Kyle Lacy’s breakthrough idea for a company came at a drive-through restaurant.
He was at a McDonald’s when friend and fellow Anderson University graduate Brandon Coon called him.
“It’s kind of funny if you think about it. Brandon called me up and asked if I wanted to start a marketing firm. We had always talked about it through college and now was the time. We started it the next week,” Lacy said.
Today Lacy is CEO of Brandswag, established in July 2007. Brandswag develops, trains and implements social media strategies within companies. In other words they train employees how to use the likes of Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn and Twitter to communicate more effectively.
As a successful Anderson University graduate, he was honored Thursday with the Distinguished Young Alumni Award. The ceremony was at 10 a.m. in Reardon Auditorium during Homecoming Chapel as part of homecoming week.
“Kyle stood out among this year’s class of nominees based on the accolades he’s received as an expert in the area of social media,” said Ben Davis, director of alumni relations at Anderson University.
He added, “Our Alumni Council felt that his leadership within his industry truly exemplifies our institutional value of excellence. Kyle also has played a significant role in guiding our strategy to better connect with our alumni via social media.”
A bit of swagger
Born in Spokane, Wash., Lacy was moved to Anderson in 1987 when his father started working for gospel artists Bill and Gloria Gaither.
“I lived in Anderson my entire life,” Lacy said.
He attended East Side Church of God, which influenced his decision to go to Anderson University. Also, a factor in his decision to attend Anderson University were three mentors he had while in junior high and high school who attended AU: Andy Odle, Matt Anderson and Brian Siktberg.
While an AU student, Lacy worked with the student-run record label Orangehaus Records and served as vice president of marketing for two years.
He worked extensively with now-national recording artist Jon McLaughlin on developing social and internet applications to increase brand awareness.
“Myspace and Facebook marketing was one of the triggers that led to Jon being signed to Island Records where he tours today,” Lacy said. “Orangehaus Records was a huge driver in my ability to run a business after school.”
He has built a reputation for an in-depth understanding of the application of social media for business.
“The biggest challenge we had to overcome as a young company was just that, being young,” said Lacy.
“It was hard for us at first to persuade business owners that we actually knew what we were talking about in the world of Internet marketing and social media.
“Brandon Coon, my business partner and also an AU grad (2005), helped me along the way. He is much more intelligent and mature,” joked Lacy.
Since starting at Brandswag, Kyle has worked and trained with companies from 50 to 1,500 employees including Panasonic, Exact Target, Ruth’s Chris and the Make-a Wish Foundation of America.
Recently, Lacy finished authoring the book, “Twitter Marketing for Dummies,” from Wiley Publishing and has a second book from Pearson Publishing titled “Branding Yourself” to be released in December. The second edition of “Twitter Marketing for Dummies” will be released in 2011.
Recognized both locally and globally for his knowledge of social media, Kyle is routinely invited to share his expertise with audiences all over the United States. Kyle writes a regular blog at KyleLacy.com and has been featured on the Ad Age 150, Wall Street Journal Online and ranked on over five global blog lists.
Most recently Kyle was recognized as one of the Top 40 Under-Forty business professionals in Indianapolis by the Indianapolis Business Journal. He was 25 at the time and one of the youngest to ever receive the award.
And there’s a bit of “swagger” in the company he helped found. Brandswag was created by a friend, Tony Scelzo, who is founder of Rainmakers Marketing Group.
Lacy said, “We were discussing the new name and an older gentleman walked by the restaurant where we were eating and brainstorming.
“A person walked by and commented that the gentleman had swagger and Brandswag was created.”
He added, “Ideas that help businesses create swagger within the marketplace.”
—Margaret Maynard is a reporter for The Herald Bulletin. Story republished with permission.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,700 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson continues to be recognized as a top Christian college: in 2010, U.S. News and World Report ranked Anderson University among the best colleges and universities in the Midwest for the seventh consecutive year. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing and theology.