the art of brand: the intersection of strategy & emotion

Brand is the intangible sum of a businesses attributes. Its not just your colors or logo. Its about the human to human connection that you create with all those you come in contact with. Once you have built that connection, you have something special and your brand then becomes owned by the people. In this week’s episode we invited Kyle Duford, the President and Executive Creative Director of The Brand Leader, to talk about the importance of Brand. We dive into topics such as:

  • Building an emotional connection with your customers
  • The foundation behind the logos & colors
  • Maintenance & evolution over time



Podcast Transcript

Welcome back everyone for another episode of Digital Banter. We had so much fun talking about brand marketing versus product marketing with Melissa on a previous episode that we decided to kick it up a notch and take it to another level talking about brand. So as a result of that, we have a very special guest joining us today.

Kyle Dufford, which is the President and Executive creative director from the brand leader. Kyle, thanks for joining us. Yeah, yeah, thanks for having me. Don’t tell Melissa that this is a step up cuz she might get annoyed, but. I’ll make sure to chatter on the side real quick here. So, real quickly, just to kind of talk a little bit about your role and the brand leader.

The brand leader, uh, is a brand first creative agency that specializes in connecting brands with customers in game changing ways, including advertising, brand and design. And Kyle, I think the, the reason that we wanted you to join us especially is because you bring a very unique perspective, not just in that approach, but you do a lot of work in the same verticals and areas that we do as an agency, B2B and b2c, right?

Yeah, that’s that’s true. Um, it’s kinda like riding on a bike too. You know, you’re not gonna change based upon, you know, what street you’re riding on. You still need to ride a bike the same way. It just, you’re just going to a different destinations, if that makes any sense. So, yeah. So, uh, the b2b, b2c, we have a lot of people come to us and say even more B2B or b2c, and I’m like, we’re about.

Brand. And if you get brand right, it kind of doesn’t matter. Um, you know, really what, what space you’re in, it might matter the tactics on how to reach that customer, obviously, or what you’re trying to sell. So yeah, well we we’re, we’re similar in that vein, but I think we’re also similar and we share the same kind of agnostic idea.

Doesn’t really matter where you are because in your case, digital marketing is digital marketing. Exactly. And I think you give a good kind of jumping off point there as far as kind of getting the conversation started around what does brand mean to you? Like how do you define brand in the context that, you know, you operate in?

You know, um, we say this a lot when we do pitch decks.

If you know who David Ogilvy was famous ad man from the sixties wrote, uh, Confessions of an Advertising Man. They, you know, referenced him in Mad Men. He was one of the original Mad Man. And I think it was like 1963 or something, he said that a brand is the intangible sum of a business’s attributes.

And that could be, you know, not just your logo, but the way you answer your phones or what’s printed on your aprons. Or how your bag is handed off. We take that a a little bit of a step further and we just say, well, we love and respect Ogilvy. We think he only got it half right.

We think the other half of the equation is that human to human connection that a brand can build with people with its audience. And it doesn’t have to be its consumer, or its customer. That’s important. It can just be its audience.

I might, you know, I, I run in Hokas and I run every day and I, and I run in Hokas, but

I know what Nike is about.

I know the brand, Nike. I revere the brand, Nike. I don’t wear Nike necessarily, right? So it doesn’t necessarily have to be the people that you’re selling to. But I still have an emotional connection when I close my eyes and think about Nike. All those things that Nike means to people. And so that’s how we look at it.

We look at it as this human to human emotional connection of what a brand means. And once you hit that state, once you kind of build a brand into a point where it’s out there and you no longer own it. It’s kind of owned by the people. Then you’ve got something special.

It feels like so many times the brand just becomes like an afterthought though, right?

It’s like you, you did it, you checked the box, and then, uh, you know what, maybe I’ll revisit when I have to redesign the website, but in many cases it just feels like a complete afterthought. Is that kind of some of the conversations and instances that you were into? Yeah. Yeah. I mean,

Branding can be something that is kind of point in time. You know, the act of branding something. But a brand is kind of like it’s out there. It’s kind of ethereal. It’s just kind of like you can’t touch it or hold it or taste it or smell it. It’s just, it’s not a thing. It is just everywhere. Um, and because of that, it’s kind of really incumbent upon brand owners or brand stewards to make sure that you don’t lose track of it. That you don’t stop thinking about it. You have to continue to work on it.

It’s kind of. I just recently heard a, a singer talk about songs and writing songs, and I think it was Jack White actually, uh, formerly of The White Stripes. And he was talking about how when he writes the songs and he kind of just, he just comes, come out of him once it goes out and gets printed or pressed or whatever and or streamed.

These days it’s owned by other people and when they start singing it back to him, it’s no longer his song. It’s their song. He doesn’t control her anymore and God forbid he tries to sing a different, you know, line to, you know, seven Nation Army people are gonna let ’em know, right? Because he can’t just do that.

Uh, bono tried to do this with you too. He tried to change up songs, uh, and, and uh, I think they’re doing on their new, the new album actually. And people are pissed because it’s like, you can’t, that’s the song I grew up to in many ways. A brand is the same thing. It’s owned by the people like I just said a minute ago.

And so you kind of always have to keep an eye on. You know, it’s your baby, but, and, and it’s just out in the world. So how is it growing? How is it developing? What can you do to help nurture it even if you don’t control it anymore? So the mistake that a lot of businesses make is we branded something and, you know, branding comes from literally the active ownership and Brandi, literally from cattle, right?

Branding. If you’re a Yellowstone fan, branding people in that case, or cattle with your mark, it’s what it’s called a mark. And you leave a mark behind, but it doesn’t stop there anymore because once that cattle or that thing or that product or service or just feeling is out in the world, you still own it, but you don’t control it.

And so there’s this, you can kind of nudge it, you can guide it. Um, and that’s really what a lot of brand stewards do. Brand managers, you know, uh, brand officers these days, that’s kind of what you can do. Um, and because of that, you can’t take your eye off the ball. So it’s not just a one-off act. Designer, a logo can be a one off act, and that’s part of a branding process, but that’s just a logo.

It’s your visual identity. It’s the visual expression of the brand. And so all those other things, how you talk about yourself, how do you talk to people, if it doesn’t back up the brand itself, you will fail miserably. And then you have kind of a ride on your hands, um, in certain cases, you know? So it’s, it’s such a fantastically in insanely interesting, complex world of branding.

But, uh, yeah, there’s, they’re barely touching the top of it. So I thought it was really interesting what you said there around that almost like you don’t have, I don’t say you don’t have control over your brand, but you don’t own your brand at a certain point of time. Kind of leads me to the question of when is a good time to, what’s, when’s a good time in a business’ life cycle to start focusing on brand and trying to guide it in a certain direction?

For example, we work with a lot of startups, right? And we talked about. , there’s kind of what we talked about last week is the product marketing side versus the brand side, where on product marketing, you’re focused on getting product market fit. And I feel like a lot of these startups, they don’t, um, you know, they’re trying to find that first and then kind of develop the brand after that.

Do you think that brand is something that needs to be thought about from the beginning, or would you almost lead with brand and then find a, you know, find the solution that falls within your vision? I mean, that’s a really complex question and I, and I love that, James. Thank you. Um, there’s a lot of product led companies out there.

