Laura Bates, Founder and Principal of Brand Verve, is a former brand executive with Procter & Gamble, Marriott International, and Domino’s Pizza. Experienced in marketing and brand management, she has enhanced the value of brands for Fortune 500 companies as well as for smaller, start-up companies.
At Marriott, Laura served as Senior Vice President of Brand Management. While there, she was instrumental in the repositioning of Marriott Hotels, Renaissance Hotels, and Residence Inn. She also drove the re-engineering of Marriott’s product design and innovation process and defined a strategy for Marriott’s expansion in the global spa business.
As Brand Manager at Procter & Gamble, she led the revitalization of Cover Girl Cosmetics to secure its number one market share position and deliver record profitability. As part of that effort, she spearheaded one of the most successful new-product launches in the history of consumer packaged goods.
Earlier in her career, as Regional Marketing leader for Domino’s Pizza, Laura created programs that helped her Mid-Atlantic Region earn two national sales records.
She has a broad base of experience in a number of industries including consumer products, hospitality, retail, financial services, healthcare, and education. Her work in hospitality has been acknowledged with awards including a Gold Key design award from Boutique Design New York and by Condé Nast Traveler.
Laura is a faculty member for the Association of National Advertisers where she teaches courses on brand positioning and customer engagement. Laura earned a bachelor’s degree in communications at Tulane University and an MBA from the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University where she was the Unilever U.S. Scholarship recipient.
Karen McSteen, a results-driven and accomplished branding and business strategist. She has spent her career developing distinctive brands and working with organizations to strengthen their competitive position and increase customer engagement.
Karen focuses on developing an organization-wide, brand-centered approach for her clients, a highly effective strategy she honed in her leadership roles as AOL’s Senior Vice President of Brand Strategy and Brand Vice President at Marriott International. Karen’s experience as a senior brand executive has profoundly influenced her philosophy of consulting.
She is a hands-on collaborative partner to every client, and she believes that each engagement should be directly and inextricably linked to business goals.
As a consultant, Karen has developed positioning strategies for clients across a broad range of industries including travel, hospitality, education, media and technology; facilitated brand and business planning processes for corporate and association clients; and created innovative product and service strategies to bring brands to life.
Karen earned her bachelor’s degree in business from Michigan State University. She is a member of the International Franchise Association and the International Society of Hotel Consultants. In addition, she has been a brand strategy instructor for Marriott’s Executive Development program and is frequently sought after as a speaker to share her approach to building and sustaining a strong brand.