Kai D. Wright

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Leading Expert on Communication and Brand-Building in the Digital Era; Authority on Behavioral Psychology and Economics, and the Impact of Technology on Consumer Behavior; Forbes 30 Under 30; Global Consulting Partner, Ogilvy; Lecturer, Columbia University; Author, “Follow the Feeling” (2019)

Biography

How do organizations survive and thrive in the digital age? According to Kai D. Wright, author, branding expert and lecturer at Columbia University, the key is not to simply focus on providing marginally better (or less expensive) products and services. His mission is to help people build better brands.

In the era of social media and consumer activism, brands that excel are those which represent a particular lifestyle, culture or value system; they inspire not only fondness but affection and loyalty. But for organizations to build such brands, they must internalize defining cultural traits and understand the role of human psychology in consumer behavior. Wright, whose career as a consultant spans nearly every industry from financial services to managing celebrity profiles, provides direct, actionable insights on how any organization (or individual) can build a powerful, persuasive brand in an increasingly crowded world of competing voices.

Wright, a global consulting partner at the marketing and advertising giant Ogilvy, is a strategic advisor to C-suite executives, founders and artistic talent. His expertise lies at the intersection of digital technology, corporate culture and behavioral economics – a crossroads that comprises the art and science of creative branding. Wright’s engaging keynotes, such as his standing room only SXSW 2019 presentation with 1,000 attendees, elaborate on his extensive experience working with organizations of all types to build brands and foster an ethos that sustains a key set of values and identity.

In his new book, “Follow the Feeling: Brand Building in a Noisy World” (Wiley, August 2019), Wright emphasizes how successful branding depends on a deep understanding of consumer psychology, combined with an appreciation for how technology has impacted and re-shaped human behavior. Wright provides a memorable framework – LAVEC – for building a powerful brand that capitalizes on human responses to lexicon, audio cues, visual stimuli, experience and culture, using concrete examples of companies that have leveraged these methods. Wright’s presentations and workshops help tailor the broader lessons of LAVEC for senior leaders and marketing executives, so they can replicate the success of innovative startups and Fortune 500 companies alike. Wright also helps audiences peer into the future of measuring consumer feelings toward brands, revealing how artificial intelligence, machine learning, and biometrics can quantify individuals’ conscious and subconscious reactions to marketing tactics. In 2019, “Follow the Feeling” was recognized by GoodReads as a “must-have resource for anyone from C-Suite executives to aspiring entrepreneurs seeking to unleash the full potential of their brand.” The book was also named to the 2019 Porchlight Business Book Awards Longlist in the marketing & sales division.

Wright has been recognized as a major thought leader by Forbes, Adweek, CSQ, Cablefax and the Advertising Research Foundation. A frequent speaker at major conferences and Fortune 500 companies, Wright’s clients have included Bank of America, HP, McDonald’s, Bacardi, Ford, Walgreens, Merck and L’Oréal, in addition to venture capital firms, startups and music artists. He served on the leadership team at talent management company Atom Factory, which then represented artists including Meghan Trainor, Charlie Puth, Miguel and John Legend. While leading business development at Atom Factory, Wright also advised startups in the company’s portfolio of 100+ startups that included Spotify, Uber, Lyft, Warby Parker and Dropbox. During that time, he started and ran an accelerator recognized by J.P. Morgan Chase as a best-in-class example. In prior management roles, Wright served on the founding executive team for media and entertainment startup REVOLT TV, founded by Sean “Diddy” Combs.

Wright graduated from Columbia University and The University of Chicago.

Kai D. Wright is available for paid speaking engagements, including keynote addresses, speeches, conference talks, interactive workshops and advisory/consulting services through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.

Videos

Books & Research

Follow the Feeling: Brand Building in a Noisy World

(Wiley, August 2019)

Intro Video

Video ThumbnailFollow the Feeling: General Sizzle 2019 - youtube Video

A-Z Name

Wright, Kai D.

Biography

How do organizations survive and thrive in the digital age? According to Kai D. Wright, author, branding expert and lecturer at Columbia University, the key is not to simply focus on providing marginally better (or less expensive) products and services. His mission is to help people build better brands.

In the era of social media and consumer activism, brands that excel are those which represent a particular lifestyle, culture or value system; they inspire not only fondness but affection and loyalty. But for organizations to build such brands, they must internalize defining cultural traits and understand the role of human psychology in consumer behavior. Wright, whose career as a consultant spans nearly every industry from financial services to managing celebrity profiles, provides direct, actionable insights on how any organization (or individual) can build a powerful, persuasive brand in an increasingly crowded world of competing voices.

Wright, a global consulting partner at the marketing and advertising giant Ogilvy, is a strategic advisor to C-suite executives, founders and artistic talent. His expertise lies at the intersection of digital technology, corporate culture and behavioral economics – a crossroads that comprises the art and science of creative branding. Wright’s engaging keynotes, such as his standing room only SXSW 2019 presentation with 1,000 attendees, elaborate on his extensive experience working with organizations of all types to build brands and foster an ethos that sustains a key set of values and identity.

In his new book, “Follow the Feeling: Brand Building in a Noisy World” (Wiley, August 2019), Wright emphasizes how successful branding depends on a deep understanding of consumer psychology, combined with an appreciation for how technology has impacted and re-shaped human behavior. Wright provides a memorable framework – LAVEC – for building a powerful brand that capitalizes on human responses to lexicon, audio cues, visual stimuli, experience and culture, using concrete examples of companies that have leveraged these methods. Wright’s presentations and workshops help tailor the broader lessons of LAVEC for senior leaders and marketing executives, so they can replicate the success of innovative startups and Fortune 500 companies alike. Wright also helps audiences peer into the future of measuring consumer feelings toward brands, revealing how artificial intelligence, machine learning, and biometrics can quantify individuals’ conscious and subconscious reactions to marketing tactics. In 2019, “Follow the Feeling” was recognized by GoodReads as a “must-have resource for anyone from C-Suite executives to aspiring entrepreneurs seeking to unleash the full potential of their brand.” The book was also named to the 2019 Porchlight Business Book Awards Longlist in the marketing & sales division.

