The Game Changer

Consider the Game, Changed.

Email marketers, rejoice!

Email marketers, rejoice!

Sales Assistant With Credit Card Reader On Digital TabletWe’ve been inundated with brands since we could first recognize images and shapes. We’ve been surrounded by taglines and logos for most of our lives. Most small children can recite a company’s commercial jingle or tagline and even recognize it’s logo (golden arches, anyone?). But does these things THE brand? No, they are representatives of the brand. Logos, colors, taglines, characters are all elements of the brand that help consumers recognize the company they are interacting with or experiencing. It is not necessarily the brand itself.

The brand is the emotional response a consumer experiences when hearing the brand’s name. It is the memory that pops into their minds when passing by its store or seeing its ad while browsing online. It is something that is intangible. This is why companies are focused on ensuring their brands are well received, protected, and managed appropriately. One bad experience by a customer can officially taint the brand. It is much more difficult for a brand to regain a lost customer than it is for it capture a new one. All companies are aware that customer retention is what keeps their sales numbers up more than gaining new customers.

As of lately, companies have shifted their focus on to customer experience. Providing a total experience for the consumer at every touchpoint that the consumer interacts with the brand. This is how a brand ensures that the brand message received by the consumer is one that the brand itself has created and desires. It allows brands to be more in control of the ‘brand’ that consumers create for their company. Essentially, it sets the stage for the emotion, the mood, and the memory that the consumer experiences. From how customer service interacts with a customer to the feeling a person has when in-store. It’s what Disney has excelled at. From the moment you begin to interact with Disney, you start to live the experience of the brand they want you to have. Stepping into the park, the familiar characters walking around, the rides that are connected to the films/tv shows/stories. It is all created by Disney and experienced by the consumer. It is consistent. The ‘magical’ element is something Disney works hard to ensure each person experiences in their theme parks. That’s how a company controls its brand – uniformity in experience across each touchpoint.

For small businesses looking to truly set themselves a part from their competition, create a strategy that connects your company with the brand you desire. Create THAT experience. Give the consumer something special each time they connect with your brand. Be the generator of the emotional response they receive when interacting with your brand. That’s how you position yourself to be a force in your industry and gain the market you desire.

Sheena Hunt | CEO & Marketing Strategist | Empowered Strategy

Empowered Strategy is a boutique branding and marketing agency based in St. Louis, MO. We are focused on creating comprehensive strategies for brands that allow them to reach their consumers while remaining authentic to who they are as a company. We have a very unique focus in our business of being able to provide the African American experience in our strategies. What does that mean? We create strategies for brands that are looking to reach the urban and African American audience while remaining respectful of the culture and recognizing that neither group is a monolith or exists in a vacuum. We not only create strategies but will (if desired) work with a brand to implement each step of the strategy. We love branding. We love marketing. We believe in changing the game for a brand in its industry. Consider the game, changed.



We’ve seen this before. Social media platforms slowly making changes to their algorithms to move popular posts to the top of an user’s newsfeed instead of placing them in reverse chronological order. Facebook did it in 2009. Twitter followed suit in February (much to the dismay of a lot its users), and now we see Instagram, a Facebook-owned entity doing the same.

What’s changing? Well, the most popular posts by users will begin to populate at the top of the timeline for the user based on what Instagram believes the user wants to see. No longer will the timeline only be in reverse order allowing users to look at what someone he/she follows posted 5 minutes ago then 10 minutes, but rather now its what had the most likes, comments, views, or relationship appearing first. Instagram phrases as it as ‘the moments you care about most.’ Well, okay. I guess you can think for me now (not really, but whatever).

What does this mean for brands? Just like the Facebook change, it’s not an entirely bad thing. If it’s based on a posts engagement and its a brand that the user is following and actually interacts with, it gives brands an opportunity to be top of mind even more so for that user. On Instagram, users that are following brands usually do have an actual interest in the brand and may actually favor the content. Also, it filters it out more so if Brand A posts 5 minutes ago and Brand B posts 6 minutes ago, but the user is more engaged with Brand B then that brand gets a better position in the timeline than Brand A.

There are its downsides as well. Users may not interact at all or minimally with brands they follow. Well, those may not be at the top of the timeline even though they just recently posted. Could force marketers to be more creative and engaging with their content on Instagram (which usually is the case anyway) to increase engagement.

This change isn’t all bad. It’s all in how you look at it. So let’s see how this plays out with Instagram.

