Thursday, April 26, 2018, 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Blue Cross Blue Shield Tower, 300 E. Randolph St., Chicago


Our agenda is subject to change. Check back frequently to view updates.

7:30 – 8:45
Registration / Breakfast
8:00 – 8:45
Speed Networking – Making Valuable Connections


9:00 – 9:10
Introduction & Welcome

Bonnie Massa – Massa & Company

9:10 – 9:20
Overview of the Day

Sherry J. Duda – Alex Reidy & Company

9:20 – 9:40
The Impact of the Digital Shift on Brands

Jens Ulrik Hansen – Future Associates

Embracing the digital age creates friction between what a major brand is today, and what it was known for over the last decade. The digital transformation journey requires brands to make fundamental shifts to their strategy to adapt while staying true to themselves. In this discussion, you will see examples of what this shift can look like and what you may be able to do – before it is too late.

9:40 – 10:00
The Age of AI: How Artificial Intelligence is Transforming Brands

Susan Etlinger – The Altimeter Group

Throughout Brand Smart, you’ll see how AI – machines that can sense, classify, learn, reason, predict and interact – is becoming a driving force behind digital era marketing. Setting the stage for the rest of the day’s sessions, Susan Etlinger of The Altimeter Group will discuss risks, organizational considerations and opportunities to transform brands and the consumer experience in the age of AI.

10:00 – 10:30
Panel Discussion

Jens Ulrik Hansen – Future Associates

Susan Etlinger – The Altimeter Group

Sherry J. Duda – Alex Reidy & Company

Jens Ulrik Hansen and Susan Etlinger will respond to each other’s morning sessions and discuss the current state of branding, outlining the emerging themes, trends and strategies successful brands use to win.

10:30 – 10:45
10:45 – 11:30
If My Fridge Could Order Food: Leveraging AI to create next gen customer experiences

David Haucke – IBM

Carolyn Heller Baird – IBM Institute for Business Value

Pam Wedgeworth – Wedgeworth Communications

The IBM Watson team is at the forefront of the next generation of cognitive assistants and machine learning, empowering marketers to create incredible next gen customer experiences. Carolyn Heller Baird and David Haucke will present findings from IBM’s recent study on how AI is impacting customer experience strategy, design and development. Plus, they’ll conduct a live Watson demonstration.

11:30 – 12:00
What Do Chickens Have to Do With Branding?

Dan Fietsam – Laughlin Constable

Bob Armour – Jellyvision

Dean Petrulakis – Fuse Print Chicago

Intelligent personal assistant applications and other voice-based applications can establish, extend or reinforce a brand’s identity and build “more human” relationships with users that go much deeper – and potentially last much longer – than more established alternatives. In this interactive panel, Dan Fietsam, CCO of Laughlin Constable, and Bob Armour, CMO of Jellyvision, will share their observations, learnings and surprises marketing voice-incorporating applications and products that solve real-life problems.

12:00 – 1:15
AMA Chicago Brand Visionary Award 2018

Recipient to be announced

Sherry J. Duda – Alex Reidy & Company

Pam Wedgeworth – Wedgeworth Communications

1:15 – 1:45
Craft Brands Innovate

Chris Ruder – Spikeball

Nicholas Gonzalez – Spikeball

Kurt Seidensticker – Vital Proteins

Caryn Johnson – Vital Proteins

Jeffrey Moss – Parker Dewey

How did a NASA flight instructor and an advertising executive become the CEOs of two of Chicago’s most innovative craft brands? They followed their hearts and weren’t afraid to make mistakes. Shark Tank alum Spikeball and startup Vital Proteins will share their inspiring creation stories and speak to the power of small brands to adopt tech, pivot and grow quickly. Their CMOs will discuss how perseverance, innovation and unconventional partnerships turned two Chicago businesses into internationally-recognized brands.

1:45 – 2:30
Seg-ME-tation: Understanding why customers buy brands

Elizabeth Ehrhardt – IRI

Carrie Bienkowski – Peapod

Michon Ellis – LimeGreen Moroch

Sanjiv Gajiwala – Mike’s Hard Lemonade Co.

Bonnie Massa – Massa & Co.

Personalization is one of the hottest buzzwords in marketing. As e-commerce shifts to ME-commerce, personalization has gone from a nice-to-have to a must-do. But what does that mean to your brand strategy? How do demographics, behavior, attributes and channel impact how your brand voice is heard? This interdisciplinary panel will have a laser focus on what personalization means to targeting, media, retail and innovation strategies – and how you can use it to head off disruptors.

2:30 – 2:45
2:45 – 3:15
Design Thinking

Margo Kahnrose – Spothero

Erin Huizenga – Borough + Block

Pam Wedgeworth – Wedgeworth Communications

Design thinking is proving to be a catalyst for brand innovation, allowing brands to innovate, test, pivot and win in the marketplace. In this session, brand leaders will describe how the design thinking process has shaped their internal and external approaches. Margo Kahnrose of SpotHero will share how design thinking fueled the Chicago startup to empathize with urban drivers and transform public parking experiences in major cities. Borough + Block founder Erin Huizenga will equip attendees to use this innovative methodology to help staff learn, innovate and problem-solve.

3:15 – 3:45

Leveraging the Blockchain

Melvin Petties –

Sherry Duda – Alex Reidy & Company

According to Juniper Research Blockchain Enterprise Survey, two-thirds of large corporations expect to integrate blockchain by the end of 2018. During this panel, we’ll define blockchain and discuss its potential to revolutionize the world of branding. You’ll discover unique insights into the scale of current and planned blockchain brand use cases, and the key benefits that companies hope to achieve by incorporating it as an artisan lever to impact brand trust.

3:45 – 4:20
A New Era for Brand-building

Erich Joachimsthaler – Vivaldi

Throughout the day, you’ll hear a multitude of ways that brand-building is forever changed. To succeed in this age of disruption, brands and businesses need a new roadmap that harnesses technology and data to connect more deeply with customers and rethink how to work within the larger ecosystem. The brands that survive and thrive will leverage the global infrastructure of connectivity to solve the problems that matter most to their customers. In this session, you’ll discover your brand strength and how you can reinvent your brand vision to deliver greater value.

4:20 – 4:30
It’s a Wrap

Sherry Duda – Alex Reidy & Company

Bonnie Massa – Massa & Company

4:30 – 5:30
Happy Hour

Whether you’re a CMO or Marketing Director, at Brand Smart you’ll learn valuable insights about what is shaping the future of branding and how to keep driving brand loyalty and growth.

Become a sponsor

Brand Smart is one of the largest branding conferences in the Midwest. Held each spring, the day-long event features experts from across industries, opportunities for networking and more. Brand Smart draws from hundreds of branding executives, agency leaders and other marketing professionals from the U.S. Be a part of this important event to stay current with what the future looks like for your clients and prospects. Learn more [PDF]