I mean, it, and to, to some extent, Apple’s a product-led company. Google is a product-led company. You know, Nike to some extent is a product-led company because you’re actually selling a product. It’s obviously not a service. Well, some Apple services, some Google services, but the product itself is, is this thing that they dreamed up with you in the beginning.

There’s certain things you have to do in the very beginning to launch a business and to launch your, your, but you, you don’t have a brand yet. So that’s where we kind of, even the vernacular we just used a second ago, you can go through a branding exercise. You might not have a brand yet. Right. Um, when you have a brand, it’s something that people can easily identify based on anything.

They don’t have to see the swoosh. They can hear something, they can hear, just do it. They can hear, uh, you know, think different. They can see, and not just a logo, but they can see in, in Apple’s case, they can see, uh, white corded earbuds on a colored poster and go Apple, right? That’s. You can even get the feeling out of what those things are about by, you know, if you’ve listened closely enough, if you just kind of ire yourself with what they’re doing, you’re not gonna have that when you come up with a product, when you come up with a, a widget and say, you know, I’ve got, I’ve got this thing here.

I’m gonna start selling it. Uh, I wanna create a brand around it. No, you can brand the product with your logo. You can brand elements of your business, but you don’t yet have a brand. Uh, it’s kind of like, if you think about, like, if you guys walk Shark Tank or anyone who watches Shark Tank and they talk about, well, you’ve got a little lifestyle business, you don’t have a business yet, and even like you have a product, you don’t have a business or however they say it.

That’s the kind of thing where, yeah, you one day will have a brand if you continue to be successful. But a,

A brand is something that you can’t to your point. You can create the elements of a brand. And once you put it out there and imbue meaning to it, then it can become a brand. When businesses are starting off, and they’re starting off with a product, or they’re starting off a solution to a world’s problem that they think they can solve. They’re gonna start with branding type things like mission, vision, purpose, value, core values, you know, all that sort of thing. To understand why they’re even in business in the first place.

And anyone will tell you, a business man will tell you, you’re in business just to make money. It’s probably not a brand, it’s probably, you know, a commodity or just a business. But the idea of coming up with something that can solve a problem, okay, whose problem? Where can you find these people who have this problem?

All of that stuff you’re doing is defining your audience, which is part of the branding process. Because if you don’t know who is going to engage with your product, business, or service, then you don’t really have an audience or a consumer base anyway. So you have to do all those things. We tell a lot of folks who come to us who are startups.

Yeah, you probably need a logo and a business name, which we’re happy to create for you, but we can’t create the brand for you, right? You’re not really at that step yet.

Nor do I want you to spend 150K or whatever on a brand when you’re not even a going concern yet, and you only invested, you know, 200 grand from your friends and family.

Don’t put all that into branding. You don’t need a fancy website. You don’t need all these, you know, a color palette and typography. No, call it something. Put it out there. Make sure it’s sticky. And once it is, let’s talk about where did you find the stickiness, right? Who did, who was attracted to your product or, or service?

Then let’s figure out how we can craft the right message and positioning statement. Again, part of the branding process to better own that market, share that market gap that we can then, you know, kind of pour life into so you can continually have that conversation with those potential customers in that market.

whether it be demographic or psychographic or geographic, and then we can kind of continue to build the brand based on those existing principles. But doing that up first is very much like putting the cart before the horse because you don’t really listen. Sorry, Jessica, I was gonna say this. I feel like the thing that I see all the time is these, you know, it’s a startup, it’s around for two years, and then they go into a rebrand, like they, and they, it’s a structured rebrand.

Hey, we’re gonna redo the website, we’re gonna redo the logo, we’re gonna rename the company. Because I mean, there’s various different reasons like rebranded because we’re no longer a search agency. But like, there’s, um, I don’t know. I, I feel like it’s just proof that that disconnect exists. And you see so many startups who are very focused on brands when, to your point, I don’t think they should be either.

Well, I mean, to your point, you might not even know what you had. You might start off with a couple different, I, I mean, I, I’m hard pressed to think of an example right now, but I think we could probably together come up with some companies that. , you know, presented themselves to the marketplace and had a couple different options of products, but the one that was the least expectant was the one that was sticky.

And now all those things they thought about themselves wasn’t really true. You know, now it’s, everyone wants that thing cause they did that better than anybody. And that’s really their new business. Uh, and that’s, that’s prevalent in, in startups because you don’t know what’s gonna stick until you actually put it out there.

Or, you know, you, you end up hiring, um, you know, a, a dev engineer who can come in and go, actually I’m gonna work on this product over here and we’re gonna call it search Google. And all of a sudden this thing becomes as big deal. And that’s the product. Right? That’s what people know. I mean, you just, you can’t tell early on because you don’t know, you know, even if you’re trying to solve a problem for somebody, you still don’t know exactly what is going to be the, the linchpin of that, of that future of building business.

We’ve, we encounter a lot in that two or three year realm. We’ve moved away with this a little bit. We more with, uh, more established businesses now, but we’ve established a lot of people in our past where, um, they’re two, three years in. They’re a going concern. I mean, I’ll, I’ll actually just lay it out for you.

An example. Perfect thing. We talk about Shark Tank. This stuff happens all the time in investment. Um, I’ve got a business, I make a widget. Uh, it’s doing really well. I sell it all over the place. It’s company’s called WinCo. People love it. I’ve got all these orders, but I don’t have the capital to invest in getting more inventory because I’ve got these orders, but I don’t have, I’ve drained my, my business capital down.

I’ve got nothing in the bank account. I’ve got nothing in inventory in the warehouse. What do I do? Well, you go on Shark Tank or you go to, to go to a bank. You go to a, you know, a PE group or something, and you sell 30% of your company on the back of the fact that you’ve got these promises of orders and they’re basically fulfilling your, your orders, right?

They’re, they’re bankrolling your orders through a way of investment into your, into your business because they know you’re going concerned and you have, you have the legs. It’s a good product. And many times they go, great, we’re gonna give you 30%, 40%, whatever it is. We’re gonna, you know, use our factory.

We can order more than minimum order quantities. By doing so, you’re going to increase your margins on the product and so forth. So here’s the problem. Your brand sucks. You’ve got a great product, you’ve got a great, great business. You’ve got orders coming through the pipeline, the packaging looks awful.

The name is kind of silly. It’s, it’s really bad. So what we want you to do, PE group, you know, uh, or venture capital group, they come on and say, we need you to hire Braden Agency. And we did that a lot for a lot of PE companies because, You know that, but they don’t wanna invest a lot of money. They don’t wanna invest a hundred grand in the business and a hundred grand in branding.

That doesn’t make any sense to them. So we’ve started to go away from that. But that’s a very, very, very common thing where once the business takes off and gets traction, because it was named after their grandmother’s cat who they really loved. Now they’re going, the product is really great, but that grandmother’s cat thing kind of silly.

Let’s, let’s put meaning behind it because now you’ve a stand a step. I’m not kidding. That was actually, that was actually a true story. , . Um, and then they go, let’s, let’s build something special around the product. So what was the, you know, solution, uh, that that offered to people in this kind of, now you know, your demographic, you know what, how can we grow that?

