The Real-World Branding Podcast https://finchbrands.com Real-World Branding is a podcast for and about brand and business building hosted by Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands. Each bi-weekly episode features a fast-paced interview with a brand development practitioner in an interesting category. Guests talk about their careers and the challenges and opportunities associated with their companies and branding today. Real-World Branding is a smart, practical podcast, focused on what it takes to build, run, and grow successful brands in the real world. For show notes and more, visit finchbrands.com/category/podcast/. Finch Brands is a real-world branding agency headquartered in Philadelphia and a premier, boutique branding agency. Tue, 15 Sep 2020 19:58:37 +0000 en hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.4.2 Real-World Branding is a podcast for and about brand and business building hosted by Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands. Each bi-weekly episode features a fast-paced interview with a brand development practitioner in an interesting category. Guests talk about their careers and the challenges and opportunities associated with their companies and branding today. Real-World Branding is a smart, practical podcast, focused on what it takes to build, run, and grow successful brands in the real world. For show notes and more, visit finchbrands.com/category/podcast/. Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands clean Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands sradzinski@finchbrands.com sradzinski@finchbrands.com (Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands) Copyright 2015 | Finch Brands, A Real-World Branding Agency Real-World Branding is a podcast for and about brand and business building hosted by Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands. Each bi-weekly episode features a fast-paced interview with a brand development practitioner in an interesting category. The Real-World Branding Podcast http://finchbrands.com/wp-content/uploads/powerpress/PODCAST3.jpg https://finchbrands.com Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Weekly The Future of Work – Kimberly Bombery Smith, Senior Director Workplace Strategy – Knoll Inc. https://finchbrands.com/future-of-work-knoll/ Tue, 15 Sep 2020 18:46:53 +0000 https://finchbrands.com/?p=3300 https://finchbrands.com/future-of-work-knoll/#respond https://finchbrands.com/future-of-work-knoll/feed/ 0 <p>Kimberly Bombery Smith, Senior Director Workplace Strategy at Knoll, Inc. joins us today on Real-World Branding! We chat Kimberly’s career journey, the Knoll brand and business, how Knoll has evolved, and the future of work – how Kimberly sees the world these days (i.e. COVID-19) and beyond. If you like our podcast, please subscribe! http://blog.finchbrands.com/future-of-work</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com/future-of-work-knoll/">The Future of Work – Kimberly Bombery Smith, Senior Director Workplace Strategy – Knoll Inc.</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com">Finch Brands</a>.</p>

Kimberly Bombery Smith, Senior Director Workplace Strategy at Knoll, Inc. joins us today on Real-World Branding! We chat Kimberly’s career journey, the Knoll brand and business, how Knoll has evolved, and the future of work – how Kimberly sees the world these days (i.e. COVID-19) and beyond. If you like our podcast, please subscribe!

http://blog.finchbrands.com/future-of-work

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Kimberly Bombery Smith, Senior Director Workplace Strategy at Knoll, Inc. joins us today on Real-World Branding! We chat Kimberly’s career journey, the Knoll brand and business, how Knoll has evolved, and the future of work – how Kimberly sees the worl... Kimberly Bombery Smith, Senior Director Workplace Strategy at Knoll, Inc. joins us today on Real-World Branding! We chat Kimberly’s career journey, the Knoll brand and business, how Knoll has evolved, and the future of work – how Kimberly sees the world these days (i.e. COVID-19) and beyond. If you like our podcast, please subscribe! http://blog.finchbrands.com/future-of-work Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands clean 42:30
Making Life Sweeter in 2020 – Melissa Ben-Ishay, CEO – Baked By Melissa https://finchbrands.com/making-life-sweeter-podcast/ Tue, 25 Aug 2020 16:43:36 +0000 https://finchbrands.com/?p=3272 https://finchbrands.com/making-life-sweeter-podcast/#respond https://finchbrands.com/making-life-sweeter-podcast/feed/ 0 <p>Melissa Ben-Ishay is a mom, baker, and founder of Baked by Melissa, the New York City-based brand famous for its signature, bite-size cupcakes and treats.Melissa joins us (again – we’re honored!) to provide an update on the company that bears her name and how COVID-19 has shaped her as a leader. If you like our […]</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com/making-life-sweeter-podcast/">Making Life Sweeter in 2020 – Melissa Ben-Ishay, CEO – Baked By Melissa</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com">Finch Brands</a>.</p>

Melissa Ben-Ishay is a mom, baker, and founder of Baked by Melissa, the New York City-based brand famous for its signature, bite-size cupcakes and treats.Melissa joins us (again – we’re honored!) to provide an update on the company that bears her name and how COVID-19 has shaped her as a leader. If you like our podcast, please subscribe!

http://blog.finchbrands.com/making-life-sweeter-2020

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Melissa Ben-Ishay is a mom, baker, and founder of Baked by Melissa, the New York City-based brand famous for its signature, bite-size cupcakes and treats.Melissa joins us (again – we’re honored!) to provide an update on the company that bears her name ... Melissa Ben-Ishay is a mom, baker, and founder of Baked by Melissa, the New York City-based brand famous for its signature, bite-size cupcakes and treats.Melissa joins us (again – we’re honored!) to provide an update on the company that bears her name and how COVID-19 has shaped her as a leader. If you like our […] Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands clean 27:51
Look good. Do good. Change the world. – Kate & Lisa Sokolov, Co-Founders – Social Goods Podcast https://finchbrands.com/change-the-world-podcast/ Tue, 11 Aug 2020 23:50:43 +0000 https://finchbrands.com/?p=3265 https://finchbrands.com/change-the-world-podcast/#respond https://finchbrands.com/change-the-world-podcast/feed/ 0 <p>Today on Real-World Branding we have the co-founders of Social Goods, Kate and Lisa Sokolov! Social Goods is a women-owned, sister-run small business based in NYC. Merging their shared experiences in politics, fashion and social impact, Kate and Lisa created Social Goods to allow conscious consumers to shop the causes they care about, while finding […]</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com/change-the-world-podcast/">Look good. Do good. Change the world. – Kate & Lisa Sokolov, Co-Founders – Social Goods Podcast</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com">Finch Brands</a>.</p>

Today on Real-World Branding we have the co-founders of Social Goods, Kate and Lisa Sokolov!

Social Goods is a women-owned, sister-run small business based in NYC. Merging their shared experiences in politics, fashion and social impact, Kate and Lisa created Social Goods to allow conscious consumers to shop the causes they care about, while finding more ways to take action even after their initial purchase. We discuss each of the sisters’ career backgrounds, the Social Goods brand, and how the company is experiencing 2020. If you like our podcast, please subscribe!

http://blog.finchbrands.com/social-goods-podcast

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Today on Real-World Branding we have the co-founders of Social Goods, Kate and Lisa Sokolov! Social Goods is a women-owned, sister-run small business based in NYC. Merging their shared experiences in politics, fashion and social impact, Today on Real-World Branding we have the co-founders of Social Goods, Kate and Lisa Sokolov! Social Goods is a women-owned, sister-run small business based in NYC. Merging their shared experiences in politics, fashion and social impact, Kate and Lisa created Social Goods to allow conscious consumers to shop the causes they care about, while finding […] Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands clean 34:58
Making Life Better in 2020 – Nick Bayer, Founder and CEO – Saxbys https://finchbrands.com/2020-making-life-better-saxbys/ Tue, 28 Jul 2020 17:17:34 +0000 https://finchbrands.com/?p=3214 https://finchbrands.com/2020-making-life-better-saxbys/#respond https://finchbrands.com/2020-making-life-better-saxbys/feed/ 0 <p>Today, we welcome back Nick Bayer, Founder and CEO of Saxbys. Nick updates us on the Saxbys brand and business, relates how they’ve pushed ahead despite COVID-19, and shares how a values-driven company like Saxbys can take on issues of racial injustice. If you like our podcast, please subscribe! http://blog.finchbrands.com/making-life-better-2020-saxbys</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com/2020-making-life-better-saxbys/">Making Life Better in 2020 – Nick Bayer, Founder and CEO – Saxbys</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com">Finch Brands</a>.</p>

Today, we welcome back Nick Bayer, Founder and CEO of Saxbys. Nick updates us on the Saxbys brand and business, relates how they’ve pushed ahead despite COVID-19, and shares how a values-driven company like Saxbys can take on issues of racial injustice. If you like our podcast, please subscribe!

http://blog.finchbrands.com/making-life-better-2020-saxbys

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Today, we welcome back Nick Bayer, Founder and CEO of Saxbys. Nick updates us on the Saxbys brand and business, relates how they’ve pushed ahead despite COVID-19, and shares how a values-driven company like Saxbys can take on issues of racial injustice... Today, we welcome back Nick Bayer, Founder and CEO of Saxbys. Nick updates us on the Saxbys brand and business, relates how they’ve pushed ahead despite COVID-19, and shares how a values-driven company like Saxbys can take on issues of racial injustice. If you like our podcast, please subscribe! http://blog.finchbrands.com/making-life-better-2020-saxbys Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands clean 30:55
The 2020 Election Through a Brand Lens – Larry Ceisler, Principal – Ceisler Media & Issue Advocacy https://finchbrands.com/2020-branding-presidential-election/ Tue, 14 Jul 2020 16:27:19 +0000 https://finchbrands.com/?p=3209 https://finchbrands.com/2020-branding-presidential-election/#respond https://finchbrands.com/2020-branding-presidential-election/feed/ 0 <p>Today on Real-World Branding we welcome renowned communications strategist Larry Ceisler. While his current work supports the communications objectives of corporate and non-profit clients, Larry’s deep experience in the political realm informs our discussion. We focus on the 2020 race and how both the Biden and Trump campaigns can harness positioning and messaging techniques to […]</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com/2020-branding-presidential-election/">The 2020 Election Through a Brand Lens – Larry Ceisler, Principal – Ceisler Media & Issue Advocacy</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com">Finch Brands</a>.</p>

Today on Real-World Branding we welcome renowned communications strategist Larry Ceisler. While his current work supports the communications objectives of corporate and non-profit clients, Larry’s deep experience in the political realm informs our discussion. We focus on the 2020 race and how both the Biden and Trump campaigns can harness positioning and messaging techniques to help their respective causes. If you like our podcast, please subscribe!

http://blog.finchbrands.com/2020-election-branding

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Today on Real-World Branding we welcome renowned communications strategist Larry Ceisler. While his current work supports the communications objectives of corporate and non-profit clients, Larry’s deep experience in the political realm informs our disc... Today on Real-World Branding we welcome renowned communications strategist Larry Ceisler. While his current work supports the communications objectives of corporate and non-profit clients, Larry’s deep experience in the political realm informs our discussion. We focus on the 2020 race and how both the Biden and Trump campaigns can harness positioning and messaging techniques to […] Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands clean 38:34
Here We Are & Here We Grow – K. Bernard Tynes, Senior Vice President – Penn Community Bank https://finchbrands.com/here-we-are-pcb/ Tue, 23 Jun 2020 19:22:07 +0000 https://finchbrands.com/?p=3193 https://finchbrands.com/here-we-are-pcb/#respond https://finchbrands.com/here-we-are-pcb/feed/ 0 <p>Bernard Tynes joins us today on Real-World Branding. We discuss a wide range of topics – from PCB’s recent ‘Here We Grow’ campaign to the bank’s role in administering the PPP program to Bernard’s career journey as an African-American executive in a predominantly white industry. If you like our podcast, please subscribe! http://blog.finchbrands.com/here-we-are-pcb</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com/here-we-are-pcb/">Here We Are & Here We Grow – K. Bernard Tynes, Senior Vice President – Penn Community Bank</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com">Finch Brands</a>.</p>

Bernard Tynes joins us today on Real-World Branding. We discuss a wide range of topics – from PCB’s recent ‘Here We Grow’ campaign to the bank’s role in administering the PPP program to Bernard’s career journey as an African-American executive in a predominantly white industry. If you like our podcast, please subscribe!

http://blog.finchbrands.com/here-we-are-pcb

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Bernard Tynes joins us today on Real-World Branding. We discuss a wide range of topics – from PCB’s recent ‘Here We Grow’ campaign to the bank’s role in administering the PPP program to Bernard’s career journey as an African-American executive in a pre... Bernard Tynes joins us today on Real-World Branding. We discuss a wide range of topics – from PCB’s recent ‘Here We Grow’ campaign to the bank’s role in administering the PPP program to Bernard’s career journey as an African-American executive in a predominantly white industry. If you like our podcast, please subscribe! http://blog.finchbrands.com/here-we-are-pcb Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands clean 27:24
Beer and Beyond – Audrey Chee-Read, Strategy and Insights Manager – Boston Beer Company https://finchbrands.com/boston-beer-co-podcast/ Fri, 29 May 2020 00:21:56 +0000 https://finchbrands.com/?p=3171 https://finchbrands.com/boston-beer-co-podcast/#respond https://finchbrands.com/boston-beer-co-podcast/feed/ 0 <p>Audrey Chee-Read, Strategy and Insights Manager at Boston Beer Company joins us today on Real-World Branding. Boston Beer Co. is the parent company of not only Sam Adams, but Twisted Tea, Angry Orchard, Truly Hard Seltzer, Dogfish Head and many more. Audrey discusses her travels and career path, how Boston Beer has successfully brought in […]</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com/boston-beer-co-podcast/">Beer and Beyond – Audrey Chee-Read, Strategy and Insights Manager – Boston Beer Company</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com">Finch Brands</a>.</p>

Audrey Chee-Read, Strategy and Insights Manager at Boston Beer Company joins us today on Real-World Branding. Boston Beer Co. is the parent company of not only Sam Adams, but Twisted Tea, Angry Orchard, Truly Hard Seltzer, Dogfish Head and many more. Audrey discusses her travels and career path, how Boston Beer has successfully brought in new brands through the power of observation and not being afraid of failure, how hard seltzer is evolving, and some words of advice. If you like our podcast, please subscribe!

http://blog.finchbrands.com/beer-and-beyond

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Audrey Chee-Read, Strategy and Insights Manager at Boston Beer Company joins us today on Real-World Branding. Boston Beer Co. is the parent company of not only Sam Adams, but Twisted Tea, Angry Orchard, Truly Hard Seltzer, Dogfish Head and many more. Audrey Chee-Read, Strategy and Insights Manager at Boston Beer Company joins us today on Real-World Branding. Boston Beer Co. is the parent company of not only Sam Adams, but Twisted Tea, Angry Orchard, Truly Hard Seltzer, Dogfish Head and many more. Audrey discusses her travels and career path, how Boston Beer has successfully brought in […] Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands clean 31:30
Crisis Communication & The Class of 2024 – Mark Johnson & Chris Gruber, Davidson College https://finchbrands.com/davidson-class-2024/ Wed, 20 May 2020 19:36:27 +0000 https://finchbrands.com/?p=3166 https://finchbrands.com/davidson-class-2024/#respond https://finchbrands.com/davidson-class-2024/feed/ 0 <p>Today we have two special guests from Davidson College, an institution that has been widely lauded for its COVID-19 response. Mark Johnson, Chief Communications & Marketing Officer and Chris Gruber, Vice President & Dean of Admission and Financial Aid, join us to discuss how the pandemic has affected higher ed generally and especially in the […]</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com/davidson-class-2024/">Crisis Communication & The Class of 2024 – Mark Johnson & Chris Gruber, Davidson College</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com">Finch Brands</a>.</p>

