Russell Messner, Global Head of Brand Marketing, Vanguard


The Philadelphia headquarters of FS Investments was the site of the June 13th FCS Spotlight Breakfast which featured a conversation between our guest speaker Russ Messner, Global Head of Brand at Vanguard, and Ed Nini, Managing Director, Global Head of Product at Principal Asset Management.

Ed, who’s the president of the FCS Philly chapter, sat down with Russ to discuss his lessons learned evolving and shepherding the brand of one of the industry’s largest global asset managers.

Here are five key takeaways from the highly engaging discussion:

Find Something Real: Many brand efforts are focused on putting “spin” on a product, service or company. But Vanguard’s brand evolution homed in on a tangible, actual aspect of the business’ structure – the fact that fund shareholders are owners of the funds. This unique approach is what gave rise to Vanguard’s “Value of Ownership” brand positioning and campaign.

Brand vs. Performance Marketing: These are often viewed as two siloed functions, but Vanguard’s experience has shown that the two are intertwined – each has an impact on the other. Therefore, each needs to be looked at as connected functions that must take into account their impact across the funnel.

Don’t Just Grow the Brand – Protect It: Russ discussed the idea of being obsessive with risk mitigation when it comes to branding – it’s just as important to consider (and avoid) potential brand risks when launching a new message or campaign, as it is to consider how that message or campaign will contribute towards brand growth.

Connect the Dots for Your People: A common practice at Vanguard is to bring in actual investors to discuss how Vanguard has positively impacted their financial lives. This is a powerful way to inspire employees with the purpose of the brand and what it enables its investors to do and accomplish.

Less is More: The demands of marketing and business keep growing, but Vanguard has made conscious efforts towards focusing by doing anything from taking its marketing strategy from hundreds of pages down to a single page to building an organizational framework that helps every Vanguard marketer find ways to prioritize and focus on what will truly help them meet the organization’s objectives.

Reported by Phil Edelstein, Founder, Substance Strategy & Creative

For information about FCS Philadelphia, please contact chapter president Ed Nini.

FCS Philadelphia will present its first-ever Spotlight Breakfast, featuring a live, in-person interview with Russell Messner, Global Head of Brand Marketing, Vanguard. Russ will be interviewed by FCS Philly President Ed Nini, Global Head of Product, Principal Asset Management.

The event will be hosted at the corporate headquarters of FS Investments, courtesy of Bernadette Bridy, Head of Marketing.

In the ongoing support of the communities where we stage our events, FCS Philly will donate $1,000 to Philadelphia Financial Scholars at the breakfast.

Registration / breakfast opens at 8:30am with the program beginning at 8:45am.

  • Start June 13, 2023 08:30 AM EDT
  • End June 13, 2023 09:30 AM EDT
  • Location FS Investments Corporate Headquarters 201 Rouse Boulevard Philadelphia


Guest Speaker Russell Messner

Global Head of Brand Marketing

Russell Messner has a deep passion for building powerful and authentic brands around the globe. He joined Vanguard as Global Head of Brand Marketing three years ago. Before joining Vanguard, he led Edelman NY’s Financial Services practice; supported BlackRock’s global marketing efforts; attended an MBA program in Bergen, Norway; worked with Procter & Gamble in […]

Interviewer Ed Nini

Global Head of Product

Ed Nini is Managing Director, Global Head of Product at Principal Asset Management. He joined Principal in 2019 as Head of ETF Marketing. Previously, Ed was a Senior Vice President and Head of Investment Marketing and Strategy for the OppenheimerFunds Beta Solutions group, where he held a dual leadership role as owner of the ETF […]