How can we find more people like that? How can we start using marketing companies like yours to kind of attract more people who look like. To do it, we really need great packaging. It’s gonna stand out on the shelf and we need a great website. And the name means to change. The colors are kind of bad cuz you’re competing with your, you know, your, you know, adjacent, uh, competitors.

Uh, and that’s, that’s a huge key right there, that 2, 3, 4, 5 years in. If they need an injection of capital to go through a rebrand, that’s probably the most popular one I’ve seen at that phase. But there’s a lot of companies that start off name just works and they just need a tweak to it or they just need a different color palette.

And that might be 8, 9, 10 years down the line. It could be a year down the line, it could be whatever. So again, all of those are kind of semantics because if you don’t have the identified audience and you don’t have a reason to talk to them, if you don’t have, you know, if you don’t have a purpose for bean for them, all these things are part of the branding process, then, then it falls short.

Otherwise, it’s just a logo on a piece of paper or a product. And that means nothing cuz it has no inherent value without a positioning behind it. Yeah, I think, I mean some of the best brands are made up, words that have meaning that was applied to them later. Twitter, Google, all that stuff. What is, what does a piran infested river have anything to do with selling products online?

Nothing. Nothing. and

Amazon had a really great idea of selling books from A to Z because, you guys might be too young for this, but when they started, it was all books. And Bezos wanted a name that was, that was kind of different. And at the time a lot of those kind of like evocative names, that kind of meaning it was a name barred from something else that they’re imbuing meaning to. Not really a lot of names out there had something that had an A and a Z in it. And so he is like, how about Amazon? It sounds kind of fun. And I can do the little, the little arrow thing from A to Z. It tells the story visually what I’m trying to say

my tagline is, books from A to Z boom. Now that means something else because it’s taken on this whole new life. And Amazon might mean something different to you than it means to me. I don’t even have to see the A to Z is anymore.

I just see the arrow, smiley face, and I know what that is, right? Everything else can be redacted and you can use an element, a visual identity element. That’s a hook to tell me, not just what the logo is, because I know that that’s kind of like in my brain now, but what the brand means to me.

And it might mean something different to other people.

You know, whether you were fired from Amazon or you didn’t like them taking jobs in your local area, or they put your book in your local bookstore, write a business, or whatever it might be. You all have a connection to it. You hope. They hope anyway.

The shareholders hope that that connection is a positive one. Yeah, exactly. So James, we have another quote to go on that board. Any more coffee? I don’t have anymore . James, we got another quote to go up on the board whenever we create it. Your brand sucks to go along with your suck at marketing. That was one from our, that’s one that we grabbed from the last episode that we filmed Drew.

So our, uh, it’s gonna be so part of our podcast brand. Moving forward, we’re gonna do a wall behind us with like all the quotes of, with sound bites. Yeah. with sound bites. . Wait, did I say your brand sucks? Did I say that? Yeah, you dropped it in there. No, let’s, you just said, you just said your brand sucks. No, you just said your brand sucks.

Like in that Shark Tank kind of, uh, conversation the had going on. Oh, right, okay. Yeah, yeah, yeah. You’re could be a very shark tank move. No, you didn’t just be like, ah, Andy, your brand sucks. Like, I’m out like just drop the mic and walk away from them. . But I think something that you did bring up in there, in that shark tank like funding example is, Triggers.

Right? And like aha moments about when, when should the brand be revisited or reviewed? And I know when we were kind of planning out today’s episode, you had also talked about when a brand goes off the rails, right? What is, what do you mean by that? And maybe kind of wrap that into your answer. Yeah. Well, I mean, you hit on a couple things there.

Um, when, when, when a brand goes off the rails, it’s, it’s really kind of like when you’re doing something that you think is right for it. But again, we talked about how a brand really isn’t owned by you anymore. And so you have the, you have the, I mean, it’s a, it’s a precipice that you need to kind of balance on because you’re always wanting to push things forward at the same, you know?

Cause you want your business to grow because that’s the name of the game, right? That’s a brand doesn’t, well, I don’t want, I was gonna say a brand doesn’t make money, but that’s not true. You can put FUBU on a shirt and that makes money these days, but, So it’s not just that, but the business actually needs to advance by, by growing.

So, um, look at the gap. I think we talked about that off camera before, when The Gap tried to redo their logo years ago because they wanted to be like, you know, people weren’t going to malls anymore. Mall traffic had been declining in the last 20 years, and this is actually pre pandemic. They tried to change the logo and the one thing that they didn’t even think about that they had, the only thing they had equity left in when I was growing up, the gap was like, you know, in, I’m a child of the eighties, eighties, nineties, like you wanted to go to the gap.

You found something which was not cheap, it was good quality product and you knew that like you were stylish if you wore it. And like they had like the best khakis and cargos and like shirts and like, it was kind of right before Banana Republic came in to play another one of their sister companies. And even when they did come to play, they set them apart so much it was almost prohibitive to purchase them.

So you were just a little bit above mainstream to buy gap and it meant something. Well, they didn’t realize that in this decline of mall traffic and the slowing of sales and the days that they were, everything’s 50 to 70% off because, you know, they, you know, they can’t get people to come into malls and buy their product anymore.

And even in, in the age of the internet, they were losing all of that. They’re losing the market share to, to newer brands like Bonobos and Madewell and, and, and folks like that. They needed to do something. They thought they needed a fresh look. And so they changed the, they changed the, the logo and the logo of the Serif logo in the box, different than the one in the eighties, which in the seventies and eighties, which was the sansera fall, lowercase, I forget what they changed it to, but within a day they reversed it because the uproar from the internet community was so great.

They were like, oh, we completely misread our customer. Because the problem is, it wasn’t about the logo. That was the only thing left of the brand They loved. What, what they, what people were complaining about. The product isn’t high quality anymore. And, and think about that. I know we’re not talking about this in general, but just to, to explain that real quick.

If you have a hundred dollars shirt and now no one’s coming to the mall anymore, and you have to discount it 50, 60% to clear out the inventory because it’s too expensive to send to the warehouse and you still need to clear it out, and now you’re selling it for 30 bucks, your margin is so small. The only way to recoup some product margin is if you reduce the quality of the garment and you have it made in a different place instead of now Italy or even China.

You’re having to go to Malaysia or Singapore or someplace that’s cheaper, and now the quality of the garment comes down because they need to recoup some of those costs. They should have been focusing on that, but because they didn’t, they thought we’re just gonna spin the look and make it new, new and fresh.

It completely backfired. So it’s, it’s one of those very, very, um, interesting stories of, of cautionary tales, if you will, of what not to do because they weren’t paying attention to the customer. They’re paying attention to their identity and their look. And that’s not a brand. We, you know, people say all the time, a logo’s not a brand.

And so what they try to do is put meaning behind a new look, which wasn’t the problem. The problem was something else entirely, and they missed it. Well, within a day they reverted to it. They wasted millions of dollars on a logo, and, and they went back. And to this day, it is still the same look as it was in the nineties or early two thousands because I mean, at this point, I don’t think they’ll ever change it because they’re so fearful.

