19 Sep 2019

Deeper Connections: Kaitlin Maud from Current Forward

Welcome to Deeper Connections, a new monthly series where we’ll introduce you to friends and colleagues whose work we love, and who we love to work with. You may meet them if you collaborate with us, you may want to hire them yourself, and you’ll definitely want to learn more about their who, what, when, where, why and how.

We’re kicking off the series with a dear friend who goes way back to our pre-Long Haul Films days. Our director, Melissa Dowler, worked wth Kaitlin in the Boston advertising industry and she was the founding member of the Mastermind group we participated in when we were taking our first steps towards launching our own production company and our careers as filmmakers. 

Kaitlin has always been the friend who knows what’s cool before anyone else. You know if she tells you about a coming trend, that everyone will be talking about it in a few weeks. She has turned this skill into her career, first working for global advertising agencies, and now as a strategy consultant and co-founder of Austin-based Current Forward.

Ready to get to know Kaitlin?

Who are you?

Kaitlin Maud, co-founder & CEO of Current Forward

Kaitlin is a strategy consultant with more than 10 years of experience working with brands as they navigate change. Prior to forming Current Forward, Kaitlin served as Strategy Director at T3, an Austin-based innovation agency, where she was a delivery lead on the UPS account. Before joining T3, she spent three years in LA consulting with clients such as Apple, Beats by Dre, and Taco Bell. Kaitlin’s background is in planning and design thinking, and she has deep experience in the digital space. She’s passionate about UX, cultural anthropology, trend forecasting and workshop facilitation. In 2013, Kaitlin gave a TEDx talk on social media research and she is a sought-after keynote speaker for universities and corporate groups, including AIGA, Soho House and Microsoft.

What is a brand strategy collective? What services do you offer and for what kind of companies?

A strategy is sort of like the “blueprint” of your brand. It’s not only the thing that tells your team what to build, but it tells them why and how to build it. With homes, the blueprint is meant to take into consideration the needs of the homeowner, but also the context of the space (how much land do we have to build on? what type of land is it?). In a business, the strategy helps articulate the needs that the brand is solving for – e.g. a unique market opportunity or customer demand, and how to best go about doing that. Things we get hired for most often are to do brand positioning work, run ideation sessions for client teams, and help them as they plan the launch of marketing campaigns.

Our “collective” model is pretty unique. Unlike traditional firms or agencies, we are 4 equal owners and operators. We do longer-term project engagements like you’d expect from the big guys, but we each also bring projects into the business independently and are able to collaborate with those clients more flexibly – based on need, our varying subject matter expertise, etc. Sometimes this means 2 of us for a particular project, vs. all 4.

Why would a company work with Current Forward?

We work with companies who want to scale, pivot, or expand.

Scale: companies that have really successful products and want to “take things to the next level” and become a brand. Oftentimes they want to expand into new, complementary products or services, or they’re intending to dramatically increase sales and visibility.

Pivot: companies who are facing a need to transform their business. These are most often legacy brands who are facing digital disruption and need to engage Current Forward to figure out how their model should adapt to rapidly changing consumer preferences and behaviors.

Expand: mature brands who are keen to enter new markets or reach new audiences.

How does an engagement with your company start?

Easy: just hit me up! I am @kaitlinmaud everywhere or you can email me (and the team) hello@currentfwd.com. Our engagements typically start with an informal conversation about what problems you’re trying to solve. If we aren’t a good fit, we may know someone in our network who could be.

When is the right time for a company to start working with you

BEFORE you undertake a new initiative! Call us before you invest a ton of money in an ad campaign or develop a new product. A strong strategy, like a blueprint, is meant to offer direction and mitigate risk. We can help you identify the biggest revenue opportunities or target more efficiently. Our goal is to maximize your chances of success.

Where we fit into projects with Long Haul is in helping to brief their team. We can do the up-front research with your stakeholders and/or in the market to identify what stories to tell that will best meet your goals. And then LHF are experts in knowing how to tell them. 

Where do you see your industry going in the next year? In the next 2-3 years? Beyond that?

We are in the business of predictions and even we couldn’t have predicted the last 2-3 years! But one thing we are really confident about as we look forward is that brands are seeking new and different ways to bring strategy work to life. No one has time to (or really wants to!) read 40-60 page reports. In order to make this type of work as valuable and useful to clients as it can be, we have charged ourselves with producing more tangible outputs and leading more collaborative, immersive engagements. 

One of the deliverables we just did that we are really proud of was a trend report in box form. We curated a package for our client (a men’s grooming brand) on the theme of Modern Masculinity. The 10+ products and “artifacts” included represented changing consumer attitudes and behaviors related to masculinity. It helped our client empathize with their target audience by being able to touch, see, smell, and even taste the things that they experience every day. This is something we are hoping to roll out for more clients in the future – maybe even as a subscription service.

Links for people to learn more: