Innovative Companies in Marketing: 5 Examples From Fast Company Executive Board

Innovative Business,

Marketing and advertising pros are always looking for the new angle, the new tech, the new approach, making them prime advocates for innovation in business. New strategies in digital advertising, brand strategy, digital experiences, and influencer marketing have evolved over the past decade, and marketing executives continue to show leadership in product innovation.

This article highlights the leading-edge marketing work happening in several Fast Company Executive Board members’ companies.

Examples of Innovative Companies in Marketing

Digital Advertising: Adscend Media

Rewarded ads are a new trend in advertising, allowing brands to offer rewards of various types of goodies (think gift cards or virtual currency) as incentives to consumers for completing small tasks. The task might be watching a video, downloading an app, or registering to receive a free download of some kind.

Fast Company Executive Board member Fehzan Ali is the co-founder and chair of the board at Adscend Media, a rewarded ad platform. Adscend extends the rewarded ad formula to video ads, mobile gaming, and market research survey completion. Programs are created on a pay-for-performance basis, so clients don’t pay for anything that doesn’t convert.

What stands out: 

Monetization strategies for games, websites, and apps will continue to evolve, and companies like Adscend will lead the charge.

Brand Strategy: Jesterandgenius

Brand strategy has always existed for marketers, even before the term was coined. We’ve always needed long-term plans for making our brands stand out in the minds of consumers. Storytelling as a brand strategy is just as well-established, but new approaches and innovations continue to develop.

Fast Company Executive Board member Padmini Sharma is one of the visionary leaders driving such innovations. She is the founder and managing partner of Jesterandgenius, which describes itself as “a BrandStory consulting company.” The focus is on creating a brand story and activating it through optimally timed and positioned advertising.

Although Jesterandgenius is a small company, it serves brands of all sizes, including giants like Krispy Kreme, Capital One, and Ziploc.

What stands out:

Jesterandgenius combines the inspiration of artistic approaches with the strategy and action of more practical methods of brand building. This combination allows for a story that is both emotionally engaging, like art, and actionable and effective. Combining the best of previous approaches to create something new is the essence of innovation.

Digital Experiences: Mindgrub Technology

Fast Company Executive Board member Todd Marks is the founder and CEO of Mindgrub Technologies, a cutting-edge digital experiences agency. Mindgrub is innovating in mobile, web, marketing, and emerging tech. Including adorable robots.

Mindgrub began as a mobile app developer, and now works on a little bit of everything. The company develops mobile, web, and digital marketing solutions using technology like virtual and augmented reality, robotics, wearable tech, and mobile gaming. Clients include the Air Force Research Laboratory, US Navy, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Exelon Corporation, FBI and O’Reilly Media.

But it’s not all work and no play for Marks and his team. Mindgrub Robotics created SNAX, an in-office delivery robot. SNAX was a labor of love; its development built on the company’s work with mobile apps, kiosk integrations, robotics, and more. SNAX’s rotund body is BB8 (Star Wars) all the way, while its big eyes are reminiscent of EVE (from WALL-E).

What stands out:

The ooh-and-ahh factor of a charming robot is only the cherry on the sundae. What stands out is that Mindgrub invested time and brainpower in something that was intriguing, but may or may not have had a major business impact. Marks and his team developed the quirky and attention-getting SNAX because they wanted to see where an idea might lead, and that is the essence of innovation.

Influencer Marketing: CLEVER and Sway Group

Finally, influencer marketing may be the newest, shiniest overall marketing strategy of the past few years. But how do you find the right influencer to work with your brand? And who manages the day-to-day contact and ensures that the content creators fulfill their end of agreements?

Fast Company Executive Board member Kristy Sammis is the CEO and founder of CLEVER, an influencer marketing agency that focuses mostly on micro-influencers (generally defined as accounts with fewer than 100,000 followers). CLEVER uses both quantitative and qualitative data to match content creators with brands and handles not only identifying and vetting, but also contracting with and reviewing the work of the influencers. CLEVER has worked with well-known brands like Brawny, Amnesty International, and Hasbro, as well as smaller companies.

Fast Company Executive Board member Danielle Wiley is the CEO of Sway Group, another influencer stable. Sway Group takes over the hard work of sourcing influencers and managing their campaigns, for brands like Google, Kleenex, and 23&me. With a network of over 30,000 creators, Sway Group is finding niche influencers to meet specific needs for clients. 

Wiley says, “When it comes to the kind of flexible, personalized messaging consumers respond to—without budget-breaking traditional media costs—nothing beats the effectiveness of influencer marketing.”

What stands out:

Influencer marketing used to require a lot of up-front work looking for people whose reach and audience matched brand needs. Now, one-stop influencer shops like CLEVER and Sway Group turn all the hassles of finding and negotiating with influencer partners into a smooth and painless process.  Both are committed to strong diversity efforts, welcoming and promoting creators and voices from all walks of life, and exemplify the best in innovative marketing.


Digital advertising, brand strategy, digital experiences, and influencer marketing are some of the hottest segments of marketing today. Fast Company Executive Board members work on the cutting edge, innovating to define the future of their industries.

As part of this innovative leadership group, these executives and visionary leaders share and publish their expertise in fields like marketing, social good, and technology.

If this sounds like you, Visit the Fast Company Executive Board membership page or contact us directly to learn more about becoming a member.