We’re so pleased Meredith Engelen has joined us to help shape our approach to strategy. Get to know her more below!
Tell us about your background and why you got into strategy.
I honestly fell into strategy. Fortunately, a mentor of mine recognized that I was a great fit for it and hired me. I couldn’t be more grateful, and I’ve never looked back.
Solving problems has always brought me joy—I love a good challenge. I enjoy tying together seemingly disparate bits of data, insight and perspectives to illuminate an answer or a new way of looking at a brand or industry. Whether it’s helping a new brand find its true purpose or helping an established brand reconnect with people in a new way, I’m always up for the challenge.
My background is in brand strategy and research. I earned my B.A. from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (go Heels!) and my M.A. from The University of Minnesota Twin Cities. I cut my teeth at mono and Olson in Minneapolis.
How has your view of brand strategy changed over the course of your career?
I suppose the most substantial shift we’ve witnessed is the movement of brands away from simply communicating what they do and how they are different to actively demonstrating the purpose they serve in people’s lives. This is, in part, driven by evolving forms of media: traditional, digital, social and otherwise. There’s so many more ways for brands to not merely connect with people, but to elevate their experiences. It’s also driven by the sheer volume of new brands and companies: In 2015, 3 startups were launched globally EVERY SECOND.
It’s no wonder the average American sees upwards of 10,000 messages from brands every day. This exponential rise has increased competition for share of mind—thus, pressure is on for brands to do more than broadcast who they are. Instead, they need to serve and provide value to real people. And that’s something I get really excited about!
It’s never been more important to have people at the center of your branding. If you don’t build your brand with the people you serve in mind, it’s merely a navel-gazing exercise. Brand strategy is about defining what you stand for and the value you offer, and then championing it throughout all your efforts. Much easier said than done, of course!
Who have been your mentors and what have they taught you?
I’ve had the great fortune of working for some amazing women (and a few dudes too) throughout my career. Some in strategy, some otherwise. I try to pick the traits I most admire from each of them and emulate those characteristics.
One of my favorite bosses shared a great piece of advice with me. She encouraged me to “eat the frog.” It means to do the hardest, scariest things first. So instead of working from a place of comfort, I get uncomfortable, which forces me to learn new things.
Another boss lady encouraged me to not stop at the first insight. She pushed me to find something that was truly, in her words, “sticky.” I never trust my first guess and knowing that about myself has really changed the way I work.
Finally, my parents are also my mentors. They taught me how to face a challenge with grace, how to be brave and how important it is to help others grow in their careers, too.
What drew you to Superhuman and what do you hope to accomplish?
They all love lunch as much as I do. Just kidding (but only kinda).
It was the gig I always wanted but didn’t know existed. I want to launch and grow brands. I want to work with a small (but mighty!) team of brilliant people. I want to flex some entrepreneurial muscle. I want to work with a team who blurs the lines between strategy, creative, and media roles. Superhuman offers all of that and more. I look forward to working with a group of amazing humans to strengthen the work we’re already doing, expand our offering altogether, and build a whole new kind of agency.