But that’s the kind of thing you have to be careful of. If you’re, if you think the problem can be solved visually, I would already just go, whoa, time out. What’s going on here? Right. Because how do you know that what’s going on? Um, it, it, it’s, I, I knew, I knew a group, um, a marketing group years ago called Ground Zero Marketing, and in the days after nine 11, they changed their name.

Okay. That was warranted. You probably shouldn’t have done that because that. It was a little insensitive, but other than that, it’s kind of like, don’t look at the, what you see up front as the thing that seems to change. Think about everything else that change, and that’s the big deal. So, uh, I, I’m just talking cause I’m excited, but yeah, you have to be careful about those things.

I think you keep coming back to the, this, this same point, which I, I feel like is a, a missing piece for a lot of people. And that’s the fact that your brand is much, much more than your messaging and your imagery and the colors you choose and the name of your company. It’s customer service, the products that you’re known for.

Um, all of the operations of your business is what is, what’s, what the brand is about at the end of the day. Um, how you treat people, I mean, I know you’re, no, go ahead, James. Sorry. Oh, I was saying, um, I know like you’re big on like the, you know, People selling to people and kind of that, that part of the brand.

And you know, that’s all that, you know, how you get people to know, like, and trust you is through not the images and the colors. Um, you know, having all of those tied together, it kind of helps tell the story. But I feel like that foundational piece is not always what people think it is. I, I, I would kind of agree and disagree on that.

I think that, and if I’m painting a different picture, I apologize. A brand is the campfire we all come back to. It is the heart, it’s the warmth, it’s the, it’s the, the part of the brand that is the part of the business that is the, the meaningful bits. And I don’t wanna say that the color isn’t important.

The color is important. It’s just not paramount important to everything else. So all those bits, like Ogilvy said, all those bits, it’s it added together, you know, create this brand. Uh, think about, um, I like to use, uh, known brands as a, as an analogy. Think about Starbucks, right? If you go, um, if you go to Starbucks in your town versus New York City versus San Francisco, and you order the same thing, you’re gonna have a very similar experience, right?

Um, if you order one from Dubai or Tokyo or London or Uzbekistan, you’re gonna have the same experience. You’re gonna, it might be called something different, just translated locally, but it’s gonna be the same product. It’s going to taste the same because they have standards. But take it a little further, the logo’s gonna look the same.

The store’s gonna look pretty similar. Might might have some cultural localization to it, but for the most part, it’s gonna look similar. You’re gonna identify it as a Starbucks when you walk in. But here’s the cool part. The cups aren’t all produced in the same factory globally for everybody. They’re printed locally.

The aprons aren’t sewn up in one place. They’re, they have. Create them globally because they have to fulfill ’em all across the world. Do you think the logos look the same on those aprons? Do you think the color, the Pantone color matching on the fabric is the same? Do you think the sign on the, it’s all the same.

If you deviate a little bit, you automatically think it’s a ripoff place. It’s a, you know, it’s a, it’s a ripoff McDonald’s. It’s like from coming to America, it’s McDougal’s, not McDonald’s. You, if you change it a little bit, , yeah, you know what I’m talking about Andy. But if you change it just a little bit, it’s going to feel inauthentic.

It’s going to feel bastardized. It’s going to feel not the thing that you came for. So careful attention has to be made to those things that you just said might not be important. And I don’t think you meant it that way. Color is absolutely, I. , the consistency is absolutely important. But moreover, there is meaning behind those.

Green means something to people. Mm-hmm. , there’s a certain color meaning to it. Um, you know, if you looked at UPS and all of a sudden UPS was gonna be in purple instead of brown, you’d be like, well, that’s kind of weird. Mm-hmm. or Coke was yellow instead of, uh, red or Starbucks was blue instead of green.

There’s going to be a disconnect. And when you take that conversation further and say, what does color have, you know, color has meaning, typography has meaning, um, the way we shape our words and sounds all that. So how we say a word? Um, I, I wrote a little, a book on this called, um, the Ultimate Guide to Naming, and we talk about how we actually form words in the English language based on parts of our tongue.

I didn’t do the research. I just, you know, I, I kind of rewrote it a little bit, but you can actually tell that hard words have a negative meaning and soft words have a positive meaning. And so all of that stuff together. It’s part of what,

When you think of Nike, what Nike means, and people have long forgotten that he was the, that she was the goddess of victory.

And we think about Bill Bowerman. We think about Phil Knight. We think about Michael Jordan. We think about that swoosh. We think about just do it. We think about women could do anything. We think about, you know, sports are for anybody. We think about aspirational. We think about being a hero brand, all of that stuff.

The color orange. The shoe boxes. Bo Jackson. Tiger Woods. Lance Armstrong. All of that is brand. And how I think about it, when I close my eyes and think about Nike again, I don’t wear them to run, but I think about ’em. I can go aspirational. I can see the images, I can see those, the ads they put on tv.

I feel it. That’s, ugh, that’s powerful, right? That’s a brand. Um, you can’t do that first. You have to build the base first, and then you hope for this. And then hopefully a company like us can help you get there.

So I got, sorry, I want to tell the a little bit. So you mentioned Pantone, right? So you don’t, you might not know this, but we worked where with Pantone managing their paid media for like eight years.

Um, say pan like , the wrong Bel . Yeah. So we know, we know the, the importance of color consistency and to take it even like one level further, um, you know, there’s a whole port of the business that’s like focused on like, um, standards for food and medicine and stuff like that. Because, I mean, just to give some more examples of how important that consistency is, if you have one package that’s printed off color, right, uh, that can be perceived as old, like, okay, it’s, they, they ran out of ink, that package looks old.

I’m not gonna buy it off the shelf. It’s gonna sit there, nobody’s gonna take it. Yep. Um, imagine opening up a. Advil bottle and all of the pills are different shades of pink. Like you’re gonna throw that out in two seconds. Um, absolutely. You open up a bag of french fries and they’re all slightly different colors.

I mean, this, I’m not a big fan of food coloring and additives and stuff like that, but there’s another layer of, you know, consistency equals quality in a lot of scenarios. And it, it’s just like an added layer when you bring it into your brand. It’s the same thing. Uh, I mean, I couldn’t have said that better.

I mean, there is meaning in everything, and if you don’t think there is, then you have to kind of rewind a little bit and kind of readjust your focus because. Literally everything you do can be, especially in this day and age, can be perceived in a way that could be derogatory to your brand or business.

So if you don’t have a way to explain why, is it this color? Or, and you might never talk about it, you might never explain why is Advil Brown? Like, I don’t think I’ve even wondered that, right? Because it’s a, it’s kind of a, it’s a coding on it so that it’s not really, it doesn’t mean anything, but you’re right.

If you ever changed it, it would be like, what the hell? It all goes back to that authenticity. It just feels, you said old, it could feel old, it could feel different, it could feel generic, it could feel, um, wrong. It could feel tainted. There’s so many things. There’s meaning behind everything. And so you absolutely have to be consistent.

We call it a red thread. It’s consistency in color, consistency in logo presentation, consistent visuals. Um, ev it’s everything. It’s, you know, even down to the, to the boxes and the cups and the, how you answer the phone if everyone you called. , uh, let’s pick on, uh, Warby Parker or um, whomever. And every time you answer the phone, they answer it a certain way and then you finally answer call up.

