A recent honoree on the AJT’s 40 Under 40 list is playing a crucial role in two major Jewish events in March: David Feldman and his 3 Owl agency partners are working on a rebrand of the Atlanta Jewish Music Festival as well as a presentation at the national meeting of the Jewish Teen Education & Engagement Funder Collaborative.
As director and founder of 3 Owl creative agency, Feldman and his team have also been working on brand identity and content for JumpSpark Atlanta, a program developed by the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta to connect Atlanta’s Jewish teens with opportunities for professional growth. 3 Owl hosted a week-long immersive marketing workshop for JumpSpark students during the venture.
A South Carolina native of Russian descent, the 33-year-old Feldman is a founding faculty member of The New School in Atlanta and was a judge at the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards, which recognizes the startup work of Atlanta’s college students. He recently moderated a branding panel at OPEN Atlanta’s annual event and just published his first Forbes article, “Why Branding Takes So Long (And Why It’s Worth the Wait.”
The AJT spoke with Feldman about his backstory and projects.
AJT: You will be presenting a talk called Communicating Across Diversity at the Jewish Teen Funder Collaborative. Can you elaborate?
Feldman: We’re going to be talking about how you can build a brand that is sustainable and continues to support an ever-evolving organization. That’s one piece of it. The other one is that we realized within each organization people don’t necessarily talk to each other; the funders aren’t going to talk to the people who do the day-to-day operations, … so how do you build stakeholder alignment across leadership; how do you have a message on a website that’s inclusive of both parents and teens? There’s no right answer but what we’re going to be doing is working through some exercises to give people the tools for their specific organization. We’re going to talk about best practices and run a couple of workshops so that’ll be a good tool kit to walk away with.
AJT: You do quite a bit of lecturing as part of your job, including at your alma mater, Emory University.
Feldman: I’ve been really grateful for the network and the professors there at Emory. I never knew that I was into lecturing, but one of my professors asked me to speak after I graduated and I loved it.
AJT: Talk about your current project with the AJMF.
Feldman: We’re in the middle of this awesome rebrand for the festival, working really closely with (AJMF director) Joe Alterman in the process of renaming it; seeing how you take that name that’s really descriptive and create something that’s unique and uniquely Jewish without hiding the fact that it’s Jewish. It can be challenging when you’re trying to define Jewish music. That’s a big piece of it, making sure that Atlanta can really own Jewish music however we end up describing it or codifying it.
AJT: How else are you working with the AJMF?
Feldman: It’s an entire visual identity: what does the logo look like, what do the colors look like, their posters, their website; what does the language look like and how do you communicate it? It always goes beyond a pretty logo; we qualify that from day one. We ask clients: where do you want to be in two years; what is your pie-in-the-sky for 10 years from now? We are building you a brand that’s going to help you get to those goals. Everything is standardized, so as they grow as an organization, the messaging is consistent no matter who’s talking about it.
AJT: You have degrees in business and music, right?
Feldman: I went to Emory to get a degree in the arts, but my parents said they would pay for my education if I also did a business degree. I was always interested in both, so I was writing music and playing guitar, really getting to be creative, and also got to do these business classes. I’m still very left and right brain. … It gave me the balance that I needed, but I started applying for jobs and realized it was going to be tough to find something super creative and also analytical in the business world. That kind of defined my career direction in general. I’ve been able to marry the two in my career through nonprofits and I’m grateful that both of those have played a large part in my life.
AJT: So you’re a guitar player?
Feldman: My mom is a classically trained pianist and my dad is an entrepreneur. We’re from Russia, so I got piano training early on and then classical guitar training from the age of nine. I didn’t really pick up rock ‘n’ roll until I was 15. At Emory I did classical guitar in year one, and then jazz guitar years two to four.
AJT: Do you still play now?
Feldman: Occasionally I play with ATL Collective, and I’ll play at friends’ weddings –nothing big – in a side band; just having fun with it. I’ve gotten deeply involved in music and a lot of music clients through the nonprofit (ATL Collective) that I help. Through that, we’ve gotten really connected to the Atlanta music scene in general, working with a lot of music venues and festivals, so I’ve gotten to work with a variety of different fields in the music industry.