Sheena Hunt | CEO and Marketing Strategist | Empowered Strategy

Boutique branding and marketing agency based in St. Louis, MO. We are focused on creating amazing, creative, and strategic content for clients that grab the attention of the consumer and drive sales. A great strategy is key to moving the needle in business and that’s what we do. We’re game changers. So, consider the game changed.

African American Buying Power

“African-Americans—at 44 million strong and approximately 14.2% of the country’s population—make up a powerful group with a growing impact on American culture and business.” -Nielsen

Screen capture courtesy of

The African-American population is by far one of the most influential and diverse cultures in the world. We hold significant buying power in this country. So with this power we possess what can we do with it as a people? The options are limitless just in the market alone we could flex our buying influence to push for change in government, in employment; it could also create a bridge between social injustice. Those are just a few areas that could be focused on. But we will discuss the lackluster that many companies have when it comes to marketing to the African-American culture. While 81% of blacks believe that products advertised using black media are more relevant to them, less than 3% ($2.6 billion) of $69.3 billion spent on television, magazine, Internet and radio advertising focused specifically on black audiences (Nielsen).

You would think that whomever is making the decisions in the boardroom would see that African-Americans possess  buying power and would gravitate and focus on this group a little more. Wouldn’t you think? Statistics reveals that 30% of African-Americans are more likely to believe diversity in advertising is important, and 38% are more likely to make a purchase when advertisements have African-American people included (Nielsen). I would stand to say that this stem from the lack of diversity in the boardroom resulting in less money being spent in the area of a valuable shopping group. Until inclusive, diverse thoughts are present at the table in the boardroom, with genuine engagement with the decision making in allocations of funds in marketing, there will always be a disconnection to the buying power of the world the African-Americans.

M.L. Hunt, COO of Empowered Strategy

Brand Strategist

Not all marketing should be in-house

Big Brands: Use your in-house marketing team for brand management and hire agencies to compete in the marketing landscape

Marketing is changing at lightening speed. As quickly as technology changes and new applications become available, so does the marketing landscape. From the advent of social media, to live video stream to content marketing and beyond, marketing is evolving and there is no slow-down in sight.

Brands are fumbling to keep up. There is now a need for data analysts, content writers, statisticians, as well as creatives at major brands. Yet, the talent is minimal. Due to this being a recent phenomena in marketing, universities and other institutions of higher learning was not prepared with such majors or prepping students. Now brands must look to the math, english, journalism, and other majors to fill the void that exists within their departments.

But is this necessary? Brands need to change their focus and fast. Instead of looking to hire a new type of talent within their organizations, they should look to marketing agencies to fill the void. Marketing agencies are focused on what’s happening in marketing and projecting what will happen in marketing. We are prepping and changing with the evolution as quickly as it happens. Being the most agile, it makes more sense for brands to turn to us to help them remain strong in marketing.

As a strategist, I am baffled that brands are slow to move to this thought. In order to remain competitive, it is a smart tactic to focus on your strengths and harnessing it to remain competitive and ensure quality control. It’s that old ‘do what you do best’ mindset. Hire outside consultants and agencies to transform your marketing and take it to the next level keeping on track of what’s changing and putting brands ahead of competition in communication with customers.

We love what we do. We keep connected and locked into what happening in our industry. We focus on where it’s going and how brands can leverage the changes. It’s what WE do best. We know the markets that brands to need to hone in on. We know how these markets are using different forms of media and how they connect with brands. We know what their interests are. It is our job to know.

So, brands, focus on your product or service and making it the best it can be. Let us focus on how you communicate it to your market and stay in front of them. It’s our specialty.

Sheena Hunt | CEO of Empowered Strategy

Twitter: @sheenad1

From our CEO: Spread Love

In the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris, my heart is heavy and my mind is baffled. Watching in real time as terror unfolds in Pray for Parisone of the world’s most beautiful and scenic cities, I couldn’t help but wonder if there is a possibility of hope on the horizon. It seems there is a marked increase in the amount of violent attacks and hatred spewed around the world nowadays.

From Paris to Beirut, to Baghdad and Mizzou – hatred in all forms need to be eradicated. Everyone should feel comfortable and safe to live their lives. Everyone should feel welcomed and loved. No matter the form of attack, hatred is hatred. It breeds itself. We need to push it out by showing love for one another and showing ourselves selfless.

It’s beyond time for a change of heart.

Our thoughts and prayers are with those affected by the Paris, Beirut, and Baghdad attacks. Our prayers are with the people around the world that live with marginalization, microaggressions, and direct attacks.

We give our prayers.

Let’s spread love.

