This week’s Marketer to Marketer (M2M) blog features our Executive VP and Director of Brand Strategy and Planning, Mark Shevitz. Prior to working at CBD, he ran his own brand consulting business for about 10 years, gathering plenty of branding expertise along the way.
As far-fetched as it may sound, Mark Shevitz knew since he was about 12 years old that he wanted to be in advertising. Today, he has a bird’s-eye view of the day-to-day operations of CBD – which can be taken both figuratively and literally, given his location on the top floor of the agency. He spends ample time helping his co-workers develop client work that best fits an overall strategy, and he is the go-to person in the office for all things related to branding.
Q&A with Mark Shevitz
In your opinion, what are some key traits that you have that makes you successful at your job?
I’ve never been a firm believer in the status quo, so I tend to question everything. The most important thing you can do in this industry, no matter what role you’re in, is ask the right questions. People don’t always know how to put their vision into words, so it’s often up to us to figure it out. Candor also goes a long way in terms of finding the right solution. Sometimes you just have to tell it like it is.
How does strategic planning contribute to the success of a brand?
A brand, at its core, is about promise and delivery. It’s about the promises you make to your audience, and how you pay that off or deliver it. Those two parts need to align in order for a brand to succeed. If you say you are one thing and then act a different way — that’s how brands get broken. [Strategic] planning is really about taking a brand promise and figuring out how to deliver that into the marketplace in a meaningful and self-evident way.
What do you think is the most widely misunderstood aspect about branding?
I think there’s a wide variety of ways that the term branding is interpreted as these days, from the product/service itself (think brand management) to market strategy (used almost interchangeably these days with brand strategy). The term has become extensible to the point of being almost meaningless in many contexts. When I talk about branding with clients, I frame it as taking an active role in how your company, product, or service is perceived by all of your audiences – internal and external.
What is the most defining characteristic of successful brands you’ve worked with?
A commitment to competitive differentiation. The top-performing brands in any industry know where they fit into the marketplace, and they are not afraid to stand for something. They are relevant to their customers in a way that clearly stands out from the competition.
What is one piece of advice you would give to a business looking to build up their brand strategy?
Don’t do anything brand-related until you understand your audiences. You can’t be relevant to anyone unless you know what their met and unmet needs are. This is the cornerstone of identifying and articulating the value that you provide to the market.
In your opinion, is it possible to redeem a brand that has lost relevance in the eyes of the public?
It’s absolutely possible. I think brands become irrelevant when they no longer fulfill a marketplace need – either because that need is no longer important to the market, or because a competitor is addressing that need in a more relevant way. Brands that find themselves no longer having the resonance they once did need to explore what other top marketplace needs they can realistically satisfy better than competitors.
Last but not least, what is meaningful to you outside of your role at CBD?
This might sound strange, but I place a lot of importance on making good, considered decisions. Life is too short to not think through what you’re doing.
I think everyone could benefit from actively trying to do their best in whatever they’re engaged in at the moment and in the long-term.
Want to know more about Mark? Connect with him on LinkedIn for more brand strategy tips and advice. Next up in the M2M series, we’ll be featuring CBD’s renowned Executive Creative Director, Mary Olivieri.