Liz Ross, Global CMO, IPG Mediabrands to Speak on May 27

LIz Ross, CMO, IPG MediabrandsLiz Ross will headline the May 27 Sunrise Executive Series at Gibson’s Bar and Steakhouse on Rush in Chicago.

As global chief marketing officer, Liz Ross is responsible for further defining the mission and vision of the firm’s network through clear articulation of the products, services and client solutions that differentiate IPG Mediabrands from its competitors.
Prior to joining IPG, Liz was North America president at BPN. Under her leadership, BPN NA doubled its billings with major clients including Hillshire Brands and Morgan Stanley.  Before  joining BPN, she was CEO of Geomentum, an IPG Mediabrands agency, delivering excellence in the realms of shopper and geo-targeted marketing strategy, and as North American CEO of IPG Mediabrands Ventures.
A veteran of the industry for nearly 20 years, Liz has been chief growth officer at Publicis Groupe’s Digitas, U.S. president at Tribal DDB, and Modem Media in San Francisco, where she led the business development groups in San Francisco and Norwalk, Conn. She has been associated with J. Walter Thompson in Chicago and New York.Liz was inducted into the American Advertising Federation (AAF) Hall of Achievement in 2008 and was named a “Woman to Watch” by Advertising Age in January of 2008.  She received bachelor’s degree in advertising from the College of Communication Arts and Sciences at Michigan State University.

Trendsetter Alert: Keeping Up With The Latest In Wearable Tech Trends!

Unless you’ve purposefully removed yourself from Social Media or the internet over the past week then it is not secret that the Apple Watch is finally here and available for purchase. From sporty to bling you can customize this smart watch to fit your lifestyle and personality. Their is so much more to this $5 billion wearable tech industry than the Apple Watch and in this post we’ll explore them.

1) Activity Trackers Intersect with Fashion

As fitness and health and wellness continue to ingratiate fully into our daily lives brands like Nike Band, athleticFitbit and Jawbone are intersecting are with fashion. No longer just clunky bands on your wrist they are getting sleeker, smaller and more discreet. Take Tory Burch is the latest designer to launch a new bracelet to hold your Fitbit. And if you’d rather put a ring on it then look no further than the start-up Ringly launching this Spring, which is a fashion ring that notifies you when you have a text, a phone call or calendar alert.

2) Smart Watches

In addition to the Apple Watch,  Motorola, Samsung s8, Sony, Pebble, Moto 360 and LG g6 all have Smart watchesWatches currently on the market. Ranging in prices starting as low at $150 and with an average cost of $350 their is a watch to fit every budget and taste. Whether you prefer a digital interface or the traditional look of an analog watch and depending on your wireless carrier you can find a Smart Watch to suit your taste and needs.  With most offering text, phone, and calendar alerts some take it a step further and offer activity tracker capabilities as well. 2015 is definitely the year of the Smart Watch and if you’re on the market to make a purchase be sure to check out Tech Radar’s review of the best watches on the market! 

3) High Tech Pets

If you’re in the Early Adapter category when it comes to the latest wearable technology, why not make supettechre four legged friend is too. New to the market and unveiled at CES this year are fitness trackers for your pets. Monitoring their movement and behavior throughout the day as well as temperatures alerting you if outside of a safe zone. Wonderwoof and Fitbark are two great examples launching next month. Both have wearable trackers available for pre-order with an average cost of $99.95 and integrate with an app on your phone or tablet.

To learn more about the latest trends in wearable technology join the Chicago AMA Special Interest Group Pop Up Event this Tuesday, April 28th from 5:30 – 8:00pm!

The event will be held at Networked Insights:

350 N. Orleans St, Suite 850, Chicago, IL 60654

Click here to register! 

