t go to the zoo. Go to the jungle.” I cannot agree more. So, the best way to explore culture, customers or competition is probably not reading another report or setting up another focus group but to go to the real world and understand what's going on out there. Curious?

  • Brainstorming

    Ideation, Innovation & co.
    I UPLIFT IDEAS.

    During the past couple of years, I've successfully designed and facilitated 100+ working sessions, brainstormings, and ideation sessions. I've been working together with some of the most creative agencies and minds where I successfully applied a wide range of creativity techniques. I am experienced and well-versed in stimulating, reviewing, and assessing ideas, no matter it's about new marketing activities or new products and services. I am happy to discuss how I can help you in designing and/or facilitating your ideation session.

  • Partnering

    Diverse Projects, Collaborations & co.
    I MAKE COLLABORATIONS.

    Occasionally, there emerge exciting and enlightening opportunities to collaborate and partner up with bright minds in most different set-ups. Two examples: In 2021 and 2022, I represented the state Baden-Württemberg aka THE LÄND at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity. During the same time, I helped the globally operating Association of Professional Futurists (APF) to redefine their brand and make it future-ready. I am always open for any kind of collaboration.

  • Mentoring

    Partnerships, Mentorships & co.
    I HELP TALENTS.

    If you are a young talent who needs some kind of guidance, mentorship, or exchange: drop me a line. I am excited to discuss your idea or enterprise. During my career, I've luckily experienced people who mentored me – and some still do. So I know how important it is to have an experienced sounding board.

  • Writing

    Articles, Publications & co.
    I PUBLISH THOUGHTS.

    Telling stories has been always a passion of mine. That’s why I’ve set up various blogs in the past, e.g. a blog about the creative industries in the Baltics (brainpacking.com), and about my sabbatical in Down Under at the Miami Ad School (plannatical.com). Both have been mentioned by international media such as Campaign Brief, or Business Punk. In 2018, I contributed a chapter about narrative brand management to a book named Beyond Storytelling published by Springer Science.

Things happening

Stories that are worth to share.

Rethinking a bank’s role in times of crisis

16. Dezember 2022|

„A couple of months ago, I supported my friends from Leo Burnett Germany on a pitch for a tier one client: Commerzbank – one of the largest and most important banks in Germany. The main discussion, according to the brief, was: What does it mean to be „Die Bank an Ihrer Seite“ during times like these? What does it mean to stay at your side and to act as a true partner in times of crisis? Luckily, we were able to convince the Commerzbank with our approach. The first piece of work from Leo Burnett is out now: the 2022 (non-)X-mas campaign.

Category: Strategy Project
Partner: Leo Burnett
Client: Commerzbank

TBWA\ Global Agency of the Year

14. Dezember 2022|

„TBWA\Worldwide once again performed at en elite level across its entire network“ – Adweek. Being named Adweek’s Global Agency of the Year for the second year in a row is a reflection of the disruptive thinking of their 11,000 creative minds. I am really happy for collaborating with TBWA\ Switzerland for many years already and, most recently, also with the German team from Düsseldorf. I really love the idea of breaking conventions through disruptive and visionary thinking. Keep on changing, folks!

Category: Strategy Project
Partner: TBWA
Client: various

Lectureship Strategic Brand Management

9. Dezember 2022|

Back to the roots: Fourteen years ago, in 2008, I started my Bachelor studies in Marketing at the Baden-Wuerttemberg Cooperative State University (known in Germany as the DHBW). Today, more than one decade later, I switched sides and reviewed more than one dozen presentations in the area of strategic brand management, ranging from brand design issues to brand relations to brand activities. It’s great to see the next generation of brand thinkers coming up and sharing their perspectives on how to lead brands in the present age.

Category: Lecturing
Topic: Strategic Brand Management
Institution: DHBW Heidenheim

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