Strong-Bridge Atlanta’s Lacey Goodwin has a long and remarkable career in brand marketing and management. Her resume is marked with tenures at well-known brands, including Sara Lee/Hanes, Krispy Kreme, and Coca-Cola, all with roles bent toward innovation and customer experience.

Lacey was with Krispy Kreme through their IPO, handling, and even the grocery business, where she crafted a strategy that helped the brand leverage its grocery availability to enhance the brand equity of its doughnut shops. At Coca-Cola, Lacey worked in a few key roles that involved both innovation and partnerships. Most recently, she was on the sports marketing team. As a self-described sports nut, it was an exciting privilege and one that shaped her view of how brands can connect to their customers’ passions.

With our clients at Strong-Bridge, Lacey applies her experience to brand-focused initiatives, innovation, and customer experience. We recently sat down with Lacey to talk about her career, her thoughts on brand development, and innovation.



1. WHAT ARE YOU MOST PASSIONATE ABOUT AND WHY?

I’m passionate about taking a look at something and seeing how it can be done differently— to be more relevant or meaningful to customers— or to create a white space for a brand. It is often tricky, because it is natural for organizations to get very focused on specific things day in and day out. And yet, so much of innovation is breaking focus long enough to see how improvements can be made. And sometimes that means “fixing” things that aren’t even broken.

2. HOW HAS “INNOVATION” EVOLVED OVER TIME?

In the product and consumer goods world, innovation has long been held as product innovation— namely, introducing new products. Right now, there is a proliferation of product choices, and innovation boils down more and more to experience. The standard example is probably UBER. They didn’t introduce the idea of fare-based transportation. What they did instead was look at the universal pain points of catching a cab and innovated the experience using technology. Of course, UBER’s story isn’t relevant to every business type, but the innovation concept is. All kinds of organizations can gain value from examining the pain points across the customer journey, innovating to create uniqueness in their brand, and elevating the experiences of their customers.

3. WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST BARRIERS TO INNOVATION?

Most organizations value innovation, at least at some level. The problem is that it’s very easy to focus day-to-day energy on existing products and services vs. innovation. Companies that are really good at innovation tend to also be really good creating the right environment for it to occur. That means, innovation is a part of culture, and space is made for it from leadership down. For companies working this out, a good place to start is to form a committed, leadership-involved team, and find ONE thing that can be improved or innovated. One small success creates the mental capacity — and the “proof of concept” — to create more.

4. HOW DO YOU BUILD TEAMS THAT WORK WELL TOWARD DEVELOPING TRANSFORMATIONAL EXPERIENCES?

First and foremost, there must be absolute clarity on vision and objectives, especially what success looks like. Secondly, it should be realistic. It is okay to be ambitious, but it can’t be unattainably ambitious. Sure, that’s intuitive, but enthusiasm sometimes overrides grounded planning. That’s why it is so important to have a roadmap, and even more important to have a committed team. It’s hard to tie people to goals when they’re working on a transformation or innovation initiative only part-time. Success is attained when people have clear goals and the time to execute on them. Stretching people in existing roles will inevitably mean both their job and their project is done at less 100%. And it often leads to burnout.

5. WHAT MAKES YOU SO EXCITED ABOUT SPORTS MARKETING?

I have been a sports fan my entire life, especially college sports. There is something really special about the camaraderie. Anyone who is a fan of a team in any sport will tell you that fandom is pure and passionate. When a brand can relevantly tie into passion, magic happens. And I’m not talking about billboards and signage in sports stadiums. Like so much in marketing these days, it is about experience. When I worked on the NCAA Final Four with Coca-Cola, we looked for ways to enhance the fan experience by creating on-site concerts, social media events, and even passing out commemorative Coke cans emblazoned with the winning team’s logo as fans exited the championship games. Those types of activities became a part of the fabric of the event. It was special, and it was relevant. There are so many opportunities to tap into passion, especially at the event level. But, passion can be tapped anywhere. TOMS built a business model around passion. They didn’t invent shoe sales, but they found a way to tap into a passion for giving back. And this is not just a consumer brand thing; there are ways any organization can tap into passion. This is especially evident when a business has a strong understanding of customers, and their journey with the brand.

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