3 Things I Learned from the Brand Strategy Summit

By Michele Weisman

Throughout my career at Likeable Media, I’ve attended numerous conferences ranging from intimate local meetups to as large as SXSW. Most recently, I attended the Global Strategic Management Institute's (GSMi) second annual Brand Strategy Conference in New York City. The two-day event featured marketing thought leaders as well as brand pioneers in the digital and social space. Topics ranged from social content strategies, design best practices, leveraging offline events, and customer engagement. One overarching theme throughout the conference was brand advocacy. As more brands become savvy in social media, it is crucial to develop strategies that empower your communities on these platforms.

While there were lots of key takeaways from the conference, here are three I’ve identified.

1. Create a brand experience.

Have you ever taken a step back and thought, "What does my brand look like, talk like, sound like, feel like?" Greta Wilson, Vice President of Brand Strategy and Social Media at Pitney Bowes asked, “if your brand had a spirit animal, what would it be?” Identify who your brand is before marketing it to its audience. It’s also important to involve the organization and its employees. Wilson encouraged conference attendees to have their employees communicate their brand’s promise and mission. Enabling employees to be ambassadors via social media increases word-of-mouth. Incentivize employees to post with social training parties and education. A brand is not a point in time, but a journey.

2. Be innovative and don't be afraid to take risks.

Birchbox recognized a need in the beauty market and focused on an under-served majority. Amanda Tolleson, Vice President of Brand Marketing and Strategy at Birchbox, encourages marketers to align their brand with their target customer by following through on the brand promise and rallying around what it offers. Showing customer loyalty can create innovation.

3. Stop throwing parties. Instead start crashing them.

Jeremy Darlow, Director of Brand Marketing for Football and Baseball at Adidas, discussed how brands can effectively “crash a party” rather than “throw a party." Darlow defines a party as an event at mass scale, where people are participating through their phone. The party could be for any industry or product. Crashing is inserting a brand in a disruptive and relevant way; doing something completely unexpected, but relevant at the same time. Don't disrupt for the sake of disruption. If you're going to disrupt at an event make sure it has something to do with your brand.

I highly recommend attending the Brand Strategy Conference in 2017. In the mean time, check out GSMi's remaining events for 2016.

What are your thoughts on branding? How can social media empower brand advocates and brand recognition?