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3 Takeaways from North America’s Top Brands

Photo by: or @justjash


It’s 6:00AM on a Wednesday and my friend and I hop into my car with coffee in hand, Spotify’s finest in the background, ready to cruise one of North America’s most beautiful highways up to Squamish B.C. for Western Canada’s biggest marketing conference: CIMC.

Just two eager millennials, with an Airbnb booked, taking some time off finals and papers, ready to see what this conference is about.


What we did know was that many global brands dominating the marketing space were attending. Phenomenal messages from Facebook, Google, Pixar, Proctor and Gamble, and Microsoft filled the room with other Vancouver-born brands such as Hootsuite and Daily Hive.

What we didn’t know was how rapidly the marketing world of 2017 is progressing and how difficult it will be to keep up, let alone lead. The insights shared at the event revealed valuable advice that everyone should know heading into the workforce.

While each message offered valuable takeaways, three keynotes shared a message that can ultimately shift the trajectory of one’s career, company structure or marketing plan.

1. Research and Get Involved in the Freelance Market

Ted Graham, the Head of Open Innovation at GM, spoke on the growing fanatic of the Sharing Economy. He dug into the topic of freelance coining his keynote The Uber of Everything and unravelled the many directions this market is progressing toward.

Today, we are handing over access to our keys and wallets to complete strangers and entire markets are being revolutionized because of it. Ted emphasized that research studies are showing:

By 2020, 50% of the workforce will be in the freelance space or 2.2 Billion People Globally

And by not empowering our students, staff, and executives to have an open mindset to the sharing economy, we are suffering as a result.

2. Rethink your Advertising Budget

L’Oreal, which is the #1 leading beauty brand, commanding 1/3 of the market with 33 brands and 85,000 employees also sent there CMO, Stéphane Bérubé, to light up the room. Stéphane debunked the myth of segregating a digital world from the world, clarifying that – there is just the world – and it’s digital.

He also spoke on the power of investing in people rather than defaulting to advertisement dollars. For L’Oreal and its top 3 brands at the time, he did not invest $1 into paid media. Instead, he convinced his CFO to retarget that funding to hire 50 new community managers to live out the DNA of their brand and empowering others by simply representing L’Oreal for what it is – earning them a much higher ROI than any marketing dollars could have.

Photo by: or @justjash

3. Start Storytelling Yesterday

5% is the amount of information retained when shared through statistics compared to 65% of the information shared when in the form of stories Matthew Luhn

Numbers don’t have the impact they used to without context, whereas stories that attach a feeling to numbers do. This was just one of the insights from the closing keynote from Pixar, Matthew Luhn – a friend of Steve Job’s and creative mind behind movies like Toy Story and Monsters INC., and professional story consultant.

If stories aren’t memorable, impactful, or personal, they aren’t worth putting any resources into. You would be surprised how many stories, anecdotes and analogies are subtly weaved into industry leaders’ messages, and I challenge you to keep tally next time you listen!

Photo by: or @justjash

Matthew stressed how everything we do tells a story: from email font to a picture on your Instagram account, we need to be asking if our stories authentically reflect our brand. Great stories generate incredible businesses.

Today, marketing isn’t selling; instead it is genuine storytelling and creating a feeling for your audience that leaves them educated, empowered, or entertained. And when you’ve done that, you’ve done your job well.

And at the end of the day, the true believers of your story will buy your product

Photo by: or @justjash

To Summarize:

1.  Take time to understand the freelance market and how you can cater and be compatible with its growth

2.  Reevaluate how your company engages with community, empowers leaders and leverages its marketing dollars

3.  Restructure the way you use storytelling: interviewing, everyday conversation, marketing campaigns and company branding

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Hope you enjoyed the read and as always, if you have any comments or questions, don’t hesitate to send them over.

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Joel Hansen is a BBA student from Vancouver pursuing a specialization in Management. He works with the Student Government as the Director of Operations and has coordinated high impact events such as a Fundraiser Gala, Career Development Conference and more. To get in touch with Joel, feel free to reach him on TwitterFacebook or connect on Linkedin.