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TalentQ 2013 kicks off with FedEx VP of Brand Engagement Marketing

Leadership is the key quality that Len Hostetter, vice president of brand engagement marketing at FedEx, looks for in his employees. Hostetter kicked off TalentQ’s speaker series with a talk focused on brand management and qualities of strong employees.

The series is a student-led initiative that brings speakers to Medill to explain the talents, skills and attributes of successful marketers.

“TalentQ continues to be the talent quest to better understand the talents and skills for the most successful marketing communication professions of tomorrow,” said Marty Kohr, TalentQ’s faculty adviser and IMC lecturer.

Hostetter’s philosophy for brand development is to identify what the brand is, understand the history and develop new products and campaigns that reflect culture, meet needs and engage people. He emphasized the unity within a company across levels. It comes from standardizing the representation of the brand, consistent use of colors and other design elements, and a focus for campaigns.

FedEx utilizes these focuses. The company pioneered the overnight delivery service, uses consistent colors in their advertisements and developed the FedEx logo with an arrow in the logo, for example. In developing the brand and marketing, his team looks at developing and promoting what distinguishes them. Feedback FedEx often receives is the strength of its customer service.

“We dominate on service,” Hostetter said. “We are very much willing to work with a customer if they have specific needs.”

An additional marketing strategy is yell, tell and sell. “Yell” is promoting the brand in a concise and emotive way. “Tell” is geared towards their audience and informs people on the company and new offerings. “Sell” is the interaction with the customer and making it personal and genuine.

On the execution and idea behind advertising campaigns, Hostetter said marketers “need to be strategic about what you’re saying, when you say it and how you say it.” In carrying out marketing, Hostetter emphasized that it’s important to coordinate with people throughout the company, determining who is doing what. This enables consistency and efficiency.

Attitude of employees impacts both their role in the company and the brand. Employees should focus on what they can control and influence.

“You can’t control the fact that you didn’t get the promotion to manager, but you can control how you talk about it at the water cooler,” Hostetter said.

This idea ties in with advice Hostetter gave students. Effective managing and working environments should inspire employees and show them appreciation. This helps employees care about their work and take ownership and pride in it. Hostetter illustrated this with a parable about three bricklayers who were asked about their job. The first responds he works laying brick. The second perspective is building a wall with the bricks, seeing what can come of work. The third perspective is a bricklayer who responds that he is building a cathedral.

Developing that mentality can come from employers supporting employees and creating an environment of celebration.

“People feel valued and recognized when you recognize them in the moment and be specific,” Hostetter said.

IMC speakers will continue to be featured each week through TalentQ.  Upcoming events feature professionals from Google, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and Highlights for Children. TalentQ will culminate in an exposition on Wednesday, Nov. 20.