Jodi-Tatiana Charles, The Art of Branding
February 16, 2023
In our first interview for the “I am a Founder” series made by Moneys Magazine and MassChallenge Switzerland, we present Jodi-Tatiana Charles, the Founder and “Brandographer™” of LCG Brands Consulting. With over 30 years of experience in marketing, branding, and communication, Jodi, can you tell us about your career path?
I am the founder and “Brandographer™” of LCG Brands Consulting. LCG Brands is disruptive by design, partnering with the humans behind small businesses, startups, global organizations, economic development, and non-profits with change in mind. Our team taps into decades of experience to reinvent our client’s marketing potential and take their business to a level not yet achieved.
My successes are derived from over 30 years of executive leadership in marketing, branding and communication successes with high profile organizations, including the Harvard Business School, TechStars, Google, Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, MassChallenge Inc., MIT Management Sloan School, Massachusetts Governor’s Office, Massachusetts Conference for Women, NBC Universal/Comcast TV, and Clear Channel Communications/iHeart Radio.
In 2017, I added an additional hat, as a children’s book author, with my first book, “It’s Just A Rug” educating children about their heritage. 2020 brought another skillset to my resume with the launching of my podcast “Minding Your Business with Jodi-Tatiana” at the start of the pandemic in support of SMB/SMEs, entrepreneurs, and innovators globally.
I earned a BA from Suffolk University in Communications in Journalism with a minor in Sociology, a dual MBA from Babson College – Franklin W. Olin Graduate School of Business in Global Management and Strategic Marketing, and three Executive Education Certificates – Russia in Transition from Saint Petersburg State University, Global Business from Harvard University Business School, and Social Media Strategy: Creating Engagement, Insight, and Action from MIT Sloan.
When not absorbed by all things marketing, I dedicate my time to children, elderly, cancer causes, and the arts through road races, mentoring and volunteering. In October 2022, I was also named President of the Board for the historical Marblehead Festival of Arts.
What inspired you to start LCG Brands?
I started LCG Brands in 2009 at the tail end of the great recession. It was originally meant to simply bemy capstone project to complete my MBA at F.W. Olin Graduate School of Business at Babson College. It quickly became apparent that I would have to go live when I was labeled, “overqualified for any marketing C-Suite positions,” that I had my eyes on.
How have you mentored entrepreneurs and innovators globally?
Yes, through amazing partnerships. Over the past thirteen years I have gained a strong global reputation in the entrepreneur ecosystem as well as the small business community of veterans, women, families, ethnic groups, minorities, and international business owners. I have mentored and become a sounding board to countless entrepreneurs and innovators, as they seek to succeed in marketing for themselves and their businesses on their terms.
Can you explain the term “Brandographer™” in the context of LCG Brands?
“I am the choreographer to my client’s and mentee’s brands. Once a client has defined their brand, we help them tell their story to the world.“
Tell us about your experience with MassChallenge. How significant was this collaboration in terms of your professional growth?
Masschallenge was my first client 13yrs ago. I met founder John Harthorne at an event where we were both pitching our new businesses, and one conversation led to another. Shortly after, my company and I became their media and community outreach coordinator where I gained wide recognition for my expertise in achieving national and global attention for MassChallenge and its 362 finalists from its inception in 2010 thru 2013.
As the media and community outreach coordinator for MassChallenge I was able to develop the following skills:
Creating and executing marketing, branding and media ideas and activities
Ensuring messages are consistent with a company’s mission
Creating fresh story ideas and supporting collateral
Providing guidance to founders and internal marketing teams
Coordinating the flow of communication and disseminating it according to marketing strategy
Developing high impact online and offline communication campaigns
Identifying developing and executing communications strategy for key media contacts and community references.
My work with them produced:
189 featured pieces/expert interviews for TV, 372 for radio, and 1456 print articles:The Economist, Boston Globe, New York Times, The Washington Post, NPR, Boston Herald, and much more.
A customized photo library with 75,000 images
The exposure we generated has garnered significant opportunity:
362 startups since 2010
360 million dollars in funding raised
95 million dollars in revenue generated
Over 3,000 jobs created
The entire experience solidified the target audiences that needed me most, helping me hone in on the right perspective clients around the globe.
What is the primary objective of the “Minding Your Business” podcast?
Minding Your Business with Jodi-Tatiana Podcast seeks out authentic stories from global entrepreneurs & innovators. Launched in April 2020, when the coronavirus hit, small business owners globally were forced tonavigate new grounds and make difficult decisions – from moving operations online, reducing staff or instantly creating new revenue streams. Our innovators and entrepreneurs are among the majority of small business owners directly impacted by the economic fallout from COVID19, but my history reinforced that we should not count them out; they are and will continue to mind their businesses. This podcast has created a place where small businesses around the world can talk about their business, how and what they are doing to keep afloat during unstable times and what will be required to mind it well long-term.
How has your background and expertise helped you in sharing the stories of entrepreneurs and innovators and what have you learned through interviewing them?
I bring over 30 years of international market research and expertise to the show as host and use my background to support the sustainability of small business and share their inspiring stories. My passion and commitment stem from my upbringing as a first generation Haitian American, my careers in the media & government as well as my reputation in the entrepreneurial eco-system. Getting their messages of hope out to other small businesses who are struggling to keep their doors open, employees working, vendors paid, and revenue flowing, is essential. There are many options available to small businesses, but few ways for them to easily learn about these opportunities. Researching where to find information on their own takes up valuable time. This easily-accessible podcast solves that problem – it’s a pragmatic, timesaving, one-stop-shop. It tells other small business owners’ tales of success and how they happened.
“To Build Your Brand, You Need to BE Your Brand”, can you give us a deeper understanding of what this means and how it relates to building a successful personal or corporate brand?
Think of it this way. As a child we are sternly reminded when visiting a home or location where there are adults, – look people in the eye when talking, always say please and thank you and always represent the family name well. This is your initial introduction to representing your brand. Never let others define your brand. It is something that you should hold close and always protect. Your actions and behaviors are a direct reflection of your brand, stay true to you.
“Your Brand is your Legacy”
What good aspect of basic marketing have marketers neglected in recent years?
It’s simple. A good marketing strategy should be based in memorable storytelling and honesty.
For those starting their careers, what advice would you give?
Become a sponge. Learn a lot, fast.
When you mess up, and you will, own up to it.
Find a top mentor within your company that is willing to take you under their wing.
This is not your first job to get the next job, this is the first step that gets you to your legacy.
What is Jodi’s human and entrepreneurial vision?
I always find it odd and exhausting when people have to recreate themselves for different audiences. I am the same person in my career, at play, and with my family and friends. I am human and that is why I have gained attention with my global audience; there is no switching from one persona to the other.
The human in me, strives to give a voice to the people in front and behind the business.