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Sights and Insights on BrandStorm 2020

from Fresh Avenue Marketing Director, Amber Parrow

For the past 5 years, marketers in the produce industry gather at a conference designed just for them– BrandStorm from United Fresh.  This year the conference was held in Austin, and this was also my first year to attend. As a shutterbug, I had my trusty camera in hand.  Here are some of my sights and insights from the week.

Todd Dewett, TVA Inc.

Authenticity in Who We Are as Professionals

It always starts with us.  BrandStorm kicked off this year with the admonition from Todd Dewett, author on LinkedIn Learning and TedX speaker, that people like real.  With arms covered in tattoos, we had the visual reminder and actionable insight on being authentic as an individual, or showing our ink.  And so with those words, we all went to the subsequent breakouts with the theme of authenticity in mind.

Ken Christopher, Christopher Ranch and Mark Munger, 4Earth Farms

Authenticity in the Stories We are Telling

You wouldn’t imagine a PR nightmare with garlic, but it happened.  Christopher Ranch was the subject of a sensationalized documentary on Netflix that put an un-true black mark on their name and business.  They found that the best solution to changing the conversation was to tell their own story, with transparency, candor, and great content with stunning visuals.  Ken Christopher, Executive Vice President of Christopher Ranch, simply stated that if we didn’t tell our own story, someone else will.  Their proactivity and transparency is a lesson for any of us in dealing with the PR side of marketing.

Lori Taylor, The Produce Moms, Katie Mleziva, Real Food Brands Marketing Podcast, and Leah Halverson, Ten Acre Marketing

Authenticity with the Methods We Use to Tell Stories

This concept wasn’t vocalized, but was more of something I kept telling myself:  focus on the strongest method of sharing my brand’s voice.  At BrandStorm I gravitated to the workshops and exchanges focused on video, podcasts, and exhibiting with great information and insights.  The problem I have is that I get very excited about the new and different ways to communicate and share, but the reality is that there is not enough time or capacity to do it all.  That is where I thought, what method is the natural fit for my brand and for myself as the producer?  In a conversation I had about how these different methods becoming saturated as more marketers are moving towards content strategies, being true to the right method is important to standing out.

Hugh Forrest, SxSW

Authenticity in a City Built on Weirdness

Keep Austin Weird – that is the theme of the city where we spent the past few days at BrandStorm.  Being in a neighboring state, I’ve heard about the music, art, and tech scene and watched my fellow Okies make the yearly journey to South by Southwest.  On that note, we heard from Hugh Forrest, Chief Programing Officer at SxSW, and the history of this festival that began with indie music, and evolved over the past 30 years to include film, tech, and food.  So what better place to talk about authenticity than in a city filled with creativity, color, art, music, food, and the people who are not afraid to be real about who they are.

Carla Hall, American Chef, Debra Puchalla, Senior Vice President, Food Network, Genius Kitchen & Cooking Channel for Discovery, Chadwick Boyd, L&D Enterprises, Inc., Kristen Hartke, Washington Post/NPR The Salt, and Melanie Hansche, Food & Wine Magazine

Authenticity is the Takeaway

BrandStorm was a great opportunity for me to get away from it all for a few days, be inspired in a city full of creativity, talk to fellow produce marketers, and hear what is going on in the industry.  United Fresh gave us the key to stand out as a produce brand through being authentic. But our mission as produce marketers goes beyond our industry, especially in the time where consumers want to know the story behind their food and are looking at plant-based to enrich their health and quality of life. The first step in our outreach to eat more fruits and vegetables is through our authenticity.

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