CoreBrand, a brand strategy and communications firm with offices in New York, Los Angeles, and Minnesota, works with start-ups, medium-sized enterprises, and Fortune 50...

CoreBrand, a brand strategy and communications firm with offices in New York, Los Angeles, and Minnesota, works with start-ups, medium-sized enterprises, and Fortune 50 Corporations to help them grow their company and loyalty by developing what CoreBrand sees as their most important asset: their brand. CoreBrand has been in the brand-building business for thirty years, and clients include AT&T.

CorBrand Managing Director Karl Barnhart will be speaking at the upcoming Ticket Summit, January 13-15 in New York City. Barnhart has managed some of CoreBrand’s major clients, including NASCAR. He recently spoke with TicketNews about his company, the upcoming summit, and what he thinks about the state of the ticketing industry.

TicketNews: What services does CoreBrand provide, and how might these services help brokers?

Karl Barnhart: We are a branding agency. We help companies of all sizes manage their image and ultimately their reputation.

We help companies figure out what makes them different from their competitors and then how to communicate that. The result of our work might be a new message strategy, a new marketing campaign or even a new logo and identity system.

Whether you are a self-employed, sole practitioner or you are a multi-national publicly traded company, what people think about you matters. We can help brokers put themselves into the most positive light by helping them sound, act and look more consistent, more approachable and more professional.

TN: Are there any emerging players in the ticketing industry who you think are making an impact?

KB: From my perspective, two companies—and they aren’t emerging players—continue to drive the perception and reputation of the secondary ticketing market.

The first is StubHub. From our research, StubHub has the strongest brand in the secondary ticket market. They are the 800 pound gorilla in the industry. They have the biggest ad budget, the reach of a global corporate parent and a terrific value proposition. Building a reputation around the idea that they ‘help fans buy and sell tickets,’ is brilliant. It spins their whole business in a positive way and helps to legitimize the whole broker business model.

The other company that continues to help change the perception of the industry is our own TicketNetwork. At the risk of sounding like a homer (because we work with TicketNetwork), Don [Vacarro, CEO and founder] and his team are fundamentally reshaping the image of the broker business. For years, this industry has needed a leader to bring it out of the shadows and off the street corners. Don continues to step up to be that leader.

TN: A lot has been going on in the industry, all in the context of a shaky economy. There’s the potential LiveNation/Ticketmaster merger that has many worried. What do you think about this and other industry changes, and what can brokers do to evolve with the industry?

KB: Let’s start with the economy. The crash isn’t all bad: it’s made the brokers realize what business they’re in. Up until about a year ago, there were lots of brokers out there who thought they were in the ticket business. They’re not. They are in the entertainment and relationship business. The brokers who survive this crisis are the ones who realized that sooner and are currently pouring all their energy and resources into keeping their relationships strong.

Whether you’re moving Lakers tickets at the Forum or Pirates tickets at PNC Park, the critical issue is not access to inventory, it’s access to people who want to be entertained. That’s what the crashing economy has taught us.

The LiveNation merger is both positive and negative. It will help continue to legitimize the secondary market. But it will also potentially create a competitor with unfair advantages. This merger needs to be carefully monitored by everyone who’s in the industry. This is not about creating another competitor for the big aggregators. This is a new business model. And it could put a lot of brokers out of business. If you’re a broker, watch this space. And stay involved! Your livelihood is at stake.

TN: What do you plan on discussing at the NYC Summit?

KB: My presentation will be about the importance of thinking about your brand as an essential business asset based on the customer experience you project. Specifically I’ll talk about how a positive customer experience can help your business and what you can do to manage it for maximum results.

TN: Have you been to Ticket Summit before? If so, what was your experience like?

KB: This is my third Ticket Summit. We’ve been to the events in Las Vegas and NYC and came away from both energized and optimistic. There are passionate folks in the industry who care deeply about where the business is going and how they fit into it.

And that doesn’t mean that it’s all sunshine and roses. Last year, there were a couple of brokers railing against an event promoter. Really up in his face. And while I felt a little bad for the promoter, the process is extremely healthy. That’s the value of something like Summit. Get the issues out into the open. Summit gives an active forum to find common solutions to industry-wide issues so that hopefully we can all continue to make some money.

Oh… And we also learned to stay out of the brokers’ card games: They’ll eat you for breakfast (and not just because they’ve been up all night).