Gillian Horan

Gillian Horan is CEO and Chief Brand Strategist of The Pudding. The Pudding is a full service Brand Agency working closely with corporate brands, non-profit organisations and personal brands both nationally and internationally. The Pudding's aim is to partner with their clients to gain clarity on their brand, focusing on the impact branding has on the bottom line.Gillian is also an author, lecturer and speaker, so you can always find her writing or chatting about all things branding.

Who or what are your main influences?
I have always been inspired by my parents for their strength and determination in both their personal and professional lives. Margaret Molloy (Global Chief Marketing Officer at Siegel+Gale) has also influenced me greatly over the last few years. Margaret is not only inspiring she is also a key influencer in the world of branding.

What has been your career highlight to date?
Within 6 months of starting the agency we signed our first major project, this catapulted our business to another level allowing us to expand our team and the services we offered.

Over the course of your career, what changes have you noticed in what consumers expect from brands?
It is a very interesting time for branding. Clients are focusing on the entire brand, not just the identity. There is a huge focus on developing strong brand strategies which maps out clearly the direction of the brand. Clients know they need to build brands with personalities and a strong brand culture. Your brand is not only about your customer, it is about all your stakeholders and especially your team. An indication of strong brand is people wanting to work for your brand. Flexibility is also crucial at the moment. We live in a fast paced environment and brands need to be able to react to their customers’ needs. Another major trend is brand experience – you need to think about each and every interaction your stakeholders have with your brand.

What impact has the changing media landscape had on your business?
We work in marketing so the impact of digital marketing and media has greatly impacted not only us but also our clients. It is all about the ‘Internet of Things’ and for me this means we need to embrace this so that our business and our clients businesses excel. Change is the only constant in life and within the wonderful world of branding change is inevitable. It is an exciting time.

What advice would you give to younger people / graduates considering a career in your area of work?
Be flexible. Be open. There is not just one path to your desired destination. A few years ago I think young people were guided to choose one direction. For me I don’t think life or a career is that simple. If you love numbers, it doesn’t necessarily mean you should choose the road of accountancy or stay in that industry for your entire career. Actually, in my world, knowing and understanding numbers is a huge advantage. Building a strong brand will greatly impact the bottom line and having a combination of skills and competencies is vital to a successful branding career.

In your opinion, who does branding well?
I love the Avoca brand but with the recent buyout it will be interesting to see how the brand continues to develop. Branding is not just about products or services. The Ploughing Championship is a great example of a strong branded event which is steeped in history but seems to be extremely current all at the same time. The Financial Services industry is also changing things up and you will see the likes of Allianz, CITI and J.P.Morgan really working on using social media channels to engage more with their audiences. Watch this space for continued brand development in this industry. Finally, Monart is a great example of a strong Brand Experience.