The Business of Breakthroughs. The Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) has a storied history as an epicenter of innovation. Inventors of the mouse and the Ethernet, among other foundations of today’s IT world, the center found itself the subject of industry press questioning its future relevance and found it increasingly difficult to attract the market’s best talent. On the cusp of its 40th anniversary, PARC engaged Posit Partners to develop a new positioning strategy, messaging, a new tagline, and foundational marketing deliverables.

Competition? What Competition?

There are companies that innovate, and there are innovation companies. PARC is both. Posit found, in the course of doing an online competitive brand audit of eight enterprises, that none had the specific mix of offerings and skills PARC had. We identified where similar and competing companies overlap with PARC’s capabilities and target audiences, and began to form a hypothesis about how PARC could best position itself by reframing the definition of its work and its role.

Listen, Listen, and Listen Some More

The best way to find out about any company’s strengths and weaknesses is to talk to its stakeholders: management, employees, partners, customers, ex-customers and lost prospects. We conducted confidential interviews with both internal and external stakeholders. We also conducted an extensive communications audit of related organizations, as well as PARC itself. After aggregating the results of this qualitative research, we identified some key take-aways that led to the identification of PARC’s sweet spot in the competitive landscape: The intersection of Investigation, Imagination and Return on Investment.

A Position and Tagline that Hit Home

We proposed that PARC position itself as a leading global innovation engine. How is that expressed externally? With the tagline: The Business of Breakthroughs.  Following approval of the position and tagline, Posit Partners created a messaging document for internal use, as well as copy for a brochure.


For its 40th anniversary, PARC hosted a party at its Palo Alto campus, attended by its employees, customers and the media. They chose this event to roll out their new messaging and tagline, which the senior leadership team conveyed concisely and consistently. And three years on, the media is still telling the world that PARC is “in the business of breakthroughs.”