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Brand Experience: Key Takeaways from the CMO Club Summit Panel (thanks to SAP, CVS Health, American Legacy Foundation)

March 30, 2015

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As a long time member of The CMO Club, I always look forward to the organization’s bi-annual summits—which convene many of the world’s leading marketers to exchange fresh ideas and modern marketing practices.

This week at The CMO Club Spring Summit, I had the privilege of hosting a panel of three of these leading marketers : Maggie Chan Jones, CMO, SAP; Brett Gerstenblatt, Enterprise Creative Director, CVS Health; and Eric Asche, CMO, American Legacy Foundation.

Our topic was Brand Experience Today, Lessons from the Front Lines. We talked definitions, misconceptions, metrics, and lessons and much more. Here are a few of the key sound bites from our discussion.

1. What are the three words that come to mind when talking about great brand experience?

Maggie Chan Jones: Simple, personalized, omni-channel.

Eric Asche: Multi-sensory, memorable, functional.

Brett Gerstenblatt: Purpose-driven, empathetic, simple.

2. What are the greatest misconceptions about marketing?

Maggie Chan Jones: That you can own your brand end-to-end. In today’s world, you can’t—we rely on social and word-of-mouth too much. Branding is now about balancing the art and science in that context.

Eric Asche: That brands aren’t pliable. Brands are more pliable than we give them credit for. I had to open my aperture a bit to see the Truth and Legacy brands as the consumer does—and consumer perception gives us permission to go places with the brand we normally wouldn’t think about.

Brett Gerstenblatt: That the brand is just something you “put onto things.” The brand is a full experience, and rebranding is not just a logo “swap out.”

3. How do you think about metrics in regard to branding?

Maggie Chan Jones: Branding is always an evolution. For us, its really understanding which brand attributes mean the most to the people who are making purchase considerations.

Eric Asche: For us, success is simple-when we lower smoking rates, fewer people die from cancer. We don’t achieve that success alone, of course, but changing and evolving our brand should lead to us building more successful partnerships to achieve that.

Brett Gerstenblatt: CVS is very data driven—we measure everything. We measure employee engagement, frequently. We can also measure a branding initiative in terms of awards or recognition, but at the end of the day, it’s the people we’re trying to help. Our exit from tobacco led to millions of media impressions and accolades from the White House, but it’s the number of people who’ve approached us that want to quit smoking, and who we’ve educated by distributing packets about how to quit smoking.

4. What is your one piece of advice for CMOs in regard to creating a better brand experience?

Eric Asche: Stand for something. That may sound fairly obvious, but the millennial market is hard to pin down—when you stand for something and are honest and truthful, however, they will get behind it.

Brett Gerstenblatt: Excellence is worth the effort. If you use insight, intelligence and strategy to execute, you can make change happen.

Maggie Chan Jones: Set the context and bring your audiences along that journey.

As brands evolve from words and pictures to experiences this conversation continues. I’d like to thank the CMO Club for inviting me to convene this panel and thank the three Siegel+Gale clients for sharing their lessons. I’d love to hear your perspective on the questions above or any aspect or brand experience. It’s a topic that animates me and intrigues many CMOs at this conference.

Margaret Molloy is the Global CMO at Siegel+Gale, a leading global strategic branding firm. Follow her on Twitter: @MargaretMolloy.

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