Love always,


The Age of Personalization in Branding The Age of Personalization in Branding


Sitting at my desk, snacking on a Snickers bar I noticed that they had a new marketing campaign underway. On the front of my candy bar, where there used to exist the ‘Snickers’ name, is now a description of a ‘mood.’ My bar said Irritable. Above the
descriptive word is a question – ‘Who are you when you’re hungry?’

IMG_3002This was my first time having a Snickers bar in quite some time, but I wasn’t surprised by this new packaging. For the past few years, Snickers has focused a lot in their TV advertisements on the ‘Who are you when you’re hungry?’ campaign. We see the NFL players as singing divas, we see Brady Bunch kids as rock stars… So a natural progression would be to update the packaging as a part of the campaign.

Over the past year or two, we have seen an increase in personalization in direct advertisement. Coca Cola really took off with this with their ‘Share a Coke’ campaign. Then we see the team personalized beer cans from Anheuser Busch. Personalization, rather it be a name, an emotion, or a team, is a marketer’s way to appeal more to their market. By making their consumers feel like they are a part of the brand. It’s a twist on what we see digitally in email personalization and on websites with behavior based, personalized retargeting.

Personalization is key to successful marketing in the future digitally. For a quick boost in sales, it has shown to work quite well for brands in packaging. Can’t wait to see who incorporates personalized packaging next.

Oh and if you’re wondering if the ‘Irritable’ mood describes me when I’m hungry, that’s a definite YES.

By: Sheena Hunt

Twitter: @SheenaD1


Fashion marries Technology: Enter the realm of Wearables

Continuing our focus on fashion in branding and marketing – we are touching on wearable technology and what’s happening in the fashion industry.

Ralph Lauren has once again displayed why the brand is refusing to give up in the fashion industry! Ralph Lauren presents the

Image courtesy of
Image courtesy of

Polotech shirt. By far one of the most advanced garments that actually is fashionable that could be paired with amazing pieces. “It would be foolish not to play in this game, it is where the world is going,” said Mr. Lauren. who is a son of company founder Ralph Lauren. A few other smart shirts exist but have been marketed mostly by big sports brands like Adidas or smaller, niche performance brands. In my opinion this is a great shift within the fashion community to merge smart technology with high end fashion. RL’s pairing with Apple is a win-win situation and ingenious. The Polotech shirt can be linked with both the Apple Watch and the iPhone.

Ralph Lauren is marking a milestone surrounding technology and apparel. Lauren states that “This is our Porsche 918, our ultimate shirt that is going to halo Polo Sport,” said Mr. Lauren.  When there is a need for a disturbance and game-changing moment you have to bring out the big guns. While technology evolves on a daily basis our now fashion has caught on and is jumping on the wearables bandwagon.  In order to stay a factor you have to not only think outside the box you actually have to create a totally new box with no walls.

With the fast emergence of the digital world paired with fitness it began to be obvious that fashion had to step it up. We can say that workout apparel has evolved with becoming more durable and athletically correct with movements of the body. We see it with the perspiring warming up cooling down fabrics that absorb perspiration and keep the muscles at optimum  temperature to avoid injury.  Polotech is the stepping stone to fashion marrying technology. The Ralph Lauren brand has plans on expanding the new platform to the women apparel as well as suits, ties etc. I look forward to the advancement and wait in anticipation and excitement. This too shall hit the great runways of Paris, Milan, New York, St.louis and many other important fashion districts. Until then keep it professional, productive and classy!

Mario Hunt | COO | Empowered Strategy

Ramping up for the Holiday Season

Well, it’s October and brands are beginning to look toward the holiday season and launch promotions. Okay, so most retailers begin working on their promotionals in late summer to get ahead of the curve in anticipation Snow Man Folding a Wooden Sale Signfor the season. By that time they have a good gauge of what their break even point will be and what they will need to do to drive sales and push them into the black. The time is now when we start to see what those promotionals look like for different brands across industry.

But for those that are just now beginning to focus on creating those promos, it’s a good idea to start by following this quick and dirty outline:

  1. Look at the financials and recognize what kind of impact you need from those sales.
  2. Set a realistic goal that you want your marketing efforts to provide.
  3. Focus on what items/services will be promoted in the campaign.
  4. Determine what platform will best fit the promotional of said items/services.
  5. Develop a voice, creative content, and drive excitement around  it.

Follow through the campaign to determine effectiveness. Do a little A/B testing to determine which iteration of the campaign is proving to be more valuable. Analyze your data and drive for results.

Cheers to a successful holiday promotional season!

Sheena Hunt | CEO | Empowered Strategy

Twitter @SheenaD1

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