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Kodak CMO Steven Overman: Making the Brand Relevant

Former Nokia Marketing Exec Will Lead Brand Renewal at Kodak

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Steve Overman
Steve Overman

Last week, Eastman Kodak Co. named Steven Overman CMO and senior VP-corporate marketing, charged with leading a global renewal of the Kodak brand.

The top marketing post had been vacant since 2012 and was previously held by Pradeep Jotwani, who served in the dual role of CMO and president of Kodak's consumer digital group.

Mr. Overman was previously VP-global head of brand strategy and marketing creation for Nokia, and also founded Match & Candle, a brand strategy consultancy. He is the author of "The Conscience Economy: How a Mass Movement for Good Is Great for Business," which will be published next month.

In his new role, Mr. Overman will report to Kodak CEO Jeff Clarke and will lead the strategic development of Kodak's brand identity and global marketing programs.

In the following interview, he talks about how he plans to make the Kodak brand relevant.

Advertising Age: What are your top priorities as CMO?

Mr. Overman: My mission and my mandate from our CEO Jeff Clarke is to really grow the power and relevance of the Kodak brand and the value of the Kodak brand in the marketplace.

One priority is to work with the people inside Kodak to help transform the company into an even more agile and forward-thinking technology company. An equally crucial priority is to look at the marketplace and understand the changing needs of people and how they create, protect and share images and media, and identify new ways in which Kodak can serve them.

Ad Age: When you say people, are you referring to consumers or business users?

Mr. Overman: Today Kodak is a company that provides imaging solutions to businesses, and our most significant revenue is driven by our commercial customers. However, through our brand licensing business, which is an important part of our business, we do touch individuals directly. I prefer to use the term b-to-p: business-to-people.

Ad Age: What challenges has the brand faced since emerging from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last year?

Mr. Overman: I'm new to the company, so it's too soon for me to comment on that. We remain one of the world's most recognized and trusted brands, and the reestablishment of the CMO function of corporate marketing and brand marketing at Kodak is indicative of the board of directors' and the CEO's confidence in Kodak as a brand asset that can be leveraged for future success.

Ad Age: How do plan to renew the Kodak brand?

Mr. Overman: Kodak has played such a significant role in people's lives. People have deep and rich memories of Kodak. I was a film student, and I was shooting with Kodak 16 mm film, so I myself have some really deep associations with Kodak. It is in my DNA.

Nobody would argue with the fact that there has been as massive disruption in the way we capture and distribute images. Going forward, all evidence suggests that image-making, image-sharing and communicating through images -- not just pictures but three-dimensional representations of things -- will grow in relevance, and there will be opportunities to leverage the trustworthiness of the Kodak brand to create new sources of value.

Ad Age: What are your marketing plans -- will you launch any new campaigns or marketing programs around this brand effort?

Mr. Overman: It's too soon to say exactly what my playbook will be. It's not about a campaign per se, but actually about creating and refreshing the company's strategy so it is delivering value in new kinds of ways. Brand is not just about what you say, but what you do and how you deliver it.

Ad Age: Are you talking to agencies and other partners to help you with this?

Mr. Overman: We have been contacted by a broad range of agencies, but not one has come forward to say, 'We want to look at the state of your business and be a strategic partner, not only in how you communicate, but what you are and how you deliver it.' I will take a look at the partners we'll be working with in the future.

I'll be looking for a very different non-traditional type of configuration to help us. All communication is digital and interactive today. I'm a firm believer in applying design thinking and methodology to communications and corporate strategy. I am looking for strategic thinking, but in non-traditional ways.

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