Building Brands for marketing professionals

In May 2022, Lis and I travelled to Plymouth to speak at the Building Brands conference. Founded by Dave Briggs, Building Brands is a community for marketing professionals living in the South West of England, and the conference was designed to bring together in-house and agency marketing experts to learn and network.  

We were delighted to be asked by Dave to talk about ‘ESG: tools and tips to help your marketing and communications activity’. We shared advice and practical tips from our own experience of embedding environmental, social and governance approaches at AMBITIOUS, as well as our work on developing ESG communications strategies with clients.  

Of course, we also attended great sessions throughout the day, covering topics as diverse as marketing in the metaverse to the components of an inclusive marketing campaign to how quotes from Fight Club can guide companies in finding their purpose…  

It was inspiring to hear from the workshop hosts and speakers and meet fellow members of the marcomms community from across the region in person. You can find out more about all their sessions on the Building Brands website. You can also watch back the videos of all the speakers and workshops here.  

So rather than summarising each session, we’ve selected a few of our favourite takeaways from across the event:  

Social media can be a powerful syllabus  

Kate Doodson from Cosmic UK kicked off her talk with some fascinating insights from the recent Think Forward 2022 report from We Are Social. A key finding that struck us was that social media users are more likely to say they’ve learned practical life skills from social platforms than from university. This really highlights the potential for businesses to produce helpful and concise advice and educational content.  

While this may feel more suited to LinkedIn, Kate also noted the growth of Instagram Guides, which can be used to address FAQs or pull together related content about the service or product your business offers.  

The Metaverse is coming whether we like it or not 

Kate also helped us to fill some significant gaps in our knowledge about the Metaverse, and how it will impact the worlds of marketing and PR. We heard how existing tools like Teams Mesh, which allow you to create immersive and shared spaces, will start to impact how we collaborate.  

For the world of B2B this got us thinking about how we can help our clients make use of the metaverse, for example for recruitment, training, taster events etc…  

Difference between inclusive marketing and diversity in marketing 

Arima & Co. founder Joyann Boyce, one of the day’s keynote speakers, gave us a whistlestop tour of the fundamentals of inclusive marketing. Joyann covered the need for an inclusive strategy, diverse visual representation and how businesses should address making their language more inclusive too.   

We took away hugely useful learnings on the difference between diversity in marketing; which is driven by the company culture and should be aligned with company values, and inclusive marketing, which is often the product of diversity being truly embedded and results in inclusive content.  

There are opportunities for brands that are prepared to be vulnerable 

John Brown, founder of Don’t Cry Wolf, is a well-known name in BCorp, PR and sustainability circles. He is chair of the PRCA Misinformation in the Climate Crisis working group and has written extensively on transparency and brand activism. So I was particularly excited to hear John speak! 

With an original structure that used quotes from Fight Club, John’s talk was entitled ‘Why brands have to give a sh*t’. He discussed how companies that want to communicate authentically need to be prepared to be truly transparent on their climate and wider ESG commitments. He talked about how vulnerability can help businesses to connect with their stakeholders, and about what becoming a BCorp means to him and the companies he works with.  

Beware the intent vs action gap 

John and Joyann’s sessions also touched on a theme which was prevalent during Lis and I’s presentation too: the importance of aligning your communications with your actions. We used the example of the International Women’s Day Gender Pay Gap Bot to show how crucial it is to check your internal record when sharing self-congratulatory posts about supporting female employees. Joyann highlighted that a marketing campaign featuring diverse individuals, shared by a company with a poor record on diversity and inclusion internally, will fall flat and potentially backfire. Meanwhile, John cited the figure that while 74% of the FTSE 100 share an overarching sustainability strategy, only 36 per cent quantify their commitments.  


All in all, it was refreshing to hear this message about living your values and showing your work ring out so loudly, and a reminder for us all when creating our PR and marketing campaigns.