Today we have two special guests from Davidson College, an institution that has been widely lauded for its COVID-19 response. Mark Johnson, Chief Communications & Marketing Officer and Chris Gruber, Vice President & Dean of Admission and Financial Aid, join us to discuss how the pandemic has affected higher ed generally and especially in the key area of enrollment management. If you like our podcast, please subscribe!

http://blog.finchbrands.com/crisis-communication-the-class-of-2024

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Today we have two special guests from Davidson College, an institution that has been widely lauded for its COVID-19 response. Mark Johnson, Chief Communications & Marketing Officer and Chris Gruber, Vice President & Dean of Admission and Financial Aid,... Today we have two special guests from Davidson College, an institution that has been widely lauded for its COVID-19 response. Mark Johnson, Chief Communications & Marketing Officer and Chris Gruber, Vice President & Dean of Admission and Financial Aid, join us to discuss how the pandemic has affected higher ed generally and especially in the […] Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands clean 32:08
Standing For Service – Justin Dunn, Senior Vice President/Chief Marketing Officer at WSFS Bank https://finchbrands.com/justin-dunn-wsfs-bank-podcast/ Wed, 13 May 2020 13:35:35 +0000 https://finchbrands.com/?p=3138 https://finchbrands.com/justin-dunn-wsfs-bank-podcast/#respond https://finchbrands.com/justin-dunn-wsfs-bank-podcast/feed/ 0 <p>Tune into Real-World Branding this week to hear from Justin Dunn, Senior Vice President/Chief Marketing Officer at WSFS Bank. We discuss Justin’s career path, WSFS’s acquisition of Beneficial, how the bank is managing the Paycheck Protection Program through the COVID-19 pandemic, and the new myWSFS app. If you like our podcast, please subscribe! http://blog.finchbrands.com/wsfs-bank-standing-for-service</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com/justin-dunn-wsfs-bank-podcast/">Standing For Service – Justin Dunn, Senior Vice President/Chief Marketing Officer at WSFS Bank</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com">Finch Brands</a>.</p>

Tune into Real-World Branding this week to hear from Justin Dunn, Senior Vice President/Chief Marketing Officer at WSFS Bank. We discuss Justin’s career path, WSFS’s acquisition of Beneficial, how the bank is managing the Paycheck Protection Program through the COVID-19 pandemic, and the new myWSFS app. If you like our podcast, please subscribe!

http://blog.finchbrands.com/wsfs-bank-standing-for-service

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Tune into Real-World Branding this week to hear from Justin Dunn, Senior Vice President/Chief Marketing Officer at WSFS Bank. We discuss Justin’s career path, WSFS’s acquisition of Beneficial, how the bank is managing the Paycheck Protection Program th... Tune into Real-World Branding this week to hear from Justin Dunn, Senior Vice President/Chief Marketing Officer at WSFS Bank. We discuss Justin’s career path, WSFS’s acquisition of Beneficial, how the bank is managing the Paycheck Protection Program through the COVID-19 pandemic, and the new myWSFS app. If you like our podcast, please subscribe! http://blog.finchbrands.com/wsfs-bank-standing-for-service Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands clean 25:43
#RaiseYourGlass – Dan Hershberg, Co-Founder, Chief Brand Officer – Workhorse Brewing Co. https://finchbrands.com/workhorse-workforce/ Tue, 05 May 2020 00:45:13 +0000 https://finchbrands.com/?p=3135 https://finchbrands.com/workhorse-workforce/#respond https://finchbrands.com/workhorse-workforce/feed/ 0 <p>Today on Real-World Branding, we welcome back one of our faves: Dan Hershberg Co-Founder and Chief Brand Officer of Workhorse Brewing Co. Dan talks about the Workhorse business in general as well as two charitable initiatives — #RaiseYourGlass, which benefits a trio of local organizations helping those in need, as well as a new beer […]</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com/workhorse-workforce/">#RaiseYourGlass – Dan Hershberg, Co-Founder, Chief Brand Officer – Workhorse Brewing Co.</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com">Finch Brands</a>.</p>

Today on Real-World Branding, we welcome back one of our faves: Dan Hershberg Co-Founder and Chief Brand Officer of Workhorse Brewing Co. Dan talks about the Workhorse business in general as well as two charitable initiatives — #RaiseYourGlass, which benefits a trio of local organizations helping those in need, as well as a new beer called Workforce IPA, proceeds from which support the restaurant industry that has been so strongly affected by the pandemic. If you like our podcast, please subscribe!

http://blog.finchbrands.com/workhorse-raise-your-glass

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Today on Real-World Branding, we welcome back one of our faves: Dan Hershberg Co-Founder and Chief Brand Officer of Workhorse Brewing Co. Dan talks about the Workhorse business in general as well as two charitable initiatives — #RaiseYourGlass, Today on Real-World Branding, we welcome back one of our faves: Dan Hershberg Co-Founder and Chief Brand Officer of Workhorse Brewing Co. Dan talks about the Workhorse business in general as well as two charitable initiatives — #RaiseYourGlass, which benefits a trio of local organizations helping those in need, as well as a new beer […] Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands clean 33:47
Building Tomorrow’s Medical Technology – Eric Sugalski, President & CEO – Archimedic https://finchbrands.com/archimedic-podcast-post/ Sun, 26 Apr 2020 23:09:12 +0000 https://finchbrands.com/?p=3125 https://finchbrands.com/archimedic-podcast-post/#respond https://finchbrands.com/archimedic-podcast-post/feed/ 0 <p>Tune into Real-World Branding this week to hear from Eric Sugalski, President & CEO of Archimedic. We discuss Eric’s career path, the merger and transition from Smithwise to Archimedic, the current state of business, and how small service businesses are managing COVID-19 (and what they are doing with masks!). Archimedic helps innovators struggling with technical, […]</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com/archimedic-podcast-post/">Building Tomorrow’s Medical Technology – Eric Sugalski, President & CEO – Archimedic</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com">Finch Brands</a>.</p>
Tune into Real-World Branding this week to hear from Eric Sugalski, President & CEO of Archimedic. We discuss Eric’s career path, the merger and transition from Smithwise to Archimedic, the current state of business, and how small service businesses are managing COVID-19 (and what they are doing with masks!). Archimedic helps innovators struggling with technical, regulatory, and manufacturing challenges accelerate their next new products along the path to market.
http://blog.finchbrands.com/archimedic-podcast

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Tune into Real-World Branding this week to hear from Eric Sugalski, President & CEO of Archimedic. We discuss Eric’s career path, the merger and transition from Smithwise to Archimedic, the current state of business, Tune into Real-World Branding this week to hear from Eric Sugalski, President & CEO of Archimedic. We discuss Eric’s career path, the merger and transition from Smithwise to Archimedic, the current state of business, and how small service businesses are managing COVID-19 (and what they are doing with masks!). Archimedic helps innovators struggling with technical, […] Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands clean 23:20
Innovation in 2020 – Nick Catalana, General Manager – Innovation Foods https://finchbrands.com/innovation-2020-podcast/ Fri, 17 Apr 2020 19:22:33 +0000 https://finchbrands.com/?p=3122 https://finchbrands.com/innovation-2020-podcast/#respond https://finchbrands.com/innovation-2020-podcast/feed/ 0 <p>Tune in today to hear from Nick Catalana, General Manager of Innovation Foods. Nick tells the story of how he got into his family’s business, discusses how Innovation Foods carefully balances tradition with progress, and outlines the impact COVID-19 is having on the business. He also shares their purpose-driven pivot into producing hand sanitizer. If […]</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com/innovation-2020-podcast/">Innovation in 2020 – Nick Catalana, General Manager – Innovation Foods</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com">Finch Brands</a>.</p>
Tune in today to hear from Nick Catalana, General Manager of Innovation Foods.
Nick tells the story of how he got into his family’s business, discusses how Innovation Foods carefully balances tradition with progress, and outlines the impact COVID-19 is having on the business. He also shares their purpose-driven pivot into producing hand sanitizer. If you like our podcast, please subscribe!
http://blog.finchbrands.com/innovation-foods-podcast

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Tune in today to hear from Nick Catalana, General Manager of Innovation Foods. Nick tells the story of how he got into his family’s business, discusses how Innovation Foods carefully balances tradition with progress, Tune in today to hear from Nick Catalana, General Manager of Innovation Foods. Nick tells the story of how he got into his family’s business, discusses how Innovation Foods carefully balances tradition with progress, and outlines the impact COVID-19 is having on the business. He also shares their purpose-driven pivot into producing hand sanitizer. If […] Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands clean 22:27
AmeriGas Has Your Back – Chris Cook – Vice President of ACE and Marketing, AmeriGas https://finchbrands.com/amerigas-has-your-back-podcast/ Fri, 10 Apr 2020 01:56:47 +0000 https://finchbrands.com/?p=3120 https://finchbrands.com/amerigas-has-your-back-podcast/#respond https://finchbrands.com/amerigas-has-your-back-podcast/feed/ 0 <p>Chris has been instrumental in the growth of the AmeriGas Cylinder Exchange (ACE) business and also drives the planning and execution of corporate marketing across all business segments. Today, we discuss Chris’ career journey and path to leadership, the AmeriGas brand today, and the impact of COVID-19 on the business. If you like our podcast, please subscribe! […]</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com/amerigas-has-your-back-podcast/">AmeriGas Has Your Back – Chris Cook – Vice President of ACE and Marketing, AmeriGas</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com">Finch Brands</a>.</p>
Chris has been instrumental in the growth of the AmeriGas Cylinder Exchange (ACE) business and also drives the planning and execution of corporate marketing across all business segments. Today, we discuss Chris’ career journey and path to leadership, the AmeriGas brand today, and the impact of COVID-19 on the business. If you like our podcast, please subscribe!
http://blog.finchbrands.com/amerigas-podcast

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Chris has been instrumental in the growth of the AmeriGas Cylinder Exchange (ACE) business and also drives the planning and execution of corporate marketing across all business segments. Today, we discuss Chris’ career journey and path to leadership, Chris has been instrumental in the growth of the AmeriGas Cylinder Exchange (ACE) business and also drives the planning and execution of corporate marketing across all business segments. Today, we discuss Chris’ career journey and path to leadership, the AmeriGas brand today, and the impact of COVID-19 on the business. If you like our podcast, please subscribe! […] Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands clean 26:02
On the Front Lines – Peter Hotz – President & CEO of vybe urgent care https://finchbrands.com/vybe-urgent-care-podcast/ Wed, 01 Apr 2020 20:06:28 +0000 https://finchbrands.com/?p=3087 https://finchbrands.com/vybe-urgent-care-podcast/#respond https://finchbrands.com/vybe-urgent-care-podcast/feed/ 0 <p>Today, we’re joined by Peter Hotz, President & CEO of vybe urgent care. Peter is a seasoned entrepreneur, business leader, investor, and mentor who thrives on helping emerging healthcare businesses achieve their potential. We discuss his career, the amazing brand and business he’s building at vybe, and what it’s like to successfully run an urgent […]</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com/vybe-urgent-care-podcast/">On the Front Lines – Peter Hotz – President & CEO of vybe urgent care</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com">Finch Brands</a>.</p>
Today, we’re joined by Peter Hotz, President & CEO of vybe urgent care. Peter is a seasoned entrepreneur, business leader, investor, and mentor who thrives on helping emerging healthcare businesses achieve their potential. We discuss his career, the amazing brand and business he’s building at vybe, and what it’s like to successfully run an urgent care in this difficult time. If you like our podcast, please subscribe!
http://blog.finchbrands.com/vybe-urgent-care

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Today, we’re joined by Peter Hotz, President & CEO of vybe urgent care. Peter is a seasoned entrepreneur, business leader, investor, and mentor who thrives on helping emerging healthcare businesses achieve their potential. We discuss his career, Today, we’re joined by Peter Hotz, President & CEO of vybe urgent care. Peter is a seasoned entrepreneur, business leader, investor, and mentor who thrives on helping emerging healthcare businesses achieve their potential. We discuss his career, the amazing brand and business he’s building at vybe, and what it’s like to successfully run an urgent […] Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands clean 27:18
Supporting Your Customers Through COVID-19 – Sabrina DeVito – Chief Strategy Officer of Marlette Funding (Best Egg Personal Loans) https://finchbrands.com/best-egg-covid-19/ Tue, 24 Mar 2020 19:46:34 +0000 https://finchbrands.com/?p=3083 https://finchbrands.com/best-egg-covid-19/#respond https://finchbrands.com/best-egg-covid-19/feed/ 0 <p>Today on Real-World Branding, Sabrina shares insights from her career journey, how the Best Egg brand was built, and what they are doing in this peculiar moment to keep things moving for the team and their customers.As Chief Strategy Officer, Sabrina leads the development of the company’s customer-centric growth strategy. In addition, she is responsible for […]</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com/best-egg-covid-19/">Supporting Your Customers Through COVID-19 – Sabrina DeVito – Chief Strategy Officer of Marlette Funding (Best Egg Personal Loans)</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com">Finch Brands</a>.</p>
Today on Real-World Branding, Sabrina shares insights from her career journey, how the Best Egg brand was built, and what they are doing in this peculiar moment to keep things moving for the team and their customers.As Chief Strategy Officer, Sabrina leads the development of the company’s customer-centric growth strategy. In addition, she is responsible for brand strategy, communications, consumer insights, and customer experience. Prior to joining Marlette, Sabrina spent over 20 years leading successful business development and marketing teams in large global banks and high growth start-ups.If you like our podcast please subscribe!
http://blog.finchbrands.com/best-egg-supporting-customers-covid-19

 

 

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Today on Real-World Branding, Sabrina shares insights from her career journey, how the Best Egg brand was built, and what they are doing in this peculiar moment to keep things moving for the team and their customers.As Chief Strategy Officer, Today on Real-World Branding, Sabrina shares insights from her career journey, how the Best Egg brand was built, and what they are doing in this peculiar moment to keep things moving for the team and their customers.As Chief Strategy Officer, Sabrina leads the development of the company’s customer-centric growth strategy. In addition, she is responsible for […] Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands clean 32:04
Spread Bagelry Manages Growth – Jamie Schrotberger, CEO of Spread Bagelry https://finchbrands.com/spread-bagelry-manages-growth-covid-19/ Wed, 18 Mar 2020 20:08:45 +0000 https://finchbrands.com/?p=3078 https://finchbrands.com/spread-bagelry-manages-growth-covid-19/#respond https://finchbrands.com/spread-bagelry-manages-growth-covid-19/feed/ 0 <p>Today on Real-World Branding, Jamie Schrotberger (CEO of Spread Bagelry) discusses the brand they’re building and how COVID-19 has impacted their business. With a strong background in finance, Jamie got to know the restaurant business through a financial lens before transitioning into operations and leadership as CFO for Garces Restaurant Group. His current role is […]</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com/spread-bagelry-manages-growth-covid-19/">Spread Bagelry Manages Growth – Jamie Schrotberger, CEO of Spread Bagelry</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com">Finch Brands</a>.</p>
Today on Real-World Branding, Jamie Schrotberger (CEO of Spread Bagelry) discusses the brand they’re building and how COVID-19 has impacted their business.
With a strong background in finance, Jamie got to know the restaurant business through a financial lens before transitioning into operations and leadership as CFO for Garces Restaurant Group. His current role is as CEO of Spread Bagelry, a 5-unit and growing Montreal-style bagel business. With equal parts hospitality, quality, and operational excellence, Jamie takes us through the Spread story and plan. Additionally, he shares their approach to managing a retail business during this unpredictable time. If you like our podcast, please let us know and subscribe!
blog.finchbrands.com/spread-bagelry-covid-19 

