Juntae DeLane: Creating Identity, Visibility, and Credibility in the Digital Space

August 6, 2021

“If you consider your brand a resource or an anchor in your customer’s lives, you cannot abandon them. You must be present beyond the marketing funnel.”

That’s just one bit of advice Juntae DeLane, Founder and Chief Strategist at Digital Delane, imparts on his clients — and other marketers who flock to hear him speak — about cultivating online B2B brands on the heels of a difficult year for both. 

Juntae’s passion for digital has long been evident, and he credits it for helping him carve a path along his own marketing journey that has included stops at Coca-Cola, Sony, Verizon, NBC Universal, and Paramount Pictures to name a few. That same passion also led him to create The Digital Branding Institute, a global hub offering resources, education, and training for individuals and organizations. 

While this digital branding luminary knows how to make waves creating, shaping, and measuring an online presence for brands, he also knows this: It’s still about personal connections. Which, along with a wealth of insights, is what Juntae delivers in his own content as a keynote speaker, blogger, and podcaster.

As the saying goes, If you want something done right, ask a busy person to do it. Which is precisely why we reached out to Juntae to share some of his expertise as one of our top marketers to watch.

In this interview, Juntae offers some great insights about content creation and staying off the hamster wheel, the key difference for brands between listening and understanding their customers, and the biggest mistake he sees marketers making today.

LinkedIn: Digital branding is clearly your bread-and-butter. Where are you focusing (and advising your clients to focus) most these days when it comes to cultivating a brand online?

Juntae DeLane: Overall, when it comes to cultivating a brand online you must focus on your identity, visibility, and credibility in the digital space. These days, consistency is key. In fact, many algorithms reward this behavior. Creating content consistently will increase your overall impressions and keep the attention of users who stumble across your brand. At Digital Delane, we are a full-service digital agency that develops and produces this content on behalf of our clients. So, from a client’s perspective, we want to extract as many forms of content as possible to establish their position in the marketplace.

LI: Can you share some of the biggest marketing lessons you've learned in a diverse career that includes stops at Coca-Cola, Paramount Pictures, and your current professional home, USC?

Juntae: I have worked with the likes of Fortune 500 brands, SMBs, and high-profile individuals. One lesson I learned throughout my career is that perception is often not reality. Many of these brands have the same issues. Brands all need bigger marketing budgets, they still haven’t fully gotten a grasp on attribution, and all are looking for creative ideas. I have built a career identifying these challenges and providing a solution. Solving these unique problems certainly has made me a better marketer.

LI: What's the most common brand-building mistake you see from today's marketers?

Juntae: The biggest brand-building mistake I see from today’s marketers is being inauthentic. In the Bay Area (and certainly other places) we have a saying, “Fake it until you make it.” The saying was about having the confidence to claim something before it has fully come to fruition. Nowadays, people can fact-check, review past content, and Google search your name. The bottom line is, your digital brand is more than that one platform where you have a strong presence. Or that one main value you tout about your organization. It’s the collection of touch points that represent your brand. All touch points must be consistent and authentic.

LI: You've talked in the past about the key difference between listening and understanding. Which tools and methods do you rely on to gain a clear understanding of customer audiences?

Juntae: There is a key difference between listening and understanding. For example, many brands may listen to what the customer is saying but may spend less effort in understanding them. Surveying your audience is a common method to glean insights, but the way in which you apply those insights demonstrates a true understanding of your audience. If you, for example, apply those insights to a campaign only to find out it completely missed the mark, did you truly understand your audience? One method I would recommend is to bring diversity into the mix. Be sure to consider diverse perspectives within a target segment. This consideration will ultimately enhance your campaigns. 

LI: How can modern marketers meet the challenge of creating more content without sacrificing quality?

Juntae: As marketers, we may often find ourselves creating content for content’s sake. We get stuck on that hamster wheel of content creation. One thing I tell our clients is that new content is not always quality content. Perhaps you can enhance existing content to make it more relevant. Or look beyond the typical vanity metrics and focus on content that is converting. At the end of the day, conversions should be a measurement of quality.

LI: The last year has obviously been a turbulent one for society, with COVID lockdowns and civil unrest stemming from George Floyd's killing. What do you view as the biggest challenges, changes, or lessons of the past 12 months from a marketing standpoint?

Juntae: The biggest challenge of the last 12 months from a marketing perspective is how brands connect with consumers from a personal level. Since many businesses didn’t have a way to physically interact with their customers, they were forced to do so on digital platforms. These brand engagements were buried in dialogue about the pandemic and systemic racism. So, if brands did not authentically talk about (or acknowledge) the concerns that plagued consumers, they were lost in the shuffle. 

The main lesson is that as a brand, you must stay present no matter what. If you consider your brand a resource or an anchor in your customer’s lives, you cannot abandon them. You must be present beyond the marketing funnel. The brands that took heed will have a deeper connection with their audience. This connection should persist beyond the pandemic.

LI: What content is giving you life? (Or, what's the most impactful/memorable piece of content you've encountered recently?)

Juntae: I came across this video that sums up how people are dealing with the pandemic. I have included it in some of my recent speaking engagements.

LI: How do you use LinkedIn to engage and grow your audience?

Juntae: I try to use as many of the LinkedIn features as possible, and try to engage with my network at least 10 minutes a day. If you want to say hello then let’s connect.

LI: Any final thoughts?

Juntae: I appreciate being featured on this platform. If you have any marketing challenges or are in need of a marketing partner, feel free to reach out to us.

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