Arianna Huffington likes to quote Greek philosophers. For her keynote speech during OMMA’s AdWeek conference about the challenges facing online brands, she chose the famous mathematician, Archimedes. “Give me a place to stand and I will move the world,” she said in her endearing Greek accent. Ms. Huffington then used the word “DNA” nine times, and with good reason. She couldn’t stress enough that brands need to know who they are and why they exist. When a new hot trend comes by they must not stray from this identity, no matter what.
Then, once the brand is standing firm, she said to remember that a brand is really a group of people. “Data is good but storytelling is better,” Huffington said “put some flesh and blood in the raw numbers.” She is leading by example. Although she is well known as the Editor-in-Chief (EIC) of a very popular blog, she is a person first. She takes risks with personal disclosures, opinions and her thought-leadership trickles down to benefit her business. This is how women’s print magazine EICs have been operating for years, but Huffington takes it a few steps further.
Ms. Huffington is a new breed of CEO – an open-source platform that shares what she knows about the world while allowing others to comment and lead not only her self discovery, but that of her company. And, given the heightened self-awareness of consumers, it’s a platform of necessity. It’s not enough to talk about the business that you know and manage, in this keynote about online brands, she also spoke about gardening, divorce and sleep cycles. “One trend I’m seeing now is everyone’s struggle to keep a balanced life because we are so hyper-connected and hyper-stressed,” she said “we need to sleep and recharge.” Everyone nods.
When it came time for questions, not one person asked about online brands. They wanted to hear Huffington’s take on immigration, politics, and about what book she’s reading. She spoke on all these varied topics while staying on point as classic Arianna, a social brand. At the end of the session, she gave out her email address from the podium.