If you’d had a baby around the time of AMA Chicago’s first BrandSmart event in 2003, you’d be sizing up potential colleges right about now. You’d have seen a lot of change over the last 17 years, but your focus would be firmly on the future.
That’s where Cindy Bond and Harvey Morris find themselves today. They are, in a sense, the parents of BrandSmart, an event they worked together to launch for the Chicago Chapter of the American Marketing Association 17 years ago. Now, they’re gearing up to co-chair BrandSmart 2019, with a glance back at the past and full attention on the future.
“Enough for everyone to be inspired”
The word “brand” means something different today than it did to most people 17 years ago, but its meaning was already starting to evolve.
“It was a different time for the emotional concept of brand,” says Bond. “At the time there were people in charge of brands with the understanding that brand went beyond the name and the logo, but that wasn’t always filtering down to marketing teams.
“We wanted a one-day immersive event for the general marketing community, featuring the people who were driving where brands were going. With so many different constituents—consumer, B2B, non-profits, associations, higher education, professional services—there had to be enough for everyone to be inspired.
Morris says, “We were surprised by how much the event was embraced by the Chicago marketing community. We knew there was a need for the event but I’m not sure we knew how strong the need was.”
“Learn from them all”
What’s changed in the last 17 years?
“The landscape is dramatically different now,” says Bond, “but the needs of the community aren’t different—the latest research, tactics and tools. We need to hear from emerging brands, disruptors and legacy brands, and learn from them all.”
Morris says, “Consumer and marketing technology has proliferated, impacting every aspect of marketing.”
Bond agrees. “Tribes drive a lot of content. It’s more cross channel and more local.”
“That said, the basics of branding remain the same,” says Morris. “The marketers who can execute brand fundamentals best while adapting to changes in consumer behavior and new technologies for engagement will be the victors.”
“Brand comes through in everything you do”
What’s the most interesting challenge marketers will face over the next 17 years?
Morris says, “Marketers will need to become adept at proactively practicing agility to stay ahead of innovations and changes in technology that impact the brand’s ability to engage with consumers—to be able to move with or get ahead of the change rather than follow it.”
“How do we nurture brand when we’re not in control?” Bond asks. “Your customers are in control – your brand is what it is in your customers’ eyes. Anyone can say or do something contrary to the values of your brand, and you have to be prepared to defend those values.
“There’s no getting around transparency. You can make it really powerful and great, but it can also be weaponized against you. That’s why your customers’ experience is more important than it’s ever been.
“Brand comes through in everything you do, and everybody knows it. BrandSmart 2019 is the one conference, the one day, where leading brands converge to share insights, inspiration, innovation and tangible takeaways to help marketers navigate an ever-changing brandscape.”
Don’t miss AMA Chicago’s BrandSmart — May 9, 2019
Emerging. Evolving. Disrupting.
That’s what attendees will say about the speakers at BrandSmart 2019. While this year’s lineup hasn’t been finalized yet, previous presenters from brands such as Southwest Airlines, IBM, SpotHero and Mike’s Hard Lemonade give you a good idea of the caliber of BrandSmart presentations.
If you’re interested in joining our exciting coterie of BrandSmart sponsors, please email Erin McCarthy.