Nicole Simonds is a volunteer for the Chicago AMA and the VP, Client Services for MtoM Consulting, a digital marketing agency specializing in influencer, brand and social marketing for the hospitality, consumer packaged goods and fashion verticals. She’s a life long marketer having worked previously on the brand side for Flatout, NBC Universal and Marriott. Her second love is fitness and wellness. She is currently studying holistic nutrition at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and looks forward to bringing what she learns back to the corporate world!

Meet Rich Walters at the Chicago AMA’s SIG Pop-Up Spring 2015 Series Shopaholics: Keeping Up with the Increasingly Mobile Retail Consumer

Meet Rich Walters at the Chicago AMA’s SIG Pop-Up Spring 2015 Series

Shopaholics: Keeping Up with the Increasingly Mobile Retail Consumer Wearables, Oh My!

Tuesday, April 28 from 5:30–8:00 PM CST

WaltersThe Chicago AMA is pleased to have Rich Walters of LS Research on this week’s upcoming SIG Panel featuring a spirited discussion around the ever increasing fashion and technology behind mobile wearables. As the Apple Watch has finally come to market Rich who has over 24 years of Industrial Design consulting experience, designing and leading cross functional design teams in the area of wearable technology will share with us his feedback on the latest products on the market today as well as the future of segmentation within the $5.1 billion industry of wearable technology.

Currently serving as a Product Design Group Manager for LSR Research Mr. Walters is helping to grow their business through superior design leadership. His expertise covers a wide spectrum of product development, cover30 design patents and several utility and international patents. In recent years Rich has specialized in wearable technology product design. His work ranges from medical and commercial grade headsets to wireless fashion technology and smart watches.

After attending the Consumer Electronics Show this year Mr. Walters shared his thoughts on the  wearable tebandsch industry in his piece coined: Wearable Tech at CES 2015: What’s New…and What’s Still Missing? In his piece he broke out the wearables industry into several segments including “fashion that camouflages technology” and “more than just fitness bands and watches” as well as discussed gaps in the current consumer offerings for wearable technology.

Additional professional specialities include: Industrial Design, User Experience Design, Graphical User Interface Design, Design Research, Brand Identity, Visual Brand Language, Mechanical Design, Intellectual Property Development, Consumer Electronics, Exercise Equipment, Lawn and garden, Medical, Personal Grooming, Juvenile, Sporting Goods, Kitchen Appliances, Industrial Equipment, Kitchen and Bath, Hand Tools, Power Tools, and other consumer products.

Mr. Walters works with over 70 specialists that include Software Developers, User Interface Designers, Graphic Designers, Design Researchers, Prototype Specialists, Mechanical and Electrical Engineers, and Firmware Developers. He holds a Bachelors of Science in Industrial Design from the University of Wisconsin-Stout, where he continues to serve on their Professional Advisory Board for the School of Art and Design.

To hear more on Rich Walters thoughts on what he saw at CES and what he foresees to be the latest trends in 2015 and beyond you’ll have to attend his panel at the CAMA Sig Pop Up Event this Tuesday, April 28th from 5:30 – 8:00pm!

The event will be held at Networked Insights:

350 N. Orleans St, Suite 850

Chicago, IL 60654

(312) 985-9700

Click here to register!

Nicole Simonds is a volunteer for the Chicago AMA and the VP, Client Services for MtoM Consulting, a digital marketing agency specializing in influencer, brand and social marketing for the hospitality, consumer packaged goods and fashion verticals. She’s a life long marketer having worked previously on the brand side for Flatout, NBC Universal and Marriott. Her second love is fitness and wellness. She is currently studying holistic nutrition at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and looks forward to bringing what she learns back to the corporate world!

The Exchange of Best Practices Continues after the BrandSmart Event: Take our Survey

I was truly inspired by the 2015 BrandSmart event this March. The event brought together great minds to share marketing best practices for their respective brands.

I especially appreciated how each presenter shared their best practices and results. Take, for example, Valspar; Vice President of Marketing Heidi Petz spoke about the effectiveness of their “Color Campaign.” The decision to refocus their brand message from paint to color could have been a haughty one, but the Valspar team executed it with passion and tact – and the results speak for themselves.

