Note: The following post was written by Taylor W. Wells, Communications Director for On The Mark Strategies.Young Professionals - 1As a speaker at a recent conference of young professionals, I was privileged to interact with a roomful of bright and energetic financial institution professionals. The majority of attendees were marketers and communications specialists.

I was struck by their enthusiasm and drive. The group was attentive, respectful and full of pointed and relevant questions. Surely these are not the zombified slackers that Hollywood and pop culture makes a fortune stereotyping. In truth, I saw reminders of myself in their eyes from some 15-20 years past. All in all, it was an excellent experience and I hope they learned at least as much from me as I did from them.

A small group of young professionals stayed after the presentation with a shared question:

When all the slideshow, facts, stats and conference dust settles and we have to go back to work, how can we actually impact the brands for which we are responsible?

An intriguing question, to which I offered the following answers.

  • You’re going to have to leave your office and enter the lion’s den (CEO, CFO, etc.).
  • In a polite way, get in the executives’ faces.
  • Assume they know nothing about brand and can learn a great deal from you (without insulting them).
  • Ask them to lunch for an informal brand education opportunity.
  • Provide documentation (condensed) and relevant brand success stories about other banks or credit unions.
  • Read up on current branding hot topics (generational marketing, content marketing, social media, native advertising).
  • Prove the ROI of branding to your CEO.
  • Learn to recognize your allies and keep them close (those who truly get brandin).
  • Open yourself to brand improvement (and criticism) from staff.
  • Assume everyone is watching you at every turn and live the brand you preach.

These are just a few possible answers culled from my experience. There are certainly many others. What advice would you offer young professionals looking for ways to meaningful impact the brands they guide?