How engaging with the talent of tomorrow can re-energise you about your own career

Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.

Benjamin Franklin

We receive many requests for school students to visit the Bracknell, UK site for work experience every year. We take 2 groups of around 10 each year – they visit for a week and spend time with many different departments (IT, legal, finance, HR, talent acquisition, sales) as well as completing a group project while they are here.

This month it was my pleasure to meet the latest group, ten 15-19 year olds, to give them a taste of marketing. Our solution based marketing messages do require some understanding of our solutions and the customer’s needs so I decided to start with a generic topic – branding.

We began by talking about what marketing is, how and who targets them and what guides their decision when choosing something that is available from many different brands (such as petrol/gas). Using examples of high street shops, sportswear etc we talked about

  • What feelings a brand can elicit in us – for good or bad
  • How some brands can be flavour of the moment one minute and then seemingly disappear
  • Why marketers agonise over the colours and every part of the logo for their brand

We then looked at 6 logos they would all know and I asked them to write down one word – the first word they thought of - when they saw that logo. The logos I chose covered cars, fast food, technology, sportswear, and high street shops.

  • The high street pharmacy chain logo brought out ‘boring’ ‘ babies’ ‘medication’ ‘ill health’ ‘make up/beauty’
  • A premium consumer tech brand elicited ‘expensive’ ‘geeks’ ‘sweat shop’ ‘desirable’

The group was evenly split 5 boys, 5 girls and there were some gender aligned responses – none of the boys identified ‘beauty’ with the pharmacy for example, but the negative reactions to the brands came from both groups and were about cost and social responsibility factors.

In 2 teams they then worked up a slogan such as you might see on a web banner or TV ad for rival technology companies, the brief was to think about and weave in:

  • Target audience
  • Unique proposition
  • Product differentiators

In 15 minutes both teams came up with excellent content, hitting all the points above, and we then discussed each piece – what claims you can make, how you need to examine and analyse every word to maximise your message, etc.

Feedback from the students for this session included ‘satisfying’ ‘engaging’ ‘interactive’ ‘positive’ and ‘had fun making slogans’ but the most positive effect was on me!

How wonderful it is to go back to first principles and really think about what your job is about, what you’re trying to convey and how to do that.

So make sure you take every opportunity to talk to people outside your role and explain what you do to them in terms they can understand – it will help you focus on what’s important too.

P.S. I’ve already signed up for the next student visit in November!