Luv Led Me to Brand Smart

by Sherry Duda 

According to GroupM, worldwide media and marketing spend will surpass $1 trillion in 2017. Corporations, brands and agencies make a lot of promises. While the brand’s creative expression may attract users, it’s the delivery of the promise that matters most to consumers.

We assume brands will deliver what they say…until there’s a breakdown. Jerry Seinfeld demonstrates his frustration with a broken promise…

Like a reservation, anyone can make a promise. The tougher part is delivering and delivering consistently.

Branding is at a tipping point. Ask United Airlines.

Could it be the confluence of social media, corporate scandal, a growing distrust for large institutions, and millennial values that has led us onto a new path? Only 18% of us have high confidence in big business according to Gallop’s 2016 polls.

If you peak behind the curtains of many fast-paced growing organizations, you’ll likely find actions, symbols, behaviors and experiences in conflict with the essence of the brand resulting in siloes, unaligned leadership teams, passive-aggressive behaviors…  and other dysfunctions. When these “say do gaps” are revealed externally, consumers lose trust.

My passion for bringing brands to life from the inside led me to Brand Smart 2016.

Chicago’s AMA featured Dave Ridley, Southwest’s former CMO, as one of the keynote speakers. Dave shared some of Southwest’s proactive levers to align its culture and its brand to truly deliver consistently and predictably. He was generous, entertaining, and with BrandSmart’s informal context, I was able to chat with him personally during the happy hour to compare notes on cultural best practices.

The practicality of the speakers, the quality of the content, the attendees — some of whom I now call friends, made it easy for me to accept the honor to both lead the Brand Smart 2017 design team and participate as a speaker with Colin McBean in a session called “Your Culture is Your Brand.”

What’s in it for you to attend Brand Smart 2017?

  • Interactivity with leading brand experts.
  • Practical and actionable content.
  • Diverse options.
  • Value.
  • And, that’s my promise to you.

About the Author

headshot_Sherry DudaAs Chief Executive Officer of Alex Reidy & Company, Sherry Duda is a growth accelerator and disruptive change expert, aligning the body and soul of brands, so they can navigate through high stakes transformation. Sherry helps senior teams shape their culture to end “say do” gaps so they can keep their promises and truly deliver, consistently. Contact Sherry at or

Evening with an Expert: 360 Chicago

If you’re a Chicagoan, you have likely noticed that the iconic John Hancock Observatory has recently gone through a facelift! It is now called 360 CHICAGO. And if you were lucky enough to attend the latest evening with an expert that focused on building a brand experientially, you would have had the chance to enjoy a behind-the-scenes tour of the new space…and enjoyed a breathtaking view while you’re at it!


The evening was kicked off by Nicole Williamson, General Manager at 360 CHICAGO, who walked us through the transformation journey from conceptual design to fabrication and installation.

Here are a few of the defining moments:


An Evening with Three Experts

Essential Skills for Today’s Marketers

Have you ever wondered if you have the right skills to succeed in today’s Marketing World? 

Today, we have a beautiful world that is constantly changing. Each day marketers, like you and I, are facing new challenges that were unheard of twenty years ago or even six months ago.  Each day we wonder how do I make a difference in my job,  team,  organization, industry or career. On January 17th the Chicago AMA asked three marketing experts to consider this subject. 

Our Expert Panelists:

Sona Jones – Head of Marketing & Media (Chicago Ideas)

Allison Cirullo

When Allison started in the industry she struggled to discover her place in marketing. Over the years, her journey helped her find excitement in challenge and change. Her list of essential skills are as follows:

  1. Continue to grow your skills by Reading (Books & Publications about business, finance, and other industries). Attending lectures and seminars focused on a variety of subjects. Never stop learning.  Allison’s Favorites: Harvard Business Review and Technology Landscape publications
  2. Be a Change Agent by being a great listener. Find opportunity in every conversation. Learn to be flexible and accommodating. Motivate others to implement healthy change.
  3. Hustle do what it takes to get the job done. Enough said!

Linh Peter

Lihn’s story and journey is centered on people and relationships. As she moved up the ranks at Target she found great value in investing in others and, others investing in her. So it is only fitting that her list of essential skills are around people and relationships.

  1. Focus on relationships and encourage team members to learn about each other. Take time to invest in others and value people over process.
  2. Your Board of Directors take mentoring to a higher level. Find four or more people you know who excel in certain areas of life and business and ask them to mentor you.
  3. Be Self Aware to do your best to know yourself, your attitude, and behavior.
    1. How you deal with others
    2. How you engage others
    3. Learn how others perceive you and how you perceive others
    4. Ask for feedback from your peers, subordinates, and superiors
    5. Learn from your failures

Sona Jones

Sona’s career path at first seemed full of promise. Right out of college she joined Sony Pictures. She was set, right? However, as years passed she found that her career was not progressing as she had hoped. She had to pivot to re-invent herself. Sona’s essential skills focus on introspection and strategy.

  1. Accountability own up and simply say you’re wrong, when you are.
  2. Your Role entails learning and mastering your role. Become the expert at what you do. Then strategize on how to optimize and leverage process automation and technology to increase your capabilities and effectiveness.
  3. Venture Out and take on small marketing contracts or volunteer opportunities that you can support. By doing so you will expand your experience.

The panelists’ essential skills for marketers will help today and in the future. As the event came to an end, all three panelists encouraged us to do one single very important thing, starting today -Take More Risks!

Are you ready? Are you willing to take a risk right now?

Great! Here is the challenge:  Select a couple of the practical and essential skills that were highlighted by Sona, Allison or Linh, apply them to your daily activities for the next 30 days then share with us how those skills have impacted your marketing life.

We look forward to hearing all of your great stories and experiences.

About the Author: Nick Rich is an Enterprise Architect and Thought Leader on web, social, and mobile based technologies. Nick currently consults and advises clients on content, collaboration, communication technology, and how to foster corporate adoption.