Raleigh Drennon’s passion, in his own words, is using his creative abilities to help companies achieve success.
A former Wichita advertising executive, Drennon, 54, now is a partner at Agent, a branding and advertising agency based in Lincoln, Neb. On March 10, Brennon will give a talk on branding before the Wichita chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners.
Q. You believe branding is important for all businesses, large or small. What is branding, and why is it so important for a marketing plan?
A. At my agency, we work for large brands like Allstate Insurance, Boeing and AMC Theaters, but we also do a lot of branding for smaller companies. Anytime you’re in a competitive marketplace, it’s absolutely critical that you have your brand and what I call your promise of value defined. That message has to be consistent, not just through communication, but also the experience people have with your company. For doing just a few simple things – like defining your promise – you can get a big return on investment.
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Here, we define a brand as a promise that is made. That promise has to be authentic and honest. Then, it’s about applying that to every aspect of the business. It’s very worthwhile.
Q. Everyone knows how big social media is in our culture today. How big of a piece of the branding pie is social media marketing and engagement?
A. These days, digital and social are huge parts of branding. At Agent, we try not to think of social media, digital and online as different than any other aspect of (branding). It’s how people live and breathe these days, through these online social channels. Depending on what kind of company you are, social media will be used in different ways. Whether you’re talking about a business-to-business company or a more consumer-driven company, I don’t think there’s any business out there that shouldn’t be using social media to some extent. Social media is part of the fabric of society now.
Q. While you’re originally from Ohio, you moved to Kansas in the 1980s and spent nearly a decade in Wichita working for the Greteman Group ad agency before leaving for Lincoln and eventually starting Agent in 2013. What do you remember about your time in Wichita?
A. We still have a big client in Wichita, so we actually come to Wichita quite a bit. I’m probably there six times per year, so I don’t really feel like I’m apart from the city.
For a city its size, Wichita has always had a healthy advertising community, with aviation and other industries providing a great deal of opportunity for marketing and design agencies. Lincoln has become a hotbed for tech startups and innovation, with the University of Nebraska fueling a lot of that growth. Wichita has the same potential.
Q. What stops people from making a real effort to expand their brand?
A. A lot of people still think of branding as just a logo. People think it’s just a logo or a font, but it really is the very essence of everything that a business does and everything it relates to.
We talk about brand signals, which could be anything from a logo to customer service to product design. Branding is really simple – you just need a promise and then you have to communicate it consistently. People think it’s more difficult, but it’s really not.
Q. If a company’s brand takes a public relations hit – for whatever reason – can it ever truly recover? If so, how?
A. When a promise is broken, it can ruin a company, so it’s important that employees live and breathe that promise. Everyone can think of companies that have let them down. You may not ever do business with that company again in that case because they broke their promise. It can really take a radical change to fix that relationship.
If the promise is broken internally, nobody is going to believe it in the marketplace. It’s very important to get your employees to buy into it.
Raleigh Drennon on branding
What: The Value & Art of Branding
Who: National Association of Women Business Owners – Wichita
When: 11:30 a.m. March 10
Where: Realtors of South Central Kansas, 170 W. Dewey
Cost: $25 for nonmembers (includes lunch)
More info: Call Shirley Noah at 316-393-4577.