 

 

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Today on Real-World Branding, Jamie Schrotberger (CEO of Spread Bagelry) discusses the brand they’re building and how COVID-19 has impacted their business. With a strong background in finance, Jamie got to know the restaurant business through a financi... Today on Real-World Branding, Jamie Schrotberger (CEO of Spread Bagelry) discusses the brand they’re building and how COVID-19 has impacted their business. With a strong background in finance, Jamie got to know the restaurant business through a financial lens before transitioning into operations and leadership as CFO for Garces Restaurant Group. His current role is […] Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands clean 37:05
Life on the Client Side – Jordan Goldenberg, VP Brand & Creative – Petco https://finchbrands.com/petco-podcast/ Fri, 21 Feb 2020 21:27:35 +0000 https://finchbrands.com/?p=3068 https://finchbrands.com/petco-podcast/#respond https://finchbrands.com/petco-podcast/feed/ 0 <p>Today on Real-World Branding we welcome back our old/dear friend Jordan Goldenberg! After 18 years as Finch Brands’ Creative Director, Jordan headed west — ultimately landing as VP of Brand & Creative at Petco. Now two years in, he reflects on his accomplishments at Petco so far and the differences between the agency and client […]</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com/petco-podcast/">Life on the Client Side – Jordan Goldenberg, VP Brand & Creative – Petco</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com">Finch Brands</a>.</p>
Today on Real-World Branding we welcome back our old/dear friend Jordan Goldenberg! After 18 years as Finch Brands’ Creative Director, Jordan headed west — ultimately landing as VP of Brand & Creative at Petco. Now two years in, he reflects on his accomplishments at Petco so far and the differences between the agency and client sides. If you like our podcast, please subscribe!

http://blog.finchbrands.com/petco-podcast-2020

 

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Today on Real-World Branding we welcome back our old/dear friend Jordan Goldenberg! After 18 years as Finch Brands’ Creative Director, Jordan headed west — ultimately landing as VP of Brand & Creative at Petco. Now two years in, Today on Real-World Branding we welcome back our old/dear friend Jordan Goldenberg! After 18 years as Finch Brands’ Creative Director, Jordan headed west — ultimately landing as VP of Brand & Creative at Petco. Now two years in, he reflects on his accomplishments at Petco so far and the differences between the agency and client […] Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands clean 32:33
#DavidsonTrue – Mark Johnson, Chief Communications & Marketing Officer – Davidson College https://finchbrands.com/davidson-podcast/ Thu, 30 Jan 2020 18:20:02 +0000 https://finchbrands.com/?p=3059 https://finchbrands.com/davidson-podcast/#respond https://finchbrands.com/davidson-podcast/feed/ 0 <p>Mark Johnson is Chief Communications and Marketing Officer at Davidson College, a highly selective liberal arts college in Davidson, North Carolina​. Mark takes us through his fascinating and diverse career — from journalism to government to cultural institutions to higher ed — and tells the story of the new #DavidsonTrue campaign. If you like our podcast please […]</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com/davidson-podcast/">#DavidsonTrue – Mark Johnson, Chief Communications & Marketing Officer – Davidson College</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com">Finch Brands</a>.</p>
Mark Johnson is Chief Communications and Marketing Officer at Davidson College, a highly selective liberal arts college in Davidson, North Carolina​. Mark takes us through his fascinating and diverse career — from journalism to government to cultural institutions to higher ed — and tells the story of the new #DavidsonTrue campaign. If you like our podcast please leave us a rating and subscribe!

http://blog.finchbrands.com/davidson-true-podcast

 

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Mark Johnson is Chief Communications and Marketing Officer at Davidson College, a highly selective liberal arts college in Davidson, North Carolina​. Mark takes us through his fascinating and diverse career — from journalism to government to cultural i... Mark Johnson is Chief Communications and Marketing Officer at Davidson College, a highly selective liberal arts college in Davidson, North Carolina​. Mark takes us through his fascinating and diverse career — from journalism to government to cultural institutions to higher ed — and tells the story of the new #DavidsonTrue campaign. If you like our podcast please […] Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands clean 33:54
Making Energy (And Branding) Easy: Real-World Branding Podcast https://finchbrands.com/making-energy-and-branding-easy-real-world-branding-podcast/ Fri, 10 Jan 2020 20:20:29 +0000 https://finchbrands.com/?p=3028 https://finchbrands.com/making-energy-and-branding-easy-real-world-branding-podcast/#respond https://finchbrands.com/making-energy-and-branding-easy-real-world-branding-podcast/feed/ 0 <p>Steve is an accomplished senior executive with a proven history of driving revenue, cultural, and operational improvements at both startups and more mature organizations. With over 25 years in marketing, technology, and sales leadership roles, Steve provides a comprehensive perspective on how to bring about change within an organization. Shipley Energy uses their energy and services expertise to make […]</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com/making-energy-and-branding-easy-real-world-branding-podcast/">Making Energy (And Branding) Easy: Real-World Branding Podcast</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com">Finch Brands</a>.</p>
Steve is an accomplished senior executive with a proven history of driving revenue, cultural, and operational improvements at both startups and more mature organizations. With over 25 years in marketing, technology, and sales leadership roles, Steve provides a comprehensive perspective on how to bring about change within an organization. Shipley Energy uses their energy and services expertise to make a positive impact on your everyday life and the community you call home. If you like our podcast please leave us a rating and subscribe!
http://blog.finchbrands.com/shipley-energy-podcast

 

 

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Steve is an accomplished senior executive with a proven history of driving revenue, cultural, and operational improvements at both startups and more mature organizations. With over 25 years in marketing, technology, and sales leadership roles, Steve is an accomplished senior executive with a proven history of driving revenue, cultural, and operational improvements at both startups and more mature organizations. With over 25 years in marketing, technology, and sales leadership roles, Steve provides a comprehensive perspective on how to bring about change within an organization. Shipley Energy uses their energy and services expertise to make […] Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands clean 35:43
A Better Way to Color – Real-World Branding Podcast https://finchbrands.com/better-way-to-color-madison-reed-branding-podcast/ Thu, 12 Dec 2019 17:09:01 +0000 https://finchbrands.com/?p=3018 https://finchbrands.com/better-way-to-color-madison-reed-branding-podcast/#respond https://finchbrands.com/better-way-to-color-madison-reed-branding-podcast/feed/ 0 <p>Amy Errett, Founder and CEO of Madison Reed, leads an omnichannel beauty brand that is redefining the hair color space. Amy’s multifaceted career has ranged from founding/operating companies, to investing in startups, to non-profit and philanthropic leadership. If you like our podcast, please subscribe! http://blog.finchbrands.com/madison-reed-amy-errett-podcast    </p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com/better-way-to-color-madison-reed-branding-podcast/">A Better Way to Color – Real-World Branding Podcast</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com">Finch Brands</a>.</p>
Amy Errett, Founder and CEO of Madison Reed, leads an omnichannel beauty brand that is redefining the hair color space. Amy’s multifaceted career has ranged from founding/operating companies, to investing in startups, to non-profit and philanthropic leadership. If you like our podcast, please subscribe!
http://blog.finchbrands.com/madison-reed-amy-errett-podcast

 

 

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Amy Errett, Founder and CEO of Madison Reed, leads an omnichannel beauty brand that is redefining the hair color space. Amy’s multifaceted career has ranged from founding/operating companies, to investing in startups, Amy Errett, Founder and CEO of Madison Reed, leads an omnichannel beauty brand that is redefining the hair color space. Amy’s multifaceted career has ranged from founding/operating companies, to investing in startups, to non-profit and philanthropic leadership. If you like our podcast, please subscribe! http://blog.finchbrands.com/madison-reed-amy-errett-podcast     Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands clean 49:18
Customer Centricity Round Table https://finchbrands.com/customer-centricty-round-table/ Tue, 19 Nov 2019 19:11:14 +0000 https://finchbrands.com/?p=2959 https://finchbrands.com/customer-centricty-round-table/#respond https://finchbrands.com/customer-centricty-round-table/feed/ 0 <p>It’s hard to avoid because everyone seems to be talking about customer-centricity. They talk about it through a variety of lens in a variety of ways, but there seems to be a prevailing sense across functions and industries and sizes that everybody is trying to get more customer-centric, whatever that means. And so, we’re here […]</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com/customer-centricty-round-table/">Customer Centricity Round Table</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com">Finch Brands</a>.</p>
It’s hard to avoid because everyone seems to be talking about customer-centricity. They talk about it through a variety of lens in a variety of ways, but there seems to be a prevailing sense across functions and industries and sizes that everybody is trying to get more customer-centric, whatever that means. And so, we’re here to demystify that a little bit today and I’ve enlisted a couple of our foundational thought leaders, so John Ferreira who’s our SVP of Insights & Innovations and Tim DeGennaro who’s our AVP of Insights Community are going to speak about customer-centricity today and some of the ways that we are helping our clients become more customer-centric and reap the benefits in terms of love and affection as well as business performance.
https://blog.finchbrands.com/customer-centricity

 

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It’s hard to avoid because everyone seems to be talking about customer-centricity. They talk about it through a variety of lens in a variety of ways, but there seems to be a prevailing sense across functions and industries and sizes that everybody is t... It’s hard to avoid because everyone seems to be talking about customer-centricity. They talk about it through a variety of lens in a variety of ways, but there seems to be a prevailing sense across functions and industries and sizes that everybody is trying to get more customer-centric, whatever that means. And so, we’re here […] Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands clean 42:13
Branding Keynote with Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands – NERUCA Conference 2019 https://finchbrands.com/branding-keynote/ Tue, 12 Nov 2019 21:44:49 +0000 https://finchbrands.com/?p=2941 https://finchbrands.com/branding-keynote/#respond https://finchbrands.com/branding-keynote/feed/ 0 <p>Tune in today on Real-World Branding Podcast for the Northeast Regional Urgent Care Association Conference’s Branding Keynote. Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands, walks through the foundations of branding and what makes a great brand. If you like our podcast, please subscribe! http://blog.finchbrands.com/urgent-care-keynote  </p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com/branding-keynote/">Branding Keynote with Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands – NERUCA Conference 2019</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com">Finch Brands</a>.</p>
Tune in today on Real-World Branding Podcast for the Northeast Regional Urgent Care Association Conference’s Branding Keynote. Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands, walks through the foundations of branding and what makes a great brand. If you like our podcast, please subscribe!
http://blog.finchbrands.com/urgent-care-keynote

 

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Tune in today on Real-World Branding Podcast for the Northeast Regional Urgent Care Association Conference’s Branding Keynote. Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands, walks through the foundations of branding and what makes a great brand. Tune in today on Real-World Branding Podcast for the Northeast Regional Urgent Care Association Conference’s Branding Keynote. Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands, walks through the foundations of branding and what makes a great brand. If you like our podcast, please subscribe! http://blog.finchbrands.com/urgent-care-keynote   Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands clean 53:39
Brand Alignment from the Inside, Out – Chris Wallace, Founder and President – InnerView https://finchbrands.com/brand-alignment-podcast/ Wed, 30 Oct 2019 18:25:59 +0000 https://finchbrands.com/?p=2877 https://finchbrands.com/brand-alignment-podcast/#respond https://finchbrands.com/brand-alignment-podcast/feed/ 0 <p>As Founder and President of InnerView, Chris builds upon previous success as the founder and CEO of Incite, a sales consulting and coaching practice, and his more than 15 years of sales, marketing and corporate leadership. InnerView is a marketing consulting firm established to help companies reach and influence their most critical audiences – the […]</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com/brand-alignment-podcast/">Brand Alignment from the Inside, Out – Chris Wallace, Founder and President – InnerView</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com">Finch Brands</a>.</p>
As Founder and President of InnerView, Chris builds upon previous success as the founder and CEO of Incite, a sales consulting and coaching practice, and his more than 15 years of sales, marketing and corporate leadership. InnerView is a marketing consulting firm established to help companies reach and influence their most critical audiences – the people and partners that represent their brand. Tune in this week to learn more about Chris’ journey and InnerView. If you like our podcast, please subscribe!
http://blog.finchbrands.com/chris-wallace-podcast

 

 

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As Founder and President of InnerView, Chris builds upon previous success as the founder and CEO of Incite, a sales consulting and coaching practice, and his more than 15 years of sales, marketing and corporate leadership. As Founder and President of InnerView, Chris builds upon previous success as the founder and CEO of Incite, a sales consulting and coaching practice, and his more than 15 years of sales, marketing and corporate leadership. InnerView is a marketing consulting firm established to help companies reach and influence their most critical audiences – the […] Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands clean 37:51
Branding Off The Court – Jessica Holtz, Co-head Basketball Marketing & Servicing – CAA Sports https://finchbrands.com/jessica-holtz-podcast/ Tue, 15 Oct 2019 19:03:46 +0000 https://finchbrands.com/?p=2833 https://finchbrands.com/jessica-holtz-podcast/#respond https://finchbrands.com/jessica-holtz-podcast/feed/ 0 <p>Jessica Holtz from Creative Artists Agency joins us today on Real-World Branding. Jess leads the team representing the off-court interests of such NBA stars as Chris Paul, Paul George, and Joel Embiid. If you like our podcast, please subscribe! http://blog.finchbrands.com/jessica-holtz-caa    </p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com/jessica-holtz-podcast/">Branding Off The Court – Jessica Holtz, Co-head Basketball Marketing & Servicing – CAA Sports</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com">Finch Brands</a>.</p>
Jessica Holtz from Creative Artists Agency joins us today on Real-World Branding. Jess leads the team representing the off-court interests of such NBA stars as Chris Paul, Paul George, and Joel Embiid. If you like our podcast, please subscribe!
http://blog.finchbrands.com/jessica-holtz-caa

 

 