We believe that this exchange of ideas and best practices should continue beyond BrandSmart.

And that’s why we at I Imagine have teamed up with the Chicago AMA to identify today’s marketing best practices. We launched a survey during BrandSmart to accomplish this goal as well as to foster a community-wide knowledge exchange.

We need your help to make this project a success. Please take our survey now. As a thank you, you’ll receive a free, exclusive report with our findings by May 31, 2015.

Let’s work together to create this valuable resource for Chicago’s marketing community.

Maxwell Dease, IImagine

Meet Don Bora, co-founder of Eight Bits and Mobile Makers at the SIG Pop-Up on Wearables.

On April 28, the Chicago AMA will be offering a unique member benefit: SIG Pop-Up Spring 2015 Series: Shopaholics: Keeping Up with the Increasingly Mobile Retail Consumer – Wearables, Oh My! 

The program will be led by experts in the field, Rich Walters of LS Research and Don Bora, co-founder of two cutting-edge companies, Eight Bit Studios and Mobile Makers. Last week we told you about the background of Rich Walters and now we’d like to do the same regarding Don Bora.

Don Bora has spent over 20 years as a leader in the software industry.

With his team of tech wizards at Eight Bits, he delivers ground-breaking digital products that leave customers awestruck. Always an advocate for women in technology and young entrepreneurs, Don also facilitates and teaches iOS development to a wide array of code-minded men and women at The Mobile Maker Academy and area high schools and colleges. His unique perspective on the evolution of mobile technology and its impact on consumers led to his recognition by TechWeek as one of the 100 top influencers in Chicago in 2014. And his generous sharing of his time, knowledge and enthusiasm for the industry, earned him nominations as Moxie Mentor of the Year in both 2013 and 2014.

Eight Bits’ co-founders, John Ostler, Steve Polacek and Don, shared their insights on Smart Watches in the company’s blog. We thought we’d publish some excerpts from Don’s comments as a sort of unofficial preview to his participation at the Pop-Up SIG on April 28.

Here are some quotes from Don:

“I am not enamored of the emerging smart watch ecosystem. The watch, in its current envisioned state, shaves seconds off otherwise mundane tasks, like checking the time or seeing if I have any unread emails. Any meaningful productivity bump will come from serious hardware support that is just not available right now.”

“Today, … a smart watch must be paired with a much more powerful device. While it is true that these smart accessories are relatively underpowered, we can be sure of this: hardware will continue to get smaller and faster. Ingenious engineering has found ways around the feared physical limitations that have threatened the past 20 years of computer and device advancements.”

“If I had a prescient scope, my watch would do all kind of Bond-ishly cool things. I want to see evolution in these platforms; I want to talk to my watch for the geek factor alone… The sheer amount of progress we’ve seen over the past 10 years is nothing short of stunning. Heightening the user’s experience through screen real-estate restriction will force us makers to be ever more diligent and judicious about our design, user interfaces, and feature sets.”

Join us on April 28 to meet Don and Rich and discuss Wearables with your fellow members.

Please join us on Tuesday, April 28 from 5:30 PM to 8:00 PM to meet Don Bora and Rich Walters and learn from their knowledge, experience and expertise on this important communications breakthrough. The meeting will be held at Networked Insights, 350 N. Orleans St, Suite 850, Chicago, IL 60654. Register now.

Wendy Lalli, Principal, Wendy Lalli, Ltd., VP Creative, Crux Creative

Wendy Lalli is an award-winning writer and marketing strategist who has served clients in a wide range of industries and created communications in every format. She describes herself as “Peggy from ‘Madmen’ grownup.” She’s had her own company, Wendy Lalli, Ltd., since 1997 and is now a VP/Creative Director at Crux Creative, a creative and marketing agency in Milwaukee.


