5 Lessons from My Recent Brand Strategy Guest Lecture

This past Tuesday (4 October 2016), I was invited to guest lecture on brand strategy for the Chicago Urban League’s Entrepreneurship Development Program. It was an amazing experience that I am happy to say went extremely smooth. Here’s my recap.


Speakers and lecturers have always intrigued me. I love the energy they give off, the power to command a room and how passionate they are about their message. They exhibit many of the attributes that make up iconic brands. I have looked up to speakers as idols and mentors.

One of my favorite speakers is Tony Robbins. The way he captivates his audience and brings out positive qualities in people is an incredible skill. Podcasters have also been moving into the speaking arena. Favorite podcasters that I heard speak at Podcast Movement 2016 include Kate Erickson, John Lee Dumas, and Dr. Shante Bishop. All are excellent presenters delivering powerful messages.

This past Tuesday, I got an opportunity to captivate, inspire, teach, and coach a set of students. I was both excited and nervous. I was tasked with delivering a 3-hour class covering brand strategy and creating a solid brand foundation. To prepare, I began to think about what makes brands powerful. Brands are made up of a big dream, a plan to get there, and a broad set of beliefs. Brands that clearly define these components are able to move quicker, make key decisions faster and relate to their audience better. Brands that have these components can quickly assess whether a new product line, service, or brand to acquire fits within their culture.

I led the class through the five pillars that form a rock-solid foundation. These pillars include the vision statement, mission statement, brand promise, core values, and guiding principles. The outcome at the end of the class was for each student to have a clear understanding of each pillar, why they are critical to any organization and to develop their own for their company. It was a big task, but in the end, each student came away with a new take on brand strategy, a new understanding of how it applies to their business, and statements and lists that can be refined and improved upon.

Five Lessons From My Experience

1. Validation My Content is Valuable

I think we have all been there — we get in our heads and talk ourselves down our skills, knowledge, or the fact that others could benefit from what we have to share. Teaching this 3-hour course validated the content I have been researching and compiling for months now. It is a good feeling — and there will be some exciting products launches coming soon because of it!

2. What is Old to You, is New to Others/h3>
 Being heavily involved in corporate strategy, brand strategy, and change management, it is easy to assume that others know the same information. In reality, what is familiar to you is most likely unfamiliar to others. Take advantage of that and share your knowledge. They will be glad to learn from you, and you can provide great value.

3. Many Only Understand Generalities and Stereotypes

My class was on brand strategy and developing a foundation from which to launch an organization. The first thing I did was to debunk four major myths about brands. The class had it in their minds that branding was only about colors, logos, and tag lines. The truth is, those surface elements are the result of strategies being developed, tested, and executed. When I explained BrandedWorld’s take on brand strategy and why it suddenly began to click. The class was then more open to learning this new information.

4. Use Activities to Help Students Retain the Information

When planning to deliver the class, I thought a lot about the experience of the class and the outcomes I wanted each student to have at the end of the session. I started off the lecture having the class free-write listing keywords that describe their organization. This got them invested in the class and thinking immediately. I then used this activity to scaffold to the other activities throughout the class. Weaving and referring back to the first activity helped to tie the content together.

5. Lectures Can Deliver Good Content; 1-on-1 Coaching is How Content Can be Applied

Throughout the lecture, I gave the students time to craft their own statements that we would then discuss and refine. During these writing activity periods, I would help students individually to answer questions and give them ideas on how they could improve their statements. I loved the feeling of helping so many students across so many different industries, serving very different target audiences.

Overall, guest lecturing for the Chicago Urban League was a fantastic opportunity and one that has allowed me to grow as a speaker, trainer, teacher, and consultant. I was asked to teach the same class in the Spring. I am looking forward to it!

Originally published at BrandedWorld.co.