They’re like, uh, yeah, this is Willy Puck. What the hell do you want? You’d be like, uh, this is weird. You know, this isn’t high quality kind of thing. So, um, yeah. So I think you bring up a good point though when you were talking about the gap and then also about Starbucks as like mainstream brands. But if you translate that into a B2B version of that, right?

It’s about the quality of the product, the quality of the service, and all of that is built right as equity at the brand level. And when we talk about like product like growth or product marketers, which is what we were talking about with like Melissa on a previous episode, is they get so ingrained and they get so focused on the product that they lose sight of, like the clout, the trust, all the reputation that’s built at the brand level.

That ultimately should feed into how successful your product can be when it goes to market, not just from a feature set, not just from a checklist, hey, yeah. And a pricing perspective. But like all of that feeds into whether or not you can get off the ground and be successful at the end of the day.

I, I mean, absolutely.

And you’re right. I know we’re talking about, you know, B2C because they’re, they’re sexy and they’re fun to talk about, and almost everybody knows the brands we’ve mentioned. But the fact is that, you know, the country’s built on the back of, you know, B2B and, but the, the rules don’t change. You’re still connecting with people.

You’re still trying to get a buyer at a factory to take your product in. You’re still trying to get people to take your SAS based product and use it for their, you know, other business. And all of this stuff still matters. How your packaging arrives, how you answer the phone, you know, all the materials you send over is your contract, have misspellings in it.

What does that say about you if you, you know, do something later for them? , all that stuff matters. It’s the same, the same principles matter, which is why I said very early on, it’s kinda like riding a bike. We’re kind of agnostic to the, the type of sector or industry because it’s really about connecting with people.

There’s still somebody on the other end signing that purchase order. There’s still somebody choosing you to service their needs or sell them a product. And we’re hopefully still a long way off from robots making those dis decisions. They might flag something, but you know, a human’s still gonna call you up and say, Hey Joe, I need 50 more pallets of X, Y, and Z.

Or, Hey, I need to add 10 licenses to that fast based product. And you know, I mean, we do this all the time as a, as a business. You know, we go from, you know, whatever, we had 30 people to 45 people. Now I have to make a decision. Do I wanna stick with this business who services my whatever telephone needs or, you know, um, C R M or whatever, because 15 more people adds a lot of cost.

What’s the value to me using that company? Or do I wanna shop it around? Is it commoditized or there’s a reason? I’m gonna go back to those same things we’re talking about. Can I get them on the phone? Are they responsive? Does my staff like the tool? Does it make their life better? Is it easy? Does it not cost too much?

But if it does cost much, do I know I’m getting value for that? Same things we’re talking about with the gap in Starbucks and so on. It’s just in a different, uh, environment. But you’re still, you’re still making those same decisions. And if you don’t have something that’s tangible, even though we’re saying a brand is not tangible, I get that, but you don’t have tangible reasons to go back to them and say, we wanna continue to use you, uh, for whatever reason, again, product, service, whatever, then you’ve already lost.

And, and so if you have a solid brand, I mean, we all, we all do this, you know, you, you use a company and you get a, an email from the CEO right away. He didn’t really send it to you. It’s from a, a, you know, it’s from a, a drip campaign and from a, you know, you’re in the trial phase or whatever. And then you get something else and you, and you’re like, oh, this might be pretty good.

The price is decent, or it’s maybe on the cusp or, or whatever. But those things have meaning how he spoke to you, how he thinks of himself. There’s a lot of CEOs that are jerks in the world, but there’s a lot of CEOs great and doing well. If I got something from Tom’s and I’m going, oh, well they’re gonna give back for every shoe I buy, they’re gonna give, you know, a pair of shoes to so many in Africa.

That purpose driven brand has a lot of meaning to me. I might not wanna wear a pair of Toms every day, but I know that when I do, I’m reminded of the fact that, oh, some kid someplace is wearing a pair of Toms because I bought that, that pair that I might not wear that much. All of those things matter. And so connecting it, it doesn’t matter if you’re in industry or if you’re in Consumerables or whatever it is, it, it all matters and, and that red thread that ties it all together is literally.

So I think you touched on something there too, with the c e O kind of angle of things is personal brands and then corporate brands. Mm-hmm. . So we’ve talked a lot about corporate brands so far, but can you start to shift the conversation towards personal brands, because that’s especially true in B2B as well as D to C and b2c, but especially prevalent on b2b.

When we have evangelists, we have influencers out there. All of those talking heads that are kind of building whether or not your brand is perceived accurately or not, right? Mm-hmm. , I mean, it all comes down to authenticity, you know, uh, and consistency, right? Maybe the two, the big two big pillars. Uh, a personal brand can be, can mean so much.

You know, Michael Jordan has a personal brand, but he also has. A brand named after him. And so I know we’re talking about the former, so what are people like in their day-to-day lives? How do they, you know, if I, I have a, a decent presence on LinkedIn. I talk about a lot of things. I talk about things like my own faith and my, uh, you know, depression and mental health journey and leadership and things like that.

Now, if somebody sees me on the street and sees me smacking my kid or telling people I never struggle with mental health, like I, you know, it’s just bullshit. People are gonna go, what the hell? Like, I thought you were the guy who talked about this. You know? And so you have to be consistent and you have to be authentic in the, in the digital age, it’s really, really tough to identify who is authentic and not.

I mean, especially in this influencer marketing age where influencer brands pop up and, I mean, I was just, um, on a trip with my wife. We’re down in Miami and every 10 feet I saw somebody posing for a picture. And you’re like, well, this is an Instagram moment that. , I know that the thing that they’re saying has nothing to do with literally what’s happening right now.

Uh, we saw a girl eating, she was a, a Moy, uh, high schooler, and I’ve got a co, I’ve got a couple kids and I’ve, some of them have been most Moy high schoolers, and some of them are currently Moy high schoolers, and some of them will be currently or will be, um, we all go through that phase. But she’s sitting there at the table pissed off, like looking all, and then she pulls out her phone, smiles, twirls her hair, takes a picture in front of her family, like I’m eating dinner with my parents, posts it, and then immediately we went back to who she was.

And I’m like, oh my gosh, that was the fakest moment I’ve ever seen. This poor child is gonna grow up thinking that life is all about social media and then not gonna have any friends. But my point is, is that you have to be the same person you are individually as you. As your persona, unless you really, um, you really identify that this is a persona, an act that I’m playing of.

Radio DJs, for example, or actors sometimes can be like, yeah, that’s kind of who I am in the public, but here’s who I really am in, in private. And you can kind of delineate that, and people give a little bit of forgiveness for that because they understand the situation. But

For personal brands and for businesses and CEOs, whatever, just be authentic.

It’s the hardest thing in the world to do. Because it means being vulnerable, being authentic, you know. Admitting to mistakes and failures and so forth. And that’s a hard thing to do, but if you can do that, then you can start gaining a following based on true, meaningful, tangible ideas.

