The inaugural Brand-Experience Symposium, hosted by Hub Magazine in NYC from September 10-11, opened with an impassioned presentation by Mark-Hans Richer, CMO of Harley-Davidson. He told the story of the unforgettable summer in which he and thousands of other Harley enthusiasts rode across Europe ending at the Vatican, where Pope Francis blessed the Harley-Davidsons and their riders in celebration of the brand’s 110th anniversary. How’s that for a unique brand-experience?
Although every story we heard didn’t have as dramatic a twist as this one from Mark-Hans, the overall theme was consistent: brands must actively engage with consumers in a way that’s unique to the brand and its customers.
Each all-star CMO presented their company’s set of unique challenges. For NASCAR‘s Steve Phelps, it is about trying to find where the next generation of fans will come from. For General Mills‘ Mark Addicks, it is about re-inventing and re-thinking their brands to appeal to the rapidly changing demographics in America. For the Cheesecake Factory‘s Donald Evans, it is about protecting and elevating their brand compared to the competition. And, for Caribou Coffee‘s Alfredo Martel, it is about remaining authentic and true to its core.
Although each challenge is unique, every CMO onstage talked about the importance of knowing their consumers. Really knowing them. Consumers don’t want a “typical” experience. They value individuality, customization and authenticity. They want brands to feel and act human. And, these CMOs are working hard to engage and create lasting relationships with their most-valued consumers to drive business growth.
Cheers to Tim Manners and the entire Hub team for hosting an amazing inaugural event. I am already looking forward to the next one!