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Build Your Best Brand in Cincinnati

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Prior to announcing our sharpened focus for 2017, I spoke with several of our closest mentors, investors, and supporters to share the news with them and get their thoughts. Overwhelmingly, their responses sounded something like the following:

“It’s about time.”
“What took you so long?”
“This is a no-brainer.”

While there are various reasons this focus didn’t happen sooner, we’re all excited about the new direction. In the minds of most everyone in The Brandery network, our decision to recruit and invest in digitally native vertical brands (DNVBs) and the retail/marketing tech companies that support them was a long overdue one. However, a lot of folks outside our network may be wondering why this is; after all, what’s so special about a midwestern city like Cincinnati compared to similar business ecosystems on the west and east coasts?

Cincinnati is BrandHUB USA

More than anywhere else in the country, businesses here are equipped to build better brands. It started with Fortune 500 companies like Procter & Gamble, Kroger, and Macy’s establishing their headquarters in downtown Cincinnati. For a long time, these powerhouses developed incredibly strong internal organizations devoted to understanding their consumers, and thus built tremendous brand loyalty. Over time, these professionals went on to build independent agencies, consulting firms, and think-tanks dedicated to consumer marketing and branding. Today, Greater Cincinnati is home to more than 200 consumer product companies and upwards of 60,000 industry professionals, as well as several globally-renowned agencies. Nowhere else in the country can you find more consumer branding expertise per capita than right here in Cincinnati.

When The Brandery started in 2010, our goal was to leverage this unique and unfair advantage in developing the next great tech-enabled startups. Since 2010, we’ve paired each of our startups with an elite branding agency located here. These are agencies comprised of highly-talented professionals working with globally-recognized brands one day – then working with the young & hungry startups within our cohort the next.

It doesn’t stop with our agency partnerships; data science and analytics firms like Quotient (formerly Coupons.com), 84.51, The Nielsen Company, and others have all chosen to operate in Cincinnati because of the wealth of talent and customers they can find here. Many of our mentors work within these organizations, providing our startups with an intimate, insider’s knowledge of consumer understanding.

To be clear, branding is only one part of the equation. After all, what good is a solid brand and great customers if you can’t reach them? Being located in Cincinnati means easy access to 25 of the largest metro regions, over half of all US manufacturing establishments, and half of the US population. This is a major reason why Amazon is building their $1.5 billion Prime Air hub here, and why major logistics operations are locating here every month. This growth is perfect for small and up-and-coming retailers who may not be selling in brick-and-mortar yet and appreciate the ability to ship their products out quickly and efficiently.

If you’re a startup building the next great consumer brand or tech to support these brands, Cincinnati is the best place you can be. With more than 60,000 branding, marketing, and design experts within reach, The Brandery will help you accelerate your startup to success.

P&G Brings Thought Leaders in Digital Marketing to Annual Signal Conference

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Procter & Gamble has come a long way since making candles and soap at its inception nearly 180 years ago. Through repeated expansion and acquisition, the company now has a global presence, employing more than 110,000 and achieving annual sales close to $80 billion. In the age of unparalleled competition from stalwarts like Unilever, Colgate-Palmolive, and even CPG startups, how does one of the world’s most successful companies continue to innovate in the consumer packaged goods space? Their annual Signal conference may just have something to do with it.

Now in its fifth year, P&G executives launched Signal as a means of introducing their marketing & branding experts to industry thought leaders. This conference is open only to P&G employees and those who are lucky enough to snag an invitation; count the Brandery among the lucky few!

This year’s conference, entitled “Raising the Bar”, brought leaders from some of the decade’s hottest companies to P&G’s headquarters here in Cincinnati for a one-day, fast-paced master class in marketing and brand building.

Some of our favorite insights from the day:

“Technology is nothing without creativity.”
~ Mark Pritchard, P&G Chief Brand Officer

“Innovation is not top down, it’s bottom up. We must provide opportunities for young engineers to innovate.”
~ Daniel Zhang, The Alibaba Group Director and CEO

“We are experiencing a fourth industrial revolution. Every industry is being rewritten.”
~ Carolyn Everson, Facebook VP of Global Marketing Solutions

“Establish a relationship of openness when collaborating- encourage entire teams to work together.”
~ Julia Goldin, The Lego Group EVP/Global CMO

“Stop paying so much money for research! Get out there and do it yourself!”
~ Wendy Lea, Cintrifuse CEO

“The worst thing you can say is that we’re going to do things the way we always have.”
~ Steve Burke, NBC Universal CEO

Brandery P&G Fellows AdAdapted (2015) and ShopperBridge (2016) also took to the stage to share what their exclusive partnership with P&G has looked like over the past several months.

Want to see more from the event? Check out #SignalPG on Twitter. Thank you very much to P&G and to Stan Joosten for inviting the Brandery to be a part of this incredible day!

The P&G Fellowship: High-Potential Meets High-Powered

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One of the most interesting and unique aspects of The Brandery’s accelerator program is its focus on branding, design, and marketing. Leveraging the Cincinnati region’s marketing expertise has been a tremendous benefit to companies that have come through the accelerator, in many ways: access to world-class mentors, pro-bono work from some of the country’s leading branding agencies, and even the opportunity to partner with some of the area’s Fortune 500 companies (there are 10 of these Big Companies, or BigCos, as we call them). These partnerships are a great way for a startup to gain incredible traction and validation early in their development cycle, while building meaningful relationships with potential customers.

The Procter & Gamble Fellowship is one example of a partnership that The Brandery is able to provide to two high-potential startups that come through the accelerator. This program provides an incredibly unique opportunity for high-potential startups to advance their strategy and growth in a real-world environment. Past Brandery graduates who have been a part of this fellowship include Ahalogy, ChoreMonster, and AdAdapted.

“We’re thrilled about Procter & Gamble’s continued support of The Brandery and our startups,” Brandery Co-Founder Dave Knox said. “If you’re a startup looking to sell to marketers or work with CPG companies, there is not going to be a better opportunity to change the trajectory of your business.”

2015 Brandery members AdAdapted, a native advertising platform for mobile apps, participated in the fellowship last year, and launched their first pilot with P&G in December. Since then, they’ve brought a number of brands to their platform and are in the process of launching a second pilot. “With AdAdapted being in the AdTech industry, the ability to work directly with P&G was amazing,” Co-Founder Mike Pedersen had to say. “When it comes to advertising, they’re the gold standard. The fact that we were able to get mentorship and advice from people throughout the multiple areas of the organization was huge.”

If you’re a startup working in the area of Connected Products & Platforms, Brand Building & Commerce, and/or Big Data & Analytics, the Procter & Gamble Fellowship could be a great opportunity to grow your company even further. All Brandery applicants will be considered for the P&G Fellowship. Apply by April 29!