5 Takeaways for Brands from Create & Cultivate Chicago

  • August 31, 2018
  • Carly Ilvento

I had the empowering opportunity to attend Create & Cultivate’s 2018 Chicago Conference. This one-day event overflowing with branding, content strategy, and integrated marketing perfection featured intense knowledge shares from some of our industry’s bravest and brightest. Now, I’m sharing my top five takeaways with all of you.

Success starts with you and you alone.

In order to achieve success, you need to start with a goal you want to reach. You can’t place an online order for success and watch it come to your door using the Domino’s pizza tracker. “If somebody else is doing it, why can’t you?” Speaker, actress, producer, and influencer, Shay Mitchell, posed this question to a star struck crowd of empowered female professionals at C&C (Create & Cultivate). This is a challenging question that too many people are scared to answer because the right answer requires hard work, and lots of it. According to Zapwater Communications SVP, Jennifer Lake, you have three P’s to push you through to become better than others doing the same dang thing you’re doing: Passion, Prestige, and Profitability. Get to pushing your boundaries and pushing yourself, it will make those who work with and for you do the same. Say, “Hello!” to your dream team.

“You can’t beat hard work, even if you copy it.” ­– Alli Webb, Create & Cultivate Keynote Speaker, Founder and CCO of Drybar


Teamwork does indeed make the dream work.

According to Lori Wright, General Manager of Microsoft Office Collaboration Apps at Microsoft, the first rule of building and working with a top-notch team is, “be the coach, not the boss.” In order to surround yourself with people who do the best work and make you feel confident, they have to want to work with you first. Make sure everyone knows their role on the team or project and stays in their lane. This makes all of your jobs a lot easier. Because people are quick to notice mistakes instead of successes, call out the positives of the process that is campaign and content creation and the collaborative works that comes as a result.  Once that’s all fine and dandy, hire people who are killer at what they do and complement the skills of others on the team. Not sure who to bring on? Mallory Pilcher, Marketing Director of Stumptown Coffee Roasters and C&C mentor, says, “Think about who’s going to think about the campaign or project differently or who has experienced it before.” Different client and project histories on your team lead to a variety of content, which leads to reaching optimal consumers who engage with that content.

Customer focus is key.

Pinterest CEO, Ben Silbermann says, “If you’re going to be obsessed with anything, you should be obsessed with the people who use the product.” Users love to follow and engage with content from brands that are authentic and personable. That should be your mantra when brainstorming and planning your brand’s content. Know your audience. The message you want to get across to them will then come easily. As April Vitkus, Senior Director of Global Brand Marketing at Vans said at C&C, “Go where your consumer goes.” The content you create will follow right behind you.

Tell your brand story and execute that story perfectly.

At the end of the day, consumers want the following questions answered: “What’s this product or feature going to do for me? How is it going to solve my problem?” You and your team know what you want the takeaway to be from the content you promote. However, when you promote that product, service, or whatever your little heart desires, you have to consider a few things that SVP of Global Marketing at Living Proof, Anne-Marie Kline, shared with C&C attendees: “What’s the one line or visual cue the consumer is going to remember? What’s the one thing that’s going to identify your brand?” If your intended takeaway and that of your audience don’t match up, it’s time to pivot and perfect that content design or message. Only then can your brand authenticity and consumer obsession shine through.

“Every time I walk into a room, you may not know why I’m there. When I leave, you’ll know why I was there.” – Jennifer Hudson, Create & Cultivate Keynote Speaker, singer, and actress


You could say I learned a ton. You could also say what I heard from these self-made, creatives only solidified what I (and most of us) already know: You will only work with the best people if you are the best leader. A top-notch team creates top-notch content when they know the person on the other side of the screen. Your content only speaks to that person when all of the above are working as a well-oiled machine.

Attended #createcultivatechi and want to tell us your “Ah-ha!” moment? Give us a shout out on social at @heyINKco!

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