Movers and shakers of the Los Angeles business community gathered at the third annual L.A. Times Multicultural Business Forum on Feb. 3. The event, at the California African American Museum in Exposition Park, brought together business leaders to promote local economic growth.

Before he addressed the audience, Mandell Crawley, Global Chief Marketing Officer for Morgan Stanley, participated in a wide-ranging interview with Reel Urban News.

Morgan Stanley has long been one of the global leaders in investment banking. “It’s a privilege,” exclaimed Crawley. “My firm has been around for 80 years servicing clients that are made up of institutions, corporations, governments and individual investors.”

Maintaining Morgan Stanley’s worldwide recognition and appeal is one of Crawley’s top priorities. “The last couple of years I’ve been Chief Marketing Officer and that’s a great deal of responsibility because the Morgan Stanley brand has been its greatest asset. How we position the brand in the marketplace with clients and employees and those in our target audience currently not banking with us is a really important level of responsibility.”

Because the term “branding” in recent years has become a part of the American lexicon, we asked Crawley,  to provide perspective. “It depends on who you ask,” he said. “But for me it’s about an experience.”

“The brand of our firm is driven by people.”

Although our time with Crawley was brief, the executive explained the appeal of the Morgan Stanley brand to employees, clients and potential clients.

“Your perception of Morgan Stanley, if you are an investment banking client, is driven by investment bankers. If you are a member of our wealth management business, your perception of Morgan Stanley is driven by our financial advisors that are seeing them all over the country. If you’re in our investment management business and you’re a client of our firm, the brand of the firm is driven by our portfolio manager and our sales people.”

Morgan Stanely, N.Y., Time Square, Real Time Digital Boards. Combining art, data and technology.
Morgan Stanley, New York City, Time Square Real Time Digital Boards. Combining art, data and technology.

In 2015 Crawley was part of the leadership team responsible for branding Morgan Stanley high above the crossroads of the universe, New York’s Times Square at Broadway between 47th and 48th streets. There you will find Real Time Digital Boards that combine art, data and technology. “I spent a lot of time upgrading our digital assets. One of the projects that I really loved was upgrading the external signage of our building. There are a half a million people walking in Times Square every single day – for us this new sign was a branding moment.”

Crawley is the first to admit branding is more than about a logo or signage. “The brand is all about what experience does a client have with you and what sort of feeling does that conjure up as a result of that relationship.”

Crawley remains very much aware of the human component of marketing. “I say this often in relationship to Morgan Stanley: ‘To know us is to love us.’ We get really high marks from our clients and that to me is branding in an essence.”

Some would call Crawley, who stands about six-and-a-half feet tall, a gentle giant. The executive remains steeped in deep humanity. Raised by grandparents who migrated north from the deep south, Crawley is the first of his family to graduate college after attending a public vocational high school. According to Crawley, “expectations were low.”

A twenty-five-year Morgan Stanley veteran, Crawley credits the majority of his success to both personal and professional relationships.

“Pat Summitt, who’s the great women’s basketball coach at Tennessee for many years – she was being honored a few years ago and one of the things she said was, ‘You win in life with people.’ That resonated with me and that’s incredibly true.

“To have any success of any sort, you have to have a support network.”

Mandell Crawley, Global Chief Marketing Officer, Morgan Stanley with Michael Reel, Reel Urban News, Los Angeles, Ca. Photo Credit: Reggie Simon/Reel Urban Images
Mandell Crawley, Global Chief Marketing Officer, Morgan Stanley with Michael Reel, Reel Urban News, Los Angeles, Ca. Photo Credit: Reggie Simon/Reel Urban Images

Crawley shared why Morgan Stanley lent its name, brand and influence to the L.A. Times Multicultural Business Forum. “Events like this for our firm are really important,” said Crawley. “Morgan Stanley has aspirations to be the firm of choice both in terms of talent and attracting diverse and multicultural talent and clients.”

Our exclusive on-camera interview and profile with Mandell Crawley, Global Chief Marketing Officer, Morgan Stanley, is coming to