ashley alleyne’s interview
Thank you so much for your time today, Ashley. Let’s jump right into it. So, what is your understanding of Branding?
My understanding of branding is that it’s about differentiation, showing people those intrinsic values or ways of execution that make you distinct from and better than your competitors, your alternatives, or whoever else is in the market.
Why did you join creative equals?
So many of the strategy departments I’d worked in were filled with similar people who had similar views and backgrounds, which led them to see similar challenges and solutions. As (usually the only) black gay man doing strategy in my teams, I had a different outlook, cultural references, and insights that shaped my recommendations for how brands should act and what they should embody.
But that wasn’t always accepted readily, so on top of providing a different perspective, I had to learn how to create the infrastructure and the room for that perspective, too. Then it turned out that I enjoyed shaping diverse agencies as much as core marketing strategy, and that’s where Creative Equals came in and allowed me to make the incidental job my intentional job.
So, what are some of the gaps in marketing that organizations need to pay attention to?
I think the gap that many people see in branding is DEI—understanding that your company has different uses/faces for different populations. When you decide who you are as a brand, it is also important to realize that a diverse population will see your brand, relate to your brand, and leverage your brand at different times in different ways, which will affect your marketing. So, when you start to create ads, you’ve already had DEI consideration from the brand level, and it doesn’t have to be this big readjustment at the marketing level.
“Brands should adopt an almost anthropological approach that’s profoundly qualitative and quantitative.“
How should brands position themselves in a market?
That’s a big one. I think it depends on the company but positioning yourself in a market requires a deep understanding of that market, so I think all brands should adopt an almost anthropological approach that’s profoundly quantitative and qualitative. There’s only so much you can learn from in front of a keyboard. I think that’s it. So, it will be different for every company and every brand, but what shouldn’t be different is the listening approach.
So, what would you say to a young upcoming brand architect?
Be aware that there’s a point where your individuality and perspective will become your USP. As a brand architect, there are certain things that you have to learn. You must be proficient in doing certain things, so go through a stage of getting the knowledge, the standards, and the ways of working that are consistent with your field.
But stay mindful that once you get that proficiency, it’ll flip. Suddenly your experiences, perspective, personal views, and positions will enrich all those basics you’ve learned. It’s about acquiring those standard skills, then bringing your own perspective and flavor on top of it, taking you to another level.
So, I think that’s it. Be aware of the line between alignment and differentiation and how much value your specific things can bring.
Wow. Thank you so much, Ashley. It was great having you.