#REACH2014 – Brand and Storytelling Power: Eric Hermelee ’89

(By ANEESH RAI)

“I’m not selling videogame consoles, I’m selling fun.” so began Eric Hermelee’s presentation on Brand and Storytelling Power. Building off of the opening keynote address by Ms. Hansen, Mr. Hermelee addressed three main points – building a successful brand, using the art of storytelling, and what it means to work at a company as a brand manager, a role Mr. Hermelee described as being the “chef of the brand”.

He discussed his early career as a journalist, which was fuelled by his passion for storytelling, and also recanted tales from his days at IBM, an example of the ‘client side of agency business’. The highlight was discussing his current endeavors working in “the fun and happiness part of Microsoft” – XBox. He presented an advertisement from the XBox One campaign to give the audience a taste of what goes into building a brand. He also engaged the students in an interactive activity, where he presented brand claims from some well-known advertisements, and the audience had to identify the brand solely from the message. This elucidated the importance of the message a brand conveys.

 Branding has been around since ancient times, though it was originally used for purposes such as marking cows by Egyptians, and felons by British courts. Eric discussed the modern concept of branding and the various aspects associated with it, including brand experience – the feeling produced by a particular brand’s product, and brand resonance – self-identification with a particular product. On the topic of brand logos, he said “branding is not just a logo, though a logo is crazy-important”, and described how the logo-designers at Xbox treated their insignia like a treasure.

Mr. Hermelee also discussed the art of storytelling in advertising, which involves telling marketing stories that can connect with customers on an emotional level. He presented popular advertisements from the Nike and CocaCola campaign, and shared his guidelines for designing an effective marketing story.

He concluded by overviewing the responsibilities of a brand manager. He described several roles, such as figuring out the target customer, developing an expertise for one’s product to answer questions and meet customer’s expectations, and act as the overall “virtual quarterback” in the marketing realm. The main goal lies in accomplishing all the duties and meeting all the standards while still managing to deliver a great customer experience.

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