Creativity, community and data: NYC marketing leaders share top tips for successful brand building

May 31st, 2024

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Natalie Chandler
Panellists at Building Brands of the Future NYC

Last week we hosted our very first Building Brands of the Future in NYC, and it’s safe to say, it went down a treat!

Key takeaways:

  • Brand and community are the moat the protects your business
  • Connection and experience are key to a successful brand
  • Ariane Pol, Head of Creative Research at Google says it’s the exceptional people that communicate the value of brand to stakeholders that make a real difference.

We kicked off the evening by setting the scene around the importance of investing in brand marketing.

Over the last 15 years, we've seen brands lean heavily towards direct acquisition marketing with budgets focused on converting attention at the bottom of the funnel. Unfortunately this has led to unsustainable growth, extremely high acquisition costs and smaller than expected customer bases.

At Tracksuit, we know the impact of brand on commercial outcomes:

  • Acquisition of customers becomes easier - and therefore costs decrease
  • More value is recognised over time from customers - your lifetime value increases
  • Brand and community becomes the moat that protects your business.

The latter is particularly relevant in the evolution of AI, where anyone (or any bot!) can create products and launch businesses. Brand trust and community is imperative and the only protection against competition.

Our next topic of conversation was about how building a strong brand and community serves both your existing and future demand - which is one that friends of Tracksuit know all too well (if you need a refresher, check out how future demand can help grow your business in this blog post.)

We also heard from three inspirational brand and insights leaders from customer brands Skillshare and Momofuku and our strategic partner, Google, who spilled all the tea on what it takes to build a successful brand IRL, challenges they faced through their careers and how to identify growth opportunities.

Google, Momofuku and Skillshare on how they’re building epic brands

Introduced by our Head of Marketing Mikayla Hopkins, who is a champion of elevating our customers’ professions in a way that makes the wider business world see marketing, our three panelists – Ariane Pol, Global Head of Research at Google, Emma Brooks, VP Marketing at Skillshare, and Allison Eatroff, Brand Management Director at Momofuku – took to the stage and served up a bunch of valuable insights.

Jumping straight in, Emma explained, ”Brand to me is every touch point, every experience. It should be what the company stands for and is the shared vision.”

“In particular, I think a lot about distinctive accents. For Skillshare our main color is neon green – it’s super bright, maybe a little jarring on your eyes. But it’s important that they stand out against our competitive set and are distinct. We really care about creativity, our focus on creative professionals. And so everything we do, whether it's copy, our brand assets, or our brand positioning really need to lean into, and stand up for, creativity," Emma continued.

Allie added: “In the past 10 years, the CPG industry has become so concentrated with so many new brands and it's even more important your brand stands out on the shelf and really brings up emotions for consumers.”

“Momofuku has been a restaurant for around 20 years. So when they built the CPG brand, the team spent so much time trying to understand how we could connect that experience from the restaurants and bring that experience to store. So, you’ll notice a lot of our packaging has notes from the kitchen so customers can feel the connection from the restaurant to the CPG experience,” she said.

So, how can data improve brand building? 📈

Ariane noted that it feels like creativity is having a comeback, which she’s really pleased to see, but that it’s imperative to track the impact and prove ROI.

“We really need to think about how you can hit both the short and the long term when it comes to brand building. What's hard is that we get hooked on what we can see in the short term and we don't always wait for the long term results.”

She added, "With our Google customers we're really trying to provide data to help the brands understand what it means for them. For me on the creative side, what's really important is measuring the impact of creative. It is the number one driver of ROI that for the longest time we've been thinking is just the work of a few gifted creative directors but we're trying to qualify that. So we're trying to reconstruct and to really understand each and every element of an ad and correlate that to performance."

Importance of building brand and community 👯

So now we know how our panelists think about brand and measuring the impact, but how are they building their own brand and communities?

For Momofuku, Allie emphasized that global flavors is an aisle that has been dominated by old school brands for a very long time, but there’s a challenge to drive more awareness to the aisle itself.

“We’re not only having a brand awareness challenge, but we also have a challenge of bringing people down the global flavors aisle in store.”

They have loyal restaurant customers, but how do they convert them to being retail consumers too?

“We've created a Facebook community group where we share recipes and these consumers are just so obsessed with the brand and become our brand advocates. Obviously, that's not scalable but it is really important when you're building a brand to start with consumers that are just so obsessed so we can further build our CPG brand from there,” Allie shared.

Focusing in on your audience

More than half of the US population sits within Skillshare’s potential addressable market, so Emma shared intel into how they stay focused to unlock growth.

“For a long time Skillshare had this dual target that they were going after both hobbyists and creative professionals and historically they over-indexed and focused on the hobbyists. But in the last 18 months, we really started to see many signals that we have a much stronger product market fit with creative professionals who spend more time on the site or are coming back more often and spending more money.”

“So we made the decision to hone in on a creative professional market this year, which I’m thrilled about because trying to market to two very different audiences at once is very difficult,” Emma says. “We went through a brand strategy refresh, thought through how we should speak to the creative professional, our messaging, and all our touch points. It informed channel planning such as whether we want to work with LinkedIn influencers as that’s a key platform for our target audience.”

Managing C-suite conversations 🤝

A conversation many marketers face is questions from the C-suite on why it’s so important to invest in brand and Ariane hit the nail on the head.

“What’s really apparent is that we’re all struggling with very similar challenges. As marketers we’re spread thin but all of these tools and data are actually helping us to focus on what's most strategic. They elevate the role of the marketer because now we spend much more time thinking about the strategy and get to the good conversations around how we balance short and long term impact,” Ariane said.

“At Google, we're helping the advertisers by empowering them with the data. Thinking about how to tailor your strategy for your long and short term objectives is really important. The idea is not to do either or, it’s very much an ‘and’. When it comes to creative for example, if you want to market to the two percent who are existing customers you need very pointed information versus the emotional journey that you're going to take future customers on,” she continued.

“We’re now at a moment in time where we're asking ourselves the right questions and it really forces us to have those deeper conversations - and we have the data to prove it. It’s the exceptional people that are able to communicate the value of brand to stakeholders that make a real difference,” Ariane added.

There are many, many more insights we could share, but we simply cannot fit it all into one blog post!

So, if this has you itching to hear from epic brand leaders like Emma, Ariane and Allie, make sure you keep an eye out on our LinkedIn as we have plenty more events for customers and the wider marketing community.

We can’t wait to see you at the next one ✨


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