Building a Brand from the Inside Out

The Value of Employee Engagement for a Services Brand

Julie Springer, Senior VP of Marketing at TransUnion, spoke about the importance of branding from the inside out at the 2015 BrandSmart conference hosted by the Chicago chapter of the AMA.

Springer’s talked used the recent TransUnion brand relaunch to relay the importance of securing internal support when it comes to brand building. Brand is “what people said about you when you leave the room,” and for TransUnion, this statement hit very close to home. Although the company had become a global information solutions provider, it was still seen as just a credit bureau to many.

TransUnion needed a brand transformation. And that transformation needed to start with employees that lived and delivered the brand experience on a day-to-day basis.

Here are the tips to building a successful strategy:

  1. Secure Involvement from The Top – In TransUnion’s case, the CEO believed that fixing the brand was the path to solving the business issue, and he was the biggest cheerleader for the cause. Inspiration is baked into every message and action from the top.
  2. If You Want to Go Far, Go Together – If you have to rely on employees to deliver the brand, get their input. Hold workshops and internal meetings (around the globe if you have to) and make them a part of the process.
  3. Find the True North – Capture what you brand is really about. This needs to come from employees. Listen to them and refine ideas as you go. Employees need to own it.
  4. Engage the Heart as Well as the Mind – For TransUnion, the statement “Information for Good” became the rally cry that communicated the functional benefits of its services as well as the inspirational stories of its benefactors.

Once you’ve built the new brand, roll it out the same way you built it – employees first. And continue the education. Brand ambassadors should continually stay engaged, and the core team should look for on-going ways to engage employees. If you’re lucky, you’ll end up with results like TransUnion – more than half of customers report that the new brand platform fundamentally changes how they think about the company.


Adara Bowen, Director, Business Development & Marketing, Kaleidoscope

As Director of Business Development and Marketing, it’s Adara’s job to make sure that Kaleidoscopers know what’s going on in the world and that the world knows what’s going on at Kaleidoscope. Adara has been with Kaleidoscope since July 2011 and has brought a strategic point of view to client engagements across all parts of the business. Prior to that, she grew up in branding at Landor, and is a graduate of Xavier University.

Building Relentlessly Relevant Brands: Re-Earning Loyalty Every Single Day

Scott Davis, Chief Growth Officer at Prophet, kicked off the 2015 BrandSmart conference, packing listicles and case studies into his 30-minute presentation, covering why brands have to be relentless to remain relevant, which brands exemplify relentless relevance, and what are the characteristics of those brands.

Setting a cheerful, lighthearted tone with a joke about how he can never wear nametags at conferences (the word “Prophet” under his name sets the bar too high), and how it’s possible to hire a faux Morgan Freeman to do commercial voiceovers for a fraction of the price of the real deal (“you can’t trademark or copyright a voice”), Davis first drew a lesson from his previous BrandSmart presentation from 2009.

Davis mentioned that in 2009, the hero brands he talked about were Nokia, Sony, HP, and Burger King. His reminiscence drew a laugh from the in-the-know crowd, which was well aware that these brands would likely not make his 2015 list.

The list of brands did indeed change, but before revealing them, Davis first defined his terms. He wanted to shift the term relevance, which he feels is static, to encapsulate what it takes to remain in that lofty space. The word “relentless” offers that broader context; it means to be constant, incessant, persistent, continuous, tenacious, unceasing, and unwavering.

For Davis, this constant drive to always be on top is the key to brand relevance, especially in a time when the consumer feedback loop can make or break a brand in moments. In fact, according to Davis, marketers no longer have a choice. To make our competition irrelevant, we have to create a category of one. What does it take to do that? Relentlessness.

Why do we have to be relentless?

  1. Leaders of companies that have relentlessly relevant brands know that it’s not just about a moment in time

Nobody can assume loyalty will be constant.

  1. Every brand needs to think like a challenger—take risks, be bold, test, and experiment

To remain relevant, brands should look to their peers and study which ones are going to shift the paradigm, who’s out ahead, who’s changing the landscape, and learn from their competition.

