Executive Insights with Joel Warneke: 3 Takeaways from Our Interview with Cincinnati Business Courier


Joel Warneke, co-founder and -president of (matter) sat down for a Cincinnati Business Courier exclusive interview with its president and publisher Jamie Smith. The two discussed industry trends, remote collaboration, workflow automation, and more.

Warneke and Smith covered a lot of ground — but here are the top three things we learned from their Q&A.


Lesson #1: Sometimes brands want a solution to a symptom, when they key is to address the bigger, underlying cause.

There’s more to branding than a logo or a slogan. Before Warneke and his team even address the creative aspects of a project, they establish a foundation of thoughtful strategy based on thorough research.

“We think of it like a house,” Warneke said. “If you’re building a house, you want to make sure the foundation of the house is solid before you start constructing over the top of it.”

Every decision is made based on that strategy: brand colors, voice, imagery, and more.

Sometimes clients come to (matter) with small creative fixes in mind, but Warneke finds that usually the issue isn’t so small — it’s a sign of a faulty foundational strategy.

“Clients come to us with a symptom. They say, ‘Hey, we need a website, or we need new logo.’ We try to slow that process down and back that up,” Warneke said. “Why do you need a new logo? What’s happening in the industry? In your business? Let’s make sure we’ve got the strategy set.”

The (matter) team helps the client develop a solution that works overall, not just a creative bandage.


Lesson #2: Brand maintenance is as important as building the brand.

A business can spend months or years carefully crafting their brand, from the voice to the look. But all that work could be for nothing if they don’t follow through with that vision after the brand is launched.

Branding is about consistency. Brands create an identity geared toward their target audience. By remaining consistent and present, the brand makes an impression on that audience. If a brand’s message, look, or tone is inconsistent, the audience won’t recognize or remember the brand. That is a concern that (matter) takes precautions against.

(matter) helps clients build their brand and prepare for branding in the long-term. The team creates a brand guide of colors, fonts, vocabulary, products, and more for the client to ensure their appearance and messaging remain in line with the brand’s vision.

“Brand maintenance is as important as creating the brand. One of the things the (matter) teams delivers after the initial engagement is the brand standards and guidelines, the rules around how the language of the brand is being used,” Warneke said. “You don’t want to constrain the creative process, but we want to make sure that what we’re putting out there is consistent and you’re building those impressions over time that are recognizable. That’s what creates the equity and value behind a brand. It’s the same experience repeatedly that creates that impression and that’s why your audience remembers.”


Lesson #3: The meaning of brand experience has grown in the 23 years (matter) has been in business.

In the ‘90s, marketers only had to worry about their brand showing up in so many places. In the last 23 years, the number of marketing channels has boomed.

Social and interactive media, like augmented and virtual reality, have offered businesses opportunities to connect with customers in a personable, memorable way. These new channels bring on a whole new set of strategic challenges.

“When we first started in the business, there were a few channels that we were tapping into,” Warneke said. “Now with social media and experiences, the brand gets stretched and put into a lot of various places that you really don’t anticipate when you’re doing some of the strategy work. So, you’ve got to create something that’s flexible, that’s going to flex with the clients’ needs that brand to live, and where the customers are.”

The (matter) team is always learning and practicing what it means to create a branded experience — even those that seemed inconceivable when (matter) was born.

“We’re working on an experiential project right now,” Warneke said. “It’s a blast to work on because we’re able to do things that are different and allow our creatives to stretch their wings a little bit and do different things.”


Executive Insights with (matter) + Leap Group.

Warneke and Smith scratched the surface of their conversation with branding, maintenance, and experiential marketing. To see the video Q&A in its entirety, visit Cincinnati Business Courier.

Rashmi Hurst's interview with Louisville Business First

Joel Warneke wasn’t the only executive feature for the Leap Group network this month. (human)x Vice President of Digital Experiences Rashmi Hurst was featured in Louisville Business First, where she discussed machine learning, industry trends, and digital client experiences. To read that recap, visit the (human)x blog.

To learn more about (matter) strategy, branding, and design, visit our website or contact us for a consultation.