Recently, we took a leap forward – creating a new department devoted to marketing strategy and branding. It’s the latest step in our evolution as a full-service creative and interactive agency with the capabilities to help our clients achieve success at every stage of their journey.
In this installment of our ongoing series of employee interviews, we sat down with department director Martha Marchesi to get her take on how this new department is transforming our agency and helping our clients build their brands.
Omar Joseph (OJ): Tell me a little about your business background.
Martha Marchesi (MM): I’ve been in advertising for almost 30 years! I was fortunate to land a job right out of college working at a Madison Avenue advertising agency as a junior copywriter. I’ve worked at a lot of NYC shops – Saatchi and Saatchi, Young & Rubicam, Grey, McCaffrey & McCall, to name a few. I came up through the creative ranks as a writer, then became creative director. I finally decided to trade in the commute and built a successful freelance business, creating strategic and creative solutions for clients across a wide range of industries and product categories.
OJ: You began working with us as a freelancer. What intrigued you about taking a full-time position here?
MM: I really admire Jerry [Kaulius] and the company he’s built. I felt that working at JK Design would be a good ‘fit’ for me. Over the years, I’d become more involved in projects at the strategic level and really loved it.
The idea of being able to utilize both my creative and marketing skills was incredibly appealing. I knew that my role would help the agency realize its goal of being a full-service advertising agency so I joined the team.
OJ: You’re the VP, Director of Creative and Marketing Services. What exactly is that?
MM: I help clients with strategic issues, challenges, and opportunities – anything from launching a new product to repositioning a mature brand to assessing the current competitive landscape.
I also leverage my creative skills to ensure that any creative elements and messaging are aligned with the strategic goals. I’m able to help designers and writers translate and execute off the brand platform – so that every communication fully reflects the brand’s intended message.
OJ: When you first accepted the position, what was your vision for the department?
MM: My vision was a big one: Help clients think about their brands in ways that they never had before. I think real opportunities present themselves when you’re willing to ‘think outside the box.’
OJ: When you arrived you were, in essence, creating a new department by yourself. How have you handled that challenge?
MM: I’ve had wonderful support here at JK. Our lead writer Chris Milan, who also has a branding background, is a great strategic thinker, and Ashley Summerer is both an outstanding account manager and a terrific member of the JK branding/marketing team!
OJ: How do you interact with and help our clients?
MM: I think one of the most important things I do is to help clients reach consensus on challenges or issues. The only way to move forward is to have everyone on the same page. My job is to facilitate that discussion and help bring disparate opinions and perspectives together.
OJ: Tell me about the marketing and branding sessions you facilitate.
MM: In a marketing session, we take an in-depth look at the target audience, strategic goals, challenges, and opportunities, and we also assess the current competitive landscape. From there, we create a ‘strategic blueprint’ – a plan for reaching the desired outcomes in the best way possible.
A branding session is designed to create a ‘brand blueprint’ that aligns with strategic objectives. We work together to determine a brand’s personality, its most motivating and differentiating aspects, and build a strong brand platform that becomes the foundation for all communications.
OJ: Most companies don’t rebrand and completely change their marketing strategies often. How often do you think companies should participate in the type of sessions you lead?
MM: A company needs to make sure that its branding and marketing strategies are line with its business plan, which typically is a three- or five-year plan. There can also be quite a bit of change within that timeframe, from the competitive landscape to customer needs or behaviors. Any company needs to make sure that its brand stays current – or risk falling behind the competition.
OJ: You have an obvious passion for what you do. What is it about your job that makes you want to get out of bed every day?
MM: I love wearing two hats! I have a passion for the strategic side and the creative side. This job allows me to leverage both. There is nothing more satisfying than watching a client find that fruitful new space, that powerful new voice, for their brand.
OJ: You’ve been deep in the trenches recently managing a number of marketing and branding sessions. Once the smoke clears, what’s on the horizon for your department?
MM: JK Design is known for being an innovator, and I’d like to bring some of our cutting-edge technology to the branding/marketing department! For starters, I would like to utilize our proprietary collaborative iPad application for group feedback.
OJ: Much of your job involves being creative or helping people think creatively about their brand. What inspires you to be creative?
MM: I am always looking for the ‘road less traveled,’ taking a different, unexpected approach. Today’s marketplace is tougher than ever – but there are a lot of awe-inspiring brands out there, and it’s important to learn from them.
OJ: You keep a frantic pace at work. How do you unwind when you’re not here?
MM: I run lots of miles, and I ride my mountain bike! I’m also a voracious reader.
To find out more about how you can launch, build, or revitalize your brand, touch base with Martha here.