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Timbre Strategies

The timbre (pronounced tam-bər) of a voice is a particular character or quality that makes a voice unique. Therefore, how an organization says something is as important as what it says.

Timbre Strategies helps Fortune 500, middle market and startup companies, as well as non-profit organizations of all sizes, speak in authentic, differentiated voices.

We craft brand narratives that use distinctive competencies, key milestones and other achievements to substantiate an organization’s industry leadership. While plenty of brands proclaim leadership, we help our clients demonstrate it. And we do so in a voice that accounts for the expectations of their key stakeholders.

We specialize in ESG and corporate citizenship, reputation and issues management, crisis communications, employee engagement, storytelling and thought leadership.

Formerly a global executive for both Edelman and FTI Consulting, Timbre Strategies Founder and Principal Bob Knott has garnered the industry’s top honors, including the PRWeek Award for Corporate Branding Campaign of the Year and the Golden Sabre for Corporate Image.

Also, the environmental sustainability initiatives of both GE and Walmart—two case studies in which Bob played critical leadership roles—are chronicled in Michael E. Porter’s and Mark R. Kramer’s Harvard Business Review cover story, “Creating Shared Value”.

As a virtual consultancy, we assemble teams comprised of communications, design and research specialists based on the discrete needs of our clients. We work extensively in energy, financial services, healthcare, higher education and technology—and possess in-depth knowledge of the environment, human rights, public health and economic development.

Timbre Strategies offers the experience and expertise characteristic of large-scale consultancies. The difference is our senior personnel are far more accessible, hands-on and cost-effective. To learn more, contact us at [email protected].

What We Do

Drawing on proprietary, road-tested processes, as well as decades of experience, we help clarify, promote and protect brands through integrated communications—striking an optimal balance between digital and social media, as well as traditional channels.

  • Corporate and non-profit branding—Using a proprietary tool, the Strategic Positioning FrameworkTM, to identify and prioritize the component parts of an effective positioning strategy, including an organization’s ownable competencies and industry milestones, and reconcile them in a unique brand narrative. Primary and secondary research are frequently used to inform a brand narrative as well.
  • Change management and employee engagement—Explaining the shifts in an organization’s operating strategies, the underlying need for change and what it means to internal and external stakeholders alike. Also, developing and implementing campaigns to recruit and retain industry-leading talent.
  • Crisis preparedness and response—Anticipating and responding to events that have the potential to erode the trust of key stakeholders, while establishing a process for responding effectively and efficiently to developments in an accelerated media cycle.
  • ESG and corporate citizenship—Distilling an organization’s environmental, social and governmental impacts, aligning them with its strategic objectives and using messaging and communications strategies to unite the interests of key stakeholders. Also, engaging industry and subject matter experts as third-party advocates.
  • Storytelling—Dimensionalizing a brand narrative through topical stories that, through media relations, original content and social media, chronicle an organization’s distinctive role in today’s stakeholder economy, as well as its relationship to the stakeholders themselves.
  • Thought leadership—Based on a competitive landscape analysis of an executive’s peers, as well as others competing for share of mind, developing an additive perspective on a given issue. In turn, creating opportunities for them to help lead the relevant public discourse through speaking opportunities, media relations and original content.

How We Do It

Producing superior outcomes on behalf of our clients is commonly the result of several best practices that serve as the basis of collaborative working relationships:

Starting (and staying) on the same page

From the outset of any engagement, it is essential to establish a shared perspective with our clients on what success looks like, how to incrementally measure it and the resources required to achieve it.

Relying on empirical insights

There are no substitutes for intuition, expertise and experience, but research is every bit as essential in clarifying communications strategies for its ability to gauge the attitudes of key stakeholders.

Providing intellectually candid counsel

A strategic advisor can give clients what they want or what they need. If these are not one and the same for a given client, we will nevertheless be forthright in providing our best counsel, while being respectful of his or her concerns.

Demonstrating strategic courage

Given the ongoing transformation of the communications landscape—and the shifting expectations of many stakeholders—corporate and non-profit brands often benefit from weighing strategies that are unconventional and even bold.

Case Studies

Alliance for Lifetime Income

Provided integrated communications counsel to a non-profit 501(c)(6) educational organization consisting of financial services companies that provides consumers and financial professionals with educational resources, interactive tools, and actionable research and insights to use in building retirement income strategies and plans.


Developed the brand narrative, tagline and values for a digital platform company forged by the American Institute of Architects and True Wind Capital to invest in AIA Contract Documents—the industry-standard contracts and forms—for the benefit of architects, building owners, contractors and others.

Duke University School of Medicine

Developed an overarching value proposition for individual, corporate and foundation donors that served as the basis of the School of Medicine’s multi-billion dollar capital campaign.

The Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University

Rebranded and repositioned the nation’s oldest conservatory. Executed earned media strategies, while heightening the Dean’s profile as a national thought leader.

