Karen van Hunnik: Transforming Ideas into Strategic Solutions

Karen van Hunnik, Vice President of Strategy and Client Services at TMD, has had an exciting journey working for organizations such as Victoria’s Secret, Footlocker and SportChek, and building partnerships with top brands in the athletic industry.

Her experience in brand development as well as go-to-market strategies make her a valuable asset to the TMD team and the clients we serve.  We recently asked her to share her insights on her career and current role.

Read the full interview below:

Karen van Hunnik, Vice President of Strategy and Client Services at TMD.

What is the work-related accomplishment you are the most proud of?

Developing the marketing strategy and go-to-market plan to launch the first international expansion of the Victoria’s Secret brand was definitely a career highlight. I’ve been so fortunate to work on other high-profile events, including initiatives around the NBA All-Star Game in Toronto with Footlocker, but what I experienced with Victoria’s Secret was the true meaning of “power of a brand”.  The response was so incredibly overwhelming and reinforces that a brand is about the total experience we create for the consumer. 

Now, what happened to the brand since that time is also a lesson in how detrimental it can be when a brand doesn’t evolve and listen to what their customers are telling them, but that’s a conversation for another day. I am really happy to see that they are repositioning themselves and on an upward trajectory.

What is your approach to strategy?

First and foremost, it is important to listen. When meeting with a client, we listen to what their vision is for the organization, who they are or who they want to be.

Understand the brand – if they can’t articulate it, then we have additional work to do because if they don’t define it, others will, and they just might not get it right.

Understand the problem(s) we are trying to solve. Create objectives and ensure the plan addresses them.

Define what success looks like, how we measure it and the commitment required to achieve those objectives across the organization.

Lastly, review and evaluate the strategic plan on an on-going basis and refine when necessary.

Where do you see the future for brand messaging and development post-COVID?

Depending on the type of business, many brands were forced to re-assess their customer journey map and ensure the experience delivered aligned with their customers’ changing perspectives, expectations, and behaviours. I think brands will continue to evaluate and evolve their messaging to reflect this shift.

Many brands realized the importance of humanizing themselves and I believe this will continue. We know people connect to brands that are relatable and relevant; these are the brands that stand apart and garner the most attention. We saw more brands outwardly expressing and living their core values which goes a long way in drawing people in, both from a customer perspective and when attracting talent.

What advice do you have for those entering the marketing industry today?

The most important thing you can do is remain curious and driven to learn.

I continue to surround myself with smart people and leverage the incredible talent that I have in my network to bounce ideas and gain additional insights.

Basically, I try to absorb their awesomeness!

Want to learn more about how businesses can improve their branding and messaging? Follow TMD on LinkedIn, check out a sample of our TMD Solutions, or reach out via email at info@tmd.ca