Wright has been recognized as a major thought leader by Forbes, Adweek, CSQ, Cablefax and the Advertising Research Foundation. A frequent speaker at major conferences and Fortune 500 companies, Wright’s clients have included Bank of America, HP, McDonald’s, Bacardi, Ford, Walgreens, Merck and L’Oréal, in addition to venture capital firms, startups and music artists. He served on the leadership team at talent management company Atom Factory, which then represented artists including Meghan Trainor, Charlie Puth, Miguel and John Legend. While leading business development at Atom Factory, Wright also advised startups in the company’s portfolio of 100+ startups that included Spotify, Uber, Lyft, Warby Parker and Dropbox. During that time, he started and ran an accelerator recognized by J.P. Morgan Chase as a best-in-class example. In prior management roles, Wright served on the founding executive team for media and entertainment startup REVOLT TV, founded by Sean “Diddy” Combs.

Wright graduated from Columbia University and The University of Chicago.

Kai D. Wright is available for paid speaking engagements, including keynote addresses, speeches, conference talks, interactive workshops and advisory/consulting services through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.

Speech Topics

Follow the Feeling: Brand Building in a Noisy World

In his book “Follow the Feeling,” strategy advisor Kai D. Wright answers a critical question plaguing entrepreneurs, brand strategists, marketers and leaders: how do you grow your brand in a noisy world? Analyzing 1,500 fast-growing brands from Alibaba to Zara, the Columbia University lecturer reveals five branding secrets. This crash course in brand building is a must-read for any organization looking for growth pathways, and Wright also offers tailored keynote presentations and workshops based on the book to senior leaders and marketing strategists. Starting with behavioral economic principles and ending with a new systems-based approach to brand building, Wright presents readers with one metric that trumps the hundreds of data points entangling brand value: feelings. In this presentation, Wright reveals, through case studies, research and quick-start tips, how to evolve your branding to capture attention and win hearts and minds by focusing on five aspects of any brand that matter most: lexicon triggers, audio cues, visual stimuli, experience drivers and cultural connections (LAVEC). The revolutionary LAVEC framework can be applied by organizations as diverse as those which Wright has helped, from Bank of America to Diddy.

How to “Hack” Culture

In an era when consumers expect brands to embody values and lifestyles, all companies must pay attention to the vital issue of culture. This can be a challenge – both for legacy brands whose cultures must be updated for the 21st century and for new startups that have not yet developed an ethos or identity. Kai D. Wright has worked with companies and celebrities across industries to crystallize, sustain and propagate brand cultures that empower organizations and persuade consumers and other audiences. But culture must be fully entrenched within organizations to ensure brand endurance over time, or else companies risk reputational damage and letting down their core customers. In this presentation, Wright advises organizations on how to “hack” culture. This session can be tailored to everyone from digital startups to centuries-old household names looking to adapt to the new realities of our digital, image-conscious world.

Bottling Creative Genius: Lessons for Marketers

We live in the age of the social media influencer, when a single individual can, with little or no help from a larger organization apart from the digital platform they use, impact and sway public opinion toward another person or brand. Marketers at major corporations may try to recruit influencers, or they may fear their negative response to corporate behavior. But what many fail to do is try to understand and replicate the creativity that allows influencers to gain so much power. In this presentation, Kai D. Wright, who has worked with influencers and celebrities in multiple genres, teaches business leaders how to capture and harness that same creative energy for the benefit of their own organizations. A brand can no longer be an impersonal institution; it must be as relatable and personable as any celebrity influencer, making a direct connection with the consumer and fostering loyalty and devotion. This keynote helps organizations integrate the genius of self-promotion into branding strategies.

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Recommendations

“Kai Wright’s insights into building a brand in the current media environment were thought-provoking and inspiring. He gets you to think deeply about how your brand has the potential to resonate at a more meaningful, emotional level.”

—Dave Dryden, AVP for Marketing and Brand Strategy, Clemson University

“Kai is a brilliant storyteller, advisor and historian of all things brand related. He’s able to weave together successes and failures across brands and industries, diagnose them against his framework and offer a new standard of inspiration forward.”

– Nicole M. Alexander, SVP of Innovation, Ipsos

“Kai analyzes and draws actionable conclusions from a dizzying array of data on people and behavior, to deliver a convincing, persuasive suite of principles and practices any marketer should embrace.”

– Jason Chebib, Vice President, Consumer Planning, Diageo

“Follow the Feeling brings to the reader an excellent guide on the role of emotion & neuroscience in brand building, translating principles into a path to grow your brand.”

– Manuel Garcia-Garcia, PhD, Adjunct Professor of Consumer Neuroscience at NYU and Global Lead of Neuroscience at Ipsos

“Kai was a terrific addition to True University. His session on the power of persuasion was well received by attendees who specifically commented on his engaging teaching style, his command of content, and his choice of interactive exercises which really brought the material to life. We would welcome the chance to work with him again.”

– Christiaan Vorkink, Vice President, True Ventures (investors in Peloton, Fitbit, Ring, Blue Bottle Coffee, MakerBot)

“Thank you, Kai! It was really a pleasure to work with you. You not only rocked in the stage, but was an incredibly proactive and flexible speaker – and that made a huge difference. We are super grateful. We had amazing feedback from clients and awesome scores given at the end. Hope to meet you again soon!”

– Gustavo Pacheco, Head of Growth, Google

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