Susan Britton, Owner/ Principal Creative Director, Britton Marketing & Design Group (Fort Wayne, IN) Susan Britton is Owner and Principal Creative Director at Britton Marketing & Design Group, a branding boutique agency that focuses on strategy, design, and helping its color-trended consumer goods clients better brand and market themselves. Sue started her career at Vera Bradley and rode a 9-year growth boom where things changed so rapidly the company had to reinvent itself every six months. (Revenues increased from $10 million to $400 million.) She left Vera Bradley on such good terms that they provided her with furniture for her new company and stayed on as clients with Britton doing catalogs and marketing for them for the next 10 years until Vera Bradley went public.
Sixteen years after she left her position at Vera Bradley, Sue says the experience “gave us a wonderful foundation to work with companies that are focused on home and colors, or fashion” – Britton’s niche market. She believes that brands “really take off” when a brand is distinctly “nuanced” in a way that shows the brand is special and the agency builds a “very highly descriptive visual expression” reinforcing the brand identity and couples that with a “strong strategy.” Done right, the created assets can be amortized over time, broadly used, and will promote a “more devoted following.”
As an example of a typical client, Sue talks about working with a number of paint companies, the importance of tracking color trends and building brand uniqueness, and the challenge of reaching out to “the do-it-yourselfers and the do-it-for-mes and then the pros.”
Some changes Sue has seen over the years are “a reluctance to invest in creative because it’s changing so quickly,” the need for lots of online (and often transitory) creative assets, and the flux of brands vacillating between bringing their creative work inhouse . . . and seeking an external agency. Sue’s agency has deleted some staff positions over the years and today outsources to partner vendors such less-frequently used services as building website backends or videography.
Sue is a strong believer in work-life balance. Before Covid, her agency interviewed people to discover what they valued . . . and came back with these results: “Their family, whatever that looked like. Their community. Their spirituality, whatever that looked like, or wellness. And then their environment.” She says, “They’ve circled the wagons around their family in a really, really big way.” She describes this as “the new American middle.”
Sue can be reached on her agency’s website at: bmdg.com (for Britton Marketing & Design Group), send an email off the site, or email Sue directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org
ROB: Welcome to the Marketing Agency Leadership Podcast. I’m your host, Rob Kischuk, and I am joined today by Susan Britton, Owner and Principal Creative Director at Britton Marketing & Design Group based in my hometown of Fort Wayne, Indiana. Welcome to the podcast, Susan.
SUE: Thank you, Rob. You can just call me Sue, that’s fine.
ROB: We’ll go with Sue. Yeah, it’s excellent to have you here. I want all the Fort Wayne stories that the audience might not want to hear. But why don’t we start off first with a little bit of introduction to Britton Marketing & Design Group, and what is the firm’s superpower?
SUE: Well, we’re in Fort Wayne, Indiana because my education happened when I went to work for Vera Bradley, which is located – their headquarters are here in Fort Wayne. I joined Vera Bradley when they were about $10 million, and nine years later they were about $400 million. We tried everything, we experienced everything, and growing at that fast rate, we were reinventing every six months what we were doing. So that was a real privilege, and like I said, a great education.
Then I jumped off after about 10 years, and owner/founder B