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How to find inspiration to innovate

Posted on Categories BrandonomicsTags

David Brady, CMO of the Houston Zoo, shares with Robin some great advice on using inspiration to help innovate and keep your brand, a top brand.

Robin: Hello, and welcome to this edition of Brandonomics, an inside look at top brands and their marketing strategies. I am Robin Tooms, vice-president of strategy at Savage and I’m here today with David Brady, chief marketing officer at the Houston Zoo. So David, welcome to the show.

David: Thanks for having me, Robin. Appreciate it.

Robin: Well, great. So you got on my radar when I saw you as a featured speaker at an American Marketing Association event and you were sharing advice on how to keep your brand as a top brand. So one of the things I wanna know is how do you keep your eyes and ears to the ground and what do other CMOs need to do?

David: Well, to me that’s the most important part of the job. It’s not sitting in an office answering e-mails or being on conference calls or in meetings. It’s being out in the public, out – for me at the zoo – walking the grounds of the zoo is a big part of it, but also seeing what everyone else in town is doing. So because of that and I’m very fortunate. My family likes to do a lot of things.

So we go to every festival. We go to the museums. We are constantly at concerts and sporting events. Anywhere I can go where people are gathering and they’re being exposed to brands and marketing, I’m there. I’m taking pictures. I’m doing everything I can do absorb what’s going on and what other people are doing.

Robin: Well, great. So how do you take this back to the office and apply it to the work at the zoo?

David: Well, I mentioned I take a lot of pictures. I take a lot of notes. It’s embarrassing for my kids when Dad’s there taking a picture of a bathroom sign, the directional sign, or taking notes at the children’s museum about what they’re doing. But they know that it’s something I love to do and they’re having a good time doing it. So for me I take a lot of pictures, and lot of notes, and then come back and use those and strategize with our team.

Say, “Okay. Look at this sign, the directional sign. How could we take this and tweak it and make it work for the zoo,” or “How could we take this exhibit that happened to be at the museum and make it work for us or this promotional item that was going on at a sporting event and make it work for us?” So we just take those ideas and talk about them and hopefully it sparks an interest and an idea for our team and we run with it.

Robin: Good. That’s important advice for all of us to follow. I appreciate you sharing that. Thank you again. This has been an edition of Brandonomics, an inside look at top brands and their marketing strategies. Stay tuned next week for another episode.


The Houston Zoo provides housing, meals, medical care and education for more than 6,000 permanent resident animals. Its mission is to provide a fun, unique and inspirational experience fostering appreciation, knowledge and care for the natural world for each of their more than 1.84 million annual guests.

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Robin Tooms is a consultant for brand, marketing and communications strategies for B2B and service companies. Expertise includes corporate branding, investor communications, employee communications, social media, and marketing with emphasis on effective online marketing and use of technology.

Contact her at or reach her by phone at 713-522-1555.

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