A Journalistic Mindset is the Future of Brand

Atlantic 57 relaunches as Long Dash, a creative consultancy that uses a journalistic mindset to deliver brand loyalty and longevity

Kate Watts

By Kate Watts
CEO of Long Dash

June 1, 2021 | 4 minute read

On September 1, 2019, I enthusiastically sold my experience design firm, Faire Design, to The Atlantic. I was emboldened by the incredible opportunity to evolve the mission of the media company’s remarkably talented creative consultancy, Atlantic 57. By combining forces, we quickly added new capabilities, expanded our client partnerships, and scaled into a full-service brand evolution firm by helping brands adapt to an ever-changing landscape while honoring their core purpose.

And, as we embrace the success of our own evolution, I am delighted to share the business you have known as Atlantic 57 is entering a new era with a fresh name and identity: Long Dash. 

Long Dash, a creative consultancy grown from journalistic roots, launches today as an independent entity from The Atlantic. Our goal as an independent business will be to help brands adopt a journalistic mindset at this critical inflection point for businesses. 

Named after a grammatical mark that is both beloved and controversial, versatile and enduring, our name is a nod to our journalistic roots, our commitment to challenging convention, and our philosophy of balancing the long view with the dash to stay ahead. 

Our relaunch comes at the perfect moment for brands who cannot afford to get lost in their own complexity—the emerging post-pandemic market is too competitive, with new business launches on the rise and customer interactions digitizing at record pace. Businesses have responded by building and rebuilding departments, altering five-year plans, and quickly proliferating digital experiences to keep up with demand. 

For many, the result is a brand ecosystem often riddled with inconsistencies and complexities that are at best difficult to understand and at worst impossible to navigate. A brand’s success now depends not only on its ability to attract, promote, and sell, but also on its ability to narrate its story, deconstruct complexity, and connect with people across the entire brand journey. 

Put simply, brands need to turn their story into an experience. Knowing that narrative isn’t enough, brands have to actually live their story to drive successful outcomes. And as a good journalist today knows, it’s not always about telling it—it’s about showing. 

Our team has been considering these challenges at length and how we are best equipped to respond to them. The answer lies in our journalistic origins and the approach to brand evolution that has grown from them. 

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Our approach is based on the idea that brands need to think like journalists. They need to investigate their place in the world, anchor their core narrative, and then express that narrative through every touchpoint in the user journey. This approach is not only rooted in investigative rigor and the power of unexpected sources; it also commands cultural resonance and creates a clear, evocative narrative across the entire brand experience to build lasting relationships and powerful business outcomes. It’s an approach that provides both the hook and the substance.

With resolute clarity and conviction, brands build trust. Only when a person sees a through-line across every interaction with a brand can they understand their relationship with it. It fosters a sense of reliability and consistency that allows for more dialogue and, ultimately, more loyalty. Instead of floundering in their own complexity, brands can find power in the simplest and most consistent expressions of their brand.

While our team includes former journalists and a mighty editorial team, our entire team—including designers, engineers, researchers—applies this journalistic approach to the work. This breadth of service allows us to build digital products, launch new services, reimagine business strategies, create inclusive communication plans, and even architect full-fledged media enterprises. 

And that is why we saw significant revenue growth last year. It’s a testament to the strength of a journalistic mindset, where a brand’s ability to seamlessly demonstrate its story and values across every touch point in a customer journey is great for business. And, in some cases, the exercise of doing so may in fact alter, advance, or even shift product design choices, marketing plans, or a business model entirely. It offers a perspective and a filter that drives decision making. 

Our emergence as an independent entity comes at a critical moment. The role of journalism has always been to challenge convention, ask the hard questions, and help people make the best, most informed decisions. As our society is striving to do exactly this, we are here to help brands clarify their decisions, anchor to their core narrative, and build the brand experience that expresses it. We believe the result will be a more vibrant brand landscape experiencing greater brand loyalty, robust business growth, and lasting consumer relationships.

Kate Watts

Kate Watts

CEO of Long Dash

As CEO, Kate Watts closely partners with the C-Suite to bring brand and digital transformation to life. Prior to Long Dash, she led Faire Design, which The Atlantic acquired in September 2019 in its first ever acquisition. Today, Kate leads Long Dash as an independent entity from The Atlantic. She has expanded its capabilities by infusing Faire Design’s obsession with experience design, product, and tech with Long Dash's expertise in research, editorial, and strategic planning. Prior to Faire, Kate held the role of President, U.S. for Huge.