Kimberly McNeil-Downs of Deloitte on Brand Vision | Industry Insights | All MKC Content | ANA

Kimberly McNeil-Downs of Deloitte on Brand Vision


What will it take to have your work make it to the winners' circle? ANA's Judges' Journals features a series of Q&A sessions with leading industry executives participating on 2024 ANA Award juries. You can gain insight from the judges on what they will be looking for and what makes the difference between a good versus award worthy submission. In this segment, Denise McDevitt, SVP of award programs at ANA connects with Kimberly McNeil-Downs, managing director, marketing excellence leader at Deloitte and 2024 ANA B2 Awards Top Jury Judge.

What current trends are you seeing in B2B marketing? What has been the biggest shift since a year ago?

A heightened focus on driving the brand's vision and purpose by blending storytelling, experiences, creativity, technology, and data. It's got to be a combination of all the tools in the box to hit the mark authentically and effectively. Biggest shift we are seeing is the rapid and widespread adoption of gen AI into processes and methodologies.

As a veteran judge on the B2 Awards Top Jury, you have reviewed and analyzed the best B2B marketing campaigns over the past few years. What elements will you be looking for this year to distinguish good versus exceptional?

The well-orchestrated use of all the tools in the box – storytelling, experiences, creativity, tech and data and used in a way that differentiates – the work shows up as fresh, smart, and effective

What are some of the challenges you see creative teams facing in the B2B marketing space? On the flip side, what are the enablers to achieving B2B creative excellence?

I don't think it is unique to B2B, nor is it uniquely a creative team challenge – it applies to all marketers – The necessity to continually progress while marketing itself is in a constant state of change. Teams and individuals who are most successful are those who are committed to continuous learning, always ready to ask "what if" and are inherently agile in their work approach, effortlessly pivoting when new learnings suggest a different path. This mindset enables them to adapt, evolve and introduce great creative that wins hearts, minds, and growth.

The need for B2B marketing campaigns to deliver effective lead generation and conversion is often always the priority, so how do you ensure the need for brand building is addressed?

It's crucial to view brand building as the foundation that enables demand generation. Consider it as the sunlight, water, and fertilizer that create the right conditions for demand generation to thrive.

Maintaining our commitment to brand building investments is essential. Gaining advocacy for that investment from our stakeholders, particularly those in the C-suite, is critical. They must champion the concept of strong brand permission, which can only be achieved through being always on and consistent. Furthermore, it's important to communicate the impact of these investments regularly using language that resonates with them. This approach helps to keep everyone aligned on our strategies and objectives, thereby fostering a stronger, more impactful brand.

Additionally, it is important to foster a culture within the marketing team that values and recognizes the importance of both brand building and demand generation. This balanced focus fuels the overall commitment to deliver business growth.

What advice would you offer to B2B marketers on how to stand out and achieve success in today's B2B environment? 

Becoming a master at translating marketing insights into the c-suite's love language.

Be data-driven but not such a slave to it that you extinguish the spark great creative ignites.

Always be reimagining how to think and operate. Continuously put the audience in the center of all you do while also embracing tech and people to make that audience connection trusted, expanding and long-lasting.

Recognizing excellence in results-driven marketing, the ANA B2 Awards program is dedicated solely to B2B marketing and communications. The final deadline to submit work into the 2024 B2 Awards program is March 1, 2024.

The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the ANA or imply endorsement from the ANA.

Denise McDevitt is SVP of award programs at ANA.