Branding

Shining a Spotlight on Barry O’Grady.

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Our Vice-President, Marketing and Brand Experience, Barry O’Grady brings global, award-winning marketing expertise to Spyder Works’ clients.

Everyone knows that the toughest battles in marketing are fought in the grocery aisles. If you can win market share from Procter & Gamble and Colgate, you’ve got what it takes. Barry has done both while managing domestic market and global marketing responsibilities for brand powerhouses like Unilever and Mars Incorporated.

His goal is to help your company connect with its markets more deeply and personally, using the best strategies, storytelling and interactive marketing tools. “After running major brands for multinationals, I now help clients find the true potential in their businesses,” Barry says. “It’s all about helping you see an exciting, achievable future.”

Barry is a decorated marketing veteran, having fought bravely in the Cat Food Wars and won the Battle of the Soaps. The minstrels still sing of his work for Dove Beauty in Canada, which had long languished behind Ivory, the market leader. He says he’ll never forget the day Dove passed Ivory as Canada’s No. 1 soap brand. More importantly, his work on “Canada’s Classic Beauty” which valued the holistic beauty of real Canadian women set the stage for Dove’s ground-breaking “Real Beauty” campaign. Coming out of Canada and spreading around the world, that campaign not only sold more soap, it rede ned how marketers engage with their target audiences. “Dove was 20 years ahead of its time,” says Barry. “It was exciting, fresh, di erent. We weren’t playing a conventional marketing role. We were empathizing with the reality of everyday women.”

Empathy drew Barry into consulting. He loves putting himself in his clients’ shoes, to understand their struggles and the needs of their customers. “I stand for input, dialogue, consensus, and high-trust relationships,” he says. “My clients sleep better at night knowing the consultants they’ve engaged are solving the real problem, not just putting words on paper.”

Barry’s rigorous approach to marketing and brand strategy is a catalyst for customer engagement. Or as Spyder Works CEO Ken Tencer puts it: “Barry transforms consumers into brand advocates in an age where the voice of the brand is increasingly coming from the mouths of its customers.”

“Spyder Works solves clients’ real problems in unique ways,” explains Barry. “I can start the change process by helping clients write a new strategy. The rest of the team can take it further, through design to production and leadership development. We’re operational and strategic.”

Barry’s dedication shone brightest the day he enrolled in a course on “Fundamentals of Digital Marketing” at Sheridan College. He was probably the oldest student in the class. He was by far the most experienced. But he was delighted when his prof, aware of
his background, con rmed that the role of digital media is to uniquely amplify all the principles of great marketing – establish connection, interaction and loyalty – that he learned from working with the world’s best consumer-product companies.

What else can we tell you about Barry? He’s into yoga, and mindfulness. And he’s happiest when the Toronto Blue Jays are winning.

But the wins he likes best are those of his clients. A few years ago, he was hired by an independent producer of creamy salad dressings to develop strategies for addressing consumers’ growing appetite for healthier foods. Soon after, the company was acquired by a major U.S. food brand. Barry was over the moon to learn this multinational had bought his client mainly for its strong position in the wellness segment, which would now be exported to the rest of its international divisions. Talk about impact!

Says Barry: “It blew my mind that I had created that much value for the client in eight months.”

We could tell you more: about the way Barry turned around the Whiskas cat-food brand in the United States for Mars, Inc.; how he launched six products for Green Giant; how he restructured the sales teams for M&Ms, Skittles and Snickers; and how he re-energized a whole division by implementing a “50 Day Challenge” that generated 300 new product ideas. But we think you should hear it from him.

Give Barry a call at <a href=”tel:9056088845″>905.608.8845</a> x 32, or email him at <a href=”mailto:bogrady@spyder.works”>bogrady@spyder.works</a>. Put all that success, experience and empathy to work for your brands.

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In Touch with the Female Side of Branding

 

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My esteemed business partner, Ken Tencer, is a thought leading advocate of innovation.  He recently published an article in the Globe & Mail urging entrepreneurs to get in touch with their feminine side in order “… to remain relevant in this age of empathetic opportunity and emotion-driven entrepreneurship.”  I started to wonder if the same advice might also apply to male marketers.  Wouldn’t our brands benefit if we listened better, asked for directions more often and acknowledged how much we appreciate our customers?

In his Globe article, Ken quotes psychologist Dan Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence, who says, “Women tend to be better at emotional empathy than men.”  Given that emotional empathy is one of the bedrocks of successful relationships, maybe it really is time for male marketers to get in touch with our feminine sides.

I’ve made the point in the past that building brands has a lot of similarities with tending personal relationships. 

I also believe that how much energy you put into it determines how successful you’ll be.  Getting in touch with our feminine side may tell us where to invest that energy and how to crystallize our relationship-building priorities.  It may also give us some additional insights into what facets of our brand are most appealing to women.

