Blog #7 – Personal Reflection

Storytelling is the biggest factor of brand building. Storytelling is how connections are made with target audiences. Storytelling is important to creating digital content because it is the backbone the entire hierarchy of a company and their presence online, in packaging and through word of mouth. The first step to creating that content is to utilize either tactic of product, place, promotion and price or PAS (problem, agitation and solution) to begin to draft a positioning statement. Taking the 4 P’s approach can utilize a more passive or submissive communication style to entice consumers. The PAS would typically use a more aggressive, assertive or manipulative communication style. Any of the above styles or tactics will work because any of those options play directly to emotions. Being a more emotional person myself, I tend to skew towards a passive or submissive communication style. Truly, at the end of the day, I want to be able to make a difference. I want to tell story and advertise products that spark happiness and enrich people’s quality of life. Human connection, face to face or digitally, is important to me. I want to be able to tell those stories by amplifying other’s stories as if they were my friend or family. I’m slowly working toward building those connection and sharing those stories through my work and look forward to being able to continuously learning more about those stories that need to be told.

Blog #6 – Who am I? What do I do?

Who am I? What do I do?

Jean Valjean. Just kidding, I’m Kiley Gray. I’m a designer, I’m a marketer, I’m an innovator and most importantly, I’m a communicator. I started out learning about graphic design when I was in grade 6. I continued to learn and expand my skillset through the Adobe Creative Suite. I have two or three full photo albums on my facebook page of all of my “early” designs. And let me tell you, they were not good. But, it was something I loved to do and I loved to learn about. In late grade school, people in my class would send me their self-portraits and ask me to “edit” them for them. Check this out:

Don’t worry – I’ve much improved since then. I’m now a professional packaging and product designer. Here’s a recent project I finished:

I spent a week at a Catholic leadership camp every summer from the end of grade school to the beginning of my second year of college. This, coupled with attending a local youth group through my high school years, definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone and kickstarted my development into a confident person who believed in not only her interpersonal skills, but her tangible and employable skills as well. My college experiences were the true catalyst of shaping me into the marketer, design, communicator and business owner I am today.

So to answer the questions: “Who am I? What do I do?”, I can confidently say that I am Kiley Gray. I’m a designer, I’m a marketer, I’m an innovator and most importantly, I’m a communicator. I have a vast skillset and I don’t just bring tangible skills to the table. I bring unparalleled value and success to those I work with. I am one of the most fortunate to be able to work within a number of industries where I can soak up new knowledge every day. I do have a tendency to allow my work to define me but, my work has contributed a big part to the person I present myself as on a daily basis, personally and professionally. And I am 100% okay with that. I like who I am and I love what I do.

Blog #5 – Personal Brand – The Swiss Army Knife

As a marketer, I’ve strived to be THE jack of all trades. At work, my boss calls me the department’s “Swiss Army Knife”. My skill set is very vast and spans from graphic design to web design to photography to digital marketing. I’ve worked extremely hard over the last 8 years to learn as much as I can and take on new challenges to gain experience in as many areas as possible. I try to dip my toe into as much as possible so that I can find out what I like and expand my knowledge from there. For instance, I originally specialized in graphic design and eventually moved to digital marketing management.

Most recently, I was faced with a challenge of taking concert photography, which is notoriously known as the most difficult type of photography there is (check out some of the final images below). On December 11, 2021, I photographed my first concert – REO Speedwagon!

Anything that had a creative edge that I can take the reins of and make it my own is my bread and butter. Hardworking, creative, persistent – I will never let my stop learning and up-levelling my career and skills. I think my work ethic and my ability to take on pretty much any marketing or design project sets me apart from other marketers and my perseverance to continue to grow will continue to serve me for years to come.

Blog #4: Sustainability is Just S’Well

The story of S’Well states: “At a time when sustainable products weren’t stylish and stylish products weren’t sustainable, she created the world’s first reusable hydration accessory. A beautiful form that fused function with fashion to make doing the right thing a crave-worthy experience” (S’Well, 2021).

Their mission statement is: “At S’well, we hope to be a spark for change — the inspiration to live a little more sustainably in an unsustainable world” (2021). When most think of needing a reusable water bottle, I would think most automatically default to S’Well bottles. This brand took something so mediocre and dare I say, boring? and made it hip. In the last twelve years, their product line has expanded from plain, drab colours to fun, eye-catching patterns and designs. They continually build up their social media presence with UGC (or user-generated content) where they frequently show their products being used in real, raw situations. This tactic proves that their products can be used conveniently in a variety of settings and are always a viable option instead of choose the wasteful, “convenient” options.

S’Well is leveraging their online presence and platforms to keep in touch with their customers and build brand ambassadors. Over the last decade, they have transformed themselves into a go-to sustainable option to avoid single-use plastics.

Blog Post #3: Target Audiences

As someone who lives and breathes content marketing on a daily basis, target audiences are something that take up a big part of my brain and something that could very well be considered one of the hardest aspects of branding to pin down. You see, I work in the gaming and entertainment industry, which is largely targeted towards older generations who still enjoy visiting a brick and mortar casino (in a pandemic no less). As that audience continues to age, I’m always optimizing the messages to not only appeal to that audience but to build an affinity group in younger millennials and Gen Z. Ultimately, not an easy task, as millennials and Gen Z LOVE to keep their money close and trying to sell as casino as value proposition? Not a simple roadmap, that is for certain.

