NYC’s top marketing teams reveal what goes into creating an iconic brand

by Katie Fustich
May 30, 2018

Marketers are the great unsung heroes of any successful tech company. While engineers may write the code, it’s marketers who are ultimately responsible for translating these complex ideas into something that the public understands and, more importantly, is excited to use.

Built In spoke to some of NYC’s top marketing teams to understand the challenges of creating marketing for tech, and to learn more about what goes into building a great tech-oriented campaign.

TheSkimm
image via theskimm

Since its 2012 founding, theSkimm has become a go-to source for today’s news readers. This surge in visibility and credibility is no doubt in part due to the hard work and creative efforts of theSkimm’s marketing team. Kaitlyn Jankowski, theSkimm’s head of marketing, gave Built In NYC the scoop on what goes into developing a successful media brand.

 

In a few sentences, tell me how you would describe your company’s brand. How does the marketing team work to shape this brand?

TheSkimm’s brand is authentic, relatable, and honest — we’re not afraid to tell it like it is. And as a result we’ve built a brand that female millennials trust.

We’re an audience company in that we put our audience first. The marketing team is always working cross-functionally — with insights, product, editorial, sales — to ensure we’re building products and campaigns that are directly related to our mission, making it easier for the female millennial to live a smarter life. At theSkimm we’re very focused on a specific demographic which means that the marketing team is always working toward crafting campaigns, communications, products and ads that speak to the female millennial.

 

What are the rewards and challenges of creating branding for a tech company?

TheSkimm’s brand is unique in that it’s defined by our voice. The way we talk to our audience and break down information has allowed us to build strong, trusted relationships with our audience. Talking to our audience like friends has allowed us to build intimate relationships at scale.

Since the early days of the company, theSkimm's co-founders, Carly Zakin and Danielle Weisberg, have been focused on the female millennial. The Daily Skimm, theSkimm App, our video content and podcast were all created to fit into our audience’s routines and make it easier to live a smarter life.

TheSkimm has always had a simple, clear mission, and when you have that you always have material to work with. The only thing you need to build a great brand is a clear vision and product to solve a problem.

 

Smartly
image via smartly

Though Smartly builds some of the most advanced and innovative technology in the advertising space, the Smartly marketing team works to ensure that their products remain accessible and easy to understand. Video and Content Specialist Linamaria Hagström told Built In NYC how working with the customer in mind has helped Smartly secure clients as major as eBay, Uber and more.

 

In a few sentences, tell me how you would describe your company’s brand. How does the marketing team work to shape this brand?

Our mission is to make digital advertising easy, efficient, and enjoyable — our brand visuality and tone mirror the mission closely; we aim to shy away from typical tech jargon to be understandable, helpful and provide refreshingly fun and honest touchpoints with our brand whenever possible. For example, we ran a chatbot for the past Advertising Week events in NYC and in Mexico City to report from the talks and delight our audience.

 

What are the rewards and challenges of creating branding for a tech company?

As a customer-first company, we approached brand building by looking through their lenses: what kind of a partner were they looking for? How do we add value? Branding is not what you say you are, but how your core audience perceives you. What we hear from our customers time and again, is that we always show up for them and go out of our way to help. Staying true to that perception is a rewarding way to shape a brand. Lastly, it's not just about the what but the how: testing new channels and formats is key to positioning your brand as an innovator in the tech space.

 

Meural
image via meural

Design and tech are a natural marriage at Meural, the company known for its hyper-realistic digital frames, which allow users to swap out artwork at the press of a button. Visual Designer Maggie Xue told Built In NYC about Meural’s creative philosophy — as well as their recent re-brand.

 

In a few sentences, tell me how you would describe your company's brand? How does the marketing team work to shape this brand?

I would describe Meural as cultured, imaginative and engaging. Because we are fairly new as a brand, building the brand voice is very important. Once you've established an emotional connection, the product will sell. The marketing team's job is to align with the personas of our customers.   

 

What are the rewards and challenges of creating branding for a tech company?

Our goal is to democratize art. We are building a product that will hang in everyone's home. The challenging part is to turn a very abstract and subjective concept into something tangible. We want to make everyone feel welcome and involved. But the thing is you can't create something that will satisfy every single person. As a company, you have to have the self-awareness of who you are and what you want to convey.  

The uplifting part about creating the brand is that as the company evolved, I grew with it. The brand flowed into many areas of my life outside of work. It's fulfilling to see something that came from the heart truly blossom.  

 

Chicory
image via chicory

Hillary Reeves, director of integrated marketing at Chicory, understands how visual design can influence a product. Chicory, which connects recipe sites to online grocery stores, sits in the midst of constantly-evolving industries. This makes it even more important to create a bold and memorable brand, Reeves explained.

 

In a few sentences, tell me how you would describe your company's brand. How does the marketing team work to shape this brand?

Chicory's brand is bold, but not alienating. As a B2B tech company in the online grocery space (a space that is rapidly evolving, yet still answers to legacy food companies and retailers), we have to show that we are the company to trust with your advertising campaigns and ecommerce initiatives while also honing our own identity as an aggressive and forward-thinking brand. When we rebranded in late 2017, we moved away from curly scripts and pastel hues into a super-saturated purple and thick, extra-bold lines. That simple visual shift also helped to redefine our choices, strategy and product-wise. We started to stand firmer in our choices and vision, rather than darting this way or that when an enticing opportunity came along. "Bold" for us has meant believing in our vision and moving head-first in that direction.

 

What are the rewards and challenges of creating branding for a tech company?

Our mission is complex, and exists in a space that is changing by the minute. We offer solutions to companies who have never tried anything like we have done before. So, we can get lumped into "innovation" budgets, which come with a long lead-time and execution can move slowly. Our brand, then, has needed to be the first touchpoint a client has with our company and we use it to engage clients and get them excited about trying our services. Our decks, one-sheets and case studies need to make a splash at first view. The feeling a potential client gets from observing Chicory is almost as crucial as our actual pitch. ur rebrand helped us to grow 3x in 2017, so the numbers speak for themselves in terms of our company’s value.

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