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“Why you should be patient.” With Dylan Garner

Be patient but open and flexible to new and various roles. I truly believe the world is moving away from 1 job for the next 25 years, instead, we need to be blends of people and industries to strengthen a new kind of economy. Be unafraid to insert your experience and knowledge to a different […]

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Be patient but open and flexible to new and various roles. I truly believe the world is moving away from 1 job for the next 25 years, instead, we need to be blends of people and industries to strengthen a new kind of economy. Be unafraid to insert your experience and knowledge to a different industry that’s how forward-thinking is fostered.


As part of our series about “Brand Makeovers” I had the pleasure to interview Dylan Garner

Dylan Garner, the creative director of Cohere, a branding agency that intersects design, food and impact. Still in her 20’s, she’s played a major role in branding culture and cities by strategizing, creating, writing, designing, and developing, unique brand solutions, alongside the incredible Cohere team.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit more. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I’d be glad to! First off, my name is Dylan Garner I’m a Creative Director at a branding agency called Cohere. Cohere is a national creative agency at the intersection of design, food, and place. We aim to unite these principles and industries around shared visions to transform the communities in which they exist. I support in leading the Philadelphia arm where the types of projects we work on can be abandoned spaces that, with a little love and care, can be reimagined and be a pinnacle of the neighborhood. In looking back on the path that led me here I recall always being a team leader in school and on the lacrosse field. We would set goals we wanted to achieve and together on creative solutions that bettered us all. To me teamwork, putting in the hard work and being okay with where the process takes you.

Can you share a story about the funniest marketing or branding mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

We work with a terrific client called HipCityVeg which serves vegan American classics. You would hardly know they are vegan it’s certainly bringing vegan food to the masses and bettering environment while doing so! Cohere has had the pleasure of working on HipCityVeg’s brand development, campaigns and store expansions for over 5 year! You can imagine there have been some mishaps, one, fairly vividly was when we were updating the brand identity and aiming to create a new secondary mark that could be applied to social profiles, blade signs and throughout marketing. A smaller symbol since HipCityVeg was a longer wordmark. One of our ideas, regrettably, was to use the acronym HCV. Why not? It’s short, sweet, great bold letters that would be legible small and large. Well, not the case. HCV is also an acronym for the Hepatitis C virus. Not quite the reputation we want to attach to when thinking about food none the less vegan food. Lesson learned to check back your research in the naming and use of acronyms.

Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Is there a takeaway or lesson that others can learn from that?

Absolutely, I and the Cohere team have been aiming to define a new, non-traditional type of agency. One that isn’t jaded by the typical stories and reputations of what it means to own, work or belong to an agency. Cut-throat, working insane hours, severely underpaid and a revolving door of talent. We aim to set ourselves apart by deeply caring for our employees, the work and clients we collaborate with and most recently, playing a deeper role in the industries of food, hospitality and florals. Sure are core competency is what an agency can do, branding, communicating and marketing on behalf a brand. But, now we also have our own family of brands in floral design and our latest venture food lab. The mission of the food lab is to bring local, quality meals to food deserts @Wendy Gordon maybe you can help here a bit based on press you might be writing for Foodlab/Cohere

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

We name a lot of the projects we work on. Which means we typically have to run names through trademarking too. Ensuring your name’s meaning is not only aligned to the project’s mission or need, it’s also essential it can be protectable and ownable amongst other companies

What advice would you give to other marketers to thrive and avoid burnout?

Be patient but open and flexible to new and various roles. I truly believe the world is moving away from 1 job for the next 25 years, instead, we need to be blends of people and industries to strengthen a new kind of economy. Be unafraid to insert your experience and knowledge to a different industry that’s how forward-thinking is fostered.

Ok, let’s now jump to the core part of our interview. In a nutshell, how would you define the difference between brand marketing (branding) and product marketing (advertising)? Can you explain?

Branding is your core story and personality. So, who you are, what you value, how that is communicated to your audience and what is your visual preference. Advertising is helps establish this story in the marketplace.

Can you explain to our readers why it is important to invest resources and energy into building a brand, in addition to the general marketing and advertising efforts?

Without a brand you have no plan. Your brand helps establish how you act and help in making decisions. At Cohere we constantly say is this on-brand, meaning does this meat our value system and apply to our needs and desire, or does it not. It’s the backbone of any endeavor!

Let’s now talk about rebranding. What are a few reasons why a company would consider rebranding?

Your business has grown into new sectors, new missions, or desire a new reputation.

Are there downsides of rebranding? Are there companies that you would advise against doing a “Brand Makeover”? Why?

Downsides can be you lose your market share or equity you’ve built within your network. Unless something extremely drastic happened, which I can’t even consider what that would be, Coca-Cola should most likely never rebrand. They have been a staple of the market and continue to refresh themselves time and time again in their campaigns.

Ok, here is the main question of our discussion. Can you share 5 strategies that a company can do to upgrade and re-energize their brand and image”? Please tell us a story or an example for each.

1. Ask your clients and employees what they think of your brand, do a brand audit. What’s working? What’s not? What opportunities should we take advantage of? These insights can be key to solutions that propel your brand forward amongst the rest. We always start projects off by understanding where opportunities lie in our clients project, what hasn’t been observed or discovered further?

2. Ask yourself what projects bring you the most joy? Which ones can you potentially do away with? This refocuses the types of clients, customers, projects you’d like to do more of. We did this a part of our own rebrand and it shed light on the industries we were most passionate about and who we’d like to better serve.

3. When’s the last time I reviewed my branding strategy, audience, differentiators and values? Time moves so quick. What got you here may not be what gets you there, wherever there maybe! Reassessing annually could yield micro improvements to better tell your story and surface ways to better serve your clients. I would caution, don’t do this too often as you don’t want to confuse your customer or client on what you are about. Micro updates are key to stay relevant but connected to your inner values.

4. Does my brand image match who I am today? Similarly, what visually could be done away or added to better communicate who you are as a company.

5. Find multifaceted talent. Find those people that can cross-pollinate different aspects of your brand or business. The unique blend of background, industry, the experience will bring fresh ideas to the health and growth of your brand. It may also attract new and different clients or customers to your services.

In your opinion, what is an example of a company that has done a fantastic job doing a “Brand Makeover”. What specifically impresses you? What can one do to replicate that?

My answer will always be Nike. They gracefully use their value system as a battle cry for others to join them through relevant topics of the ever-changing world. Always calling back to their slogan, Just Do It. The belief in something campaign with Kaepernick is still one of the most powerful ads I’ve seen. It’s received backlash on bringing social issues into advertising but to me, it’s exactly what the 21st-century ads should be communicating.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Currently, the Cohere team is working on becoming a sustainable partner in the City of Philadelphia, aiming to impact the zero-waste initiative. We are reducing our waste in buildings, the events we hold, engaging in new ways to print collateral for our clients being more thoughtful of how those materials will be recycled after they are used.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Always leave things better than they were. To me it’s not necessarily about the awards and recognition it’s more about the impact you leave on others, your industry, your neighborhood, community, and people. The pace in which things happen, new construction going up, is just insane. How can we ensure we are being thoughtful and careful in what we create to ensure what is developed will be lasting for the next generation.

How can our readers follow you online?

@dylieooo

@cohere-co

@ladieswinedesign_phl

Thank you so much for these excellent insights! We wish you continued

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