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Tips From The Top: One On One With Leanne Fremar

I spoke to Leanne Fremar, Chief Brand Officer for JPMorgan Chase, about her journey and best advice

Adam: Thanks again for taking the time to share your story and your advice. First things first, though, I am sure readers would love to learn more about you. What is something about you that would surprise people?

Leanne: I’m known for healthy eating, but there is one food I can’t resist: pizza. I love the endless variations and the subtle nuances found in the classics. Naples is my favorite place in the world to enjoy a good pizza. 

Adam: How did you get here? 

Leanne: Over the course of my career journey, I’ve discovered my three core passions are: 

1) The consumer – focusing on the customer and delivering value for them.

2) Problem solving – using creativity to solve a pain point in the marketplace for the customer.

3) Strategic vision – having a clear mission on what we’re working towards.

It’s fulfilling when my work is focused on these areas and I pursue roles and brands that prioritize them—it’s led me to where I am today. 

Adam: What experiences, failures, setbacks or challenges have been most instrumental to your growth?

Leanne: Early on in my career I had incredible exposure to the strong visionary founders at Ralph Lauren, Under Armour and Starbucks, to name a few. I admired their ability to have their creativity and marketing expertise materialized into powerful global brands. 

I noticed at the time I didn’t see a lot of female leaders modeling what I wanted for my career. It sparked a fire in me to aspire to being where I am today, a Chief Brand Officer. 

Adam: What are the most important attributes of an effective Chief Brand Officer? 

Leanne: Vision for where you and the organization are going is crucial. It’s important to be able to help your team and the teams you work with to understand how we are incrementally driving towards the end result in measurable ways. 

Adam: How are you evaluated?

Leanne: As a marketer, I’m ultimately evaluated by the consumer. The outcome we’re driving towards is for the customer to respond well to our products, services, environments, messages and experiences. And as a leader, I’m evaluated by my team. Creating a place where people feel seen, heard and excited about what they’re doing is critical – and measurable.

Adam: How are the Chase, J.P. Morgan and JPMorgan Chase brands measured? 

Leanne: We have an array of ways to measure brand health across our family of brands: Chase, J.P. Morgan and JPMorgan Chase. On an ongoing basis, it includes regular feedback from customers, employees and potential customers. 

Adam: Can you talk about the brand strategy for Chase, J.P. Morgan and JPMorgan Chase?

Leanne: Our primary brand strategy is to ensure that consumers and businesses alike who work with us experience the values and strengths that our family of brands represent. Bringing financial products, services and tools to market is the core of what we do, but our influence goes way beyond that in terms of the positive impact we can have on our customers and the communities we serve. 

Adam: How do you differentiate your brand from competitors offering very similar products and services? 

Leanne: Chase, J.P. Morgan and JPMorgan Chase are all iconic brands. The unique experiences we create for our customers with each of our brands are what drive the meaningful connection they have with us.  

Adam: What are three things everyone should understand about branding?

Leanne: 

1) It’s there to serve a purpose.

2) It’s better when it’s simple. 

3) It’s hard to do branding well. 

Adam: What are three things people who work in branding should understand?

Leanne: There are three key components to branding: know your customer, know your product and know what you’re trying to achieve. The brands who lead in the marketplace excel at all three.

Adam: What is your single best marketing tip?

Leanne: I’m a firm believer in three words as a marketer: know your customer. When you deliver well to your customer, it shows in the love they have for your brand. 

Adam: What is your best advice for those working at big organizations on how to best climb the corporate ladder?

Leanne: No matter where you are in a company, you have the power to make an impact. There is a quote from the Dalai Lama that has been on my mind a lot recently. “If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.”

My advice is to take ownership of your role by delivering terrific results, building a strong network and being a great person to work with. These are qualities companies look for in their future leaders. 

Adam: What is your best advice for entrepreneurs and those working at small businesses on how to cultivate relationships and sell to large companies?

Leanne: My advice is two-fold: create a product that solves for a consumer pain point and demonstrate how that solution can scale. 

Adam: In your experience, what are the defining qualities of an effective leader? 

Leanne: Effective leaders value vision, humility, empathy and inclusion. A leader with vision gives the team direction and the feeling they are contributing to something larger. Humility and empathy make a leader approachable and create a strong culture of idea sharing and collaboration. And inclusion offers everyone a seat at the table. I’m a firm believer the best ideas come from diverse teams where everyone has the opportunity to reach their full potential.   

Adam: How can leaders and aspiring leaders take their leadership skills to the next level?

Leanne: Solicit balanced feedback from colleagues at all levels. You’ll hear where you’re strong and also get a better sense of how you can improve. The best leaders embrace both kinds of feedback and seek to apply it to their development journeys. 

Adam: What is the single best piece of advice you have ever received?

Leanne: Let the work speak for itself. Focus on the things that will drive a positive outcome for the business as a whole, not just what will drive a positive impact for you as an individual. 

Adam: What is one thing everyone should be doing to pay it forward?

Leanne: Hold the door open for the person behind you. It’s important to use your platforms to hire people from communities that are underrepresented. Institutions can have programs and initiatives at a macro level, but at a micro level, we have to hold ourselves accountable as individuals to do what we can to change the landscape for the better. Don’t just talk, DO!

Adam: Is there anything else you would like to share? 

Leanne: Every day is your responsibility as a leader to come to work as an optimist.

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