A Personal Look Inside the 2022 ON Brand Conference

Humanity, inclusivity, connection, growth and creativity combined to form a common theme across the speakers at the 2022 ON Brand Conference. It was officially back in person this year and I can attest that it was refreshing to physically sit in the same room as the speakers and other attendees. Speakers came from across the nation and from right here in our Omaha community to comprise a day filled with personal stories, professional networking and many valuable and tangible takeaways.

About ON Brand

If you haven’t been to ON Brand and are wondering what it is, let me give some background. The ON Brand Conference is put together by team members from AAF Nebraska, AIGA Nebraska, PRSA Nebraska and AMA Omaha to provide a day of education and networking. The day is broken out with 3 different keynote speakers, as well as a morning and afternoon breakout session that gives you the option to choose from a variety of speakers and topics. 

This year’s content:

This year’s morning keynote speaker was Keni Thacker who serves as chief creative officer for 100 Roses from Concrete. This organization is a nonprofit network for people of color in advertising, marketing media, and public relations. His message was inspiring as he focused on growth in the eye of the storm, advocating for diversity, outreach and mentorship, all while rising to the challenges of Covid-19.

He shared that of the 61 ads produced for the superbowl this year, less than 10% were directed by people of color or women. 

How can we help?

  • YOU have a voice so use it.
  • YOU have to be the change that you want to see, to be a key difference maker.
  • Connect, collaborate and grow together.
  • We have a lot of work to do in order to get to a place where all people have a seat at the table in the creative services industry.
    • We are in a state of UN: undervalued, underrepresented, underpaid, misunderstood, underappreciated.
  • We are forgetting humanity in our field—we must ask ourselves, how can we be of service and how do we take care of people?
Learn more about his nonprofit: https://www.100rosesfromconcrete.com/

Lunch keynote was delivered by Abby Buergler, CRM director for Barkley. Her presentation focus was on making data-driven marketing more human. Specifically, email marketing is alive and well, get creative and make it compelling, engaging and relevant to the individual recipient to make it feel like a 1:1 exchange.

“84% of people want to be treated as a person and not a number.” – Salesforce

Abby’s 3 key points:

  • Always ask, never assume.
    • Only ask for the information that you will use and have a plan for so the user experience is as good as possible.
  • Respect others’ privacy and preferences.
    • Creating preferences within email subscriptions will likely lead your subscribers to stick around longer. Give them the option to opt down vs. global opt out for certain types of content.
  • Show up for people in big and small ways.
    • Be mindful within emails, and invite subscribers to share their important moments so they can be celebrated. Ex. birthdays or anniversaries
Check out Barkley: https://www.barkleyus.com/

George Garrastegui, Jr. presented the afternoon keynote. George is the co-chair for AIGA D+B Conf. ’21-22, host of Works in Process podcast and a design educator. His personal story really resonated as he talked about his passions, creativity and growth as he found his niche. 

Key takeaways:

  • When we describe ourselves, think about what we do vs. who we are.
  • Find your niche by having something to say
  • Understand you have value
  • Have the ability to mess up
Podcast link: http://wip.show/

The morning breakout speakers covered topics that included the future of SEO and Google, podcasting, branding and archetypes, and rebranding a legacy. Afternoon breakouts focused on the world of streaming, crafting marketing messages, building brands through community engagement, and how brands are succeeding at NIL. 

AMA members learned:

  • The actionable takeaways to implement and see immediate success through SEO and Google and creating compelling marketing messages.
  • How BFF Omaha supports and embraces DEI in the community through arts engagement.
  • About the strong partnership between Ervin & Smith and Scoular, that successfully led to their rebrand that brought employees and customers along in a journey that is still continuing today.
  • Streaming is an integral part of how we consume content, with an engaged audience that is continuing to grow and diversify.
Podcasting with purpose session: https://webberized.com/onbrand/

What ON Brand attendance meant to me

For me, the event challenged me to be okay with getting uncomfortable, to dig deep to find the truth, and to always remember there is no finish line when it comes to growth.


Written by Hannah Marquardt

AMA Omaha AVP of Communications | Email & Social 2022-2023