Global marketing expert Kwame Taylor-Hayford ’04 helps clients build their brands, champion activism, and shift perspectives on social injustice.
By Kris Dreessen
For more than a decade, Kwame Taylor-Hayford ’04 has helped global companies like Apple and Uniqlo develop their brands and positions in the marketplace — helping them develop their visual and communication strategies and what they want to be known for.
He’s led efforts with Nike, Stella Artois, Apple and many more, including spending two years as managing director of brand at Chobani. At Chobani, Taylor-Hayford led an in-house creative team responsible for all brand expressions for the Greek yogurt company, including its website, packaging, advertising, cafes and it’s expansion into new products.
His Chobani team won several industry-wide awards, but Taylor-Hayford was just as proud to be part of a company known for giving back.
Chobani invests in local dairy farming and shares stock with employees. The company’s owner, Hamdi Ulukaya, is a Turkish immigrant who started with nothing; now employs refugees as 30 percent of his workforce. “It’s a cycle of positivity,” Taylor-Hayford says.
In 2019, Taylor-Hayford left Chobani to start Kin — a comprehensive creative and consulting agency with a mission. Kin chooses businesses and nonprofit clients that have ambition to grow while doing good for our world. Kin’s clients include Mailchimp, Netflix, Fenty, Delta Airlines and Conservation International.
“Corporations and businesses have the scale, resources and power to drive change,” he says. “Being a good corporate citizen, making a healthy profit and doing great creative work doesn’t need to be in conflict. It’s very possible to do all three.”
Taylor-Hayford and other advertising experts also founded Saturday Morning, a nonprofit that finds new ways to spark discussion and shift perspectives on racial bias, injustice, discrimination, education and the environment.
“Saturday Morning was born out of the violence we saw in 2016. I felt like every time I turned on the news, there was a young black man killed by police,” says Taylor-Hayford. “We felt we had to do something. What if we took the skills we have to build global brands and applied them to this challenge of racial bias?”
Saturday Morning’s first project was the Peace Brief — a line of underwear with messages like “I am a father” and “I am not armed” printed on the waistband. “In a moment of heightened tension during an arrest or questioning,” says Taylor-Hayford, people may see the message and “take a step back and think about who this person is beyond this one moment and de-escalate things.”
The project won a silver place at the 2018 Cannes Lions global creativity awards. The Saturday Morning team has since completed other successful projects, including working with artists Janelle Monáe and Pharrell to expand Spotify’s black voices and history offerings, including curated playlists, films and hosting a skills workshop for aspiring women podcasters.
All of these efforts can lead to change, says Taylor-Hayford.
“There’s a lot of conversation today about how different we all are. It’s important to appreciate that and respect and value those differences, but we all have a shared human experience,” he says. “We all want to be safe, loved and valuable in society.”
Taylor-Hayford saw this throughout his youth — living with his family in South Africa, Ghana, the United States and Egypt — while his father served as a diplomat in Ghana’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and for U.N. Secretary Generals Kofi Annan and Ban Ki-Moon. “I’m so grateful for my childhood,” he says, “because it gave me a worldview that is much more representative of the world today, which is very dynamic, eclectic and integrated.”
Taylor-Hayford sees tolerance and empathy as part of his life’s work.
“It’s important to push ourselves to truly live outside of our comfort zones and challenge ourselves to evolve,” he says. “If not, we are missing a big part of what it means to be alive.”