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Jessica Holtz from Creative Artists Agency joins us today on Real-World Branding. Jess leads the team representing the off-court interests of such NBA stars as Chris Paul, Paul George, and Joel Embiid. If you like our podcast, please subscribe! Jessica Holtz from Creative Artists Agency joins us today on Real-World Branding. Jess leads the team representing the off-court interests of such NBA stars as Chris Paul, Paul George, and Joel Embiid. If you like our podcast, please subscribe! http://blog.finchbrands.com/jessica-holtz-caa     Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands clean 31:13
Powering the Patient-Centered Healthcare Revolution: Matt Blosl, CRO – Experity https://finchbrands.com/matt-blosl-experity/ Wed, 25 Sep 2019 19:53:19 +0000 https://finchbrands.com/?p=2801 https://finchbrands.com/matt-blosl-experity/#respond https://finchbrands.com/matt-blosl-experity/feed/ 0 <p>http://blog.finchbrands.com/experity-podcast Copy    </p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com/matt-blosl-experity/">Powering the Patient-Centered Healthcare Revolution: Matt Blosl, CRO – Experity</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com">Finch Brands</a>.</p>
http://blog.finchbrands.com/experity-podcast

 

 

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http://blog.finchbrands.com/experity-podcast Copy     http://blog.finchbrands.com/experity-podcast Copy     Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands clean 38:12
Music Branding in 2019: Brian Nolan, SVP – Capitol Music Groups https://finchbrands.com/branding-an-artist/ Fri, 13 Sep 2019 18:03:34 +0000 https://finchbrands.com/?p=2797 https://finchbrands.com/branding-an-artist/#respond https://finchbrands.com/branding-an-artist/feed/ 0 <p>http://blog.finchbrands.com/music-branding-2019 Copy    </p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com/branding-an-artist/">Music Branding in 2019: Brian Nolan, SVP – Capitol Music Groups</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com">Finch Brands</a>.</p>
http://blog.finchbrands.com/music-branding-2019

 

 

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http://blog.finchbrands.com/music-branding-2019 Copy     http://blog.finchbrands.com/music-branding-2019 Copy     Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands clean 30:53
Reinventing Insurance: Yael Wissner-Levy, VP of Communications – Lemonade https://finchbrands.com/reinventing-insurance/ Tue, 27 Aug 2019 17:49:19 +0000 https://finchbrands.com/?p=2788 https://finchbrands.com/reinventing-insurance/#respond https://finchbrands.com/reinventing-insurance/feed/ 0 <p>blog.finchbrands.com/reinventing-insurance-lemonade Copy    </p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com/reinventing-insurance/">Reinventing Insurance: Yael Wissner-Levy, VP of Communications – Lemonade</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com">Finch Brands</a>.</p>
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blog.finchbrands.com/reinventing-insurance-lemonade Copy     blog.finchbrands.com/reinventing-insurance-lemonade Copy     Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands clean 27:58
Intellect, Integrity, and Intensity: Ed Trissel, Partner – Joele Frank https://finchbrands.com/ed-trissel-podcast/ Wed, 14 Aug 2019 16:50:50 +0000 https://finchbrands.com/?p=2747 https://finchbrands.com/ed-trissel-podcast/#respond https://finchbrands.com/ed-trissel-podcast/feed/ 0 <p>Ed Trissel, Partner at Joele Frank, joins us today on the Real-World Branding Podcast. Ed provides strategic communications counsel to U.S. and international companies and private equity firms with long-term corporate positioning and investor relations programs, transactions, special situations, crises and issues, and restructurings. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a […]</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com/ed-trissel-podcast/">Intellect, Integrity, and Intensity: Ed Trissel, Partner – Joele Frank</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com">Finch Brands</a>.</p> Ed Trissel, Partner at Joele Frank, joins us today on the Real-World Branding Podcast. Ed provides strategic communications counsel to U.S. and international companies and private equity firms with long-term corporate positioning and investor relations programs, transactions, special situations, crises and issues, and restructurings. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!

 

http://blog.finchbrands.com/intellect-integrity-intensity

 

 

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Ed Trissel, Partner at Joele Frank, joins us today on the Real-World Branding Podcast. Ed provides strategic communications counsel to U.S. and international companies and private equity firms with long-term corporate positioning and investor relations... Ed Trissel, Partner at Joele Frank, joins us today on the Real-World Branding Podcast. Ed provides strategic communications counsel to U.S. and international companies and private equity firms with long-term corporate positioning and investor relations programs, transactions, special situations, crises and issues, and restructurings. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a […] Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands clean 28:17
Build Your Personal Brand: Erik Harbison, Co-Founder – The Marketing Help https://finchbrands.com/erik-harbison/ Wed, 31 Jul 2019 19:18:57 +0000 https://finchbrands.com/?p=2709 https://finchbrands.com/erik-harbison/#respond https://finchbrands.com/erik-harbison/feed/ 0 <p>Erik Harbison, Co-Founder of The Marketing Help, joins us today on the Real-World Branding Podcast. Erik dives deep into the necessity of personal branding in one’s own career development and how personal marketing strategy has evolved with the growing availability of digital information. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating! […]</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com/erik-harbison/">Build Your Personal Brand: Erik Harbison, Co-Founder – The Marketing Help</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com">Finch Brands</a>.</p> Erik Harbison, Co-Founder of The Marketing Help, joins us today on the Real-World Branding Podcast. Erik dives deep into the necessity of personal branding in one’s own career development and how personal marketing strategy has evolved with the growing availability of digital information. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!

blog.finchbrands.com/build-personal-brand

 

 

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Erik Harbison, Co-Founder of The Marketing Help, joins us today on the Real-World Branding Podcast. Erik dives deep into the necessity of personal branding in one’s own career development and how personal marketing strategy has evolved with the growing... Erik Harbison, Co-Founder of The Marketing Help, joins us today on the Real-World Branding Podcast. Erik dives deep into the necessity of personal branding in one’s own career development and how personal marketing strategy has evolved with the growing availability of digital information. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating! […] Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands clean 27:03
Fuel Your Fun – Cynch https://finchbrands.com/cynch-fuel-you-fun/ Tue, 16 Jul 2019 19:43:56 +0000 https://finchbrands.com/?p=2699 https://finchbrands.com/cynch-fuel-you-fun/#respond https://finchbrands.com/cynch-fuel-you-fun/feed/ 0 <p>Scott Balwinski, Director of Home Delivery, and Lynsey Steffy, Associate Product Manager, at Cynch fueled by AmeriGas, join us today on the Real-World Branding Podcast. Scott retells his transformation from a transportation engineer to Director of Home Delivery at Cynch. Lynsey describes how AmeriGas – an established player in the propane industry – pioneered a revolutionary home service […]</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com/cynch-fuel-you-fun/">Fuel Your Fun – Cynch</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com">Finch Brands</a>.</p> Scott Balwinski, Director of Home Delivery, and Lynsey Steffy, Associate Product Manager, at Cynch fueled by AmeriGas, join us today on the Real-World Branding Podcast. Scott retells his transformation from a transportation engineer to Director of Home Delivery at Cynch. Lynsey describes how AmeriGas – an established player in the propane industry – pioneered a revolutionary home service in the age of instant product delivery. There is still time to order your propane tank through Cynch at cynch.com use code “CYNCH10”! If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!

 

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Scott Balwinski, Director of Home Delivery, and Lynsey Steffy, Associate Product Manager, at Cynch fueled by AmeriGas, join us today on the Real-World Branding Podcast. Scott retells his transformation from a transportation engineer to Director of Home... Scott Balwinski, Director of Home Delivery, and Lynsey Steffy, Associate Product Manager, at Cynch fueled by AmeriGas, join us today on the Real-World Branding Podcast. Scott retells his transformation from a transportation engineer to Director of Home Delivery at Cynch. Lynsey describes how AmeriGas – an established player in the propane industry – pioneered a revolutionary home service […] Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands clean 45:43
The Most Interesting Store in the World: Tal Nathanel, Co-Founder of Showfields https://finchbrands.com/most-interesting-store/ Wed, 26 Jun 2019 20:29:10 +0000 https://finchbrands.com/?p=2658 https://finchbrands.com/most-interesting-store/#respond https://finchbrands.com/most-interesting-store/feed/ 0 <p>Tal Nathanel, co-founder of Showfields joins us today on Real-World Branding. Tal is a serial entrepreneur with 12 years of experience in creating successful consumer products. He is now co-founder of Showfields, the most interesting store in the world; a revolutionary retail concept that invites you to discover and engage with the brands of tomorrow. If you […]</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com/most-interesting-store/">The Most Interesting Store in the World: Tal Nathanel, Co-Founder of Showfields</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com">Finch Brands</a>.</p>
Tal Nathanel, co-founder of Showfields joins us today on Real-World Branding. Tal is a serial entrepreneur with 12 years of experience in creating successful consumer products. He is now co-founder of Showfields, the most interesting store in the world; a revolutionary retail concept that invites you to discover and engage with the brands of tomorrow. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!
http://blog.finchbrands.com/showfields

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Tal Nathanel, co-founder of Showfields joins us today on Real-World Branding. Tal is a serial entrepreneur with 12 years of experience in creating successful consumer products. He is now co-founder of Showfields, Tal Nathanel, co-founder of Showfields joins us today on Real-World Branding. Tal is a serial entrepreneur with 12 years of experience in creating successful consumer products. He is now co-founder of Showfields, the most interesting store in the world; a revolutionary retail concept that invites you to discover and engage with the brands of tomorrow. If you […] Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands clean 30:55
Dominate the Streets: Greg Star, Founding Partner of Carvertise https://finchbrands.com/carvertise/ Wed, 12 Jun 2019 21:05:43 +0000 https://finchbrands.com/?p=2568 https://finchbrands.com/carvertise/#respond https://finchbrands.com/carvertise/feed/ 0 <p>    Greg Star, Co-Founder of Carvertise joins us today on Real-World Branding. He is more than 6 years into his entrepreneurial journey with an advertising company that enables companies to advertise on the private commuter’s vehicle. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!   blog.finchbrands.com/dominate-the-streets Copy</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com/carvertise/">Dominate the Streets: Greg Star, Founding Partner of Carvertise</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com">Finch Brands</a>.</p>  

 

Greg Star, Co-Founder of Carvertise joins us today on Real-World Branding. He is more than 6 years into his entrepreneurial journey with an advertising company that enables companies to advertise on the private commuter’s vehicle. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!

 

blog.finchbrands.com/dominate-the-streets

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    Greg Star, Co-Founder of Carvertise joins us today on Real-World Branding. He is more than 6 years into his entrepreneurial journey with an advertising company that enables companies to advertise on the private commuter’s vehicle.     Greg Star, Co-Founder of Carvertise joins us today on Real-World Branding. He is more than 6 years into his entrepreneurial journey with an advertising company that enables companies to advertise on the private commuter’s vehicle. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!   blog.finchbrands.com/dominate-the-streets Copy Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands clean 31:10
Appreciating Human Capital: Laura Queen, Founder & CEO – 29BISON https://finchbrands.com/appreciating_human_capital_laura_queen_29bison/ Wed, 15 May 2019 16:05:12 +0000 https://finchbrands.com/?p=2526 https://finchbrands.com/appreciating_human_capital_laura_queen_29bison/#respond https://finchbrands.com/appreciating_human_capital_laura_queen_29bison/feed/ 0 <p>Laura Queen, Founder & CEO of 29BISON, joins us today on Real-World Branding. With more than 25 years of experience in human resources and administration at the executive and leadership level, Laura Queen oversees 29BISON’s advisory services, organization design, talent assessment, and coaching activities. 29BISON are Human Capital Advisors for the Middle Market. If you […]</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com/appreciating_human_capital_laura_queen_29bison/">Appreciating Human Capital: Laura Queen, Founder & CEO – 29BISON</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com">Finch Brands</a>.</p> Laura Queen, Founder & CEO of 29BISON, joins us today on Real-World Branding. With more than 25 years of experience in human resources and administration at the executive and leadership level, Laura Queen oversees 29BISON’s advisory services, organization design, talent assessment, and coaching activities. 29BISON are Human Capital Advisors for the Middle Market. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!

 

http://blog.finchbrands.com/appreciating_human_capital_laura_queen_29bison

 

 

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Laura Queen, Founder & CEO of 29BISON, joins us today on Real-World Branding. With more than 25 years of experience in human resources and administration at the executive and leadership level, Laura Queen oversees 29BISON’s advisory services, Laura Queen, Founder & CEO of 29BISON, joins us today on Real-World Branding. With more than 25 years of experience in human resources and administration at the executive and leadership level, Laura Queen oversees 29BISON’s advisory services, organization design, talent assessment, and coaching activities. 29BISON are Human Capital Advisors for the Middle Market. If you […] Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands clean 31:05
Breaking In & Rising on Top: The Cannabis Industry with Keith Cooper, CEO of Revolutionary Clinics https://finchbrands.com/breaking-in-rising-on-top/ Wed, 01 May 2019 14:16:03 +0000 https://finchbrands.com/?p=2492 https://finchbrands.com/breaking-in-rising-on-top/#respond https://finchbrands.com/breaking-in-rising-on-top/feed/ 0 <p>Keith Cooper, CEO of Revolutionary Clinics joins us today on Real-World Branding. With a degree from Harvard Business School and 30 years of experience, Keith dove into the unknown in sight of a new business venture in the cannabis industry. Revolutionary Clinics is a vertically integrated marijuana dispensary and growth facility. If you like our […]</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com/breaking-in-rising-on-top/">Breaking In & Rising on Top: The Cannabis Industry with Keith Cooper, CEO of Revolutionary Clinics</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com">Finch Brands</a>.</p> Keith Cooper, CEO of Revolutionary Clinics joins us today on Real-World Branding. With a degree from Harvard Business School and 30 years of experience, Keith dove into the unknown in sight of a new business venture in the cannabis industry. Revolutionary Clinics is a vertically integrated marijuana dispensary and growth facility. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!

 

https://blog.finchbrands.com/breaking-in-and-rising-on-top

 

 

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Keith Cooper, CEO of Revolutionary Clinics joins us today on Real-World Branding. With a degree from Harvard Business School and 30 years of experience, Keith dove into the unknown in sight of a new business venture in the cannabis industry. Keith Cooper, CEO of Revolutionary Clinics joins us today on Real-World Branding. With a degree from Harvard Business School and 30 years of experience, Keith dove into the unknown in sight of a new business venture in the cannabis industry. Revolutionary Clinics is a vertically integrated marijuana dispensary and growth facility. If you like our […] Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands clean 27:10
Recode your Future – Dan Rhoton, Executive Director – Hopeworks https://finchbrands.com/recode-your-future/ Tue, 05 Mar 2019 18:46:35 +0000 https://finchbrands.com/?p=2469 https://finchbrands.com/recode-your-future/#respond https://finchbrands.com/recode-your-future/feed/ 0 <p>Dan Rhoton, Executive Director of Hopeworks joins us today on Real-World Branding. With two decades of experience helping youth and adults achieve their dreams, Dan’s career path is not one to miss. With a focus on education, technology, and entrepreneurship, Hopeworks provides a positive, healing atmosphere that propels young people to build strong futures and break the cycle of […]</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com/recode-your-future/">Recode your Future – Dan Rhoton, Executive Director – Hopeworks</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com">Finch Brands</a>.</p> Dan Rhoton, Executive Director of Hopeworks joins us today on Real-World Branding. With two decades of experience helping youth and adults achieve their dreams, Dan’s career path is not one to miss.

