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Alumnus Discusses Managing the Brand

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Nearly two years ago, Klara Farkas ’89 decided to maximize her marketing career experience and founded her own consultancy, Klarity International, advising individuals and companies on brand marketing — an ever-evolving area constantly demanding more attention and resources from the C-suite in companies all over the world.

“Marketing and technology leadership have become so much more aligned that it is not enough to be aware of the digital world, you need to be versed in it,” says Farkas. “We are witnessing the traditional role of chief marketing officer being transformed in radical and unexpected ways, in some cases shifting to CTO or CIO roles.”

Farkas, who earned a degree in international business, is involved in the Mihaylo Center for International Business to ensure the program that benefited her so much can assist today’s students. In addition to running Klarity International, she is also the program facilitator and Southern California manager for Women Unlimited Inc., which seeks to develop women corporate leaders.

From 2006 to 2014, Farkas was global marketing director for Taco Bell/Yum Restaurants International, leading the expansion of the Taco Bell brand into 12 new international markets. During her tenure, she led the necessary change in marketing and brand philosophies along with the tactics required to build a trusted brand in each location.

“As we launched in each new market with Taco Bell, we had to learn to adjust quickly, and responding to consumers’ reactions was critical.” With stores opening around the world one at a time – from Spain to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait to Korea – driving awareness was challenging, she adds. With savvy use of social media tailored to each market, the company was able to leverage a medium that is widely used by its target audience.

“From a branding perspective, we learned that fundamentally holding to the brand’s positioning, which is young at heart, edgy and a bit cheeky, was important, but we interpreted it in each market so that it was culturally relevant.”

The bottom line? “When a brand isn’t top of mind and not in the conversation, it’s easily forgotten,” says Farkas. “Leaders of great brands can’t lose sight of their core business, but they must recognize the need to change and constantly evolve.”