National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corporation

Repositioned the $25 billion lender to electric cooperatives nationwide. Developed corporate citizenship and ESG investment programs, including the issuance of a $400 million sustainability bond—an industry first used to finance renewable energy and broadband initiatives.

The North Face

Spotlighted the strength of the outdoor brand’s environmental performance and social responsibility through clarified messaging, as well as earned and social media strategies.

Research Bridge Partners

Branded and positioned the startup company specializing in the use of translational philanthropy to commercialize academic research. Managed original content, earned media and social media strategies.

Waste Management

Repositioned the Fortune 250 company as the industry leader in environmental sustainability. Executed earned media, social media and ESG investment strategies.

United Way of America

Repositioned the world’s largest non-profit organization, while executing earned media and social media strategies to promote Live United.


Re-branded a non-profit organization that reduces the threat of child sex trafficking—the buying and selling of minors for the purpose of sexual exploitation—and provides clinical and support services to individuals who have survived what is universally defined as modern slavery. Developed and implemented storytelling, public affairs, thought leadership and fundraising strategies.

Chesapeake Bay Foundation

Repositioned the regional environmental group and identified its next generation of donors and advocates. Audited the integrated communications platform, including content and social media strategies.


Choreographed the global launch of GE’s ecomagination—a milestone The Washington Post characterized as marking “a company’s obligations to a range of stakeholders and interests including the global environment”—overseeing the market research, messaging and integrated communications.

Learn Behavioral

Repositioned the leading national provider of tailored treatment programs to children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder or other special needs, while building out an integrated marketing platform for the company.

The Nature Conservancy

Repositioned the world’s largest environmental group and identified the next generation of donors and advocates in key markets globally. Audited the integrated communications platform and recommended original content and social media strategies.

Notre Dame of Maryland University

Branded and positioned a new four-year academic program for the Women’s College. Choreographed signature initiatives to sharpen the University’s distinction as a leader in women’s education.

SC&H Group

Developed and executed an original content strategy for the professional services company. Audited the integrated communications platform, including signature initiatives and social media strategies.

Wells Fargo

Co-managed a series of communications crises for of one of the nation’s largest banks, while helping to shape its corporate responsibility programming, including efforts to cultivate economic opportunities in underserved communities.


Repositioned the national leader in early childhood development. Performed a variety of strategic planning exercises, in addition to developing key messaging for internal and external stakeholders.

Timbre’s Founder

For more than 20 years, Bob Knott has helped Fortune 500 and middle market companies, as well as an array of non-profit organizations, enhance their reputations and increase revenues by articulating and communicating their environmental, social and governance impacts.

He specializes in the development of narratives clarifying how an organization’s operating model and distinctive competencies are both competitive advantages in the marketplace and valuable resources to society. In turn, Bob tailors the use of integrated communications—media relations, digital and social media, third party engagement, original content and speaking opportunities—to promote and dimensionalize these narratives to stakeholders ranging from customers and donors to shareholders and lawmakers.

Bob has also heightened the profiles of corporate and non-profit CEOs, in addition to a Nobel laureate, as national and international thought leaders. In so doing, he has worked with them to craft additive perspectives on societal priorities, while promoting these perspectives by means of bylined articles, elite media coverage and keynote addresses at leadership fora. Through the use of digital and social media, he has further enabled them to shape the relevant public discourse.

Bob has garnered the industry’s top honors and the environmental sustainability initiatives of both GE and Walmart—two case studies in which Bob played critical roles—are chronicled in Michael E. Porter’s and Mark R. Kramer’s Harvard Business Review cover story, “Creating Shared Value”. His other clients include: Allstate, DuPont, Exelon, Mars, United Airlines, Waste Management and Wells Fargo, as well as Amnesty International, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Duke University School of Medicine, Nature Conservancy, Research Bridge Partners and United Way of America.

In addition to working extensively in energy, financial services, healthcare, higher education and technology, Bob has acquired in-depth knowledge of pressing societal issues, including the environment, human rights, public health and economic development.

Prior to establishing Timbre Strategies, Bob served as global chairman of Edelman’s corporate social responsibility and ESG investing practice, as well as senior managing director and America’s chairman of FTI Consulting’s corporate communications practice.

The industry awards he has received include: PRWeek Award for Corporate Branding Campaign of the Year, Golden Sabre for Corporate Image, Bronze Anvil for Reputation Management, PRSA Thoth Award for Public Affairs, Edelman’s Chairman’s Award for Client Service (twice) and FTI Consulting’s Excellence Award.

An active volunteer, Bob serves, or has served, on the boards of directors for Audubon Maryland-DC, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Bon Secours Baltimore Health System Foundation and Wheeling Jesuit University.



I had the opportunity to work on a large strategic project with Bob in my role as Interim Chief Marketing Officer at The Nature Conservancy. Bob brought significant expertise and gravitas to the project. In addition to his expertise, Bob was a thoughtful listener from the start, tuned in right away to our challenges and proposed a concrete plan. As we navigated the partnership, I always felt heard by Bob. As a client, I always felt respected and valued. As a senior leader on the project, I was impressed how much Bob personally leaned into the project, bringing not only the deliverables in an expedient and efficient fashion, but bringing a genuine sense of joy for the work and continued creative curiosity. I’d welcome the opportunity to work with Bob again.

