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Meet Joseph Olender of Innovation Protocol

Today we’d like to introduce you to Joseph Olender.

Joseph, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I’m a rare breed in this city: a born and raised Angeleno. I always loved record producers and the creative process.

Prior to the title of “Senior Brand Strategist”, I wore many different hats in the music business – working first on the creative side, spending time on incredible teams making records in some of the most historic recording studios around LA, and then on the business side, learning how to promote shows and market acts – at a time when artists were some of the earliest adopters to digital marketing and social media, deploying really creative ways of telling distinct stories and gaining traction.

The music business was so much fun for a guy in his early 20’s – lots of late nights and mosh pits for sure – but cursed with an insatiable curiosity, I knew that there was so much more out there to try.

My passions weren’t limited to just music, I had (and still have) a sick obsession with the pillars that shape our culture: art, politics, business, technology, and sports… and I wanted to try it all.

Seeing that brands across industries wanted what the coolest bands had – a loyal army of fans and followers – I dove into consulting, applying the raw marketing instincts honed in the Wild West of the music industry to more traditional businesses. Always finding inspiration in the power that a clear and well-executed story has in changing the lives of the people who love it.

In my mid-twenties I pivoted careers and started a small brand consulting shop called SOUND+MOUNTAIN and after a few years of polishing those raw instincts, I joined the team at Innovation Protocol here in LA, where every day I’m surrounded by an insanely talented team consulting for some of the biggest and most respected brands in the world.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It’s been a path filled with collaboration. It’s been a tough road, but I’ve been really lucky to meet some incredible mentors along the way.

My life might look much different, were it not for a chance meeting…

As a driven but rudderless college student, a brand strategist showed up in a PR class of mine, giving a presentation that succinctly described exactly what I wanted to dedicate my life to – helping businesses be better by creating compelling experiences from an authentic place.

Up until that point, I didn’t know Brand Strategy was a thing – I didn’t know it was a job. I was helping artists do this sort of nebulous thing… “telling their story”, and helping small businesses execute digital marketing strategies – but to be able to do this, across all those categories I was interested in… this was something that tickled that curiosity I mentioned.

I sprinted headfirst into this line of work to prove to others that I could do this work on a large scale. No matter how many sleepless nights or top ramen dinners it took to make it to the other side. And there were many…

And because of that help that I had, because of those mentors who took me under their wing and showed me the way, I feel so fortunate to be in a position to give back to the next generation coming up – a generation more talented, aware, connected, and savvy than we were. They’re going to leave the world a much better place than they found it.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Innovation Protocol – what should we know?
Innovation Protocol is a full-service strategic brand consulting and design firm. We help individuals, non-profits, and businesses of all shapes and sizes better articulate what makes them special: “who they are and why they matter” to the people that love them.

We are in the business of giving informed opinions and delivering clarity to clients – no matter the industry. We are brand educators, strategic thinkers, and design experts. We are obsessive about research and rigorous in analysis and insights.

Half of our company is dedicated to strategic brand consulting, which is where I live, and half of our company are creative professionals: designers, digital specialists, UI/ UX masters and other wizards who help us strategists activate the brands we work on.

Our services include brand strategy, brand design, market research, corporate and academic speaking engagements, education, and so much more.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
I think there are a few distinct qualities that can really help a brand strategist thrive:

Empathy. As a strategy consultant, we’re there to give our opinions, but the opinions have to be informed and not filtered through your personal worldview. You have to be able to separate your own feelings from those you are building the brand for by putting yourself in their shoes – whether its a brand you are building for a specific buyer, employee or another audience.

Creativity. No plan or project is one size fits all. The best answers marry outside the box, blue sky thinking with practical application and that takes creativity.

Communication. The best ideas fail when they are not clearly communicated. As a brand strategist, you’ll need to translate the same ideas to graphic designers, marketers, C-Suite executives, sales teams, and everyone in between. Learn what these different groups need from an idea and be able to articulate it to them in a way that they can understand.

Good Taste. The world moves fast as it is – but when you pair business with creative execution, it can be a blur. It’s so important to be up-to-date with the latest trends in business, media, design, culture, and the industries that you are serving, so that you can be aware of the worlds in which you are advising your clients! Businesses affect culture, and culture affects business. Stay aware of how and where they are overlapping so that you can be prepared for, and pull insights from, any context.

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