  1. You no longer drive preference, your target consumer does…and they define relevance as a result

The number one awareness driver is advertising (TV, print, and online), but advertising doesn’t appear in the top three purchase drivers. The top three purchase drivers are friends & family from whom consumers sought out opinions, friends & family who volunteered their opinion, and online research. As a result, brand preference is in the hands of other consumers.

  1. There’s a new generation of brands winning the relevance war through pervasive consumer participation and engagement

Legacy brands should take heed of the innovative ways younger companies are engaging their customers, through strategies like DIY empowerment (ZocDoc, FitBit), the shared economy (Airbnb, Waze), the on-demand service mentality (GrubHub), knowledge sourcing communities (Yelp, Trip Advisor), winning validation (Instagram), considerate choices (Tom’s, Warby Parker), and personalisation/customization (Fiat).

How does this match up with what consumers are actually saying? Davis said that the previous week, Prophet conducted a panel poll of 1000 consumers representing a broad swath of US demographics and found the following:

  • Over 80% choose brands more for how they connect with the consumer’s life than for being widely known and advertised
  • 80% more loyal to brands that continue to find new ways of being relevant in consumers’ lives
  • 72% more loyal to brands they can engage with on their own terms
  • 59% said their ability to interact with and change a brand is important to them when choosing what to buy

All this brought Davis to the crux of his presentation: how to define a relentlessly relevant brand. How can we do what those brands listed above do?

According to Davis, relentlessly relevant brands consistently inspire us and move us to action. They make smart, bold moves that amaze customers, push competitors out of consideration, and at times define entirely new categories and markets. They do all this while remaining unwaveringly authentic to who they are.

Beyond that, Davis says, relentlessly relevant brands engage, surprise, and connect with consumers. They delight, disrupt, and deliver. They’re restless. They push themselves to earn and re-earn customer loyalty—they define and redefine what’s possible in their categories and our world.

Davis then offered key characteristics of relentlessly relevant brands, along with examples of brands that exemplify those tenets.

  1. Obsessed with consumers (Netflix and their personalized data mining)
  2. Distinctively inspired (Fiat and the fact that they offer ultimate customization, but will reject consumer designs if they don’t meet their standards)
  3. Pervasive innovation (Google is constantly experimenting and offering new products)
  4. Ruthless pragmatism (Capital One spends $10,000 each year to efficiently experiment on getting to the right products, offerings, communications, etc to bring to their consumers)

Finally, Davis summed up his presentation by offering five tenets to driving relentless brand relevance.

  1. Know and love your purpose

Every brand has one, and exemplary brands like Dove and Zappos imbue everything they do with their purpose.

  1. Own category clarity

Davis commented that it’s no longer about simplicity or differentiation, it’s about being most clear in your category. He offered DollarShaveClub and HBO as examples: both define their category, and both are clear, intentional, and aggressive.

  1. Arm your communities

Give employees, influencers, and customers the tools they need to keep your brand relentlessly relevant. Leverage employees and loyal customers as allies, give them a reason to love you and provide them with the tools to influence others to do the same. Davis described a moment a few years ago when Home Depot’s employees wanted to be able to recommend branded tools—a Home Depot hammer rather than a hammer. The company listened, and is on its way to $5 billion dollars in sales.

  1. Create remarkable experiences

Give customers what they want, through any channel, in ways that make them remember and talk about you in remarkable ways. For example, Davis mentioned how Burberry has embraced new technology to provide extraordinary experiences that make the brand relevant to Millennials.

  1. Drive a continuous stream of bold moves

Even if Starbucks’ recent #RaceTogether campaign made you cringe, it was bold and it used a new model for engaging consumers. For Davis, the company continuously makes bold moves to remain top of mind.


