Forum to offer social media advice to companies

The host for this year’s Social Brand Forum believes the event will provide insight both for companies that already have an active social media presence and for those with a more fledgling social media presence. The Social Brand Forum is a social media conference which will bring national social media and digital marketing leaders to Eastern Iowa, according to the event’s website. The conference is designed to “help marketers at organizations small and large build better brands through online social media content, conversations and community,” according to the site. The two-day event will be held Oct. 24 and 25 at the Coralville Marriott as part of Creative Week, a series of events aimed at highlighting local entrepreneurs and ideas developed in the region. The week runs from Oct. 19 to 26. “When I talk about it, I always show a slide of the astronaut planting the flag on the Moon,” said Nick Westergaard, host of the Social Brand Forum and chief brand strategist and founder of Brand Driven Digital. “A lot of businesses approach social media like that in that they kind of plant the flag there but then maybe don’t see the results that they’d expect to see or don’t feel like it’s having an impact on their business.” The goal of the forum is to encourage businesses to think about their social media presence in a different way, he said. The forum will feature guest speakers Jay Baer, president and founder of Convince and Convert and author of Youtility; Gini Dietrich, CEO and founder of Arment Dietrich and author of Spin Sucks and Lee Odden, CEO of…

How was “We Create Here” Created?

How do you analyze the complex, nuanced relationship that half a million people have with a place, and condense it into one key idea? That was the challenge Nick Westergaard, chief brand strategist at Brand Driven Digital, was presented with when he joined the team of the Creative Corridor Project earlier this year. The Regional Branding Task Force and Seed Here Studio had spent years researching the region now known as “Iowa’s Creative Corridor,” engaging 1,500 individuals and more than 50 organizations. They had a 231 page report from the consulting firm North Star Destination Strategies on the name “Iowa’s Creative Corridor,” and dozens of qualitative anecdotes, oral histories and photos collected by Amanda Styron and Andy Stoll of Seed Here Studio. Like a sculptor, Westergaard had to carve away at that massive block of information, until he was left with only the most vital message: We Create Here. “It had to be more than a name – it had to be something people use and interact with,” he said. “We had to take the brand communications to hearts and minds of the stakeholders.” When developing the tagline, Westergaard put it through a test he calls “the axis of easy” – it had to be easy to share, easy to understand and easy to adapt. Understanding might have been the hardest part – for many, the word “creative” is equivalent to the visual and performing arts, and evokes a mental image of an elementary finger-painting project. The Creative Corridor Project defines “creative” as any activity that brings something new into the world - whether it is a new business,...