Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Craig Cooke of C-Squared Professional Consulting Discusses the Shift Towards a Digital First Approach in Marketing and Branding

Leaders Perception Magazine is currently running an interview series called – Navigating the Dynamic Seas of Modern Marketing & Branding
Today, we had the opportunity to interview Craig Cooke – Principal Consultant & Advisor @ C-Squared Professional Consulting.

Thank you so much for joining us today! We are thrilled to have Craig Cooke, Principal Consultant & Advisor of C-Squared Professional Consulting, with us. Craig is a successful entrepreneur who started a “digital first” company back in 1996, long before it became a buzzword. With limited resources, he built RhythmNet.com into a world-class digital creative agency, achieving numerous organizational achievements along the way. Today, Craig will be sharing his insights on the significant shifts in the marketing and branding landscape, as well as the importance of balancing data and analytics with the creative aspects of marketing. Let’s dive in!

Interviewee Name: Craig Cooke

Company: C-Squared Professional Consulting

Craig Cooke’s favourite quote: I’ll share one that has stuck with me for the past thirty-five years. “Things are hard only if you make them hard.” I first came across this quote at the age of 17 when I started learning Chinese Kung Fu. I see it as an incredible mindset quote. It’s something that resonated with me and has kept me in check throughout my years.

The Interview

Thank you so much for joining us today! Tell us a little bit about yourself. What is your backstory?

Craig Cooke : I am a successful entrepreneur that had the foresight to start a “digital first” company in 1996 (yes, the 20th century) long before “digital first,” “digital transformation” and other buzzwords of today were created. With extremely limited resources of $1,300 and an Apple Computer, I started RhythmNet.com along with a couple of friends from college. Over the years of struggle, adaptation and repositioning the brand, “Rhythm “ was sold to a world-class digital creative agency in 2019. I stayed on with the company for just over three years completing a twenty six year marathon of running the company as CEO.

During my course of leading Rhythm to success, numerous organizational achievements were attained including but not limited to the following:

– Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing companies, five years in a row, 2013 through 2017. Only seven percent of companies on this list achieve this feat
– Best Places to Work in Orange County by Orange County Business Journal, 2013 and 2014
– Top Places to Work in Orange County by Orange County Register, 2015 and 2016
– Listed in the top 15 Advertising and Marketing Agencies in Orange County by the Orange County Business Journal
– Honored by American Honda Motors as the first company to be designated as a Premiere – Partner after the first year of service
– Purchased a commercial office building in 2009 at the height of the credit crunch
– Being acquired by a world-class strategic buyer
– Numerous industry awards for our portfolio of work

What’s the most significant shift you’ve observed in the marketing and branding landscape in the last year, and how should businesses adapt to it?

Craig Cooke : Even though I have advocated a “Digital First” approach to branding for over ten years, it seems that this approach is gaining traction. The biggest indicator for me is seeing the growth of “Design Systems.” There are a number of ways to produce a Design System but the common thread is the focus on defining form, meaning and behavior that only digital can accomplish. It also creates a true living brand platform that can be maintained and disseminated more effectively than ever before.

Another major benefit of this digital first approach and having a Design System in place is the efficiencies it creates with producing ongoing content. In our current business environment, brands need to produce large amounts of content to maintain awareness and consideration. I strongly recommend businesses to invest in producing a design system to help control costs for the long run. I suggest taking the crawl, walk, run approach if one isn’t in place. It can be a big effort but it will pay off in the long run.

In the era of data-driven marketing, how do you balance the need for data and analytics with the creative aspects of marketing and branding?

Craig Cooke : In today’s environment, you can’t have one without the other. Both disciplines of art and science need to be engrained with your in-house marketing department. And if you’re working with agencies, you need a lead agency that not only embraces both, but can prove they excel in both areas.

To summarize, you should always produce the best creative possible but everything you produce should be measurable in some form of analytics platform. It’s a necessity in our 21st century environment.

Leaders Perception would like to thank Craig Cooke and C-Squared Professional Consulting for the time dedicated to completing this interview and sharing their valuable insights with our readers!

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