With a focus on education, technology, and entrepreneurship, Hopeworks provides a positive, healing atmosphere that propels young people to build strong futures and break the cycle of violence and poverty in Camden, New Jersey.

Hopeworks connects youth to life-changing opportunities where their growing technology skills go to work for enterprising businesses within our community. The real-world, on-the-job experience they gain raises their potential and benefits our partners.

If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!

 

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Dan Rhoton, Executive Director of Hopeworks joins us today on Real-World Branding. With two decades of experience helping youth and adults achieve their dreams, Dan’s career path is not one to miss. With a focus on education, technology, Dan Rhoton, Executive Director of Hopeworks joins us today on Real-World Branding. With two decades of experience helping youth and adults achieve their dreams, Dan’s career path is not one to miss. With a focus on education, technology, and entrepreneurship, Hopeworks provides a positive, healing atmosphere that propels young people to build strong futures and break the cycle of […] Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands clean 28:23
Since 1752 – Bob Whitlock, President & CEO and Chris Oehrle, VP Marketing – The Philadelphia Contributionship https://finchbrands.com/since-1752/ Wed, 20 Feb 2019 19:10:43 +0000 https://finchbrands.com/?p=2449 https://finchbrands.com/since-1752/#respond https://finchbrands.com/since-1752/feed/ 0 <p>We have two guests today on Real-World Branding from The Philadelphia Contributionship – Bob Whitlock, President & CEO, and Chris Oehrle, VP of Marketing. We discuss their career paths in insurance and the strength of The Philadelphia Contributionship brand that was started by Ben Franklin in 1752 and what it looks like today. If you like […]</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com/since-1752/">Since 1752 – Bob Whitlock, President & CEO and Chris Oehrle, VP Marketing – The Philadelphia Contributionship</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com">Finch Brands</a>.</p> We have two guests today on Real-World Branding from The Philadelphia Contributionship – Bob Whitlock, President & CEO, and Chris Oehrle, VP of Marketing. We discuss their career paths in insurance and the strength of The Philadelphia Contributionship brand that was started by Ben Franklin in 1752 and what it looks like today. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!

http://blog.finchbrands.com/since-1752

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We have two guests today on Real-World Branding from The Philadelphia Contributionship – Bob Whitlock, President & CEO, and Chris Oehrle, VP of Marketing. We discuss their career paths in insurance and the strength of The Philadelphia Contributionship ... We have two guests today on Real-World Branding from The Philadelphia Contributionship – Bob Whitlock, President & CEO, and Chris Oehrle, VP of Marketing. We discuss their career paths in insurance and the strength of The Philadelphia Contributionship brand that was started by Ben Franklin in 1752 and what it looks like today. If you like […] Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands clean 39:24
Critiquing Gillette – Aryeh Cohen-Wade, Bloggingheads.tv https://finchbrands.com/critiquing-gillette/ Thu, 24 Jan 2019 15:17:44 +0000 https://finchbrands.com/?p=2414 https://finchbrands.com/critiquing-gillette/#respond https://finchbrands.com/critiquing-gillette/feed/ 0 <p>Aryeh Cohen-Wade (Bloggingheasd.tv) and Bill Gullan (Finch Brands) Brand consultant Bill on Gillette’s controversial new ad on masculinity Bill explains what a brand consultant does Why Gillette took a big risk Was a conservative backlash part of Gillette’s plan? Was the ad a success? Pepsi’s disastrous political ad and Nike’s successful political ad If you like […]</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com/critiquing-gillette/">Critiquing Gillette – Aryeh Cohen-Wade, Bloggingheads.tv</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com">Finch Brands</a>.</p> Aryeh Cohen-Wade (Bloggingheasd.tv) and Bill Gullan (Finch Brands)

  • Brand consultant Bill on Gillette’s controversial new ad on masculinity
  • Bill explains what a brand consultant does
  • Why Gillette took a big risk
  • Was a conservative backlash part of Gillette’s plan?
  • Was the ad a success?
  • Pepsi’s disastrous political ad and Nike’s successful political ad
If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!

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Aryeh Cohen-Wade (Bloggingheasd.tv) and Bill Gullan (Finch Brands) Brand consultant Bill on Gillette’s controversial new ad on masculinity Bill explains what a brand consultant does Why Gillette took a big risk Was a conservative backlash part of Gille... Aryeh Cohen-Wade (Bloggingheasd.tv) and Bill Gullan (Finch Brands) Brand consultant Bill on Gillette’s controversial new ad on masculinity Bill explains what a brand consultant does Why Gillette took a big risk Was a conservative backlash part of Gillette’s plan? Was the ad a success? Pepsi’s disastrous political ad and Nike’s successful political ad If you like […] Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands clean 48:57
Branding Inside Out https://finchbrands.com/branding-inside-out/ Thu, 03 Jan 2019 22:04:12 +0000 https://finchbrands.com/?p=2411 https://finchbrands.com/branding-inside-out/#respond https://finchbrands.com/branding-inside-out/feed/ 0 <p>Brad Goldoor, Co-Founder, Chief People Officer at Phenom People, joins us today on the Real-World Branding Podcast. Brad shares his background as an entrepreneur, and his philosophies of how to build a brand from the inside out. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com/branding-inside-out/">Branding Inside Out</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com">Finch Brands</a>.</p> Brad Goldoor, Co-Founder, Chief People Officer at Phenom People, joins us today on the Real-World Branding Podcast. Brad shares his background as an entrepreneur, and his philosophies of how to build a brand from the inside out. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!

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Brad Goldoor, Co-Founder, Chief People Officer at Phenom People, joins us today on the Real-World Branding Podcast. Brad shares his background as an entrepreneur, and his philosophies of how to build a brand from the inside out. Brad Goldoor, Co-Founder, Chief People Officer at Phenom People, joins us today on the Real-World Branding Podcast. Brad shares his background as an entrepreneur, and his philosophies of how to build a brand from the inside out. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating! Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands clean 21:25
The Brighter Side of Branding – Pam Cummings, Active Day https://finchbrands.com/the-brighter-side-of-branding-pam-cummings-active-day/ Thu, 03 Jan 2019 22:01:51 +0000 https://finchbrands.com/?p=2408 https://finchbrands.com/the-brighter-side-of-branding-pam-cummings-active-day/#respond https://finchbrands.com/the-brighter-side-of-branding-pam-cummings-active-day/feed/ 0 <p>Pam Cummings Director of Marketing & Operations (and etc.) at Active Day, joins us today on the Real-World Branding Podcast. Pam shares her experience, discusses health care trends, and details how transforming the brand has taken Active Day to the next level. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com/the-brighter-side-of-branding-pam-cummings-active-day/">The Brighter Side of Branding – Pam Cummings, Active Day</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com">Finch Brands</a>.</p> Pam Cummings Director of Marketing & Operations (and etc.) at Active Day, joins us today on the Real-World Branding Podcast. Pam shares her experience, discusses health care trends, and details how transforming the brand has taken Active Day to the next level. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!

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Pam Cummings Director of Marketing & Operations (and etc.) at Active Day, joins us today on the Real-World Branding Podcast. Pam shares her experience, discusses health care trends, and details how transforming the brand has taken Active Day to the nex... Pam Cummings Director of Marketing & Operations (and etc.) at Active Day, joins us today on the Real-World Branding Podcast. Pam shares her experience, discusses health care trends, and details how transforming the brand has taken Active Day to the next level. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating! Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands clean 34:54
Growing Wisely – Charles Sutherland, Sagent Lending Technologies https://finchbrands.com/growing-wisely/ Wed, 28 Nov 2018 18:21:32 +0000 https://finchbrands.com/?p=2394 https://finchbrands.com/growing-wisely/#respond https://finchbrands.com/growing-wisely/feed/ 0 <p>Charles Sutherland, Chief Product Officer at Sagent Lending Technologies, joins us today for Episode 101 of the Real-World Branding Podcast. Charles shares his lessons learned through branding Sagent, which branched off from Fiserv, and the power of experiences. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com/growing-wisely/">Growing Wisely – Charles Sutherland, Sagent Lending Technologies</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com">Finch Brands</a>.</p> Charles Sutherland, Chief Product Officer at Sagent Lending Technologies, joins us today for Episode 101 of the Real-World Branding Podcast. Charles shares his lessons learned through branding Sagent, which branched off from Fiserv, and the power of experiences. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!

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Charles Sutherland, Chief Product Officer at Sagent Lending Technologies, joins us today for Episode 101 of the Real-World Branding Podcast. Charles shares his lessons learned through branding Sagent, which branched off from Fiserv, Charles Sutherland, Chief Product Officer at Sagent Lending Technologies, joins us today for Episode 101 of the Real-World Branding Podcast. Charles shares his lessons learned through branding Sagent, which branched off from Fiserv, and the power of experiences. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating! Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands clean 34:54
The Power of People – Ken Langone, Co-Founder of Home Depot https://finchbrands.com/the-power-of-people/ Tue, 13 Nov 2018 17:59:28 +0000 https://finchbrands.com/?p=2366 https://finchbrands.com/the-power-of-people/#respond https://finchbrands.com/the-power-of-people/feed/ 0 <p>Ken Langone, icon and philanthropist, is best known for co-founding Home Depot and he joins us today for episode 100 of the Real-World Branding Podcast. Ken shares his insights on why relationships matter and why he sees his recent memoir, ‘I Love Capitalism,’ as particularly important now. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and […]</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com/the-power-of-people/">The Power of People – Ken Langone, Co-Founder of Home Depot</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com">Finch Brands</a>.</p> Ken Langone, icon and philanthropist, is best known for co-founding Home Depot and he joins us today for episode 100 of the Real-World Branding Podcast. Ken shares his insights on why relationships matter and why he sees his recent memoir, ‘I Love Capitalism,’ as particularly important now. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!

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Ken Langone, icon and philanthropist, is best known for co-founding Home Depot and he joins us today for episode 100 of the Real-World Branding Podcast. Ken shares his insights on why relationships matter and why he sees his recent memoir, Ken Langone, icon and philanthropist, is best known for co-founding Home Depot and he joins us today for episode 100 of the Real-World Branding Podcast. Ken shares his insights on why relationships matter and why he sees his recent memoir, ‘I Love Capitalism,’ as particularly important now. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and […] Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands clean 34:06
The Branding Process with Tony Perlak and Erin Hoskins of Allied Health Media https://finchbrands.com/the-branding-process-with-tony-perlak-and-erin-hoskins-of-allied-health-media-2/ Thu, 01 Nov 2018 20:21:10 +0000 https://finchbrands.com/?p=2299 https://finchbrands.com/the-branding-process-with-tony-perlak-and-erin-hoskins-of-allied-health-media-2/#respond https://finchbrands.com/the-branding-process-with-tony-perlak-and-erin-hoskins-of-allied-health-media-2/feed/ 0 <p>Tony Perlak, CEO, and Erin Hoskins, CMO, of Allied Health Media join us to share their backgrounds and the rebranding process that they went through at Allied Health Media. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com/the-branding-process-with-tony-perlak-and-erin-hoskins-of-allied-health-media-2/">The Branding Process with Tony Perlak and Erin Hoskins of Allied Health Media</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com">Finch Brands</a>.</p> Tony Perlak, CEO, and Erin Hoskins, CMO, of Allied Health Media join us to share their backgrounds and the rebranding process that they went through at Allied Health Media. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!

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Tony Perlak, CEO, and Erin Hoskins, CMO, of Allied Health Media join us to share their backgrounds and the rebranding process that they went through at Allied Health Media. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating! Tony Perlak, CEO, and Erin Hoskins, CMO, of Allied Health Media join us to share their backgrounds and the rebranding process that they went through at Allied Health Media. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating! Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands clean 35:56
The ABCs of Leaving a Legacy https://finchbrands.com/the-abcs-of-leaving-a-legacy/ Thu, 25 Oct 2018 19:36:47 +0000 https://finchbrands.com/?p=2203 https://finchbrands.com/the-abcs-of-leaving-a-legacy/#respond https://finchbrands.com/the-abcs-of-leaving-a-legacy/feed/ 0 <p>Bruce Williamson, Global VP of Innovation & Chief Marketing Officer of Mars Drinks, joins us to share his incredible experiences and research into why some people leave a lasting legacy at work. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com/the-abcs-of-leaving-a-legacy/">The ABCs of Leaving a Legacy</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com">Finch Brands</a>.</p> Bruce Williamson, Global VP of Innovation & Chief Marketing Officer of Mars Drinks, joins us to share his incredible experiences and research into why some people leave a lasting legacy at work. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!

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Bruce Williamson, Global VP of Innovation & Chief Marketing Officer of Mars Drinks, joins us to share his incredible experiences and research into why some people leave a lasting legacy at work. If you like our podcast, Bruce Williamson, Global VP of Innovation & Chief Marketing Officer of Mars Drinks, joins us to share his incredible experiences and research into why some people leave a lasting legacy at work. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating! Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands clean 29:46
From the Dining Room Table to NASDAQ https://finchbrands.com/dining-room-table-to-nasdaq/ Wed, 17 Oct 2018 19:04:13 +0000 https://finchbrands.com/?p=2078 https://finchbrands.com/dining-room-table-to-nasdaq/#respond https://finchbrands.com/dining-room-table-to-nasdaq/feed/ 0 <p>Jim Martin, Chief Strategy Officer of SIM International, joins us this week to share his experience on how SIM integrated acquisitions to build a greater whole. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com/dining-room-table-to-nasdaq/">From the Dining Room Table to NASDAQ</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com">Finch Brands</a>.</p> Jim Martin, Chief Strategy Officer of SIM International, joins us this week to share his experience on how SIM integrated acquisitions to build a greater whole. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!

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Jim Martin, Chief Strategy Officer of SIM International, joins us this week to share his experience on how SIM integrated acquisitions to build a greater whole. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating! Jim Martin, Chief Strategy Officer of SIM International, joins us this week to share his experience on how SIM integrated acquisitions to build a greater whole. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating! Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands clean 37:03
Brands Made Right https://finchbrands.com/brands-made-right/ Thu, 11 Oct 2018 14:55:07 +0000 https://finchbrands.com/?p=1938 https://finchbrands.com/brands-made-right/#respond https://finchbrands.com/brands-made-right/feed/ 0 <p>Dan Hershberg, Co-Founder and CEO of Workhorse Brewing Company, joins us on the podcast this week to share his insights on developing a brewing company. Listen today to hear his entrepreneurial story and if you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com/brands-made-right/">Brands Made Right</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com">Finch Brands</a>.</p> Dan Hershberg, Co-Founder and CEO of Workhorse Brewing Company, joins us on the podcast this week to share his insights on developing a brewing company. Listen today to hear his entrepreneurial story and if you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!