And they’re liable to trust you, likely to trust you. They know that what you’re saying is backed up time and time again. Sometimes that’s consistency and repetition. Sometimes it’s seeing you in a different place, doing the same thing that you would’ve another place. And all that stuff is important.

So when personal brands, and we got a lot, we currently right now are working with the CEO who owns like eight or nine companies, one of which we’re rebranding for him. He wants us to do, uh, kind of like a, um, kind of a rebrand, kind of a polish of his image. And the first thing we’re like is like, we don’t wanna worry about your image.

Like, we’re not, we’re not PR people, we’re not trying to like cover something up. We wanna know who you are, what is important to you. Why he, all of his brands, he comes up with solving a problem. So they’re all like recycling or one of them is, is, is developing. , uh, propulsion systems that take satellites into space, right?

He doesn’t really care about that. He doesn’t really care about recycling in, in the sense like he’s gonna devote his life to it. He cares about recycling in the general sense, but he’s like, all these things solve problems. I wanna solve problems for mankind. And I’m like, okay, that’s cool. That’s who you are.

So that’s what your brand, your personal brand should be about because that’s who you are. So there should be no difference between you as a person and you as a brand in some regard, right? Obviously, the the main point, you’re not gonna put everything out there, but for the most part, that’s why you, this purpose behind you, behind your businesses is what drives you.

Let’s talk about, that all boils down to authenticity. And if you don’t have that in a brand, personally or not, it just falls short. So you’re working with Elon. No, it’s funny. The funny thing is we’re not, we’re not under a da. I’m sorry. Just forget that. No, no. The funny thing is, Alan, so it’s a l o n and that’s hilarious that you just said that, but cuz for a second I’m like, wait, how did you know that , um,

The authenticity thing, you see it in the results too.

I mean, even my small tiny personal brand, like when I post something that’s like open and kind of more about my personal life than just a like, here’s a marketing video that I did. The engagement is like 10 times higher. People connect with it, 10 times more. Um, I don’t know if you listened to Dave Gerhardt, he’s big on like, he wrote a book called Founder Brand and talks about the importance of like, um, he’s in the startup space like founder led brands, um, and his whole thing and his, what he talks about in his podcast a lot is, How you need to have a personal, like when you’re running a podcast, people need to like, you, not what you’re talking about because they show up because they have a connection to you and they almost feel like you are friends with them almost because they have that connection.

Uh, and that’s something I’ve talked to Andy a lot about too. Like we even in like the beginning where we jump into the podcast and don’t talk about anything, don’t talk about any personal life, and it’s just like, Hey, we’re talking about brand today. Um, like there’s no connection that people are making there.

And when you do add that personal element to it, it just makes things 10 times better. You get way more engagement, um, and all, and when it’s authentic, it’s also easier to talk about. You have less filler words, you’re not faking it. Uh, it’s, it’s pretty obvious when somebody’s faking it. Uh, well, one, I appreciate you even saying that because I think it’s so important to be real and honest today, but I think this is kind of a contemporary, more modern thing that we’re seeing.

I think there was a day and age where, I mean, if you think about our parents and, and our parents’ parents and how. They grew up and where they worked, there was this, not to mention all the fact that it was just this, you know, misogynistic culture and you know, anti-gay culture and all these things that I just think are awful.

But there was this kind of like unbuttoned up all’s, okay, men don’t go to therapy, women stay home. It’s just off. I mean, across the chart, just awful. And when you really dig down and there, there’s people behind it. You’re right, people wanna know that. But I think we’re so starved for that today. And this is my personal platform.

This is my personal brand. I, I, I think where people are so starved for that to talk about something that’s real because we live in this digital first fake ass society that when you do talk about it, it is just, it resonates. It’s like literally like life giving. Because to your point, I see this all the time, I.

You, I can talk about a lot. I talk about this a second. Go on LinkedIn. The faith leadership and men’s mental health in particular. Those three things. When I deviate from that, because I talk about our business or an award we won, it’s, yeah, Hey, ga, congrats, whatever, blah, blah, blah. If I talk about, Hey, this morning I really struggled getting out of bed because I still struggle with depression even though I’m on medication and I’ve seen a therapist and I’ve dealt with some things.

I mean, it’s hundreds of people write me who may or may not interact with me online, but wanna say, oh my God. So it’s like because people are starved for that, people being real. And so I applaud you because it’s so un uh, natural for us because we’ve been trained this way for literally generations to live a certain way, especially as men.

I know there’s three men on this show right now, but especially as men, to purport to be something we’re not. And yet, in many ways, the exciting bits of life are when we actually admit that what we think we are or what we purport to be really is just a facade because. That’s where the action is. And I, I find that to just so compelling and so, and so exciting because that’s where you can actually, that’s where the struggle intention can be.

And if you take this back to brands, and I’m happy to talk about that stuff all day long, but if you take this back to brands and you go,

People don’t care if you think that your brand is polished and great unless you can be authentic to why you exist. And to do that is really bold. But if you can do it just like in a human doing it. But doing it for their brands is really bold.

A hero brand leads it shows people what’s right. It fights for people who can’t fight for themselves. That was perfect. And then all the people behind it who said, oh, we’re gonna do this too. Felt a little gross, even though the, the content and the context of what they were trying to do had meaning and was compelling and still resonated with people.

It just felt a little off because you’re like, oh, X brand never does that. They did it now because everyone else is doing it. You know? Yeah. It’s like, it’s like the same concept of if you’re at a conference and somebody’s speaking and you’re afraid to ask a question because you think it’s a dumb question, but it turns out everybody else and everybody else has the same question.

So like when you add, ask that it says something about you, it is authentic. It’s kind of the same scenario, and people, people really respect that. At the end of the day, I think people agree. I think this is not a, this is not a a, a, but, but an, and I think most people just appreciate people who are just so trans.

They can ask what they think, uh, they can say what they feel they can, they can do what they believe in. I think there’s just something really compelling there, because most people, I’m trying to raise my, I have two, two of the six children are sons. I’m trying to raise my sons in a world where they could admit failure, they can talk about their emotions, they can be real and still be, quote unquote manly in the sense that you can still, you can still achieve whatever you wanna achieve.

You can still, you know, tackle whatever, wrestle a bear, whatever. But it’s really important to care for your wife, to love your daughters, you know, to treat people with kindness. Like they don’t need to be mutually exclusive. They can be compelling together. Those are the most interesting people. And if you look at those people in society, that’s, again, that’s where the action is.

That’s where, that’s where the, um, the, the realness in an unreal world is only existing. And going back to chat g p T and stuff, it’s why that stuff, I mean, it scares me, but it’s like, I don’t really care about it because I’m like that people don’t yearn for that. People yearn for somebody putting your hand on their shoulder and saying, you know, it’s gonna be okay.

Let’s talk about life and, and have a cry or, or have a celebration. It doesn’t have to be negative. It can be positive. That stuff is compelling and exciting. And when brands do that, uh, or when the lead of a brand does that, I mean, it’s like magic.

Yeah. Well, brand is all about emotion and evoking emotion and talking about ai, like AI is trained not to have emotion.

