Karen McSteen

Company: brandMatters

Position: Principal


I'm a results-driven branding and business strategist who has spent my career developing distinctive brands and working with organizations to strengthen their competitive position and increase customer engagement.

My “first date” with brands was as a teenager as an assistant manager at a small burger joint. It was there that I began to appreciate the importance of customer relationships.

After graduating from Michigan State University, I worked in hotels across the US, in operations, sales and marketing roles at the property level and then moved to Marriott headquarters as brand vice president for the flagship Marriott brand. After 17 years at Marriott, I left to experience a completely different industry at the intersection of high-tech and new media. As AOL’s senior vice president of brand strategy, combined with my time at Marriott, I learned important lessons about collaboration, culture, customers and brand investments.

These experiences led me to launch brandMatters, where I help clients build powerful brands that deliver business results.

Mission Statement

We believe a strong brand means business. Everything we do is focused on helping clients build brands that fosters meaningful engagement with their customers and deliver business results.

Geographic Areas



Brand Strategy and Positioning

Brand Assessment

Market Research


Visual Identity

Brand Architecture

Messaging Strategy

Customer Experience Design

Brand Culture

Speaking and Workshops

Business Strategy and Planning

Professional Memberships

International Society of Hotel Consultants

Charter 100

Representative List of Clients

Autograph Collection

Choice Hotels International

Extended Stay America

Hilton Worldwide


Loews Hotels and Resorts

Marriott International

Marriott Vacations Worldwide

National Restaurant Association

Omni Hotels and Resorts

Tapestry Collection

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company

The Umstead Hotel and Spa

U.S. Travel Association

White Lodging Services