F**k the Formula: How to tell an authentic brand story with Adidas, Whoop, Tod’s and Brooklyn Brewery

In the era of economic uncertainty with the relentless rise of automation and AI, traditional marketing methods are becoming increasingly obsolete. The solution? Saying ‘F**k the Formula!’ and utilizing strategic marketing methods to stand out from the crowd, create an online presence to be reckoned with and, ultimately, boost ROI. 

At our F**ck the Formula event in New York, Caitlin Halpert, VP of Growth at Journey Further, sat down with Stu Gower from Adidas, Tatiana Kuzmowycz from Whoop, Carli Bainbridge from Brooklyn Brewery, and Stacie Henderson from Tod’s to discuss the ever-changing industry landscape. Read along for key panel takeaways.

Expert panellists discuss authentic brand storytelling:

Understanding your brand pillars and DNA

Stacie Henderson from Tod’s Group emphasized the importance of knowing your brand’s pillars and DNA. For Tod’s, this includes Italian craftsmanship and timeless pieces. “When you start there, and look at that brand DNA, that’s the foundation”, Stacie said. “Then you’re able to take brand DNA and leverage it across all kinds of things.” She highlighted that a clear understanding of these core elements allows for consistent messaging across all channels.


Repetition and focus in branding

Tatiana Kosmowitz from Whoop underscored that branding is about repetition and focus. Consistency is achieved by frequently reiterating the brand’s core messages across various channels. This approach ensures that the brand’s identity remains intact while tailoring the message to different audiences. Tatiana said: “Consistency comes down to your pillars. Are you focused on understanding them? Are you repeating them often across every touch point? And then at the end of the day too, it’s taking learnings from every channel that you have to see if there are common threads between them so that you can continue to breed that consistency in understanding what’s working.”


Authenticity and representation

Stu from Adidas discussed the importance of authenticity and representation. He noted that Adidas aims to be representative in all its storytelling, ensuring that its content resonates with diverse audiences. “Adidas believes that through sport, we have the power to change lives. For us, it’s really about being representative and making sure that we’re driving affinity with the audience”, Stu shared while insisting that authenticity is key to maintaining a genuine connection with consumers.


Balancing brand and performance

Stu also addressed the challenge of balancing brand building and performance marketing. While metrics and data points are crucial, it’s essential not to let them stifle creativity. Investing in understanding consumer insights can lead to more effective campaigns that balance storytelling with performance goals.


Leveraging data for storytelling

Tatiana from Whoop explained how data can inform storytelling. Whoop relies heavily on data, both from its product and marketing efforts, to craft compelling stories. Data is not just numbers but a narrative that can enhance brand storytelling and resonate with the audience.


Word-of-mouth and community engagement

Carly Bainbridge from Brooklyn Brewery highlighted the importance of word-of-mouth and community engagement. She shared how Brooklyn Brewery’s partnerships with local communities and activists have fostered authentic connections and storytelling. These efforts go beyond mere marketing, aiming to support and amplify community voices. “Brooklyn has been partnering with the Stonewall Inn and the Stonewall Inn gives back initiative here in New York City for seven plus years”, Carly shared. “They actually came to us and said would you brew a beer with us? We were like, absolutely. Hell, yeah. But what we did, first of all, was a lot of the work internally. We asked, how do we authentically make sure we have the right hiring practices to foster a sense of inclusion and diversity? And then we embarked on the partnership with Stacy and Curt over at the Stonewall Inn.”


Company structures and transparency

The panel also discussed the need for internal collaboration and information sharing. Tatiana mentioned that Whoop ensures that consumer insights and data are shared across the entire marketing team. This practice enables different team members to leverage these insights in ways that best suit their specific channels, creating a cohesive and effective marketing strategy.
Creating seamless experiences across channels
Stu from Adidas stressed the importance of putting the story at the heart of everything and building from that core. Ensuring that content is not just visually consistent but also provides depth across different channels is crucial. This approach helps in creating a seamless experience for the audience, whether they encounter the brand through paid or organic channels.


Want more?

Read our top takeaways from the fire-side chat with Duncan Smith, Chief Product Officer at Journey Further, and Matt Britton, go-to consumer trend analyst and CEO of Suzy, consumer intelligence software company.

We hosted F**k the Formula in London too. Check out key learnings from our conversation with Richard Shotton, behavioral scientist, and panel talk with experts from Papier, Vinterior, Lick and Grind.