Um, you know, you can ask it to write in a certain way, but you can’t convey the same emotion in the same way you would as the person who has those emotions. I, I had a friend years ago who said, I know Andy, you wanna say something? But I had a friend years ago who said, um, uh, you know, I know when we, I, you know, in, I don’t, I don’t wanna go to London cause I’m gonna get stabbed.

Um, and I never wanna go to Paris because. You know, you know they hate Americans. All these kind of stereotypes. And I’m like, yeah, but

Until you can tell me what it smells like to be in a bakery in Paris, and smell bread that’s been baked in the morning. And rip it open and have your cup of coffee.

Until you can tell me what that feels like and smells like, you haven’t experienced it. So you can read about it. You can talk about it. But you don’t know what it feels like. And a brand is very similar. You have to engage with it. You have to experience it. You can’t just look at it from a distance and go, because that’s just visual. But if you don’t understand it by living it and breathing in it. That’s really what it’s meant for… is to live, not just to be.

So, because we’re both leaders of agencies, we both have the wherewithal to think about finances and things like that. . So I would be remiss to not ask the brand guy, how do you sell branding initiatives or justification for all of the things that we talked about today internally? Because they are somewhat fuzzy, right?

They’re not about driving leads, they’re not about necessarily pipeline or revenue or anything like that. They’re much bigger than that. So how do you sell that internally? Well, it’s, it’s all down to like, like, who cares? Like what’s your why? You know, if you’re a Simon Cynic fan at all, um, like why? Why should people care about you?

Are you solving a problem? Are you just doing it better than somebody else? Do you have a product that you can’t live without? Is it just an exciting thing that you wanna work with? Why do people care? And when it comes down to that, it all comes down to if people don’t know who you are and what you stand for, they’re not gonna buy your product.

So it’s the awareness part. It’s the top of the funnel stuff to use your language, probably of just getting awareness out there. You might not engage with the brand, but if you don’t know who they are, Then you’re never even gonna choose them as an option or look at them as a potential option. So a lot of it is just looking at like, what’s taking your purpose and extrapolating it to kind of mapping it to your roadmap of growth.

Uh, going back to what we said earlier, like, I’m not gonna convince somebody who, or want to convince somebody who starts brand new business to spend 150, $200,000 on a, on a full rebrand or store brand exercise. Cause they might not have the cash for it. And no one really cares right now because they’re not big enough.

But when you get to a point where people start going, Hmm, I wonder what those guys are about, or gals or whoever, you know, is leaving the company. Like, what? I, I think we might need to put something out there, especially if you want to grow or stand for something or what, put a factory in the middle of a, of a city or, you know, whatever it is.

Anytime people are wondering who you are or what you’re doing, I, I think it’s, it’s really important. So I always use the examples of ones we’ve talked about here. Apple, Nike, whatever. I, I always have people talk about. We go through the whole idea of a brand as a logo and why it’s important. Um, but we talk about things like, if I had you guys on your listeners, close your eyes and thinking about Nike again, and I say, Hey, Nike just announced that they’re gonna start a, an airline and, uh, it’s gonna be called Nike Air because that’s super clever.

And, uh, tell me what the plane looks like. Uh, tell me what they’re, what food they’re serving, what’s on the TV is what the flight attendants are wearing, you know, all that sort of thing. You’re prob all of us are probably, if we wrote these things down, we’d probably be pretty close to one another. Say there’s probably gonna be orange someplace.

There’s gonna be a swoosh on the tail or on the side of the plane. They’re probably gonna be wearing some sort of lyra, kind of like quick wicking materials. Or we’re gonna be trainers on their feet, Nike Suge on their feet, probably serving a healthy meal, right? They’re not gonna be serving cookies. And E S P N is gonna be playing on the TVs.

That idea that we can all come up with something very similar. Is exactly what everyone wants to build toward. And typically, you, you talk to a potential customer of ours and we say that’s what, that’s what branding is. That’s, that’s brand equity. That’s the fact that your customer might know exactly what your plane is gonna look like before you even come up with the idea to have a, a plane or an airline.

That’s, that’s powerful, but it goes beyond that. It’s a less, bit more simple than that. It’s sometimes if, if you can’t convey to your internal team, your staff, your burgeoning staff or, or whatever, why you’re trying to do what you’re trying to do, like what is your purpose, what is your mission? Doesn’t matter what you’re selling.

What, what, what’s your reason for being? Can you distill that down to an essence of who you are, what the brand is? Like? Okay, so gimme the elevator pitch for X company. What is that? Can you articulate that? Can you tell me what it looks like in five years or 10 years? Or why you get it up in the morning to, to work your ass off at this company?

Or why you’re hiring people to believe in this thing? What is that thing you believe in? And we build this brand platform to help do that, that have both internal elements, the things we just mentioned, and external elements. The external elements are things like, you know, look, obviously, look and feel, uh, voice and tone, uh, your audience personas.

Uh, we do competitive analysis as well. Or what we try to do is we try to find ownable gaps in the marketplace so people care about you because if you just like, oh, I’m gonna do exactly what Coke does, you know, Pepsi doesn’t do what Coke does. Pepsi owns their position. They know they’re number two, you know, and they want people to believe they’re number two with a bullet by saying, take the Pepsi challenge.

A lot of people like Pepsi over Coke. , but everyone knows they’re number two, right? That’s probably never going to change. So they own it. So what is their reason for being, it’s an alternative. I don’t know what their mission statement is, but it’s an alternative to the mainstream. It’s blah, blah, blah. And if you’re a Pepsi kind of person, I’m a Diet Coke kind of guy.

But if you’re a Pepsi kind of person, you’re a Pepsi kind of person. If you’re a Coke kind of person, you’re a Coke kind of person. Okay? So what do they look like? How can we own that market share? And it’s, it’s kind of become a commodity. Like if you go into a a convenience store, you have a choice, you know?

So, um, but if you go into a restaurant, you might not have a choice. It’s whatever their supplier gives you. But wh what is it behind that? Why do you make that one choice over another? So that’s kind of the outward stuff. And what we try to do is say, especially for brands that are trying to establish a foothold in the market, we try to look at their competitors and say, okay, here’s their point of view.

Here’s where they’re coming from. Here’s their look and feel. Here’s their archetype, which is a big part of it. We talked about Nike being a hero archetype. Where are some gaps in the marketplace that you can own? Instead of trying to be Coke, how can we make you be Pepsi? And maybe for you that might lead to number one instead of being number two perpetually.

But what does that look like? Or how can you just make a great living and have a great brand that serves the needs of this market share that no one else is addressing? That’s the compelling part that gets people say, yeah, I wanna do that. Like what? You know, how can we get there? Okay, well, let’s go through our brain and exercise and tell you where you want to be.

A lot of times, and this happens, Probably weekly, to be honest. We have a, a potential customer coming to us and says, here’s who we are right now, and here’s what we want to do, and how do we get there? And we go, okay, well we can’t give you the business roadmap, but let’s look at what you’ve done so far and let’s see if we can understand why this hasn’t worked for you.

Uh, well, because you’re trying to be that guy, but you’re not that guy. You know, Adam, if you walked around trying to be James, you, I mean, you’re gonna, you’re gonna fail not because of any other reason, but because you’re not. , right? You’re not his twin and you’re not him. So you have to be who you are and people are gonna like you for different reasons than they like James for, right?