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Dan Hershberg, Co-Founder and CEO of Workhorse Brewing Company, joins us on the podcast this week to share his insights on developing a brewing company. Listen today to hear his entrepreneurial story and if you like our podcast, Dan Hershberg, Co-Founder and CEO of Workhorse Brewing Company, joins us on the podcast this week to share his insights on developing a brewing company. Listen today to hear his entrepreneurial story and if you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating! Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands clean 45:22
Shopping for Success- Industry Secrets and Shopper Marketing with Jon Kramer https://finchbrands.com/shopping-for-success-industry-secrets-and-shopper-marketing-with-jon-kramer/ Thu, 11 Oct 2018 14:54:11 +0000 https://finchbrands.com/?p=1939 https://finchbrands.com/shopping-for-success-industry-secrets-and-shopper-marketing-with-jon-kramer/#respond https://finchbrands.com/shopping-for-success-industry-secrets-and-shopper-marketing-with-jon-kramer/feed/ 0 <p>Jon Kramer, Managing Director at JMK solutions, joins us this week to share his early objectives and eventual career arc that has led him to be an expert in the realm of shopper marketing. Listen as Jon reveals his best advice, including 4 crucial steps for success for newbies in the business world. If you […]</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com/shopping-for-success-industry-secrets-and-shopper-marketing-with-jon-kramer/">Shopping for Success- Industry Secrets and Shopper Marketing with Jon Kramer</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com">Finch Brands</a>.</p> Jon Kramer, Managing Director at JMK solutions, joins us this week to share his early objectives and eventual career arc that has led him to be an expert in the realm of shopper marketing. Listen as Jon reveals his best advice, including 4 crucial steps for success for newbies in the business world. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!

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Jon Kramer, Managing Director at JMK solutions, joins us this week to share his early objectives and eventual career arc that has led him to be an expert in the realm of shopper marketing. Listen as Jon reveals his best advice, Jon Kramer, Managing Director at JMK solutions, joins us this week to share his early objectives and eventual career arc that has led him to be an expert in the realm of shopper marketing. Listen as Jon reveals his best advice, including 4 crucial steps for success for newbies in the business world. If you […] Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands clean 28:33
Welcome to the Community https://finchbrands.com/welcome-to-the-community/ Fri, 04 May 2018 14:24:44 +0000 http://finchbrands.com/?p=2935 https://finchbrands.com/welcome-to-the-community/#respond https://finchbrands.com/welcome-to-the-community/feed/ 0 <p>In this week’s episode, we sit down with Tim DeGennaro and John Ferreira to discuss the shifts in the world of market research and methodologies that 60% of the worlds largest brands are using to better understand consumers and win when it matters most. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a […]</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com/welcome-to-the-community/">Welcome to the Community</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com">Finch Brands</a>.</p> In this week’s episode, we sit down with Tim DeGennaro and John Ferreira to discuss the shifts in the world of market research and methodologies that 60% of the worlds largest brands are using to better understand consumers and win when it matters most. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!

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In this week’s episode, we sit down with Tim DeGennaro and John Ferreira to discuss the shifts in the world of market research and methodologies that 60% of the worlds largest brands are using to better understand consumers and win when it matters most... In this week’s episode, we sit down with Tim DeGennaro and John Ferreira to discuss the shifts in the world of market research and methodologies that 60% of the worlds largest brands are using to better understand consumers and win when it matters most. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!<br /> Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands clean
The Human Brand – Chris Malone https://finchbrands.com/the-human-brand-chris-malone/ Thu, 12 Apr 2018 14:53:25 +0000 http://finchbrands.com/?p=2917 https://finchbrands.com/the-human-brand-chris-malone/#respond https://finchbrands.com/the-human-brand-chris-malone/feed/ 0 <p>Chris Malone is the co-author of The Human Brand. Following three years of research, Chris explains how social psychology and the way we interact with humans mirrors how we interact with brands, products, and companies. Using the principles of warmth and competence, Chris demonstrates how brands can better connect with consumers. If you like our […]</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com/the-human-brand-chris-malone/">The Human Brand – Chris Malone</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com">Finch Brands</a>.</p> Chris Malone is the co-author of The Human Brand. Following three years of research, Chris explains how social psychology and the way we interact with humans mirrors how we interact with brands, products, and companies. Using the principles of warmth and competence, Chris demonstrates how brands can better connect with consumers. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!

Transcription:

Chris Malone:Never let a great crisis go unused, go to waste because it doesn’t come along very often. When things are going smoothly and everything’s going according to plan, it’s tough to stand out.

Bill Gullan:Greetings one and all. This is Real-World Branding. I’m Bill Gullan, president of Finch Brands, a premier boutique branding agency. Thank you for joining us. So we have taken a little bit of a hiatus from the pod for good reasons both client related and also the exciting news that we’ve moved offices. We were in a wonderful space in Old City Philadelphia which is for those who don’t know the region pretty much the historic district near the Liberty Bell and other interesting attractions. So many folks from all over the world would walk by every single day, school groups, etc.

But we were there from about 2003 or early 2004 until about a month ago. And now, I speak to you from our perch on the 21st floor of 123 South Broad Street. Again, those who don’t know the area, that’s sort of in the central business district in Philadelphia. Just a couple of blocks from City Hall. And also for you movie buffs and I’m dating myself, this is the building where Duke and Duke from Trading Places, the wonderful flick in early 80’s I guess was located. So folks will perhaps recognize that. It’s now a building that I think is Wells Fargo branded and has a branch in the lobby etc.

Anyway, happy to be here and really happy to bring you an interview that we conducted actually just before we moved with Chris Malone. Chris is the managing partner at Fidelum Partners. He has an incredible background as an executive in situations like the NBA and the NHL and then moving into sort of consumer-packaged goods with Leaf, the confectionery and then Coca-Cola of course as a brand manager both on the coke brand and other brands within the umbrella. All the way through Aramark at the CMO at Choice Hotels. An incredible track record of executive leadership in marketing and other areas.

And also a published author and you’ll hear from our conversation he’s a thought leader. He has really interesting theories that are both sort of practical as well as academically grounded about how to build strong brands. I won’t steal anymore thunder from our terrific guest, Chris Malone.

Coming to you live, not really live but from Finch Brands world headquarters, we’re here with Chris Malone who’s the managing partner at Fidelum Partners. Thanks for joining us and for coming down.

Chris:Great to be here, Bill.

Bill:It’s our pleasure. Let’s start as we customarily do with a little bit of a twirl through your background which is an incredible story of various responsibilities across this landscape and could take us through the main stops and kind of what’s led you to this point?

Chris:Sure, sure. I started my career as a field sales rep for Procter and Gamble and my territory was Queens in the Bronx, New York City which was quite an education for a kid from suburban Maryland. I really enjoyed the experience and learned a great deal from it. After a few years there moving up the ranks, came back to Philadelphia for grad school where I studied entrepreneurship at the Wharton School. And after grad school I unexpectedly ended up working at the National Basketball Association at NBA Properties in their licensing and sponsorship group. Got recruited away to do similar things for the National Hockey League Players Association in Toronto. So a few more years in professional sports. And eventually found my way down to Coca-Cola where I became a global brand manager on everything related to Coca-Cola and the Olympics.

Bill:We’ve heard of that.

Chris:Yeah. So it was a great opportunity for me because they were interested in my sports background and I was very interested in getting kind of classical brand management training.

Bill:That was right in the aftermath of the Atlanta Games?

Chris:It’s exactly right.

Bill:What a moment.

Chris:Yeah, exactly.

Bill:With Atlanta with coke and everything.

Chris:They had just put 500 million dollars into the Olympics around the world in 1996 and I came in in January of ’97 and they were kind of in this post-Olympic hangover, kind of asking, gosh, we spent all this money, we did all this stuff, but we’re not entirely sure what we got for it. And so it was an opportunity to kind of a deep dive post-mortem on the Olympics and try to figure out what they should do for the ’98 and 2000 games so that was a great experience for me.

Worked there for the next few years developing a strategy for the ’98 and 2000 Olympic games around the world and then actually left with the chief marketing officer from Coca-Cola, a guy named Sergio Zyman.

Bill:Very well known, legend.

Chris:Exactly. We started a consulting firm in Atlanta. There was about five of us and Sergio started the Zyman Marketing Group in Atlanta and we consulted to large Fortune 500 both consumer and business to business on how to apply consumer marketing principles to their business to grow it. We had great success with that. Grew the firm to about 150 employees before selling it to an ad holding company out of Toronto. And that was what really opened the doors for me to come back to Philadelphia again and become the senior V.P. of Marketing for Aramark Corporation back in 2002.

After five years at Aramark, I joined Choice Hotels as their chief marketing officer and then in 2010 decided I’d seen enough of the corporate marketing world and decided to start my own consulting firm here in the Philadelphia area and wrote a book called The Human Brand.

Bill:Yeah, which we’ll definitely get to and what a bunch of lessons you’ve learned along the way that you are now applying obviously in pursuit of your client’s objectives. Just track Philadelphia over and over just because we’re City champions or what leads you here to our fine city. A Maryland kid but couldn’t resist the lure of coming back.

Chris:Exactly. It’s a great town of course. From a family standpoint, there is a personal appeal of it. One is that I’m from DC but my wife is from New York. And so Philadelphia is some place I’m familiar with as well as it’s exactly halfway between, makes for lots of great day trips on holidays and birthdays and weddings and things like that and so it’s ideally suited, I managed to fulfill that promise I made to her parents that eventually I’d bring she and my offspring back within driving distance. Got that monkey off my back.

Bill:Perfect. Our tagline, I’m not sure that city marketers would like, we’re on the way somewhere but anyway such is life. So you talk about and we’ve been blown away learning more about this, the book’s called The Human Brand. I encourage all of our listeners to check it out. It’s based on a model that I know that you’ve sort of conceptualized I think, you can tell us about it with some folks in the academic realm. You want to tell us about the warmth and competence model and how you came to it and what it means in a little bit about what some of the practical applications of that might be?

Chris:Yeah, absolutely. It’s been a fascinating story and experience for me. Just to briefly describe what it is, the warmth and competence model is a model of human social perception that was developed by number of social psychologists around the world that in the last 10 years has been kind of accepted as the universal way that humans everywhere perceive, interact and form relationships with one another. And my co-author Dr. Susan Fiske at Princeton is probably the best known at kind of formalizing and kind of publishing her work on warmth and incompetence which has been shown to be highly predictive of stereotypes, bias, all kinds of social behavior.

And so it was in 2009 when I first stumbled across some writing about this. It was in Harvard Business Review. There was an article entitled Just Because I’m Nice Don’t Assume I’m Dumb, and it was written by one of doctor Fiske’s proteges Dr. Amy Cuddy who has since become very well known as well.

Bill:Power poses and all that.

Chris:Exactly. Amy Cuddy wrote this article in 2009 that talked about warmth and competence in the workplace and how we have these stereotypical perceptions of people that we may work with and that people who are more friendly and approachable and warm an affable, we may sometimes assume that they’re less competent. And similarly, there is kind of a stereotypical perception that people who are really cold and unapproachable and difficult to judge their intentions, we might assume that they’re more competent as a result of that, and how we should be thoughtful about this. And I said, wow, that’s really interesting. I never thought of it that way but it certainly makes a lot of sense.

One of the things that I had developed during my time in professional sports, I had the opportunity to market products as brands at Coca-Cola and Procter and Gamble but also athletes and people as brands and professional sports. I’d always had the belief that probably people were probably the first brands, faces were probably the first logos and all this branded trade and commerce that we engage in was probably some kind of adaptation of the way that we interact with one another. But I’d never really seen any research to that extent or seen a model that could prove this.

And so, when I stumbled across warmth and competence, gosh, the social psychologists say that this is driving 80% of human behavior and I’m thinking one, if that’s the case how come I’ve never heard of it. It turns out it wasn’t well known outside of academia. But then two, if that’s the case how could it not be impacting how we do business. And so, I had the belief that perhaps this model could be predictive of what we choose to buy and become loyal to. And so I reached out to Dr Fiske at Princeton University out of the blue with kind of a random email saying, “Hey, I’ve become a fan of your work and I have a theory that I’d like to share with you and I basically explained I think your model might be predictive of what we buy and become loyal to.”

And she said, “You know, I’m not really into marketing. I’ve got eight published textbooks, 250 published academic papers and so forth but I’ve got a fellowship student here with me that I’m looking to get involved in some other projects and if he’s interested maybe you can have us as a packaged deal.” And he was interested and that led to over three years of research and nearly 50 companies around the world studying how their customers perceive them on the basis of warmth and competence. And what we found is that over 50% of what we buy and become loyal to can be explained by these basic human perceptions, things that we never think or talk about in our marketing or positioning and that was a real eye opener for me.

Bill:Yeah. I can imagine in some ways predictive of what we’ve seen, certainly with the other consumers who really are looking to access values in a sense of what a company stands for which is one way to express warmth and …

Chris:Absolutely.

Bill:This explains a lot of human behavior but also a lot of what’s happening in the commercial realm as well. When we were first introduced to this I think what really brought it home for me beyond the obvious sort of cogency and power of it was a little bit about how it works in practice. Is there a story or two that you think are effective in expressing that?

Chris:Yeah, absolutely. One of the most striking things that we learned from our research was how, a lot of what we are taught and trained in life is that all of our success in our careers comes from our competence and that the quality of our product and product features and all of that kind of stuff. It turns out that in social psychology, they’ve been able to show over and over again that yes, we have to have competence to get by but competence alone can only get us so far. I think it really set people apart and [in fact it 00:10:40] was the more predictive element in human survival was what people believe your intentions or your warmth is towards them.

And so what we’ve found through our research is that virtually every company we evaluated was falling short of customer expectations on warmth and was perceived to be much more competent than warm. It turns out that a lot of what we are taught and trained in business is actually fundamentally at odds with what it takes for us to trust one another. We need to get more as quick as we can-

Bill:Control the message.

Chris:Control the message, control the information, close the sale, get the price, change the policy, limit the cost. All of these things send these little subtle messages that perhaps the company or the brand isn’t perhaps looking out for our best interests. And so that really causes to think differently. Our first round of research we did in 2010 was during like when B.P. was gushing oil into the gulf, Tylenol was being taken off the shelf.

Bill:All financial services brands were …

Chris:Exactly. Toyota, speeding down California highway is out of control with the accelerator problem and all that. We looked at which of those brands were really harmed by that and which of those weren’t. One of the things that really jumped out at us is that one, most companies and brands are not perceived to have the customers’ best interests in mind but two, when you have one of those major crises, it’s really a moment of truth. It’s an opportunity that you don’t get very often right to change the way people think about you and it’s an opportunity to demonstrate that you do have the best interest of the customer in mind in a way that doesn’t come along very often.

So for instance, if B.P. had said, you know what, unilaterally we’re going to stop drilling around the world until we get to the bottom of this. We’re not sure what the cause of the fire and the explosion was but we’re going to get to the bottom of it. We’ll take whatever responsibility is ours because we really do care about the environment and really what we say in all of our marketing is true. How might that have unfolded differently if they would have perhaps been the most loved energy company to ever exist depending on how they’d handled it.

And it turns out that Tylenol as it turns out back in that recall actually did pretty well. They weren’t perhaps as good as the 1983 episode but they did well enough that actually they continue to have stronger purchase intent and loyalty than Advil despite that you could hardly find the product anywhere in the United States.

