in good company // issue no. 13 // krysta masciale
It takes a marketer to know a marketer. It's like we have this marketing radar and when we spot creativity, we make a beeline across a crowded room just to strike up a conversation and be inspired.
Wait, back up here. I've actually never even met Krysta, but I felt this instant connection to her. We know each other because we're both contributors to a raw and uncensored parenting blog called Motherlucker. We're 2 of the original 10 that were chosen to share our stories as mothers, professionals and super women trying to survive one day at a time. All shapes and sizes, all different situations, all fascinating stories. That's what a Motherlucker is.
But it wasn't until I reached out to my Motherlucker community to get their help and feedback on my current job-less situation (and we do this often because we all have this bond that has naturally formed. One that is supportive and encouraging). Krysta was the first to reply with "You're awesome. I love you. Let's talk through some shit. Tuesday-Thursday's are best for me" . It was like she got me and I was shocked to get such a reply from someone I've never met! Plus we were both in the marketing/branding industry so I knew she probably had some sage advice for this lady who had lost her identity.
From there, she's been a constant source of encouragement and one hell of a resource. Krysta is a mom of 2 little cuties both under the age of 3, but she's also going through her own professional shift after closing her marketing business after 7 years. The demands of having two children, a husband and personal life is not easy, but trying to find work (her passion) is another arduous demand, not to mention exhausting and sometimes deflating. I can relate. Haven't we all been there at one point in our life or another?
Krysta has this innate drive and motivation to succeed, to connect, to engage, to inspire, to support others and to be creative. Some would call her a highly functioning woman, and she's earned the right. So, I wanted to tap into this highly creative mind to get her take on the state of marketing today, how she functions day-to-day and what it's like to be a professional mom and wife trying to juggle it all!
You're from a small suburb outside of Wichita, Kansas. What brought you out to LA, the land of opportunity, glamour and Hollywood?
To be totally honest, NYC was my first choice. L.A. always seemed like the wannabe younger sibling: less sophisticated, more lazy, uncultured and entitled. I chose to move here because there were a few opportunities popping up on my radar and fear of the unknown eventually surpassed the fear of staying the same. I moved at 23 with no job, no friends, no clue and ended up with a career, a family and a bit of a clue a decade later.
When did you get started in branding/marketing/strategy and what was it that sparked your interest in this field?
I went to undergrad for Integrated Marketing and Communications. Messaging was always something that fascinated me. Whether I was tearing out ads in magazines instead of centerfolds of teenage heartthrobs or writing, I was constantly crafting messages. I was also a fierce critic from an early age. Leaders who put on a show and then acted like assholes behind closed doors got to me at an early age. Who knew company culture and external messaging would end up being the foundational elements I would build a career on?
You recently parted ways with our BDB co-founder. What was it that made you realize it was time to move on? Has the transition been difficult?
The transition to finding my next opportunity has been slower than I anticipated but the dissolving of the company was completely appropriate. My business partner, Gary, and I have been working together for 7 years. Our families have changed so much in those 7 years! This year held some significant changes for both of our families and we decided this was the perfect time to see what the future held for us individually.
Do you feel that companies 'get' branding and the importance of branding?
I think they're starting to. I still think most companies see branding as a design issue, not a strategic issue. The sword I'm willing to die on is convincing organizations that brand is both an operations and a marketing function. Without consistency in the corporate culture, the external messaging is merely a cover up for dysfunction.
How do you feel the marketing landscape is shaping up to be these days? Do you feel like its becoming more important than ever or less relevant for companies to invest in this business area?
People are less tolerant to bullshit. I think branding is more critical than ever. And by branding, I mean, getting back to what really matters to your organization. Marketing serves a purpose, sure. But it will have minimal impact in the current marketplace if it's not rooted in truth and connection.
In a world that is so digitally focussed, where people are glued to their devices and companies are spending millions of dollars on digital, what are your thoughts on this medium? Do you think digital is slowly dying or is it just getting started?
I'm sure we're just beginning to scratch the surface of what digital will inevitably become in our lifetime. We think social media is all the rage, but what happens when VR becomes the new Facebook? What I know is that companies spend a lot of money reacting instead of being proactive and strategic in how their message is being crafted, disseminated and interacted with. To me, that's a missed opportunity. Your trendy Instagram posts are only memorable until someone swipes to the next square, but the culture your brand creates is timeless.
In my years of marketing, it's amazing how little focus and attention a company places on truly defining their brand and strategy. Do you agree and if so, why do you think this is? I find every marketers perspective is different.
