We learned too. Our summer internship with The Brand Lab kids.

Tom Demetriou, Chief Marketing Officer

August 12, 2019

Saying goodbye was harder than we thought. There were hugs, at least one full on bro-hug, and promises to stay in touch. Christina left to start her freshman year at Mizzou and LeDre headed back Central High to finish his senior year. They were the DI marketing team’s summer interns, introduced to us by an organization called The Brand Lab, whose mission is to change the face and voice of marketing + advertising by preparing kids from diverse backgrounds for careers in those fields.

The Final Project

For their final assignment, we asked our interns to examine a mediocre experience in their own lives, and then re-design that experience to make it remarkable (which directly aligns with our company purpose). So on the last day of their 8-week internship, Christina and LeDre both had to do what we all must do in corporate America. Get up in front of a room and present. Oh, the humanity.

Spoiler alert, they brought it.

Christina, who will be a fashion major at Mizzou, wanted to re-design the changing room experience at Forever 21. She loves to shop there but singled out that part of the process as frustrating and disappointing. Among other ideas, she used interactive kiosks to make the experience simpler and more enjoyable.

LeDre’s interest in cars led him to explore how to improve the car-buying process. His observation: the test drive is the highlight, but dealerships typically place multiple barriers between shoppers and that step. So LeDre looked at how a VR-based simulated test drive could streamline the process.

In both cases, our interns identified a major hole in a retailer’s game and a significant opportunity. Trying on clothes might be the most critical step in a shopper’s decision to buy. Why not make it awesome? And as for car buying, why not give people more access to the one thing they want to do most? Drive the damn thing. Great questions posed by smart kids who represent the future of retail in more ways than one.

Why the Brand Lab?

Dimensional Innovations was just one of many creative companies in KC who chose to partner with the Brand Lab this year (HallmarkGarminDEGSignal Theory and my former employer Barkley are some others). On a higher level, it’s about corporations taking long overdue steps to build more diverse (and therefore more creative) teams. On a KC level, it’s about building a bridge between communities that historically and geographically don’t often intersect. But in the end, it just came down to real people teaming up to do a real thing. Christina and LeDre got us. And we got them. And I’m so happy we did.

My sincerest thanks to The Brand Lab’s Ghadeer Garcia, who guided us through the process, and Morgan Stockton on my team, who stepped up to design a rewarding 8-week agenda for the kids.

LeDre, we hope to see you back here next year. And Christina, guess we’ll just have to follow you on Instagram.