Bill:Right, interesting. We did podcast a couple of weeks ago looking at some of the big crises of 2017. Your Uniteds and your Ubers. It seemed to me without any research backing at all, certainly not three years of it, the brands that recovered quickly were also those were the sort of core of the crisis was not anchored to a core brand attribute. Uber is a disrupter, Uber is not supposed to be a warm and cozy fireman. United amazingly has recovered quickly too but there may be something to the messages that you were talking about earlier, how you deal with it. How many apologies did we have in that first week.

Chris:Yeah, exactly.

Bill:It was amazing.

Chris:I think there is something else that has been changing. What we’ve found is that this basic warmth and competence that we are wired with as humans hasn’t changed in human psychology or physiology for thousands of years. However, the environment that we have been living and working and doing business in has changed dramatically. And it seems like there was a bit of a tipping point around 2010 with the convergence of mobile devices, social networks, E-commerce, all of that, because frankly there is a kind of a dynamic of social accountability that has existed for thousands of years in small communities.

If you imagine a small town, the merchant does wrong by a customer, those are pretty interdependent relationships and if the merchant doesn’t make it right, pretty much everyone in town is going to know about by Sunday at church and he could come under pressure or be run out of town if he doesn’t kind of balance the scales and do the right thing.

Well, there was a period during the industrial revolution where lots of those kind of social accountabilities went away. Companies became very large, bad news and good news didn’t travel very far, very fast and the kind of social accountability that we were wired to hold each other’s feet to the fire to keep things in balance went away to a large extent.

Well, around 2010, that really flipped back and I really think of it as kind of a back to the future moment where the social accountability that we were a wire with by evolution is now back with a vengeance turbo charged by this digital technology. Because now if a company or a merchant does wrong by a customer, it’s not that everybody in town could know about it by the end of the week, it’s everybody in the country could know about it by the end of the day. The demands and the accountability and the transparency that is demanded of companies, whether it’s Uber, or United or what have you is really thrown us for a loop because our systems and our corporate communications and all of that stuff wasn’t, we haven’t had that level of accountability in a long time.

So, it just requires us to be that much more open and transparent and to basically say more often than not, you know what, here’s what our intentions were, we did make a mistake, here’s what we’re doing about it and try to turn all of those crises and problems into opportunities basically. Never let a great crisis go unused, go to waste because it doesn’t come along very often. When things are going smoothly and everything’s going according to plan, it’s tough to stand out. But when you do have one of those incidents you can either be the hero that basically says, you know, we really do care about you or you can be the goat basically that doesn’t care and doesn’t respond fairly or rapidly enough or what have you.

Bill:Yeah. Well it seems the more progressive voices recognize customer service as an opportunity.

Chris:Yeah, exactly.

Bill:As opposed to whatever the case may be. But you’re right, there was [inaudible 00:16:14] time obviously but between the industrial revolution and the internet revolution there was a disintermediation of brand from consumer often with a retail location in between often with three broadcast networks in between and the nature of the dialogue, well, it wasn’t a dialogue, it was more of a sort of a dictation of by this, not this and now wild and wooly. It definitely is.

It’s wonderful. First of all before we get to that, warmth in this definition is more about motivation and intention it sounds like as opposed to just congeniality or …

Chris:That’s exactly right. It’s an important distinction because there’s a couple of different flavors of it. To back up a step, you should think of warmth as a whole category of perceptions that have to do with what are the intentions of other people towards me. Are they warm, are they friendly-

Bill:Do we come in peace.

Chris:Do we come in peace. Do they have my best interests in mind or are they looking out for themselves? Are they honest, are they trustworthy, do we have anything in common? All of that list of stuff that you could have about someone’s intentions and they’re kind of two flavors of warmth if you will. There’s the kind of sociability part, warm, friendly, affable and there’s kind of the morality part, honest, trustworthy, integrity, character, all of that stuff. Those are two different pieces but they’re all in that kind of warm bucket.

And so we should not take the word warmth only to mean kind of warm cold, it’s intended to be kind of an umbrella term to refer to a whole bunch of stuff. Similar with competence. Competence as all those things having to do with abilities, whether it’s knowledge, resources, expertise, problem solving, creativity, all of that stuff related to competence. What we found in all of our research is that in most cases a lot of what we think of as product or service features or benefits fall into the competence bucket. We’re covering that bucket pretty well.

What we found is what we’ve been missing is recognizing that everything we may infer or know about the people behind the companies and brands we do business with is actually even more important than the product features because we view those at those products as an extension of the people.

So I’ll give you a great example related to Hershey Company. So Hershey many people in this part of the country know was founded by Milton Hershey and in 1909, he and his wife donated their entire fortune to create the Hershey Foundation and the Hershey School for Underprivileged Children.

Bill:Which has had some issues as I think you may be about to tell us.

Chris:Exactly. Most people don’t know this. In our research we found only 20% of the population know about the Hershey School and the Hershey Trust and all that. But if you tell people the story of Milton Hershey and what he did and then ask people afterwards again, before, what’s your purchase intent and perception and loyalty towards Hershey and then tell them the story of what he’s done that for over one hundred years, every purchase of a Hershey product benefits this trust and the school and then ask them again about purchase intent and loyalty, you see a 15% jump in purchase intent, loyalty and brand perception.

Nothing changed about the product. What you did was you told them something new about the people at that company and causes them to think they pay their farmers fairly for chocolate, they must treat their employees well, they must give back to their communities and all of that. And so it turns out that the information we get about the people behind these companies and brands has a huge impact and it’s actually the more dominant impact on our behavior. So that’s why when we hear one of these scandals and we find out that what they did or what they said or what they were prying to do can have such a big impact on our attitude, not only towards the product but towards the company, despite that the product itself may not have changed.

Bill:Fascinating. And actually, it ties a lot of things together. We were wondering, I was on a panel the other night about Super Bowl ads this year and there seemed to be a pullback from directly over political statements but a big move in the direction of sort of philanthropic expressions. Be it Budweiser, not trotting out Clydesdales and puppies but instead their role in disaster relief in terms of flipping the switch of that factory away from beer and into water which they then put in cans. We saw Verizon’s similar message, we saw Hyundai not promoting and you could second guess whether the Super Bowl actually promote the New Genesis line of vehicles or whether Hyundai’s sort of strangely expressed commitment to, I don’t even remember what the health cause was but there’s that.

The degree to which folks convey that there are caring good purposeful people, I think you’re saying if they can convince folks of that have really significant benefits.

Chris:Exactly. And you highlight two different kinds of things that were a shift this year from what might be considered in the past kind of the warm and fuzzy animals, jokes, humor, puppies, all of that stuff, which is more on the sociability side of warmth to a shift of more about philanthropy and doing the right thing and giving back to communities which is more on that morality character integrity side of things.

We have found certainly that both of them have an impact but the integrity morality part is the part that is more important to consumers. And so, it needs to be reflected in more than just your Super Bowl ad in order for people to believe it but that you’re seeing both of those two things going on, not totally in the absence of competence related stuff but kind of as the overshadowing of the competence related things. So I think it’s an interesting observation and I think what’s going on there is they’re trying to send the message, they’re trying to demonstrate that we as people we as a company or a brand care about more than just making a profit.

There’s nothing wrong with making a profit, customers don’t have a problem with that. They would only have a problem with if you’re making a profit at their expense or to their harm. If you’re helping them solve a problem, God bless you, have a profit. A lot of these small purpose-driven, cause-oriented companies that have grown very rapidly nibbling away market share from the Procter and Gambles, the Gillettes, the Lever Brothers-

Bill:Toms and your Warbys and your …

Chris:Exactly. I think part of what draws people to them not just as customers but also as employees is that you feel like you are attaching yourself to something that’s about more than just making a profit. It is a cause that demonstrates, I might not even care about people who don’t have shoes in the other part of the world but the guys at Toms, I know they care about making something more than just money and that may cause me to trust them more and be more willing to give them a try.

Bill:Absolutely. As a downstream permission slip or even as an upstream sort of decision tree I want to work with and invest in people that I believe in and care and that care about me and the world.

Fascinating stuff. How might marketers incorporate these insights into their day to day. There are some very obvious implications of this but if you wanted to kind of highlight a few in terms of folks who are, practitioners who are completely compelled by this idea and wondering what it means for them.

Chris:I think I could boil it down to three imperatives. If you really are interested in leveraging the insights of warmth and competence to build stronger customer loyalty, client loyalty, repurchase growth, those kinds of things, I could boil it down to three things. And the first is, we’ve been really getting blindsided. We have to become more self-aware of how our policies, practices and processes are coming across to customers.

Because it turns out a lot of what we have taken for granted as standard operating procedure for the last 20 or 30 years is actually no longer acceptable and not meeting the transparency expectations of customers. Whether it’s how often we take price increases, what level of customer service we offer, our return policy, our cancellation policies. All of these other little things that we do, the degree to which we push out one way messages that say no reply, we’re only interested in sending you communication, not hearing anything back from you. All send subtle little signals that we care more about us than we care about you.

And so the first step is gather feedback from your customers about how they perceive you on the basis of warmth and competence. What you often will find is as I said with all the companies that we evaluated, that we’re not meeting expectations on warmth. In many cases, we’re meeting or exceeding expectations on competence but as a result there isn’t a lot of trust. Lots of the choices are competent, no, I don’t really trust any of them and so as a result I’m willing to switch between brands for a small difference in price and you create this kind of very transactional environment without a lot of loyalty.

So step one is get the feedback from customers, find out what are the little things you are doing that may be rubbing customers the wrong way and pushing them away. That’s step number one.

The second step is that once you’ve gotten that feedback, you’re going to have to be willing to embrace the notion of significant change. That whether we like it or not the world is changing faster than before and the expectations of us are changing faster than ever before. And so, the stuff that got us here, those policies, practices, processes, the way we do business may not be good enough to keep our customers in the future. So, if we’re not meeting expectations on those things, we’re going to have to say, you know what, we always used to do it that way but maybe this isn’t good enough anymore and we’re going to have to try doing things differently in the future to better demonstrate warmth through what we do.

Some quick examples, Zappos and Amazon are great at demonstrating warmth to customers despite they never have any physical contact with them, right? Zappos has got that 800 number on every page of their website. They want you to call 24/7, 365 days a year. And if you call you’ll get a live human on the phone in the first 30 seconds. The reason is they know that if they get you on the phone and started talking to one of their live people, you’re going to like them, you’re going to come back. Those people, they don’t even call them the customer service department, they call it the customer loyalty department. And so despite they never have any contact with person to person directly, they’ve demonstrated warmth through these little things that they do and they have tremendous loyalty, 75% of their sales every day from repeat customers.

So that’s the kind of change that we have to be willing to embrace. Not a lot of people know this about Zappos but they didn’t really adopt that whole customer service focus until they were about to go out of business. Tony Hsieh invested his last million dollars into the company that he sold the company to Microsoft for 30 million bucks and was down to his last [nook 00:25:59] and said, we can’t lose a single customer, we’ve got to do whatever we can to keep the ones that we’ve got and that’s what led to the tremendous focus on customer service they have. That’s the second part, embrace that change.

Then the third part is we really got to take a hard look at what our priorities are. And so if our priority is that to maximize our profit, maximize our revenue growth at the expense of our customers or employees, the reality is we’re not going to be able to get away with that for very long anymore. There used to be a time where you could do little things and squeeze the grape if you will and more blood out of the stone for a while and kind of keep that ball in the air but word travels so far so fast anymore that customers and employees figure out pretty quickly when we’re profiting at their expense and it becomes unsustainable.

That’s why you see a lot of these ups and downs. A company squeezes the margin here or cuts costs there, reduces labor there and they get kind of a boost out of but they can’t keep it going because when you take that stuff from customers and employees, those are the ones you rely on for the service delivery, for the customer loyalty, for the customer referrals and things of that nature. And so what we really need to do is to rebalance those priorities. It’s not that growth or profit is bad, it’s that we just need to keep that in balance with the need to maximize our loyalty of customers and to maximize the engagement of our employees. If we can grow and generate profit that way, it’s much more sustainable.

As Sam Walton said when he founded Wal-Mart that if we take care of the employees they’ll take care of the customer. And the problem was that that philosophy did not outlive him and that Wal-Mart became known as the exact opposite, not taking care of employees who didn’t take care of customers. And so, it can be kind of a virtuous cycle. And so that’s why I think the short term focus of current business and public companies has really done us a disservice because we’ve tended to profit at the expense of customers and employees and it hasn’t been sustainable.

Bill:Right. Absolutely. You’re making a case and one that’s very compelling that these sort of contemporary discussions about finding purpose, about triple bottom lines, about these other things are not just ethical imperatives but they’re financial and performative imperatives as well.

Chris:Domino’s Pizza is another great example. The headline of the story is we actually generate better financial results by putting the interest of customers and employees first than if we put the shareholders first. So Domino’s Pizza back in 2008, the Great Recession hit and all that discretionary spending got cut back. Domino’s wasn’t known for great pizza at that point anyway. They were already not in great shape. And so they got hit really hard. They had the humility to say you know what, we’re going to have to go and talk to customers and figure out what we need to do differently.

They knew that their quality had not kept up with the frozen pizza you can get in the supermarket and so forth. They were not prepared for the level of vitriol that they heard from customers in focus groups. Your pizza tastes like cardboard, it’s totally devoid of flavor.

Bill:They turned that into a campaign.

Chris:Yeah, exactly. Even the people saying, what was even worse than that it’s clear that the people of Domino’s don’t care. And so they had been going about kind of developing this new pizza recipe, they worked on it for two years but they got to the point where say, gosh, based on what we heard, we can’t just come out and say we got new improved pizza. Who’s going to believe us, who’s going to give us a chance.

And so it was at that point that they got inspired to do something kind of unthinkable from a business an advertising standpoint but was totally natural from a human warmth and incompetence standpoint which is their C.E.O. as you recall went on national television during the NFL playoffs and said, I’m sorry. We lost our way. Our pizza wasn’t very good, our service wasn’t very good but we’ve not only had a change of recipe but we’ve had a change of heart too and we hope you’ll give us another chance.

I don’t know if you’ve seen what has happened to Domino’s stock since then. They were trading at about $10 in 2009 when this started. As of today, I believe despite today’s downturn, $210 a share. They’ve had double digit revenue growth for almost 10 consecutive years and far outpaced any other fast food brand. I think it’s just a great example of, what they realized is that wasn’t just a campaign for them. For them, that was a new way to operate. It was a level of transparency and focus on telling the truth and doing the right thing and putting the customer first that just changed their fortunes.

Bill:Yeah, total reset. Amazing. This has been wonderful. Thank you so much. As we tend to finish and particularly in this case with all that you’ve accomplished and the teams you’ve built and the businesses you’ve built, are there a couple of learnings for those inspired by your career path, a couple of sort of words to live by or important philosophies that you’ve sort of built and adopted over the years that sort of are central to who you are as a business person?

Chris:Yeah. Yeah, there are a couple of things that I would certainly say that I wish I knew about this early in my career.

Bill:That’s the category here that we want to talk about.

