Back in November, Steve Halsey sat across from me at a seafood shack in St. Petersburg, Florida. Despite working together remotely for months on various projects, this was the first time we were meeting face-to-face. Embarrassingly, I was running late to what I thought was a working lunch. (My three-month-old was hungry, traffic was terrible and I’m bad at directions.) Instead, the newly-minted CGO of G&S would pitch me the idea of joining the Growth Team – a stark contrast to my 12 years managing client accounts.
In true Halsey fashion, we chatted for 15 minutes, he offered me the role, and our lunch promptly pivoted to a strategy workshop, complete with bold visions and frantic scribbles on a spare legal pad. Our backgrounds are parallel, but distinct: Steve has been with G&S for nearly his entire career; I joined New York-based CooperKatz right out of college, and became a part of G&S in its acquisition the year before. At the time of our lunch, we were equally passionate about our respective cultures but recognized that it was time for a new, unified brand image.
Over the coming months, the scribbles on that legal pad transformed into a reality. Chris Martin joined the team as VP of Creative and Brand Experience. We vowed to treat G&S as we would a client, spending long days breaking down our goals, strategy and brand narrative before building them back up in a bolder, more deliberate way.
What resulted was a massive brand refresh. One that is finally here – after the holidays, COVID and the subsequent economic paralysis. We broke through that clutter and chaos with a new purpose. Focused markets. The new G&S.
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So much has inspired me (and tired me) throughout this process. As the new VP of Growth and Corporate Communications, I needed to learn and live the brand, and I needed to do it quickly. As you can imagine, I had to conquer countless decks, case studies, emails and presentations, but those only brought me so far. When I needed to dig in – really dig in – I asked people to tell me a story.
“I purposefully don’t want you to plan anything,” I would say, catching someone off-guard, just after lunch. “Tell me a story. What was the greatest challenge with this project? What made you most proud?”
What resulted was magic. When people are free to speak openly with their own memories and their own take, they breathe life into the story in a way that bullet points simply fail to capture. I learned how the Creative team pushed boundaries with the new Lallemand brand hierarchy, inspired by how dairy cows – like athletes – operate at peak performance. I uncovered the fascinating approach our DuPont team took to reshape the modern case study through a Customer Narrative Program. I learned things about people I would have never known – personally and professionally – skills they bring to work each day that make us uniquely G&S. As we drove the creation of our new website, our new messaging, new collateral and so much more, these were the stories we told.
You see, friends, you can (and should) always tell stories – even, and perhaps more importantly, in B2B marketing. I’m a believer in multi-channel experiences, including infographics, data and presentations, and they all have their place in a well-crafted communications strategy.
But when you start with a story, the memory sticks – and it never goes out of style.