Background: The Highlights
Brian Kean is a multi-talented and creative individual known for his problem-solving abilities and unique approaches to various challenges. With a diverse range of skills and a multi-layered perspective, he prides himself on being a visionary thinker who can provide distinctive solutions, strategies, and answers to any given problem.
As a creative person, he understands the importance of effectively communicating his ideas and visions, ensuring they are understood and appreciated by others. Throughout his career spanning several decades, Brian has been dedicated to the art of explaining and articulating his concepts, regardless of the company or product he has been involved with.
Despite occasional frustrations faced by just about any freelance writer, his love for this process is evident, and he welcomes opportunities to apply his vision and talents to shape meaningful projects.
nDash’s Discussion with Brian Kean
Jenn: Thank you for agreeing to participate in this writer spotlight! Can you tell our readers about who you are and your background as a freelance writer?
Brian: First and foremost, I am a consumer. Secondly, and as a consumer, when I become professionally engaged with a company or brand, I ask the consumer inside me:
- Are the benefits this company is offering clear to me?
- Am I, as the person being marketed and sold to, being treated with the respect that each of us desires?
As a creative and strategic marketer and brand creator, I always make sure that, whether it be in the brainstorming session or in the boardroom, I am always the voice of the consumer. I am there protecting the interests of the end consumer. It is with this motivation that I approach all my writing tasks for companies in which I have led marketing and communications departments for the past 30 years.
Jenn: You mentioned a love for the work you do. Can you elaborate on what aspects of your work inspire such passion?
Brian: I love taking ideas, and they could be full-developed ones or ones that need to be aided along to a more developed state, and finding the language gives these ideas a sense of place in the mind of the consumer. I love building the narrative; telling the story.
The great fun happens when you land on that certain word, mood, or phrase that suddenly transforms the whole complex process into a perfectly manicured topiary of sentiments, emotions, and aspirations in which any reader can find something for herself — something that rings so true to her that she can’t “not” continue reading. If someone doesn’t read to the end, my job has not been done successfully.
Jenn: How did nDash become part of your journey as a freelance writer?
Brian: I actively write on Medium. An article appeared in my feed on Medium where a fellow writer shared how she made a living as a freelance writer. Due to the war in Ukraine, I lost the market where I used to practice my trade as a professional marketer and communicator. For familial reasons, I am also somewhat constricted by where we can reside, which means that I don’t necessarily live in a place where my talent has a place on the market.
nDash won me over because it seemed to be the best ecosystem where I could blend my talent for communicating with my vast marketing and communications expertise and help companies in need of what I can offer. I can say that based on my experience, there are many communications and marketing hurdles that I can’t clear.
The Rest of nDash’s Conversation with Brian
Brian Kean is a versatile and imaginative freelance writer who excels in creative problem-solving and communication. With his ability to see beyond the ordinary and express his ideas clearly, he has built a successful career centered around shaping and articulating visions.
His passion for this work drives him to seek out new opportunities to contribute his expertise and talent to endeavors that can benefit from his unique perspective and creative solutions.
Jenn: I notice your background includes being a part-time adjunct professor. Can you tell us about that and the approaches you use to foster creativity in your students?
Brian: As I have mentioned and what I tell my students, everything has a story. Each one of us has a great story. We are all interesting beings, and yet, because so many of us are creatively frozen due to a combination of modesty and timidness, what seem like ordinary and even boring details to us are actually fantastically interesting to others.
First, I help my students find their story, and then I help them develop the skills to tell that story. It is those skills I know will help make them successful professionally. And, I make them all read The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.
Jenn: As the VP of Marketing at Mytaverse, what were the key challenges you faced in rebranding the company, and how did you overcome them?
Brian: The key challenges were, firstly, that the owners were not familiar with the process. To be honest, I can sit down and come up with some solid names and designs for branding or rebranding in a few days. I have my process. It is a process that has been developed over time and has resulted in dozens of brands that, unfortunately, are almost all in different languages. Mytaverse was my first English-language creation. Another major challenge was bridging the old design and name to the new one.
Many of the people in the company loved the name. I began my process on my second day of work. By the end of the month, we had a new name and logo, and then I had to work to get buy-in. Having the owners on board was one thing, but it is necessary to make sure the salespeople are on board as well as the developers.
To accomplish all of this, I created a glossary of about 30 words or terms that were shared with everyone in the company. I sent out fun guidelines for how the terms should be used in emails and conversations, for example. I had two goals:
- to create a culture around the brand, and language is amazing for doing this
- to get people to take ownership of the brand. It worked eventually — there were some holdouts
Once I had universal acceptance internally, it was necessary to find the right language that matched both the name’s mood and the new suite of products that we were offering. That was a process that was ongoing until the day I left the company.
Jenn: What is your approach to digital marketing, and how do you apply this to your career as a freelance writer?
Brian: Digital marketing is marketing only in a digital space. I am always a bit perplexed when someone asks me what I think about it. Throughout my career as a writer for brands and marketing campaigns, copywriting, naming, or whatever, the digital experience is obviously a richer one than the reality one because you can unfurl the ideas at different rates of speed, sound, and color all the way, reaching different emotions.
I believe that the digital space permits us to avoid overwhelming the consumers. We can cultivate them. A good digital marketing campaign, when concisely spread out across various channels, should result in the creation of a multi-dimensional communication experience.
Jenn: How do you manage your time and deadlines as a freelance writer? Do you have a specific routine or process? What are your favorite organizational and time management tools?
Brian: This is a tough question because all deadlines differ. I write quickly. My routine begins early and continues at night when the house is quiet. I need my Austrian pop radio station playing in the background. Otherwise, complete silence causes me to focus on outside sounds.
Having worked almost my entire career in a state of “This was needed yesterday,” I don’t feel the pressure. Instead, I see the road down which I must run to get to my end result. When done, I have a piece of melon or something, watch an episode of The Office and then start a new project.
Jenn: Throughout your career as a freelance writer, how have you handled feedback or revisions from clients?
Brian: Too many times to count–especially when writing press releases.
Jenn: How do you maintain consistency in your work, particularly when writing for multiple clients with differing styles and voices?
Brian: I Google their products and their competitors and read as much as I can about them. Sometimes, I will write an article about the industry and publish it on Medium. That way, I can create my own voice on the topic.
Jenn: Can you describe a time when you had to reject a project or a client? What were the reasons, and how did you communicate this?
Brian: Yes. I had to reject a chain of pizza places in St. Petersburg, Russia. In this case, created a beautiful story and narrative for the client, along with store design. I gave it to him, and then months later, when I showed up at his place for the grand opening, I saw that he had mixed his old messaging with the new messaging, and alongside the new logo I created, the old one was still hanging.
It was a branding and messaging mess.
The story I created about how his pizza was made was gone. But there were references to that story on the walls. No one knew what those references meant. After a few months of miserable sales, he asked me to come back and fix the messaging. I was willing to do so with the condition that he implemented all of my new “old” ideas. He couldn’t guarantee it, so I turned him down politely–then COVID started.
I applied the same strategy to Carl Jr’s in Russia. I also applied it to a wonderful new creperie chain in Denver, Colorado called Zell’s. The story was very successful for both.
Thank you for talking with me about your background as a freelance writer, part-time adjunct professor, and past experiences!
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