Greg Kihlström has always been fascinated by digital marketing and media. That’s why in 2003 he launched an agency focused on marketing, creative and digital with the purpose of connecting people and their passions. 15 years, multiple awards, and one acquisition later, Kihlstrom has announced the release of his second book.
Throughout the past decade, Kihlstrom has been known for his work as a creative director and digital strategist serving top brands including AOL, Coca-Cola, GEICO, Marriott Hotels, MTV, Starbucks, Toyota and United Nations. Experiences working with brands like these helped foster his relationship with Virginia Tech, mainly serving on the Pamplin College of Business Marketing Industry Mentoring Board, guest lecturing, sponsoring events and hosting an internship at his company.
Kihlstrom has also been published as a contributing writer in several leading publications including The Washington Post and Forbes, and has authored two books focused on concepts he’s studied during his professional career thus far.
“After writing the first book in this series (The Agile Web)...I wanted to broaden my focus and talk about the overarching brands themselves and how to better connect with consumers,” Kihlstrom explained.
The Agile Brand will be released August 16th. This is a follow up to his 2016 book, which explored how the agile methodology, when applied specifically to a brand’s digital marketing and website design, can improve marketing efforts. In this follow-up, Kihlström explores brands that embrace consumer interaction and create a “living brand” that can excel when pairing it’s values with a goal-oriented future.
From the initial research and writing of the book, to the editing, and finally prepping the book for print, Khilstrom worked through the publication process in just 12 months. He did so with a team of experts behind the scenes - Anna Marie Montague and his sister Janelle Kihlström edited the copy, and Alicia Recco designed the cover art.
“I love writing and researching in general, so it was fun to do that,” Kihlstrom said. “The biggest challenge was finding the time to do it amidst a full-time job, managing my company getting acquired, and a few other volunteer positions I have, at Pamplin College of Business’ MIMB as well as the American Advertising Federation’s National Innovation Committee and Mid-Atlantic Board of Directors.”
Khilstrom’s company, Carousel30, was acquired in late 2017 to join forces with PCI Communications, LeapFrog Solutions and ConnnellyWorks, building the all new Yes& Agency. Kihlstrom now serves as the Senior Vice President of Digital for Yes&, leading primarily digital strategy, marketing, advertising, UX, technology & analytics efforts for their clients in the Washington D.C. market.
As with every project of Kihlstrom’s, there was inspiration from his past experiences woven into the evolution this book.
“As I was finishing [The Agile Web], whose focus was much more narrow, I started thinking about what the true modern, authentic brand needed to be in order to survive, and I came to the conclusion that the same agile principles that marketers are adopting and that software developers have been using for decades, can help brands survive and stay relevant while staying true to their values.”
“We live in a world full of clutter and noise, and in order to stay relevant as a brand, we need to find a way to create meaningful connections with our audiences and customers,” he said. “This means involving our customers in a way that influences our brand, while making our values clear and sticking to them.”
The Agile Brand follows the story of branding from its beginnings, to the authentic relationship with brands that modern consumers want, and gives practical examples of what you can do to modernize your brand in meaningful ways.
Kihlstrom’s passion for digital marketing and user experience seems to mirror that of the industry he works in - it is limitless and dynamic. So, when asked what is next for his writing career, he gave a sneak peek of his upcoming project.
“I am currently working on my follow up to The Agile Brand, which looks at things from the consumer’s perspective (as opposed to brand marketers). Just as marketers have become more agile in the way they reach consumers, the way that customers want to interact with brands - whether through providing their new product ideas, crowdfunding, or other means - has become much more agile and collaborative than in the past.”
The MIMB was established in the fall of 2010 and exists to “make a lasting impact on the lives of marketing students” and to Pamplin as a whole. The MIMB is currently composed of 15 members, each bringing their own unique business and industry experiences to the group. Under the guidance of the current Co-Presidents, Angela Lorinchak and James Wu, paired with Faculty Lead, Donna Wertalik, the Board provides ongoing mentorship and professional development opportunities to students, and meets biannually to advise students and discuss recent trends in the field as they pertain specifically to the Marketing Department.