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What is Category Design?

Category design is only now emerging as a new discipline, after a few decades of being called various names (market making, market forming, category shaping, presegment market, evangelizing, etc.) and many—if not all, particularly in early startups—departments fulfilling the need it addresses so clearly today.

Here are 5 facts you need to know about Category Design: 

1. Category Design is the collective work completed in order to create or redefine a market category with the scope of establishing and maintaining category lead. 
2. CD is needed in the case of disruptive technologies (think: neverbeforeseen AI-native solutions), methodologies (think: medical premieres or new financial maneuvres),  or to change a status qvo (think: lobby).
3. CD is for market categories what Branding is for the company and what Product Marketing & GTM are for the product. 
4. CD is centered around positioning an issue, rather than a particular company or product. 
5. In proper CD, you work with your competition, not against. 

Complementary Services 

Brand & Identity    GTM  

Thought Leadership   
Program Design    

PR     Social   Info design    Content   Events

Professional Summary

For the past 17 years I've taken 9 initiatives from stealth through successful launches, created 5 new categories, and been helping innumerable companies in the consumer, financial and IoT space find their voice, define their place, and raise awareness and demand not only for their persona or product, but their (oftentimes very, VERY new) corner of industry as well. I do so hands-on, holistically, and without reserve- as one of my past Executive colleagues puts it,  

[dana] is both creative genius and focused tactical doer. (Example: she can name a product, write a riveting, fact-based, technically accurate article about the economic potential of IoT (picked up by Venture Beat and strategic to the company at that time), deploy website updates, liaison with analysts, and implement a Marketo campaign... on her own and in one week). Dana has broad experience [...], a knack for analytics and research, and she's an invaluable partner for category creation and higher-level brand work (positioning, messaging, brand identity etc.). Dana brings spunk, positivity and intelligence to any situation. She is VERY outspoken and she chooses not to filter her words- what she means is what she says is what she does. She is beloved by colleagues. She is unique. She is an asset. The company she chooses to work for (and the executive smart enough to bring her on) will be lucky to have her.

I almost always work under NDA and my full list of partners cannot be disclosed, but here are a few examples: Appdynamics, Thales, Guavus, LearnThat, Appen, et alii.

2012 - 2021

Head of IMC & Thought Leadership for IoT | SQLstream, Inc.

Category Design for streaming analytics, IoT, and ITS 

Worked with main stakeholders to design the streaming analytics category, define our corporate identity, plan our product strategy within several new verticals, and design appropriate GTM plans for SQLstream's disruptive offering. 

Handled all the strategic, tactical, and creative processes, and managed all production for a wide set of initiatives, startup-style (modest resources/highly volatile market). Managed brand integration through two acquisitions. 

During this time, SQLstream was recognized as a market Leader by the Forrester Wave Report and became known for industry lingo now commonplace (streaming analytics, Fast Data, etc.). 

2008 - 2010

Brand Integration Lead | Liquidnet, Inc.

Category Design & maintenance for dark pool trading. 

Worked alongside the CEO, the VP and the product/ marketing/ sales/ creative/ communications teams to define the category of dark pool trading, and to develop and execute global programs that increased member awareness and engagement for the Liquidnet platform. 


During this time, Liquidnet went through rebranding, a portfolio extension, and a $1.3M repositioning ad campaign produced by me. 

2007 - 2008

European Relations Lead | Primary Capital, LLC

Category Design for reverse mergers in China and S-E Europe. 

Researched, synthesized and identified investment opportunities in SE Europe and developed a European deals pipeline through educational campaigns, thought leadership materials, events, and local publicity.


During this time, PC closed one merger and 2 PIPE deals. 



MIT Sloan School of Management 

Artificial Intelligence: Implications for Business Strategy

2004 - 2006

Emerson College 

MA | Integrated Marketing Communications

  • focus: Research Methods, Consumer Behavior

  • Scholarship recipient

2000 - 2004

University of Bucharest

BA | Advertising & PR

  • Dean of Students (equiv.) for 4 years

  • Scholarship recipient

LANGUAGES: English, Romanian, French, Spanish, Italian, Farsi

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