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396: How ICE is Rebranding and Acquiring while Maintaining Brand Equity with CMO Stephanie Dobbs Brown

When Stephanie Dobbs Brown graduated from the University of Tennessee, she had two job offers in front of her. Instead of choosing, she did both for several years, which perfectly represents her dedication to her career. Eventually, she came to a fork in the road that led her to PR Newswire in Chicago. After a few years, she moved on to Thomson Reuters, where she had her first role running a P&L. In 2013, she got her first client-side brand role with Dow Jones, then moved over to ICE in 2017. In 2021, Stephanie was promoted to the CMO role, and under her leadership, ICE has undergone a profound transformation. She has led the company’s rebrand, including its first global brand campaign, expanding programming capabilities, and reimagining the NYSE’s iconic bell experience.

In this episode, Alan and Stephanie discuss her pathway to becoming CMO, the complexity of ICE, and how marketing efforts need to respond to each of the business’s unique needs. They also talk about the NYSE and their rebrand journey, including how it got started, the elements leading up to it, and what they are focusing on today and moving forward. Stephine also tells us what changed her perspective on leadership, why she prioritized authenticity, and why it’s so important to focus on the intersection of people, purpose, and profit.

Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) is a Fortune 500 exchange operator with 14,000+ employees worldwide. They have been around for about 25 years and have had about 50 acquisitions each to create more transparency and efficiency. They have three main business segments: exchanges composed of futures and equities, a large data business largely focused on fixed-income data, and a mortgage technology business. The thread that ties them all together is connecting buyers and sellers. Each arm has a different marketing strategy that Stephine oversees. Exchanges and futures are centered around reinforcing key messages, data is about demand generation, mortgages are focused on the lead funnel, and the NYSE prioritizes working with start-ups and increasing brand recognition.

With so many plates spinning, Jennifer uses her background in sales to help her manage her time, organize her priorities, and build relationships, while her background in communications helps her think about messaging. She says her job as a marketer is to knit it all together and ensure she and her team are making the biggest impact. Part of that impact has been reevaluating the ICE messaging and brand. In 2019, they realized there needed to be more clarity about who ICE is and what their strategy is. Murkiness was both slowing down the sales cycle and making recruitment more difficult. In 2020, they executed their largest acquisition to date with Ellie May and used that opportunity to retell their story. They focused on expanding their reach, consolidating their acquisitions, organizing a hierarchy, and figuring out how to have ICE and NYSE benefit from each other while leaning into the existing equity the brand names held.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • ICE’s various business arms and how each is marketed
  • The reason behind the rebranding and the steps for execution
  • What it means to lead with authenticity and consideration for people, purpose, and profit

 Key Highlights: 

  • [01:40] A deep-sea fisher in New York
  • [03:50] Stephanie’s path from TV to CMO
  • [08:45] What is ICE?
  • [11:00] Different marketing strategies for different business segments
  • [13:15] Managing so many different business models
  • [14:25] The sales mentality, including time management
  • [16:00] The Rebrand: Who is ICE?
  • [18:00] Leaning into brand equity through a rebrand
  • [22:50] Stephanie’s leadership mindsets
  • [26:00] Lessons learned from a cancer diagnosis
  • [30:35] Advice to her younger self
  • [32:00] Every marketer needs business and financial acumen.
  • [32:50] The future of fintech for payments
  • [34:05] AI is happening. Lean in. 

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