Brook Rosini, Communications Strategist, Solomon Cordwell Buenz

Brook Rosini brings a wealth of experience in arts, culture, and design discourses to her role at architecture, interiors, and planning firm SCB, where she oversees and carries out branding, communications, and PR strategy for the firm.

The Pathway to Brand Relevance

What do you get when you merge technology with pharmacy benefit management (PBM)?  You get Catamaran, a PBM that prides itself on innovation, agility and flexibility.  But with giants in the market like Express Scripts and CVS to contend with, how does a smaller brand get noticed?  At BrandSmart 2015, Susan Fleming, VP of Marketing and Communications at Catamaran, explained how a focus on thought leadership, community engagement and client experience allowed them to compete with the big guys.

Originally a tech company that provided software to PBMs, Catamaran evolved into the full service PBM that it is today through mergers and acquisitions.  They settled on the name Catamaran because the catamaran boat was considered to have revolutionized sailing, just as the brand planned to revolutionize the PBM sector.  But choosing a name was just the first step to brand recognition.  Like the catamaran in sailing, they had to be innovative, agile, proactive and experienced.

To present themselves as an innovative company, Catamaran sought to become a vocal thought leader in the field.  They worked heavily with their PR firm and several different agencies to place their clinical experts and CEO at the forefront of the PBM discussion.  Through various media spots on television and in publications such as the Wall Street Journal and Forbes, they received over 63 million impressions within the first three months of their brand re-launch.  Catamaran sees the value of their brand in data and technology and regularly aspires to present their message in innovative ways including videos and gaming.

Another path to brand recognition is through community engagement. As a Board member of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, Susan brings high-level visibility to the Catamaran name. In addition, the company is heavily involved in attending and sponsoring events at the Executive’s Club in Chicago. As a means to further demonstrate that the brand is at the forefront of technology, Catamaran also hosts the Chicago Innovation Awards and Think Chicago events in their Innovation Center, a 24,500 sf multi-media space in downtown Chicago that features big data and interactive technology.

To further solidify their reputation, Catamaran focuses on customer satisfaction through their consultants, clients and prospects.  By regularly engaging their clients with surveys and requests for feedback, they have been able to better understand their clients’ and prospects’ needs and keep their message and offerings relevant.

So how does all this spell success for Catamaran?  By understanding the market, staying on-point and on-strategy throughout the rebranding, they have managed to not only solidify their brand reputation in the PBM market, but also to drive 50% compound annual growth for the organization.  With this type of success, Catamaran will definitely be giving their competition a run for the money.

Suky Lawlor, Director, Content Marketing, Chicago AMA



When is a nut not a nut? Transforming the Fisher Nut Brand

The John B. Sanfilippo & Son Company took a hard look at their business inside and out to revitalize one of its most beloved brands in a dormant, commoditized industry and transform the company from one of the nation’s largest nut manufacturers to a savvy, relevant CPG company and shift their corporate mindset from sales support to customer-centric.

The transformation had to start at the top. With a C-suite of 4th generation family ties and a “prove it to me first” culture, JBSS brought in brand agency Blue Chip Marketing to help make the case for change that would result in 37 consecutive quad weeks of volume growth and nearly 9% annual growth.

Together, JBSS and Blue Chip implemented a 3-pronged strategy for success:

  1. Grow the JBSS core brands through organizational alignment and talent acquisition
  2. Reinvent the brand to make it more relevant to consumers worldwide by focusing on what makes a nut stand out and appealing, such as its freshness and significance as an ingredient in a recipe.
  3. Create consumer engagement by going to market with a convergence of culture, creativity and cooking.

Through the process, JBSS learned a key ingredient for success is to have strong synergy between marketing and sales, as well as strong consumer insights to grow the brands and link them to relevant store experience so that consumers can “find your brand.”

The transformation required new talent who were experts in consumer insights. With a more united marketing and sales front, the team had the ability to create differentiation in a highly commoditized industry with limited budget. They learned that little changes can make a big difference. Innovation can come in small increments and pay off big.

