by Chuck Kent
More than ever, you, as a marketer, are under pressure to perform… right now, this quarter, this week, today (sooner, if possible). And a marketplace environment of constant, ever-accelerating change only exacerbates this hair-on-fire situation.
The temptation is to upend every status quo and create all-new marketing machines, bristling with the shiniest new objects and sure to impress with whiz-bang innovations. But as is often the case with temptation, marketers are wise to resist, regroup, and attend to strategic essentials.
An article in the Harvard Business Review put it this way: “Marketers understand that their organizations need an overhaul, and many chief marketing officers are tearing up their org charts… struggling with how to draw the new chart. What does the ideal structure look like? Our answer is that this is the wrong question. Marketing leaders instead must ask, ‘What values and goals guide our brand strategy, what capabilities drive marketing excellence, and what structures and ways of working will support them?’ Structure must follow strategy—not the other way around.”
Learn to be a business strategist first, to be a marketer second to none
Yes, marketing “structure must follow strategy,” to which we would add, “And in a world where your brand is your business, marketers must understand, and be able to convey, brand as business strategy.”
And so, the Chicago AMA is providing an in-depth day of strategic education for marketers at Brand Smart 2017. The theme is “The New Brand Journey: A Day of Master Classes,” and it features a wide range of experts addressing four essential topics that must be mastered to create a truly strategic approach to brand marketing:
- Brand Strategy
- Brand Expression
- Brand Activation
- Brand Equities
Brand Strategy: Discovery, Differentiation, Evolution
Our opening keynote, David Armano, Global Strategy Director for Edelman, will provide an overview of the current environment. Then the day will break into a choice of Master Classes, each one part presentation, one part interaction, all adding up to extremely useful, put-it-to-work-tomorrow information.
Because effective strategies start with insight, Gary Kash, a long-time research and consumer insights expert, will help attendees delve into how we can improve our customer IQ by boosting our customer EQ. A client-agency team, with Matt Gordon from Landor Associates and Megan Biggam from Byline Bank, will address how to translate insight into meaningful differentiation, even in a brand-saturated marketplace. And the CEO of Tide Spin, David VanHimbergen, will walk you through the path from established brand to category disruptor.
Brand Expression: Giving a Face and Voice to the Strategy
As I always like to tell my clients, the brand strategy is the big idea. But it takes creativity to express it, starting with the foundational elements of brand identity, personality, voice and core brand message. Our Master Class teachers will help you learn how to more powerfully express your brand’s uniqueness.
The CMO of RXBAR, Lyndsay Levin, will share the path from creating a breakthrough product to becoming a standout, “No B.S.” brand. Providing more food for thought, Nick Scarpino, VP of Marketing for Portillos, will address how to keep awareness (and revenue) growing. And Lewis Williams, along with Stephen French, from Burrell Communications, a trailblazer in the creativity of diversity, will show how to create a compelling brand personality that can speak to our multicultural, multidimensional world.
Brand Activation: Making Strategic Brilliance Shine in the Real World
OK, so you’ve established your strategy…revealed your unique brand personality…and focused your essential message so tightly it can be delivered in even the shortest elevator ride. But now you need to take it to market – it’s time for brand activation.
Luckily, two of our teachers, Larry Minsky and Bill Rosen, have just written the book on the subject – literally – and in one of our classes they’ll be showing you how to fulfill what they call “The Activation Imperative.” And Sherry Duda, CEO of Alex Reidy, will team up with consultant Colin McBean to explore the critical role of culture in bringing a brand to life.
Brand Equities: Proving We Deliver Value
Of course, while we as marketers may take the value of branding as a given, CEOs and such are not always pre-sold on that notion. It is up to us as brand and marketing leaders to educate our upper management and cross-functional peers on the organizational, operational and – especially – the financial value of investing in brand.
In this section of Master Classes, you can choose between a renowned professor, a successful CMO or a global leader in the art of brand valuation. Tim Calkins, Clinical Professor of Marketing at the Kellogg School of Management, will lead a session how to make a hard-nosed business case for branding. (Be sure to check out his video above.) Beth Brady, CMO of The Principal Financial Group, will share how her company not only made the case for brand, but proved it out in the real world. And Mario Simon of The Boston Consulting Group, an expert in helping global corporations attach a dollar figure to their brands as assets, will lead his “students” though how brands can create and evaluate financial value.
Finally, our closing keynote speaker, Nick Ragone, CMO of Ascension, will give us an inside look at how “The New Brand Journey” is playing out in the rebrand of the world’s largest non-profit hospital system.
So set the date. Choose your classes. And get ready to build a better, more strategic foundation for your brands at Brand Smart 2017.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Chuck Kent is a volunteer with the Chicago AMA Program Committee. When not helping come up with events like Brand Smart, or enlist the best speakers, he works as an independent brand strategist, content creator and executive thought leadership consultant. He is also a Contributing Editor for Branding Magazine, and the creator and moderator of its monthly feature, The Branding Roundtable.