They’re gonna, uh, engage with you for different things and that you guys might have collaborative experiences together and you might be able to piggyback off one another and kind of illuminate each other’s stories and tell a fuller picture. But you’re not him and he’s not you. So why try to be him? One, it’s inauthentic going back to what we talked about, but two, you’re not giving anyone a reason to talk to you if you wanna be him, why wouldn’t I just go to James, right?

If Pepsi’s, if Pepsi’s just trying to be Coke, why wouldn’t I just buy Coke? It’s more readily available, right? But if I wanna be something different than gimme a reason to seek you out, that’s called brand positioning. What are the,

What are the selling propositions or the value propositions that are different from another competitor, or no competitor, that gives you a reason to wanna find me or my product or service to fulfill your need?

That’s just a really different, simple way of explaining what a brand position is. If we identify that for somebody through our process. Then you have a position in the market that no one can touch. And then you have a purpose. A mission. Values hopefully, that are inherently only pertinent to you. And you have a color, typography, and logo, you know, package that only represents who you are.

And then you can start talking about your voice and tone and characteristics. How you talk to people. That only helps back all those other things up. That whole piece becomes your brand platform, or your brand guidelines, or whatever you wanna talk about it that way. And that no one can touch, because that is inherent. If you go through that process, that is you.

you know, that’s Andy, that’s not James. Right. So that’s the, that’s the magic. And when we walk that, that through that whole process through with folks, it just becomes really sticky. And then when we do it effectively with them as partners and we, cuz we, we don’t just walk away and come back and say, here’s our thing.

We, we, we go through it with them. We gateways and milestones along the way and we constantly pitch back and listen and pitch back and how’s that sound? Talk to stakeholders, not just the C-suite. What does it look like? What’s the buyer think? What’s the sales guy think? What’s the receptionist think? We go through that process and when they can go, yeah, that’s us, that’s who we are.

That’s our archetype, that’s our position. Then this is the cool part. Then when we show them the color palette and we show them the logo because they’ve walked with us through that journey to figure out who they are, they go, yep, that’s exactly, that’s exactly what we should look like. We call it naming the baby after we get into, after we get to know it, you know, we always name babies first and then we get to know them.

Another personality doesn’t really match that, but. . We wanna get to know somebody and help define who they are, all using their own instincts. And we pull it out of them. We just don’t define it. We, we use them. Uh, a lot of stakeholder interviews, one-on-ones workshops. We basically just repackage it and pitch it back to them.

Then everything else makes sense. And if we can do that on top of a layer of a, of a, of a, a kind of a marketplace that has a need and has a ownable gap, then it’s just magic in a bottle. Very cool. If I, if I had a mic, I, as we right now, , hang on. Don’t go yet. Hang on, hang on. Sorry. Sorry. So as we start to bring today’s episode to close, Kyle, I wanted to kind of give you one of the last kind of opportunities to talk a little bit about, you know, what are two to three things that an internal brand person or leader should start to consider or how they can get started thinking about this for themselves or their own brand.

Yeah, I mean, I, I probably, I don’t know if I thought about it this way, but I’d probably distill it down to two or three things, and, and that would be one, I mean,

Is your brand authentic to your passion and your purpose, your mission? That’s paramount, right? If you’re trying to do something that doesn’t make sense to everybody else, then, you know, CEO either go off and spin off a new division or a new company. Or listen to your, you know, it could be your internal teams or listen to your customers.

So number one, be authentic. Number two, and this might be part of number one, but number two is

Just listen, because you don’t determine your brand. We can help you figure out your positioning and how to speak about your brand, but you don’t own your brand or determine what it is. That’s all the people, that’s all your potential people.

So listen to them. Listen to your customers, you know, talk.

One of the things that I always used to do when I was in e-commerce for years. And every time I said as a condition of my employment, the customer service team had to report to me.

And everyone’s like, why? And I’m like, because that’s the only way I can understand what we’ve done right and wrong. Because no one goes to the customer service reps and says, um, Hey, what, what’s the biggest thing you’ve heard? Uh, what’s the, what’s the biggest complaint? What are we having trouble with?

And they’re itching to tell people, but no one listens cuz they think, oh, they’re just a customer service person. No, they’re the, the, the gateway to your business. And so you’re hopefully to your, the hel healthy business, we would hear things like, this thing doesn’t work. There’s products always outta stock.

Um, you know, this piece is broken or your warranty sucks, or whatever that no one else in the business might know, but they know. So listen to people. That’s a huge part of, that’s number two. And number three is, um, just

Make sure you’re consistent. Everything you do should have a level of consistency to it.

It’s that Starbucks apron, the cups, the whole deal. But it’s also how you answer your phone. It’s how you talk to people. Don’t have marketing materials out there for one group and marketing materials out there for another group that don’t have a red thread between them.

We didn’t talk about voice and tone at all, but I think that’s important.

You can have, I have a voice, right? I sound a certain way. I believe in certain things. People expect a certain whatever from me, right? That’s my voice. My tone is different. My tone is dependent on who I’m talking to, the mood I’m in, you know, whatever it is.

So, I speak to you guys right now slightly differently than I talked to my children. And I should, right? If I have to use different words or slow my tone down. Or if I’m angry, I might speak to you differently than I would. And I’m not all those different things, that’s my tonality, but I don’t fundamentally change.

That’s my voice. So when I say, don’t change for who you’re speaking to, don’t change your voice for who you’re speaking to. Definitely change your tone. And so sometimes people don’t even understand what that means. Well, you’re not gonna make a promise over here, which is anti brand, anti product. And over here, back it up because you never know who’s gonna see both of those pieces.

But you’re also alienating the fundamental tenets of your brand by changing your inherent voice. So keep your voice the same, change the tonality.

Based on the, you know, uh, it, we could, we could be on a panel and people could ask me the same questions. And because there’s visibly 500 people in front of me, I, my tone might change a little bit.

I might annunciate more, I might pause for laughter, all those things, but my answers aren’t gonna change, right. So that’s huge as well. So, uh, I would say authenticity, listening and being consistent. Full stop. Cool, cool. Kyle, to give you one last opportunity, I like my one thing and you’re like, Cool.

Awesome. Thank you. . Was it better than me? Listen, that’s all I care about. Oh, there you go. All right. You gotta get you guys both on. That would be entertaining. Now you might have fighting in words. Yeah. Now you might have a battle going on at this point. She’s, I’m sure she’s a lovely woman with great ideas.

Kyle, how can people learn more about the brand leader but also connect with you? Uh, people can find [email protected], um, or we’re at the brand leader on LinkedIn. Super easy to find. Um, me personally, I’m just Kyle Du Ford. I think there’s only one other guy named my name in the world and he’s in Canada.

So, uh, don’t find the Canadian guy, but find me. Uh, I’m on LinkedIn, um, I’m on all the other platforms. Uh, or you can just email me [email protected]. Awesome. Kyle, thank you so much for being on today’s episode and we had a great conversation. So everybody likes subscribe, connect with Kyle, uh, and reach out to James and I if you wanna talk further.

Catch you next time. Thanks guys. What a pleasure.


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