Business Insider had an informative piece by Kate Taylor about Kat Cole, the group president of billion dollar consumer corporation Focus Brands and a bit of a media darling because she used to be a server at Hooters.  Focus Brands is the parent company of Cinnabon, Auntie Anne’s, and Moe’s Southwest Grill.  Ms. Cole revealed her three top business tips.

1. Be honest, authentic, and confident in what you stand for.

According to Cole, your values and transparency are what differentiates you in the marketplace.

2. Stay incredibly close to the customer.

Cole responds to every single person who tweets at her, as just one small way to stay close to the consumer.

3. Do the right thing for the right reasons.

This golden rule should guide your partnerships, product launches, and funding decisions.

It seems to me that these tips are not only valuable for brand building… but also for life in general.

And while we’re on the subject of gender, should more of our brands intensify their focus on women?  Should traditionally male or gender neutral brands make a greater effort to develop relationships with women?  As a brand strategist and designer, my concern is not the politics of gender, but rather the purchasing power of gender.  And when it comes to making purchasing decisions, it is pretty clear that women are not the weaker sex.  They are goliath and their influence has the clout to make or break brands.

Ken originally published this on July 5, 2016 as a Guest Column in The Globe and Mail: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/small-business/sb-managing/why-getting-in-touch-with-your-feminine-side-is-good-for-business/article30675493/

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Building a customer-centric brand for community retail

When I started Spyder Works almost 25 years ago, I was in the making promises business.  The firm created design, marketing strategy, advertising and promotion in support of clients’ brands.  Back then, I considered my job well done if I could attract legions of new customers into their stores.  After all, that’s what the ‘making promises’ business is all about in retail.  Attracting well-qualified traffic. The idea was that compelling advertising and promotions along with great store design and signage would delight our clients’ customers and build their brands.

As my relationship with retailers grew, I had the opportunity to travel from community to community and store to store.  What I quickly realized was that some stores have an important social role beyond just places to shop.  These stores are also like informal community centres where you run into friends and acquaintances, where you can chat and catch up, where you can make plans and stay in touch.

During my travels, and particularly during store visits across Canada, I saw first hand how powerful a sense of belonging can be.  Building and nurturing inclusive communities is one of the things we do best in Canada, which is really a vast connected landscape of tight-knit neighbourhoods.  Main street communities in Canada have many faces and are as diverse and unique as their urban counterparts. When main street communities succeed, the nation succeeds.

Community stores not only offer a welcome sense of belonging, they are also good for  business. 

After all, the longer people linger in a store, the greater the chance that they will buy more.  A welcoming store also increases the probability that your customers will return and develop a loyalty to your store and a stronger relationship with your brand.

I realized that all of the branding work you do, no matter how clever, won’t keep a customer coming back if the experience in-store doesn’t reflect the customer’s expectations on all levels of experience.  To properly serve our retail clients, Spyder Works also needed to be in the ‘promise keeping’ business.

How do you build a brand around the culture of ‘promise keeping’?

Businesses have to take it upon themselves to foster a sense of close-knit belonging in any environment whether it’s in a big city or a small town.  They need to evoke the sentiment of old-fashioned “Main Street” culture.  Retailers, marketers and agencies have the same goal when it comes to connecting with consumers, simply, to build a passionate community of customers that engage regularly with a brand.

The success of your customer relationships depends largely on how well you are able to engage your community.

Community stakeholders’ participation can help you shape your business to ensure you are responding to local preferences.  In community retail, the members in your community are not looking for just a cheque to support local causes, events or sponsorship – the community is looking for your participation, engagement and involvement.  How committed are you to where your customers live and work?  Ideally, you should be involved with your community from an early stage engagement; this will help you to form lasting relationships with community members to ensure a sense of belonging in a neighbourhood that everyone can be proud of.

In contrast, in all retail, where your front line people are face-to-face brand ambassadors, employee turnover can leave your brand perilously exposed.   Without a solid foundation, your brand is at risk of not keeping the promise that it communicates to everyone.  That’s why, at Spyder Works, we feel that it’s important to look at branding from both sides of the coin, outward and inward facing.  This insight has lead us to design learning programs and workshops to extend your brand to the in-store experience, embracing your corporate values and your mission with the people responsible for keeping your brand promise with your customers… your front line team members.

Retailers need to complete the branding circle to survive in the economy of relationship building. 

At Spyder Works with our retail clients, we have created ambitious brand strategies that more accurately capture the essence of brand by embracing community and engaging customers.  In this hyper connected world we are supporting our clients on the front lines of their stores, we can boldly claim that we’re no longer a half-branding company.

The secret to building a customer-centric brand for community retail is like maintaining a long lasting relationship with your close friends. Keep your relationship transparent and genuine.  Show up, stay in the moment, stay in touch, encourage and support them as they grow with you.

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