Oh absolutely. Because it's really fucking hard. Seriously though. It's time-consuming, it creates more work on the front end for leaders and the results could reveal dysfunctions you were hoping to ignore. None of that sounds sexy. But skipping over strategy and diving into the creative process of an ad campaign does.
What inspired you to take the leap and go out on your own, forming Big Deal Branding back in the day?
We saw a need in the marketplace for accessible strategic design. There was no one in the middle. You either bought a logo off Etsy that had no real significance but was certainly trendy, or you had to hire a massive ad agency to get something impressive. Not only was there no middle, there was also no strategy in either of those options and we felt like that was a missed opportunity.
As a new mom of 2, where do you find balance in your day to day?
Having childcare has been a major way to feel like I was able to tap into the number of things I'm passionate about. Some women can work and take care of their kids but I'm not one of them. I need to be able to focus. Childcare allows me to be present for my clients and have a cut off when work is finished for the day. I don't answer emails or think about client work until I get back in the office which allows me to be fully available for my family.
You and I can sympathize: we're moms trying to be the best at everything (or at the very least just trying to survive!), while having a career and raising good humans. What has been the most challenging thing for you as a mom/business woman?
I get asked this quite a bit. Honestly, the hardest thing about being a mom/business woman is being a good wife. My husband doesn't get near the mental, physical or emotional bandwidth from me that he deserves. It's something we are actively working to remedy.
You and your hubby are both in highly creative fields. Do you think your kids personality reflect this or is it too soon to tell?
Oh man. My son (first born) is definitely the bigger personality of the two. I could see him being in a creative field and excelling. He loves people, loves music, gets energized to be out and about and with friends/family. My daughter is only 6 months old but she is already the opposite in every way. She is insanely independent, like her alone time, is creepily intuitive and has the sweetest disposition that doesn't have a hint of showmanship. Who knows what she'll end up doing but I hope we're on the same team when she decides because she very well may take over the world.
In your experience, what truly makes a great customer experience?
Setting expectations and keeping them. It's pretty simple.
Everyone has failed at some point in their life (me included). What was one thing you failed at (according to you) and what did you learn from this failure?
I feel like I'm currently in a season of failure, to be honest. When we shut down BDB, I had unofficially secured a position with a major brand. A lot of the decisions my family made was based on that process. When they kept dragging their feet on paperwork, I knew something was wrong. Since then, I've been using the unexpected gap in between opportunities to refine my own brand and observe what's happening in the industry.
As a marketer, if you could have your pick of the litter, what would be the one company you'd love to either sign on as a client or work for full time and why?
That's such a great question. I would love to work for Warner Brothers, Panavision or Turner (TNT) either consulting or full-time. The film industry is so ripe with innovation right now that the companies who made Hollywood what it is are at a real crossroads. There is such a rich history in these brands that won't risk being forgotten if they apply their unique position, adapt and make themselves relevant again. I like what's happening in the film industry right now, same as what happened to the music industry back in the 90s. To be a part of the transition would be incredible.
In your opinion, what is still the best type of marketing out there that often results in the best ROI?
Employees. Investing in top talent and the environment they work in pays dividends.
Besides your hubby, what turns you on?
Talent. Luckily, my husband is one of the most talented people I know ... so we don't have a conflict of interest there ;)
Where do you find adventure?
In travel. My husband and I love to travel and it's where I willingly get outside of my comfort zone.
I'm a big believer in 'ah-ha' moments, that timing is everything and things happen for a reason. What has been your biggest ah-ha moment in life (career or personal)?
In LIFE? That's a big question. I have them all the time so narrowing down just one is hard.
What's the one word of advice you would give your younger self?
The world isn't out to get you. There's no need to get so defensive. Sometimes that passion and fiery attitude will go much farther if you take a breath and listen first.
Where do you see Krysta in 5 years?
You know, I'm not sure. As a mom of two small kids with two entrepreneurs under one roof, every day is a surprise. 5 years down the road feels like a projection I couldn't even begin to make. What I do know is that I'm trying to set a solid foundation today so that I have firm footing when I get there.
Is the risk really worth the reward?
When I say 'success' what comes to mind?
Autonomy. Financial freedom. Authentic connection to the people around me.
What are some of your favourite go-to business/marketing/digital sources where you find inspiration, insight and info (print and online)?
Fast Company is the one I will always make time for.
When have you been the most satisfied in your life?
Despite the career transition, right now is the most satisfied I've ever been.