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Brand Innovators Insights: How to Build Affinity through Authenticity

Observations from The Brand Innovators Sports & Culture Marketing Summit, hosted by New Balance. 

brand innovators conference insights

What inspires anyone to buy anything?

It isn’t just ads, influencers, products or even experiences that drive growth; it’s faith. Customers buy more from you when they buy into your purpose and believe you’ll deliver on your every promise. Authenticity inspires brand affinity. 86% of consumers agree; brand authenticity plays a major role in purchasing decisions. Yet, 57% believe that most brands are NOT authentic.

This insight was a commonly touched theme throughout the Fireside Chats at the Brand Innovators Sports & Culture Marketing Summit, held at “The Track” on New Balance’s Boston campus. The day was full of engaging discussions with brand marketing leaders from companies like Panera Bread, New Balance, Boston Beer Co., MassMutual, Liberty Mutual, Wayfair and many more.

Every speaker, topic and perspective was different. However, their views on the challenges and importance of authenticity tied them all together. Authentic creativity consistently evokes genuine emotions, spreads your brand’s truths, and highlights the common ground that you share with your customers. It isn’t easy to achieve, but it is the most powerful form of human expression for brand marketers seeking to establish meaningful connections with audiences.

The Role of Marketing Executives:
Mixing Authentic Expression & Creative Excellence

At the Summit—Senior Vice President of Onward Imagine, Brendon Derr, was joined by in-house agency leaders, Warren Marenco Chase (Liberty Mutual) and John Wall (Wayfair), for a discussion titled ‘Mastering the Creative Mix.’ It was one of many sessions that defined authentic creativity as a storytelling superpower that sets brands apart.

As this impressive group of marketing executives explored strategies, ideas and examples of achievement, one insight quickly became clear: the larger the organization behind the brand, the more challenging it can be to execute creativity consistently.

Today’s large enterprises require strong marketing leadership, close collaboration across functions, and a shared mission that people can rally around. Authentic brands crumble when their ideas and enthusiasm get stuck in organizational silos. You can’t establish and maintain a powerful presence when team members hold conflicting beliefs or have constantly competing priorities.

Marketing executives at the Brand Innovators Summit routinely described their roles in leadership and relationship-building (internally and externally) as key drivers of brand authenticity, creativity and marketing innovation. Successful CMOs at brands like New Balance and MassMutual displayed a level of passion, purpose and clarity that you can envision yourself getting behind.

These accomplished leaders ensure the buy-in and understanding of employees at all levels while fostering the empathy and cultural safety necessary to unlock new ideas from inside their organizations.

The Value of AI & Emerging Tech:
Building Human Connections in a Digital World

The roles of marketing leaders have always been challenging and fast-changing. However, newly emerging technologies are challenging CMOs and their teams to redefine themselves, their creative strategies and their approaches to authenticity at a pace never before seen.

It is no surprise that many of the Summit’s Fireside Chats explored what tomorrow’s techno-trends could mean for today’s brands. AI was the megatrend asked about the most, and leaders routinely explained that their teams are still focused on learning about the opportunities that lie ahead with these technologies.

Emerging tech opens up new ways for brands to engage. AI can enable marketers to improve go-to-market operations, more deeply understand customers, and more effectively connect with audiences. At the same time, these new marketing powers only magnify the potential value that human-generated creativity and authentic storytelling can bring to a brand.

We see an increasing emphasis on creativity as brands strive to differentiate themselves and establish human connections in a sea of digital chaos. To win today and tomorrow, organizations must master and leverage new technologies to tell authentic, engaging stories.

The New Era of Authentic Creativity:
Eliminating Obstacles, Embracing Opportunities

Times are changing, but human nature is not. Our inner workings are far more consistent than the artificial worlds we have created. And our need for authenticity is as strong as ever.

A new era of innovations has arrived, yet age-old insights remain to be true; authentic relationships continue to drive customer engagement, brand affinity, and business growth. As the world rapidly advances, marketers have much to learn, many critical decisions to make, and more opportunities to explore than ever before.

Count us among many who came away from the Brand Innovators Summit in Boston feeling inspired and enthusiastic about what lies ahead.



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