Find your brand's inner superpower

Samantha Fay, SVP Global Brand Strategy at Guinness World Records will be taking to the YMS17 stage to inspire you to find your brand’s inner superpower. We caught up with her ahead of the event to discuss all things superhuman...


What are the most important marketing channels for you?

It depends on which of our audiences we are targeting.  We have two distinct businesses:  one which is consumer-facing and another for businesses who use record-breaking in their marketing campaigns.  For consumers we’re targeting families with children aged 7-11 so the most important channels in that respect are TV programming (through our show Officially Amazing), retail, YouTube and the rest of the social media channels.  Digital is also the main route to our second consumer audience, young adults.  On the B2B side we rely heavily on our website (over 50% of our business is generated this way) and also conferences, events and networking.

Is the youth market one that you actively set out to target or have you attracted a following organically along the way?

We’ve always targeted younger children – those 7 to 11 year olds - through the book and digital, however as the quantity and the quality of the content on our website has grown over the years, we’ve attracted an older youth audience, primarily 18-25 year old males, who love our YouTube channel.  Social media has become central to the way in which we engage with our youth audience – we have 11m+ fans on Facebook and an ever-growing presence on other platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat and Pinterest.  We’re adding to these channels all the time – in May 2016 we launched on Popjam where we now have over 41,000 followers.  So yes, it has definitely been an organic growth.

Have you noticed a trend in young people doing amazing things and pushing themselves perhaps further than before?

I’ve definitely noticed a trend and I think it’s down to three things:  I think it’s inherent in everybody that they want to see if they’re the best in the world at something, so I think it’s partly human nature in terms of self-discovery.  I also think the sharing culture has a lot to do with it - young people can see extraordinary things happening around the world instantly.  The third factor, I believe, is the huge increase in reality TV programmes such as Britain’s Got Talent where you’ve got ordinary people doing extraordinary things, people from everyday life becoming global stars.  I think the combination of all of these things encourages people to think ‘I could do that’.  So it’s partly nature, partly nurture.

What can brands learn from this trend of ‘super humans’?

Here at Guinness World Records we believe that everybody is amazing at something; we want to inspire people to find their true potential.  It’s about people finding their own superpower, and what happens with people can also be related to brands.  Brands are trying to differentiate themselves and stand out from the crowd – they need to discover their superpower too.

How can brands stand out from the crowd?

By becoming a Guinness World Records title holder, of course!  Seriously, brands can stand out from the crowd by doing something different, engaging with their audiences and telling great stories and that’s something that record-breaking gives you in spades.  When you are officially recognised for being the best in the world at something you can use that fact and recognition to amplify your message in terms of standing out from the crowd and your competitors

What other brands do you admire?

My first choice is a fairly obvious one, Virgin, for the way that the brand has expanded and diversified and continues to grow and challenge.  I’m a big fan of Richard Branson who is a multiple Guinness World Records title holder including having the most followers on LinkedIn.  I’m also an admirer of Red Bull because, like Guinness World Records, they are a brand that has reinvented itself from a drinks brand into a multi-platform, thrill-seeking entertainment brand.

What is your top tip for approaching work or life like a record breaker?

I don’t have one top tip, I actually have five.  At Guinness World Records we often talk about the five qualities you need to be legendary and they are: Imagination, Differentiation, Dedication, Validation and Amplification.  Simply put, use your imagination in your work and don’t be afraid to be creative.  Differentiation is something that you do differently and better than anyone else.  Dedication – whatever new skill it is that you need to do your job, go out there, find it and practice it.  In terms of personal validation, find a mentor that shares your passion and that can validate the work you do.  Finally, amplification:  if there’s something you’re good at, tell the world about it.  Share it with people and use that energy and enthusiasm to inspire others around you.

What is your favourite Guinness World Records title from 2016?

Can I choose two?  My first choice is 26-year-old Harnaam Kaur who holds the record for the Youngest female with a full beard.  She’s an anti-bullying campaigner who is inspiring other young people to accept and embrace their differences and to not be afraid of being different.  My second choice is the record I’ve shared the most this year and its Intel’s achievement for the Most drones airborne simultaneously with a stunning piece of airborne choreography.  When they first set the record in 2015 they launched 100 drones operated by four people, flying in sync to music played by a 25 piece orchestra.  They broke the record in October with 500 drones operated by just one person, an incredible feat.  I love tech and companies like Intel are really pushing the boundaries of what’s possible.  They also employ great creativity to get people thinking differently about their brand.

And finally a few fun questions…

What’s been the best moment of your career so far?

That’s a really difficult question when you work at Guinness World Records!  It would either be spending the day at the White House and doing jumping jacks on the lawn with Michelle Obama and National Geographic Kids, or showing Michael Jackson around the Guinness World Records office in 2006 and explaining to him what a photocopier was!

Favourite app? Why?

This changes a lot, but currently my favourite app is MSQRD, the face-swapping app.  There are two reasons for this: firstly, I can keep my children entertained for hours and secondly because it features in a brand new record that has been attempted a couple of times this year: Most face-swapped photos taken simultaneously.

Something few people know about you?

I write poetry.

What are you most looking forward to at YMS?

As a storyteller the thing I’m most looking forward to is hearing stories from young people, individuals and from other brands as well as sharing some stories from Guinness World Records.  I’ve also heard that the networking at YMS is brilliant – I’m a big networker so I’m really looking forward to it.

Finally, what we should have asked you that we didn’t?

You probably should have asked me what my favourite record of all time is and that would be the Tallest living man, 8ft 3in Sultan Kosen, who I spent time with in New York.  He told me that being in New York was the first time he has ever felt small.  

Haven't got your tickets for YMS LDN 2017 yet? Head on over to our event page for more information on the biggest youth marketing conference in Europe.