EverythingCU.com "Triple B" Event Keeps CU Eyes on Brand
PORTLAND, Ore. - It was all about the brand at EverthingCU.com's first unique event held here called Branding, Bonding & Brew: A Total Brand Immersion Experience. "We didn't think of this as a conference at all," said Everything CU.com Chief Experience Officer Morriss Partee. "In essence we started from scratch and focused on the brand- instead of holding it at a generic hotel sitting in a room and you can't tell whether you are in Columbus or Duluth we wanted attendees to be surrounded by brand. It was more than just talk but experiencing the brand difference and going on field trips to reinforce it as well." Wanting to create a more intimate learning environment, attendance was limited to a maximum of 35 with participants staying at McMenamin property the Kennedy School, for an intensive two and a half days of total brand immersion. A converted elementary school, each room had a theme, many of which were based on children's nursery rhymes. "It was great because they were experiencing first-hand the power and emotion of a brand and what a great brand feels like," said Partee. "It was easy to come up with the maximum of 35 since the hotel only has 35 rooms. The feedback for this first event has been so wonderful and attendees kept telling us how much they loved how intimate it was and how it encouraged everyone to really get to know each other." Everyone attending the event became known as a gnome, and was assigned a gnome number. Partee says attendees had so much fun with this idea that they began referring to themselves by gnome number (G01, G02, etc.) Featured speakers included Dr. Lynda Falkenstein, author of Nichecraft, Branding Guru Denise Wymore and youth marketing phenomenon and brass|media Founder Bryan Sims. Kicking off the event was a video parody on the Blair Witch Project called the The Blair Niche Project, which demonstrated brand principles through the humorous tale of a group of marketers being chased by gnomes. The group eventually ends up teaching the gnomes about other powerful brands. In addition to workshops ranging from the need for stronger credit union brands and the importance of niche and understanding the target audience to better understand their worldview, to the importance of reputation and word-of-mouth in today's connected world, tours through such noted brands as Niketown and Umpqua Bank provided more lessons. "Portland is a city full of intriguing brands and for this first event we tried to focus on just a few popular brands so that we could learn the strategy, methodology and techniques that helped make them so powerful," said Partee. "For example Umpqua Bank is a wildly successful Oregon brand that has completely redefined the customer banking experience. We had a guided tour of the Lovejoy store, which is a retail environment that has transformed traditional ideas of what a banking experience should be." Partee says plans are underway for another branding event in the near future. "There is a very real sense of we can't think how to top this so the next one has to be something new on its own merits," said Partee. "We're excited because we are opening it up to the EverythingCU.com community and asking if they have any fantastic brands in their backyards." Some of the cities under consideration for next year include Baltimore, since it houses one of Partee's personal favorite brands-the Baltimore Orioles-or Burlington, Vermont for tours of Ben & Jerry's ice-cream but nothing is set in stone.