In making the nut brand relevant, JBSS discovered there was a desire among consumers for freshness that led to different packaging and a fresher claim. Thus, these brand messages emerged: Fisher Naturals; an ad campaign that touted Fisher Nuts: The only national brand of recipe nuts entirely without preservatives; Crack Open the Freshness, Introducing the New Clear Can from Fisher; and Oven Roasted to Perfection, Never Fried.

A brand can maintain its equity but change its voice to grow through differentiation.

In moving Fisher Nut company from a manufacturer to a CPG company, the organization moved from thinking about nuts purely as an ingredient to thinking about nuts as inspiration in cooking, eating, entertaining through an integrated marketing approach with a bias for content vs. advertising to manage budget. As a result, there was an immediate shift to social media from traditional forms of advertising and PR.

JBSS struck a collaborative partnership with The Food Network, which was paramount in the success of the Fisher Nut brand revitalization. In addition, JBSS created a highly engaging and influential blogging network, which contributes a huge part of the evolution and increased advocacy for the brand. Through content marketing across digital and mobile, Food Network Magazine and vignettes, recipes, contests and other social platforms, the nut brand became viewed as an integral part of the culinary experience.

The result: Increased marketing share in the category: More pounds of nuts in high franchise markets.

Did you know that the Thanksgiving holiday season is the biggest season for pecans? The transformation enabled Fisher Nuts to strike a successful and innovative partnership with Karo – the leading  brand of syrup used in pecan pie recipes.

That’s the power of “thinking differently.”

Judi Myers, Marketing Strategist, VP Communications/Brand, Chicago AMA

Judi is currently on assignment at Becker Professional Education in their CPA and healthcare businesses, and with the international trade association of Independent Cosmetic Manufacturers and Distributors in their foreign relations business.


Bridging to Change

Change can be an intimidating prospect to a company, but not to Valspar, it is their mantra.  As a 200-year-old paint manufacturer, Valspar is looking to turn the conversation from paint to change.  At BrandSmart 2015, Heidi Petz, Vice President of Marketing at Valspar, discussed the key steps involved in evolving an established brand within the marketplace and keeping its message relevant.

Valspar’s mission envisions change as the cornerstone of the human experience. So where do you start?  According to Petz, you “start with the end in mind and know where you are starting from.”  Envision a bridge with your brand destination on the other side.  Every step along the way needs to be solid, relevant and lead toward your ultimate goal.  With Valspar, that goal is to be the #1 paint brand at the forefront of consumers’ purchase decisions.

Step #1 on the bridge toward change is to understand the inflection points that have defined your brand thus far and anticipate the next one.  Or next two for that matter.  Always be two steps ahead.  With Valspar, they have been a stalwart brand in the paint category.  In order to be #1, they are taking the emphasis off of paint to speak to color instead.  And once they change that message, they plan to transition to the topic of fashion.

Step #2 is to ready yourself.  The number one person to push your agenda and gain support is YOU.  And the best way to build support is by being enthusiastic about your goals.

Step #3 is to build support.  This is done by repeating the message to your team and key supporters and getting them excited about the change at hand.

Step #4 is to walk the walk.  In order to successfully change your message, you need to integrate it into every branding touch point and to remember to be consistent.  Valspar is doing this in many ways, including their color guarantee, which allows customers the ability to exchange their paint at no cost until they get the perfect color.  In addition, Valspar is building their image as a color-focused brand through various media, including video.  Through partnership with their PR agency, FCB Chicago, they created the “Color for All” campaign, which features an inspirational video ( that touches on the topic of colorblindness and the emotional reaction that humans have toward colors.

Changing your brand message can be a daunting task.  But in the case of Valspar, it has been an exciting journey and an opportunity to demonstrate how an established brand can continue to innovate and evolve its message. And Valspar hopes to change the way that people think about paint at least another 200 years.

Suky Lawlor, Director, Content Marketing, Chicago AMA