Melissa Seipel

In the latest episode of Marketing Tech Talk Widen CEO Matthew Gonnering sits down with Melissa Seipel. Melissa is the Senior Visual Brand Manager at Kerry, a global taste and nutrition company. She discusses strategic brand architecture, creative direction for Kerry’s visual brand, systems development for creative workflow and execution, and trends in design and branding.

At 1:02, Melissa tells the audience about her background. She started out by obtaining her bachelor’s degree in printing, painting and video filmmaking from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. After graduating she did a lot of studio work and commissioned pieces, but a lot of the artwork she did was working with toxic materials, so she started to explore her interest in graphic design. She ended up going to a two-year school for graphic and web design. Before working for Kerry she worked at a few different advertising agencies and in the museum community.

At 4:03, Melissa gives some insight into her role at Kerry as a Senior Visual Brand Manager. Melissa oversees the Kerry visual brand, which means she manages all aspects of Kerry’s visual identity. She oversees the graphic design team, trade show assets, print collateral, and anything else visual. She believes visual brand aspects are immensely important because this is usually the first touch point with the customer.

At 6:29, Melissa talks about Kerry’s desire to increase their brand equity. In the past, they hadn’t put much thought into it since they are a B2B business. This desire sparked from their customers having more of an interest in what Kerry represents and their value system, especially regarding sustainability and their carbon footprint. They also wanted to have a more polished brand like some of their competitors.

At 9:57, Melissa shares how she contributes to polishing the Kerry brand. It started with her evaluating what the brand’s state currently was. She did this by collecting all of the brand’s assets, such as the fonts that were being used, brochures, color palettes, essentially creating a big pile of brand collateral and evaluating that. After that, she understood it was going to take a lot of work to polish the brand. There wasn’t a sense of consistency throughout the brand among the different regions and they wanted to create a consistent brand globally.

At 11:30, Melissa elaborates on brand architecture and how it’s essential to every brand. It’s a system that provides guidance on what the typography looks like, what color palettes look like, photography, the tone and language of how you speak to your customers, etc. This whole system of brand architecture then starts to inform the brand guidelines.

At 12:45, Melissa gives advice for other companies who are looking to do a brand refresh. The first step is understanding why you’re doing the brand refresh in the first place. This is important because along your brand refresh journey you will want to make sure you’re hitting your target objectives for your overall goal. You’ll also want to understand how your customers and your employees view your company. A brand isn’t about what your company says it is, it’s about what your customers say it is – so it’s important that these two views align.

At 16:41, Melissa says she believes that the design function has gone a little bit under the radar and has been undervalued. She then talks about how designers can rise up and get greater visibility. She thinks companies need designers because they solve problems.

At 19:23, Melissa expresses that she doesn’t think standardization inhibits the design process. She thinks some of the design process needs to be standardized and it actually helps designers create more.

At 20:38, Melissa shares the technology that assists with the standardization process. One of her favorite technologies is Basecamp, which is a project management tool. She likes it because it’s very visually oriented, which works nicely for the design team (considering how they digest information). It’d be very hard for her team to live without this tool. They also use ShareFile, which helps them send large files.

At 23:40, Melissa talks about digital asset management (DAM) and how her team couldn’t live without their software, which is Widen. She feels that Widen has helped create evangelists within the company. A strong brand needs evangelists championing the brand. It allows all internal stakeholders to go into the DAM system and pull down Kerry branded assets, whether it be an icon, custom photography, a powerpoint presentation, etc. This is critical to Kerry’s brand.

At 25:15, After going over some of their productivity tools, Melissa goes over some of the other tools in use at Kerry. This includes their customer relationship management (CRM) tool, Salesforce, their social listening technology, Radian6, and their sharing technologies, YouTube and LinkedIn Elevate.

At 27:16, Melissa tells the audience how Kerry evaluates their marketing efforts. They use Google Analytics to collect data and measure data like conversions and click rates. She said one thing they didn’t do a great job at was benchmarking where the beginning was. It’s important to have a benchmark so you have something to compare it to in the future, otherwise, you can’t see what the change is.

At 28:24, Melissa discusses digital strategy and what that looks like for Kerry. It started with their website when they realized that their website was kind of useless for their customers. They’ve done a lot of research into what information their customers need and then they’ve been filling that void with content. She says that the digital strategy encompasses almost everything these days.

At 38:54, Melissa talks content strategy. She says they have many different types of customers, or personas, that look for information on their website. They are really trying to understand who their personas are and then trying to align the content to that. Along with figuring out the type of content, they have to figure out where to put that content as well.

At 40:45, Melissa shares what types of content are popular for Kerry’s audience. They have more video than ever on their site now because they find that people really enjoy video. They also have people requesting print assets after visiting the website, which is kind of shocking considering there is the misconception that print is dead due to the internet. They also do a lot of newsletters and their customers like them.

At 44:20, Melissa describes this concept that you see shapes first, then color and the last thing you see are words. That’s why some of the best logos are really simple, have bold colors, don’t have a complex shape and don’t contain a lot of text.

At 44:40, Melissa talks about a great book she recommends called Archetypes in Branding by Joshua C. Chen. The book lists multiple areas that people are thinking about when developing their brand. It also goes over characteristics that people resonate to when they resonate with a brand.

At 48:08, Melissa shares the trends she’s following and why she’s following them. Clean label and gluten free demands are the trends that consumers want. Consumers don’t want to see an ingredient on their food label that they don’t understand, they want clean ingredients like water, flour, sugar, etc. She also follows flavor trends, for example, sriracha was a flavor trend for awhile.

At 51:03, Melissa reveals the ways in which she learns. She likes to browse websites, listen to podcasts, and read (a lot). One of the podcasts she likes to listen to is Design Matters by Debbie Millman. One of the books she really likes is called Designing Brand Identity by Alina Wheeler. For websites, she likes Design Observer, Brand New, and she likes to look at Bored Panda sometimes.

At 53:07, Melissa takes audience questions.