SB Master founded Master-McNeil, Inc. in 1989 in order to create a firm focused exclusively on naming, branding, and brand architecture. As President and chief strategist, she is responsible for creative and strategic supervision of all Master-McNeil projects.
As an undergraduate SB was interested in how the economic means of support influenced creative work, and in the management of the creative process. She completed three majors — Economics, Music, Book Design — at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and then received a fellowship to work at the National Endowment for the Arts. Next, she joined The San Francisco Foundation, where she conducted the first study of the economic impact of the arts on the Bay Area economy, and was responsible for evaluating and making recommendations on arts and humanities grants. SB was fascinated by Foundation board members’ ability to zero in on the pros and cons of each application, to probe her recommendations, and to reach consensus on the best strategic course. Impressed by their thought processes and with their encouragement, SB decided to earn an MBA.
Following her MBA SB joined Landor Associates, where she worked closely with founder Walter Landor and was Associate Director, Corporate Identity Worldwide; after several years she launched and ran the company’s first verbal branding practice across twelve international offices. While at Landor SB led marketing strategy and creative for numerous corporate identities including responsibility for Westin Hotels, Touchstone, Pacific Telesis Group/Pacific Bell, Fleet Financial, Asiana, and Principal, among many others, while establishing the methodologies and thinking that became industry standard for company and brand name development and testing.
SB went on to found Master-McNeil, Inc., the pioneering naming and branding firm. As a new service — there were only a small handful of similar firms worldwide — there were several slow years of educating clients that creating trademarkable names was something they should pay for, rather than expect their own employees or ad agencies to do. The growth of consumer technology and the increasing difficulty of creating and securing available trademarks dovetailed perfectly with the Master-McNeil offer; the company’s first client was Apple, for whom M-McN completed over sixty projects. The firm was perfectly positioned for the dot-com 1.0 boom; its naming.com URL, and the fact that M-McN named PayPal and Ariba, among many others, certainly didn’t hurt. The firm is now deeply engaged with 2.0 consumer internet, mobile apps, and data-analytics clients. Master-McNeil is known for its hundreds of new names and brand architectures, with a particular focus on new technology, and for its close, enduring relationships with senior client executives. The firm enjoys its long relationship with several PayPal founders, and works on many of their new ventures and investments.
Between December 2009 and February 2012 SB Master worked closely with the VC-backed startup Quid, originally as their Master-McNeil project director creating the Quid name and brand, and from October 2010 as Acting Director, Marketing & Communications (while retaining responsibility for Master-McNeil). SB greatly enjoyed being responsible for Quid brand rollout, product and service articulation, web, press including an article in the Harvard Business Review, writing and art-directing the video “A little story about Quid,” and matters of design and creativity. This deep experience in bringing to life a name Master-McNeil created has informed subsequent work.
SB earned her MBA at the Harvard Business School and her triple-major honors BA at the University of California Santa Cruz, where she is a Trustee of the UCSC Foundation. Other nonprofit roles include co-founder, Friends of the Joaquin Moraga Adobe; and board member, Young People’s Symphony Orchestra. SB is a mentor and sometime lecturer at the Lester Center for Entrepreneurship, UC Berkeley Haas School of Business; a former long-time member of the International Trademark Association, where she was named to the Board of the Brand Names Education Foundation; and served for six years as a corporate board member of Delta Dental. She has served as an expert witness for several high-profile trademark cases, and SB and a co-inventor were awarded a patent for the BAsys brand architecture automation system.