Last week, One North Managing Director, Account Dawn Michalak and myself flew down to sunny, beautiful Atlanta, Georgia, for the LMASE Regional chapter conference. The theme was “It’s a Brand New Day” – ie. Brand. What it means, why it’s important and how best to do it. There was a lot of great material presented at the Four Seasons Atlanta Hotel last week. Here are three of my key takeaways from the sessions I attended:
1. A brand is a promise.
Keynote speaker Mary Crane, Owner of Mary Crane & Associates, spoke to the importance of creating a powerful personal brand. Calling out examples of both political figures and pop icons, she highlighted ways that these people distinguished themselves from the rest. She argued that one function of brand is to serve as a signifier, articulating a promise of performance. Volvo, for example, was at one point in time one of the most recognized car brands for safety.
Although Mary Crane’s talk spoke primarily to the branding of individuals, the correlations between branding an individual and branding a company or firm are evident. She gave tools for assessing your personal brand, through Strengthsfinder and other such personality tests. Brand audits of your company can function the same way, identifying the differentiating factors of an organization that register with both internal and external stakeholders.
If you’re looking to read more on organizational branding, our Director of Brand Planning Ryan Schulz wrote a very useful and succinct piece on the framework for brand planning.
2. When writing engaging content, be a storyteller.
One of my favorite breakout sessions was titled, Bringing it All Together Regarding Content featuring panelists Joshua Peck (Duane Morris LLP), Dave Poston (Posting Communications) and Kevin Sullivan (Fisher & Phillips LLP). They spoke to the recent surge of content-based marketing and how this drives revenue. They articulated a content check-list, highlighting different items that should be on your radar if you are a key player in developing or facilitating the development of content marketing.
One element that stood out to me in this talk was their mention of storytelling. They consistently claimed that no content is engaging without a story. People are driven by the construction of stories and want to read something engaging when they read anything on your company, be that a case study, blog post or other piece of thought leadership.
3. Brand initiatives flop without strategy.
Another favorite breakout session of mine was Erin Meszaros (Sutherland) and Chris Sizemore (Creative Mischief) speaking to Internal or External Brand Initiatives: Leading with Strategy. As the title indicates, your vision for articulating your brand across the entirety of your digital experience will go nowhere without a strategy. The pair spoke to the different elements that make up your brand strategy, including internal/external stakeholder interviews, competitive analysis and positioning statement curation.
They also covered how branding has evolved, citing how relationships are conducted both on and offline, the multiple generations making decisions in the work place and how it is a “branded or be branded” environment we find ourselves in.
The key takeaway here was the importance of not just a strategy, but also a well-documented plan of attack while undergoing any sort of brand initiative. Brand touches – or should touch, rather – every aspect of your client engagements. To cover all of those areas when sprucing up a single or multiple elements of your digital experience, you have to go about it with a fleshed out strategy.
If you need some help on where to get started in planning the strategy for a brand initiative, Ryan wrote another great post on the subject of Starting with Brand.
Thanks to all the folks at LMSAE who put together this excellent conference – looking forward to next year!