It's been six fast-paced months since Edward joined Joe Smith's Leadership Team. We recently caught up with him to talk about where he came from, what interests him most about his work, and what he's thinking might be on the horizon for brands facing an uncertain economy and rapidly-changing media landscape. Oh, and we learned he wasn't ALWAYS a brand strategist.
What initially drew you to working in brand? What gets you excited about this type of work?
I began my career as a copywriter, and would regularly get pulled in to write taglines, brand narratives, or other miscellaneous brand-platform-type things. That got me more interested in this kind of work, particularly around identifying the inputs that inform brand messaging and positioning. The draw for me, and where I have the most fun, is when I can use these “intangibles” to change perceptions and behaviors and, ultimately, to drive business outcomes. It’s the perfect blend of creativity, strategy, and problem-solving.
What brand (or brands) have you been impressed by lately? What are they getting right?
When I see a company committed to solving a “boring” problem I always take interest. There’s a company called Second Nature (formerly Filter Easy) that offers subscriptions for HVAC air filters. Their recent rebrand to Second Nature supports the business expansion in a smart way and gives them a path for growth in the future. It’s not sexy, but it’s removed a tedious chore from my life, which has real value to me. It’s a simple idea, built on a consumer insight so obvious lots of people probably missed it, executed well – all the things a good brand should do.
What is the most common mistake you see brands making today? How can they fix it?
Brands can’t just exist, they have to do something. Having a vision, mission, and set of values written down is important, but those assets should serve as a means and not merely the end. It’s essential that brand leaders understand how the platform informs interactions with the audiences they’re trying to reach and influence – because ultimately that’s the point of this work.
What should brand-builders be thinking about/prioritizing in the year ahead?
We’ve all been watching the economy – we’re seeing uncertainty begin to pervade decision-making, both on the corporate side and the consumer side. At Joe Smith we always remind our partners that it’s their employees who ultimately deliver experiences to customers. Ensuring employees at every level of the organization are engaged and empowered to execute on your brand promise is a wise investment under any economic conditions.
What’s one thing people don’t know about you?
Technically I am a professional Elvis Impersonator. In college I worked the lobby bar at a hotel and was once paid to wear an Elvis costume and serve drinks to a group of celebrating the birthday of someone who must have been a big Elvis fan. Did I nail the part? No. But I DID get paid to do it, which elevates my Elvis impersonating beyond the amateur level.
Edward Baldwin is VP, Brand at Joe Smith, the brand consultancy of Padilla.
You can reach him at Edward.Baldwin@joesmithco.com.