I think we have all likely noticed a big shift in consumer marketing over the last two years. At least for me, a lot of the sponsored ads are for at-home fitness or experiential deals, all-inclusive vacations, concert tour announcements, it seems like a lot of companies are playing catch-up for lost revenue. In saying this, these companies are targeting correctly – I’m a huge advocate for at-home fitness that loves music and daydreams about travelling far from my small town. When it comes to personal fitness, I strongly believe that you don’t need to be a part of an expensive gym or have a room full of fancy, wallet emptying equipment with a group of strangers within an arm’s reach. Speaking from experience, you can have just as much physical and mental success from the comfort of your own living room or basement.

Photo by Jonathan Borba on

Large scale franchises or gyms tend to have a surface level “every body belongs here” while the experience at the actual facility can be really different, judgemental let alone comforting and accepting. Prior to 2020, the at-home fitness companies like Peloton and Beachbody appeal mostly to those who had a beginner fitness level, were looking to lose weight or were not interested in joining a brick and mortar fitness centre. Now, it’s a widespread trend that is based on convenience, ease of use and a comforting theme that anyone can get healthy and stay healthy with the help of a virtual team and personal accountability.

To pair with this phenomenon, we now see big name brands like Gymshark, Ethos, ASOS/ASOS Curve and Old Navy marketing and connecting with any and all body types. See this article from on Yahoo.

We’re lucky to live in a time where such large steps are being taken to include anyone despite race, gender, size, height or weight.

Blog #2 – Storytelling is the Foundation of Relationship Building

Photo by Daria Shevtsova on

In recent weeks, we’ve focused on storytelling, communication styles and audience interaction. Much of this content focused on finding your own personal style. It’s important to find your own writing or communication style to bring you closer to your people, the ones who need or want to hear what you have to say. Understanding the correct structure of your stories is paramount and should always present the most important information first, which can be referred to as the “hook” followed by less crucial information that the audience may find entertaining, helpful or interesting, known as supporting details, and lastly, followed by the least important details, that could be referred to as “fluff”. Keep in mind, regardless of platform, attention to detail, spelling, grammar and straight and to the point content, will keep the audience from getting distracted and keep them engaged.

Using this method should connect you with your intended audience. People crave connection and want to be heard. Whether it’s in their personal or professional lives, digitally or face to face. In this day and age, we all try to leverage digital platforms to connect with our audiences, families and followers. It’s significantly easier to find those of similar mindset, beliefs or experiences since we can constantly pump out content in our style and get that audience hooked. This applies in print, video, caption copy and really, anywhere you’re trying to communicate your thoughts and stories. Once your content and story is out there, you’ve already began to build your relationship with your intended audience.

Until the next post,

Kiley Gray

Blog #1 – Cuba Before COVID

What was the last vacation you took?

Before the world came to a screeching halt in March of 2020, my friends and I took a week long trip to Cayo Coco, Cuba. This was my first “big-kid” vacation since I started my career, so it felt like a big deal. The trip consisted of myself, my boyfriend, my best friend, her newlywed husband and two of our other friends. 

It was the third week of February 2020, and we just happened to land in Cayo Coco the day before Valentine’s Day. Now, our friends, Cara and James, had just gotten married in August of 2019 and couldn’t take a proper honeymoon. This trip to them was essentially the honeymoon they never got to take. 

We arrived in Cayo Coco late on February 13th. Stepping off the plane into 75 degree weather was the best feeling considering it was -8°C in Toronto when we left. The majority of the week was relaxing, filled with delicious food and drinks and relaxing by the resort’s pool or on the white sand beach. We got lucky because we were a group of six, technically three different bookings, which allowed us to book 3 dinner reservations for our group. This gave us the choice to go to the hibachi restaurant, the Italian restaurant or the barbecue restaurant instead of the buffet for each meal. 

After our hibachi dinner on Valentine’s night, we headed over to the resort stage, where a nightly show took place. The hosts seemed to notice that we were a group of three couples so, naturally, they selected us to be participants in a game-show type of competition that put each couple against each other. The first challenge was a twerking challenge and the last challenge was to perform the dance scene from Dirty Dancing… have you ever had to do something like that? Believe me when I say that this was the most stressful thing I’ve ever done in public. I’m just really glad there isn’t any video evidence.

Later in the week, we paid a few extra dollars to attend a late night party in a nightclub that was built inside of a cave. It was crazy and crowded and loud but, a once in a lifetime opportunity. We made friends with a number of the employees at our resort and hung out with them in the club. The day before we left, the boys rented a pedal boat and drove us around the ocean while we sipped on pina coladas. We took a long walk out in the ocean along different sandbars and watched the sun go down on the beach before we headed to our last dinner reservation. 

The world shut down a few weeks after we returned home and the timing was perfect – cosmic even. I’m extremely glad I got the chance to experience a new country and culture before the chaos of 2020 ensued.