Inviting the world inside: The Brand Connection Roundtable

Inside-out brand building creates those coveted lasting relationships with stakeholders. As emphasized by the industry leaders who joined Gideon Fidelzeid in New York for this PadillaCRT-hosted panel, your values and employees - and the stories they bring to life - can be your greatest asset.


-Leslie Coyne, global head of GE University Relations, GE
-Amy Davis, division chair, communications, Mayo Clinic
-Barry Saunders, principal, Joe Smith – the brand consultancy of PadillaCRT
-Teresa Yoo, VP, brand strategy and experience design, IBM


-Ginger Hardage, recently retired SVP of culture and communications, Southwest Airlines

Our esteemed quartet covered myriad topics during the panel discussion, including customer perspectives; the incorporation of purpose and value; storytelling tips; empowering employees; and the way brand-building has evolved over the past decade.

Click here for an extended version of the conversation.

An often-asked branding question revolves around the importance of connecting with consumers who are not customers. Below are some highlights of our panelists’ insightful thoughts on the subject:

Saunders (Joe Smith/PadillaCRT):  We talk a lot about personifying your brand. But you need to focus on what it is in that persona that will allow external stakeholders to truly ponder where it can go in the future.

Coyne (GE):  Everyone will interact with our brand in one way or another, even if it’s not as a customer. That importance of having the world understand what GE does is critical.

GE’s team is made up of true pioneers, problem solvers, and those who dare to dream. And those innovators’ stories help recruit the next batch of leaders at GE. Click here to see one way GE tells that story to prospective students and the world at large."

Davis (Mayo Clinic):  We’re really a place for the sickest of the sick, [but] we’re not trying to sell anything, we’re just trying to share knowledge. That’s an extension of our mission. But to make sure you think about us if you do get really, really sick. 

As a proud partner in the fight against colorectal cancer, Mayo Clinic produced a music video with country star Craig Campbell that while focusing on the campaign, highlighted the hospital’s staff’s and patients’ inspiring story.

Yoo (IBM): Great brands create headroom for future growth. How is it that Apple has permission to make a car? A lot of it has to do with what you believe Apple is all about, which is bigger than their product line. It’s about future clients and being welcomed into communities and markets.

IBM unveiled its Smarter Planet campaign in 2008, as the global financial crisis really hit. It epitomized a notable branding shift to focus on how technology could make things better in the world, which was optimally relevant in the context of global events at the time.

Click here for an extended version of the panel discussion.

Working for the brand 

Southwest Airlines has proved the benefits of creating a culture that injects enthusiasm and ownership among employees, which, in turn, shapes a brand that draws loyal and long-term customers. In a keynote delivered prior to the PadillaCRT-hosted panel, Ginger Hardage, recently retired SVP of culture and communications at the airline, shared her playbook – one other brands can follow. Below are some highlights:    

•Putting people first
"If we have happy employees, they will take care of our customers. In turn, our shareholders will be served. It’s not a hierarchy where one group is more important than the other – it’s a circular motion."

•Getting employees to embody the brand purpose
"Don’t be too prescriptive. If you tell someone exactly how to handle a situation, they may not come up with these wonderful and creative ways for solving problems, surprising and delighting your customers."

•The CEO’s role
"How much time is your CEO spending with your employees and giving back to them? That’s a key thing for every chief communicator to look at."

How do you build a strong employee culture from the moment a new hire joins the brand? What are some dedicated groups any brand can create to nurture an optimal workplace atmosphere for staffers? What is the one question you should immediately add to your employee survey to elicit answers that will truly inform on your staff-engagement strategies? Hardage tackles these topics and more in this extended version of her keynote.

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