This past week, marketers from diverse consumer and B2B brands gathered in San Diego to embark on a hero’s journey to create new value for their brands at the premier of The Un-Conference: 360° of Brand Strategy for a Changing World. And what a journey it was!
For two days, these intrepid marketers blazed a new trail in brand management for the 21st century. Working together in teams of 10, and energized by an unusually informal and competitive learning environment, The Un-Conference participants brought an amazing level of enthusiasm, creativity and skill to a variety of learning exercises designed to challenge the conventional wisdom about brand strategy and brand management.
All the barriers to interactive participation were torn down – no podiums, no stages with talking heads, no formalities – just the creative energy of presenters and participants working together on the most important concepts in brand management in our post media, post marketing world.
To set the informal tone of The Un-Conference, participants gathered the evening before for a welcome cocktail reception on the rooftop of the Andaz Hotel that offered amazing 360 degree views of downtown San Diego and a wonderful opportunity to get to know one another and learn which team they were on before the conference. The uniform for all was jeans.
To get things started, Derrick Daye, Managing Partner of The Blake Project and Master of Ceremonies for the event, introduced participants to an interactive card game created especially for marketers known as “Brandingo: The Brand Management Safari”. The game of Brandingo was a critical and entertaining component that made the competitive learning sessions throughout The Un-Conference much more fun and engaging.
Based on a safari theme, participant teams could collect, trade and even gift their Brandingo cards to bolster their overall team scores during the competitive exercises created by The Blake Project Senior Partners. As in the marketplace, the competition among the teams was fierce!
The Un-Conference: Day One
Kicking off The Un-Conference, participants enjoyed a compelling story of innovation and transformation from John Sculley, former CEO of Pepsi and Apple. With grace, wisdom and humility, John shared his fascination for innovation and transformation through his early years at Pepsi, where he lead the product development and marketing initiatives that transformed Pepsi into the leading soft drink brand in America.
In discussing the idea of “creating new value” in the hyper competitive soft drink category, John shared the fascinating story of how Pepsi brought to market the two-liter plastic bottle coupled with innovative distribution strategies which changed consumer’s consumption behaviors.
While arch rival Coca-Cola focused on selling more bottles, Sculley and his team realized early on Pepsi wasn’t in the business of selling bottles, rather they focused on helping consumers at home keep a ready supply of liquid refreshment conveniently in their refrigerator. This simple insight led to the advent of the two-liter bottle and changed forever how soft drinks where marketed and sold in the grocery store channel.
Of course, participants listened intensely as John shared the critical lesson about value creation learned from Steve Jobs during his tenure as CEO at Apple at the dawn of the personal computer era – “zoom out, connect the dots, zoom in and innovate”. John shared with intimate detail the genius of Steve Jobs to see what others around him could not see, then with laser focus and hyper restrictive boundaries, Jobs and his design teams would innovate the beautiful products that would forever change the world.