A Branding Conversation with T. Rowe Price VP Beth Mealey

Beth Mealey, vice president of brand and integrated communications management at investment management firm T. Rowe Price, shared insights on communicating a global brand during the August Knowledge Session hosted by the Baltimore chapter of SMEI:

Defining the brand: Your brand is what others say about you. It’s not your logo, graphics guidelines and standards, or other visual elements. It’s much deeper than that. The T. Rowe Price brand is humble and approachable – at the core it reflects our associates and our value system.

How Baltimore plays into the brand: Our Baltimore corporate headquarters is an advantage. We’re not Wall Street, so having that perceived distance hasn’t been a bad thing for us. One of our leading sales folks shows a PowerPoint for prospective clients that includes images of Hairspray, John Waters, Cal Ripken, Jr. and Ray Lewis to show off the local flavor and “stars”; it creates context and helps with the messaging.

Social media: friend or foe? The jury is still out on this one. T. Rowe Price is not a big innovator in the social space and so we’re still testing, but for now we’re happy with our Facebook presence that launched in February and the responses. Social media creates a two-way dialogue that you don’t have control over, yet we are highly regulated and we take that very seriously.

Evolution of customer service: Questions will come in on Facebook and our customer service folks will step in and close the loop with them. Otherwise we might not have heard from that customer. It calls for the same skill set – from letter writing to phone service to answering a question originated on social media.

Linking the brand and culture: T. Rowe Price is analytical. While our point of view on a subject might be slow to market, that’s just part of the culture. We believe we need to test and have more of an internal dialogue before we put something out there. It’s part of our core brand and you have to be true to what you stand for and not jump on fads. This culture was instilled by the founder – hiring the right people, having a relationship-based organization, growing organically and giving back to the community. Explaining our brand is part of the “onboarding process” for new employees and that’s what we reflect in our external brand communications.

How do you set the mood at your business?

We recently caught up with Jeffrey Hayzlett, bestselling business author of Running the Gauntlet and The Mirror Test.  Jeffrey gave us a little insight into one of his topics.

Jeffrey Hayzlett, Bestselling Author

Set the Mood

What does it feel like when you walk around your business? Good or bad? Oppressive or productive? What are people wearing? How do they handle themselves?  A bad mood can ruin a company faster than a bad business.

Mood is everything.

When I take over a business I start with cleaning. That’s right cleaning. We clean storerooms, bathrooms, boardrooms. Roll up your sleeves and prepare to get dirty. Presentation of your business, your dress, your demeanor is one of the easiest things to change and the first to be overlooked in the throes of everyday business.

Mood is the foundation of it all—the first steps of changing company culture.

Catch Jeffrey Hayzlett when he presents a webinar for SMEI on February 15, 2012.