At Harvey, staying on top of the latest industry trends and local movers and shakers is part of our DNA. So we were thrilled to attend Baltimore Magazine’s Made in Maryland Brand Summit.
As a Baltimore-based marketing agency for over 30-years, this Summit was another opportunity for us to keep our pulse on the latest brand initiatives that are taking place right here in Maryland.
One of our other passions is sharing our thoughts, ideas and takeaways, so if you couldn’t attend the event or did attend but need a cheat sheet for what went down for your boss, here’s a summary what we heard and learned from the Summit.
First off, shout out to Baltimore Magazine, Revolution, Copper Kitchen and all the others responsible for putting on this event. It was an awesome and informative day filled with education and networking opportunities (and beer!).
The focus of the event was to highlight and celebrate Baltimore’s brilliant, innovative, creative and influential industry leaders and brands and gain a perspective on the challenges, opportunities and best practices they employ every day to navigate the expectations of consumers and community members both locally and globally.
Kicking off the Summit with some eye-opening facts about the local economy was Betamore’s Chairman & Co-founder, Greg Cangialosi. Greg shared his background and experience as a SaaS entrepreneur, but notices an economic shift in up-and-coming start-up CPG companies in the Baltimore area.
“The Amazon Age is upon us, which has crippled the small businesses. Still, we’re seeing more made-in-Maryland CPG companies emerging in this market who are growing, 70% of which are selling directly to consumers (D2C).”
Greg Cangialosi, Betamore Chairman & Co-founder
The key takeaway we gathered from Greg’s speech revolves around the fact that venture capitalist firms are paying more attention to the hotbed of opportunities that exist within the Baltimore and Maryland markets.
While there are a large number of Maryland-made CPG companies on the rise, the Summit also featured keynote speakers from leaders in other industries and long-standing Maryland organizations as well.
Nabila Chami, Director of Brand Strategy for the National Aquarium, shed light on the rebranding efforts her organization went through to modernize the brand, and introduce new content to promote their conservation efforts far beyond their presence in the Baltimore Harbor. Defining values, developing credibility, and expanding awareness are just a few of the strategies Chami used to cultivate an intimate and individualized journey for the brand.
Similar to the National Aquarium, Johns Hopkins Carey Business School also faced a number of challenges when they embarked on reimaging their brand. Kiera Hynninen, Associate Dean of Global Marketing & Communications, surfaced an issue around maintaining brand consistency. Kiera shared some of the difficulty they faced around keeping their logos, colors, and messaging consistent, as well as her plan to resolve these conflicts. As anyone could imagine, this was no easy feat, but Kiera and the team at Johns Hopkins Carey Business School successfully transformed the brand through a diverse set of strategies focused on internal and external stakeholders. Once these brand guidelines were established and communicated internally throughout the organization, the brand became more consistent for external stakeholders as well.
Nabila and Kiera did an awesome job at articulating and tackling these common branding challenges that we hear about all the time. From our experience, these issues are common struggles for many organizations and we partner with brands to help unify them both internally and externally. Style guides, asset management, and formatting sales materials are just a few examples of the solutions we offer.
As social media experts ourselves, this was easily one of our favorite segments of the entire Summit. This panel was made up of local social media talent represent both emerging and well-known brands throughout Maryland:
Moderated by Lorann Cocca, Social Media Manager for Baltimore Magazine, this panel of seasoned social experts answered some of the most burning questions about social media. Here’s our synopsis of the questions asked of the panel members along with a summary of their individual responses:
While the panel answered more than just these three questions, we felt these were some of the most common questions we hear from our clients, and the answers provided by the panelists were on-point. In sum, social media marketing is truly an art and science that takes planning, strategy, and passion to execute successfully. If this is an area of focus for your organization, reach out to us so we can start a dialogue on where you currently are with social media, and your future aspirations.
The last panel of the Summit featured co-founders and leaders of well-known breweries in Maryland: Key Brewing, Monument City Brewing, Flying Dog Brewery, and Jailbreak Brewing. It’s no secret that the craft beer industry is getting crowded, and one of the questions asked of the panel is: How do you differentiate yourself beyond taste?
“For us, it starts with hiring the right people who best resemble and practice the tenets of our brand. If we hire good people and remain authentic to who we are, everything else sorts itself out.”
James Maravetz, VP of Marketing & Brand Management at Flying Dog Brewery
For some of the smaller breweries in Maryland who may not have the same resources as their larger competitors, it all comes down to grass-root efforts. Each of the panelists made comments around the importance of making face-to-face connections with their resellers and consumers. In an everything-digital world, having these offline interactions with external stakeholders helps deliver the authenticity of each brand.
And for those curious about whether your Untappd reviews are being monitored by some of these breweries, a majority of the panelists said they do pay some attention to them. “Every now and again I take a peak at what people are saying about our beers, but we try not to get distracted by the negativity,” Kennith Praay, Co-founder, Monument City Brewing.
Throughout the panelist segment, it was to our surprise that these breweries had a great amount of respect for one another, and shed some light into the camaraderie that is found in this industry. This industry is as competitive as any other, but after seeing these leaders interact with each other, it’s hard to believe that they work and have built separate brands. At the end of the day, it’s all about making good beer.
While we could write a novel about all the topics covered from this Summit, we know that you probably don’t have that time. To recap, here are the key takeaways we left with:
Overall, the Made In Maryland Brand Summit was an invaluable opportunity for attendees to learn more about some of the greatest brands in Maryland and what they’re doing to deepen connections with their communities and consumers. Thanks again to all the vendors, panelists, sponsors and individuals who put this Summit together. We can’t wait to see you again next year!