By Kamala Kirk
Playa Vista-based advertising agency Deutsch LA recently announced the public launch of Blackness in Full Bloom, a free four-week virtual brand building program designed to assist and amplify Black-owned businesses in Los Angeles.
“Blackness in Full Bloom was first introduced in February 2020 as a Black History Month initiative,” said Ayn Howze, EVP, head of advocacy and communications at Deutsch LA. “The program was inspired to give local Black entrepreneurs the marketing tools and branding strategies to help their businesses bloom.”
The program was founded by former and current Deutsch LA executives Justin Brown, Gurbani Chadha and Maya Thompson, and provides access to world-class marketing expertise and resources.
“After launching this initiative during Black History Month last year, we quickly realized the importance of making this an ongoing program to continually uplift and support Black businesses in LA,” said Kim Getty, CEO of Deutsch LA. “As an agency, we draw inspiration from LA, while also finding ways to contribute to and magnify its cultural richness in all that we do. Blackness in Full Bloom helps us achieve this in a unique way by assisting Black entrepreneurs thrive in a city we all call home.”
The program consists of weekly, two-hour virtual workshops that cover different facets of marketing such as branding, design, paid and earned media, and content production. During the first week, participants will learn about marketing in social the way the big brands do, the role their brand and how to create consistency in the chaos of the Internet.
The second week covers paid and earned media and content distribution including how to invest in one’s business by amplifying their messages in social and search, tagging them to know what’s working, and learning how to use public relations and press to put a multiplier on a business’s reach.
Design and visual ID is the focus of the third week, which discusses how design plays a major role in overall brand development and audience engagement. Participants also learn how to visually stand out in a crowded marketplace.
During the fourth and final week, participants learn about creating content for social, and how to cheaply and efficiently produce higher-quality assets for all their business and marketing needs.
“We typically try to group companies for each cohort that are within the same business category such as retail, restaurants, health and wellness, and technology,” Howze said. “It’s not always that easy, and because it’s an ongoing program, we will manage a database of interested companies to include in future cohorts.”
In February, the program’s first cohort was hosted in person at Deutsch LA’s offices with natural haircare brand Cazza; Behind the Sneaker, a platform that highlights creatives and culture; and Nappily Natural Apothecary, a health and beauty story.
Due to the pandemic, Blackness in Full Bloom’s next iteration was hosted virtually in December with wine distributor O&M Wines and The Plant Plug LA, an organic gardening company. Its next iteration in April/May 2021 will also be held virtually.
“Like the rest of the world, we adjusted to our new normal and made a few adjustments, but nothing major,” Howze said. “So while the virtual setting limits hands-on instruction for the production side of the workshop, I believe the other aspects translate easily in a virtual environment.”
To date, Blackness in Full Bloom has assisted eight companies, including three that are currently in the program. Deutsch LA’s goal is to host at least three programs per year. For the first time, Deutsch LA is expanding the program by accepting applicants via online registration. Interested participants can apply by visiting the website and the next program will start in July or August.
“Blackness in Full Bloom provided me with impressive resources and tools that I’ve been able to implement immediately,” said Ozborne Williams, who participated in the December program and is co-owner of O&M Wines. “It was super valuable to work hands-on with Deutsch LA team members and understand how simple marketing techniques can better my brand and attract new social media followers that we easily converted into customers. I’m still in disbelief that this was a free program!”
Howze added, “The response has been great. There is a need for this type of program so there’s no shortage of companies looking for assistance. The goal has been to work with two to three companies for each cohort; we’ve hit that target for the last two cohorts we hosted in 2020. We are currently hosting our third cohort now and are excited to be working with three Black women-owned businesses. We are excited to get the word out about this program and continue to uplift and support Black businesses