Join us in welcoming Kyle Tsuchiya! He’s joining our strategy department and making himself quite heard, despite the distance between all of us. In Director of Strategy Meredith Engelen’s own words, Kyle’s a “Swiss Army knife kind of strategist, with a passion for understanding what makes people tick but also pretty handy with a camera.” Between research and strategy projects, he’s also a hit with office Vikings fans—Kyle’s a proud member of the Vikings’ Skol Line.
Tell us about your background and what led you to strategy.
Everyone that knows me knows I play the drums … I’ve been drumming for pretty much my entire life, and I’ve been fortunate enough to find some success doing so. However, much to everyone’s surprise, I didn’t want to go to music school. Being a music major involves a lot of singing (I am SO BAD at singing) and classes on music history and theory, which don’t interest me in the slightest.
Going into my first year at the University of Minnesota, I was looking for a career field that would give me a platform to be my creative and weird self while still giving me health insurance … The marketing and advertising world seemed to fit the bill. I was first exposed to strategy in a class, and I was immediately drawn to how the discipline is both an “art” and a “science.” I’m analytical—I enjoy doing research and immersing myself in a subject—but I’m also creative and get fulfillment out of coming up with big ideas that help solve business problems. Strategy seems to lend itself to that kind of person.
What do you think is one of the biggest challenges facing brands today?
There are several that come to mind, but I think the most relevant to the current state of the world is the need for brands to balance purpose with authenticity. There are a number of studies out there that show consumers tend to develop an affinity for purposeful brands and want brands to take stances on various issues, but this has resulted in somewhat of a saturation of “wokeness.” An abundance of brands are trying to be purposeful, and consumers are starting to wonder how genuine these acts of purpose really are.
For example, does Gillette really care about toxic masculinity? Or was this just a ploy given that they still sell pink, “for women only” razors that are more expensive than the men’s razors for seemingly no good reason?
This issue is very relevant right now as we find ourselves in the midst of a global pandemic. It feels like every company on the planet is coming out with press releases and anthem videos about their response to the virus. But, as Rachel Mercer succinctly says in this tweet, ” …remember that how you behave is more meaningful and valuable than what you say.”
Doing stuff like s e p a r a t i n g y o u r l o g o to show support for social distancing might get you some earned media attention, but doing so without actually living the purpose you are projecting might get you #cancelled.
How do you want to help solve it?
By trying to foster good client relationships and healthy discussion, so that when a client comes to us wanting to project purpose, we can chat about it and first ensure that doing so would be authentic to what they believe and how they behave.
What do you hope to experience at Superhuman?
I’m still in the early stages of my career, so I’m primarily motivated by being in a learning environment. I’m hoping Superhuman will be a place in which I can continue expanding my skillset, be exposed to new things and work with really smart and cool people. If these first few days are any indication of what my experience will be like, I can definitively say I found myself at a really good place.
I’m also hoping I can experience an esteemed Superhuman lunch outing sooner rather than later!
What’s the best game you’ve played lately and why?
Since we’re all supposed to be staying home right now, my friends and I have been playing a lot of Jackbox Games, which are fun and witty party games that groups can play together via their own personal devices. It has been a great way for me continue asserting my dominance over my friends despite not being physically with them.