— Janine Wilkin, Senior Advisor, The Nature Conservancy

Bob listens. He invested heavily in understanding our unique business model and our strategic objectives. Bob is also hands-on. He helped us to discover and refine our authentic voice. This manifested in distinctive branding and market positioning that includes a powerful visual identity for the company, as well as both core and stakeholder-specific messaging. He also helped us develop an integrated communications platform and original content that further enhances our unique ‘voice’ and ‘presence’ in the market. Bob has been an important partner at critical stage in the company’s evolution.

— Isaac Barchas, President and CEO, Research Bridge Partners

From crisis communications to master narrative refinement to multi-year strategic communications plan development, Bob proved distinctly valuable to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. By combining his wide-ranging experience with a passion for data-centric intelligence, Bob quickly analyzes the communications challenges you see, identifies the ones you don’t, and immediately assists you in seizing your strategic opportunities. And whether he’s serving in the role of confidential adviser or expert witness to a board of directors, Bob deftly delivers his winning advice with equal parts humility and humor. Simply put: After working with Bob, you won’t want to work with anyone else.

— Rob Beach, Vice President for Communications, Chesapeake Bay Foundation

Bob was integral to our efforts to brand a holistic, four-year program consisting of curricular and co-curricular experiences that prepare women to lead and thrive in career and life—a landmark renewal of the undergraduate college’s 125-year mission. With Bob’s guidance and expertise, we branded the program “IMPRINT.” It is highly compelling to today’s students while being readily identifiable to alumni. In working closely with our institutional advancement team, select faculty and the University’s president, Bob proved to be an astute listener and incisive counselor, in addition to leading a complex assignment in a narrow timeframe. He was comprehensive in scope, lead us through beginning to end and overall – superb.

— Christian Kendzierski, Associate Vice President for University Communications and Marketing
Notre Dame of Maryland University

I had the pleasure of working directly with Bob Knott for 15 years and can attest he is the consummate professional. He is smart, strategic, creative, a strong writer and a great communicator. He has high energy, will tell you what you need to hear and consistently delivers results. I recommend him highly to anyone.

— Rob Rehg, President, Edelman, Washington, DC

Bob is a highly talented counselor and strategist. In our work together I was consistently impressed with Bob’s ability to take in the big picture, understand nuance, and deliver (and implement) sound, actionable and impactful strategy. Smart, articulate and tenacious, Bob never shied from a challenge and always delivered value for clients. There is no hesitation in my recommendation of Bob.

— Ben Boyd, Chief Strategy & Operating Officer, BCW Global

Bob was adept at developing messaging that resonated with a diversity of stakeholders during a challenging time, while helping to shape an effective communications strategy. He was highly responsive and provided candid, thoughtful counsel.

— Mike Rizer, Executive Vice President and Director, Community Relations, Wells Fargo Bank

I worked with Bob to develop a positioning strategy for Duke Medicine in preparation of a $1 billion capital campaign. He demonstrated keen marketing sensibilities, but also an insightful grasp of essential development strategies and philanthropic decision making. Working with physician’s, scientist’s and administration leadership, as well as our Board of Visitors, Bob was the ideal partner—smart, collaborative and deeply committed to our mission—and it showed in our eventual work product.

— Michael J. Morsberger, CFRE, Vice President, Duke Medicine

Bob is a big, strategic thinker and particularly knowledgeable and talented on corporate reputation, social issues and crisis communications. He has worked with some of the world’s largest companies and brands, and is able to translate lessons learned from those sized companies into a variety of situations. He has a very solid grasp of communications fundamentals, knows how to manage very large scale programs and is extremely passionate about the counsel and execution he delivers. He is also a very collegial person to work with, an extremely good listener, and very effective in a corporate setting.

— Elizabeth Saunders, Partner, Clermont Partners and Commodore Intelligence

From The Blog

timbre strategies blog

For Environmental Groups, the Red Herring of Climate Change Denial is a Valuable Opportunity to “Mine the Middle” December 15, 2022 - Climate change denial is an all too popular refrain. National media outlets frequently herald its prevalence. Recently, the New York Times questioned which was worse, climate denial or climate hypocrisy, while the Washington Post editorial board opined that climate change denial is “unforgivable.” NPR routinely covers both climate change denial and climate misinformation. Politicians do… ... + more

Environmental Non-Profits Need a New Marketing Playbook. And They Need It Now. May 3, 2021 - As published by The Chronicle of Philanthropy For more than a decade, we’ve helped multinational, national and regional environmental non-profits advance their conservation objectives by enhancing the efficacy of their communications, fund raising and advocacy efforts. Through the lens of primary research, we have identified pervasive trends affecting today’s environmental non-profits—attitudinal and behavioral shifts that… ... + more


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