Chris:Yeah, exactly, right? Because I wish I knew this earlier. In all candor, I think there were times early in my career where I was kind of a competent jerk. I’ve never been accused of being stupid but I don’t think I understood at the time the importance of relationships and the importance of warmth. And that the reality is it doesn’t matter if you have a better idea, your answer is more thorough, you’re smarter or whatever if no one can stand you and wants to listen to you. I used to think at the time that my competence would carry the day. To some extent, I was fortunate to have some measure of success but I could have been much more effective if I had recognized that it doesn’t matter if my answer is right if you’re not hearing me because I’m kind of demonstrating coldness and indifference to you basically.

So that would be number one is to get this message to younger people in their careers and recognize that you can only get so far with your competence. Your warmth is actually going to be the dominant driver of success over the course of your career. So that would be number one.

I think the other would be, there is a simple rule of thumb in my book that can simplify this down to a single idea. We call it the principle of worthy intentions and it’s a surefire way to demonstrate warmth and confidence to others without having to kind of overthink the thing or what have you. And what we think describe it as is that it’s the notion that we’re going to put the best interest of others before our own in the short term. Doesn’t require us to recklessly disregard our own interests but rather by putting the best interests of others ahead of our own in the short term, we demonstrate loyalty towards them first and we demonstrate that our intentions are worthy of their loyalty in return.

The way that human psychology works with if someone goes out of the way to do you a favor, we feel an obligation to reciprocate, right? And so often I think in business we’re asking for customers to show loyalty to us before we’ve done that for them. And so the principle of worthy intentions has put the best interest of others first in the short term and in the medium and long term we will all get much more in return.

Bill:Makes sense. Words to live by, words to work by certainly. Steve here who we tend to make fun of gently because he doesn’t have a microphone and he can’t clap back has perfected the art of being congenial but incompetent but we’ve appreciated all that he does in producing this and Chris thank you so much for your time and insight over an incredible career that certainly continues day in and day out. It was a real pleasure having you on with us.

Chris:My pleasure.

Bill:Wow, what a conversation. I could have gone hours with Chris. He’s such an interesting guy and his ideas are so powerful and he’s accomplished so much. So grateful for his time and insight. Chris Malone. Three ways to help us is always at Finch Brands on the Real-World Branding Podcast than they are to rate and review. Give us a rating in the App Store, leave a review. If you’re so inclined we are told that that helps make us visible to those who would enjoy this content with business and brand builders that we try to bring on a regular schedule, though, I know we’ve been a bit challenged recently. We promise we’ll get back to it.

And also let’s keep the conversation going, That’d be the third way. On Twitter @BillGulan or @FinchBrands, ideas comments, criticisms, this skin is thick. Interest level is high when it comes to the sort of dialogue that has sprung up around this show and so we’re so grateful for your time and your participation and what it is that we’re building here. And so in that spirit, we’ll sign off from the cradle of liberty.

 

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Chris Malone is the co-author of The Human Brand. Following three years of research, Chris explains how social psychology and the way we interact with humans mirrors how we interact with brands, products, and companies. Chris Malone is the co-author of The Human Brand. Following three years of research, Chris explains how social psychology and the way we interact with humans mirrors how we interact with brands, products, and companies. Using the principles of warmth and competence, Chris demonstrates how brands can better connect with consumers. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!<br /><br /> Transcription:<br /><br /> Chris Malone:Never let a great crisis go unused, go to waste because it doesn’t come along very often. When things are going smoothly and everything’s going according to plan, it’s tough to stand out.<br /><br /> Bill Gullan:Greetings one and all. This is <a href="http://blog.finchbrands.com/topic/podcast">Real-World Branding</a>. I’m Bill Gullan, president of Finch Brands, a premier boutique branding agency. Thank you for joining us. So we have taken a little bit of a hiatus from the pod for good reasons both client related and also the exciting news that we’ve moved offices. We were in a wonderful space in Old City Philadelphia which is for those who don’t know the region pretty much the historic district near the Liberty Bell and other interesting attractions. So many folks from all over the world would walk by every single day, school groups, etc.<br /><br /> But we were there from about 2003 or early 2004 until about a month ago. And now, I speak to you from our perch on the 21st floor of 123 South Broad Street. Again, those who don’t know the area, that’s sort of in the central business district in Philadelphia. Just a couple of blocks from City Hall. And also for you movie buffs and I’m dating myself, this is the building where Duke and Duke from Trading Places, the wonderful flick in early 80’s I guess was located. So folks will perhaps recognize that. It’s now a building that I think is Wells Fargo branded and has a branch in the lobby etc.<br /><br /> Anyway, happy to be here and really happy to bring you an interview that we conducted actually just before we moved with <a href="http://thehumanbrand.com/authors/chris-malone">Chris Malone</a>. Chris is the managing partner at Fidelum Partners. He has an incredible background as an executive in situations like the NBA and the NHL and then moving into sort of consumer-packaged goods with Leaf, the confectionery and then Coca-Cola of course as a brand manager both on the coke brand and other brands within the umbrella. All the way through Aramark at the CMO at Choice Hotels. An incredible track record of executive leadership in marketing and other areas.<br /><br /> And also a <a href="http://thehumanbrand.com/">published author</a> and you’ll hear from our conversation he’s a thought leader. He has really interesting theories that are both sort of practical as well as academically grounded about how to build strong brands. I won’t steal anymore thunder from our terrific guest, Chris Malone.<br /><br /> Coming to you live, not really live but from Finch Brands world headquarters, we’re here with Chris Malone who’s the managing partner at Fidelum Partners. Thanks for joining us and for coming down.<br /><br /> Chris:Great to be here, Bill.<br /><br /> Bill:It’s our pleasure. Let’s start as we customarily do with a little bit of a twirl through your background which is an incredible story of various responsibilities across this landscape and could take us through the main stops and kind of what’s led you to this point?<br /><br /> Chris:Sure, sure. I started my career as a field sales rep for Procter and Gamble and my territory was Queens in the Bronx, New York City which was quite an education for a kid from suburban Maryland. I really enjoyed the experience and learned a great deal from it. After a few years there moving up the ranks, came back to Philadelphia for grad school where I studied entrepreneurship at the Wharton School. And after grad school I unexpectedly ended up working at ... Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands clean
Membership Has Its Perks – Todd Rothenberger https://finchbrands.com/membership-has-its-perks-todd-rothenberger/ Wed, 21 Mar 2018 13:59:36 +0000 http://finchbrands.com/?p=2909 https://finchbrands.com/membership-has-its-perks-todd-rothenberger/#respond https://finchbrands.com/membership-has-its-perks-todd-rothenberger/feed/ 0 <p>Todd Rothenberger is SVP and CMO of Diamond Credit Union. Credit unions are interesting for a variety of reasons, but Todd and his team have been extremely effective at telling the Diamond story and conveying their difference to compel consumers to choose Diamond. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating! […]</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com/membership-has-its-perks-todd-rothenberger/">Membership Has Its Perks – Todd Rothenberger</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com">Finch Brands</a>.</p> Todd Rothenberger is SVP and CMO of Diamond Credit Union. Credit unions are interesting for a variety of reasons, but Todd and his team have been extremely effective at telling the Diamond story and conveying their difference to compel consumers to choose Diamond. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!

Transcript:

Bill Gullan: Greetings one and all, this is Real-World Branding, I’m Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands, a premier boutique branding agency. Thank you for joining us. Normally the cadence here at Real-World Branding, is that we have an interview with a brand and business builder every other week, and in between we do what’s called One Big Idea, which is normally me spouting off on a topic, either in the news, or that hopefully has some practical value in terms of being a practitioner in these areas.

But, Finch Brands is moving. After a decade plus in our current offices in Old City Philadelphia we are moving; for those of you who know the area, more towards what is called Center City, which is the central business district. Where we are Old City now, is primarily known for its historical attractions, and some office too. But we’re moving into Center City, moving on up to 123 South Broad Street, which actually currently is I think a Wells Fargo branded building, there’s a big branch in the lobby. But it’s a building of note, because it was featured in the moving Trading Places; which A, is dating me, but B, holds up extremely well even today. So you will hear us and me saying “Looking good Louis,” in the coming weeks.

So in the light of the move and all that’s required to make that happen, we’re going to give you a bonus interview, and do two interviews in a row, and then I’ll be back next week with One Big Idea. But this interview today, and this brand and business builder is special and close to our hearts here at Finch. It’s Todd Rothenberger. Todd’s role at Diamond Credit Union is Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Office.

Diamond is a community-based financial institution with an interesting history, as Todd will take you through, that I think is really found an effective mix today of sort of corporate level, or I guess institution level, brand communications, that are designed to both sort of educate and connect, as well as a strong community-based approach.

Credit unions are interesting for a variety of reasons. There’s a different glossary in terms of credit unions have members, not customers. Their structures are interesting, and in some cases foreign, and so one of the tasks that Todd and his team have to surmount here to be effective … and they’ve been extremely effective, is to A, explain to prospective members what a credit union is and what the benefits are, and then B, to compel them to choose Diamond as opposed to other options that they may have through work, or in the geography where they live.

So Todd will take you through all that, but really good guy, really effective marketing leader. Enjoy Todd Rothenberger.

Bill: We’re here at the Pottstown, PA headquarters of Diamond Credit Union, with Todd Rothenberger, who’s the Senior Vice President/Chief Marketing Officer here at Diamond. Thanks for having us.

Todd Rothenberger: It’s a pleasure, thanks Bill.

Bill: The pleasure is all ours, and we’re grateful for your time and insight, and let’s start as we normally do with a bit of a twirl through your own professional journey, and at what point you settled on a career direction, and kind of the choices you’ve made, and what’s led us to this point?

Todd: Well, I assume you want to pick up post-college, of graduating from-

Bill: I want to hear all about the parties and everything else.

Todd: …York College, go Spartans.

Bill: Yes.

Todd: Shout out to all those alum-

Bill: Nice.

Todd: Out there.

Came out of school and decided to take up marketing really, really by chance. Taking one of the tests in high school of what you should be in and marketing fell as number two, we won’t talk about what was number one, that’s a little odd.

So that’s why I chose marketing at that point, and coming out of York College I thought I wanted to go into sales more than a marketing career. And that’s what happened for me, I started at a place called Singer Equipment Company, which was regular throughout really the East coast. And I started out in the showroom and was enjoying it, and I said “I want to go out and explore being an outside sales person”.

Well I did that, they gave that to me, thankful for that because I learned a lot, and I learned I did not want to do that the rest of my life. I learnt it really quick, I say in the first couple weeks. Well in the advice “You don’t leave a job until you have a job”, I hung on there for a couple months, and then I found a position at a Savings and Loans in Bucks County as a marketing research analyst, and that’s what began my career in the financial industry of course.

And when I went in there it was a lot of … a lot of working in some research, but the best part of that position, I was in the early stages of target marketing-

Bill: Right.

Todd: And we thought it … We were the best being able to household rather than just by accounts, and to take … started to take a look at demographics and really targeting back when … Late 80s’ early 90s’. And that began my career of target marketing and understanding marketing a little bit more than I did from the book work that I did in college. As that transpired I spend about seven years there, Savings and Loans got purchased by a regional bank, and at that point I had to make a decision, either I was going to be traveling to another county, Lancaster County, or a position came available at a place called Diamond Federal Credit Union at the time, and I applied for the vice president of marketing, and that was over twenty-one years ago-

Bill: Wow.

Todd: That that began, so … and I landed at Diamond, obviously it has worked out pretty well-

Bill: Sure.

Todd: But the journey here at Diamond over twenty years has changed quite a bit too. When I came here it was specifically really focused only on marketing, and I think they did bring me on initially with that background of targeting, being able to have that background, but it’s expanded so much more than I ever could have imagined, from now overseeing the branch environment, to overseeing the financial advisory program that we have, to being able to get involved in the building process of new locations. It’s gone way beyond anything I could have imagined that I would be part of at a company.

Bill: Right, what a great story, and there’s so much to discuss in there, but I mean to your point about the marketing portfolio not just being now about the main generation or attraction or targeting, and more about the entirety of the journey is a significancy change that I think we’ve all experience in the marketer, we believe. It’s a progressive way of thinking. And it’s put into practice here at Diamond.

So at Diamond and it seems like much of your marketing career in the financial service, aside from S&N to Credit Union has been an alternative to the big sort of Wall Street Banks and … Take us a bit through Diamonds marketing approach, I mean what are the roles of educating people on what a credit union is and what their eligibility is. This is a company that’s always been very strong at community relations and … and then there’s obviously differentiation, why Diamond versus other options that people might be eligible for, so could you speak a little bit about the role of marketing within how Diamond operates?

Todd: We’re always proud of the structure of the credit union, and through some research it is important to try to get that out to the community, but when we have a new person walk into our location, we want to explain that difference, and that difference is really the structure of the credit union; that its own by members.

Bill: Right.

Todd: And that drives all our decisions, so rather than our main priority of shareholder value, it is what we can do for the membership. And that’s what drives every decision we make from the board level onto a teller, of … It’s the member first philosophy.

Bill: Right.

Todd: And I don’t know if that’s out to the community as much as I’m sure the credit union community will love to have it-

Bill: Sure, sure.

Todd: That consumers understand that I think it’s … Once you experience it, it is something that we know people want to help us spread that word; word of mouth is powerful for us.

So the credit union structure is important because it does drive the … how the business operates.

Bill: Right.

Todd: But it’s not always what people want to hear about, they want to hear so many times about other things; when am I going to pay? But we try our best to put that in front of somebody, especially when they’re sitting down with us.

Out to the community, we’ve done that … I think we’ve done that through community development in advance to show people that we are … This is the only area, the Montgomery area, the Berks County area and part of Chester, that’s all we can serve.

Bill: Yeah.

Todd: That’s it, that’s all the area we’re allowed to serve.

Bill: Yeah there’s a limited eligibility area.

Todd: Right. So if you live here, you work here, we’re your neighbor, we’re all contributing to the good of the community, and that I think we’ve done a pretty good job of getting that message out that that’s …. that’s what we work with. We are here to make this area better because we live here.

Bill: Right.

Todd: And anything … any … We’ll call it profit, yes, that gets generated and income comes back to the credit union to build it more, to provide better services to the membership.

So that’s generally some of the messaging, sometimes we need to do that on a one-on-one case, it’s not so much billboard messaging, but that’s message is very important for people to really grasp and understand, and then spread that to their friends and family.

Bill: Right, and one of the benefits obviously of the credit union structure … as a quantitative benefit has to do with interest rates and sort of product level preferences or advantages, and I … Just having gotten to know this a bit, there is a level of, to your point, brand and who are we? And why does that matter?, and that’s an emotional connection, but then it really does get paid off at the level of interest rates and other financial characteristics.

Todd: Well I mean, you see … I’ll turn a little bit to some of the timeline that Diamond’s been through of how we try to get ourselves out to the market that we do serve. Price of product of course is an easy thing to put out there-

Bill: Sure.

Todd: To the market. And years ago we knew that’s not what we wanted to put out there, and we did a lot of internal test and we … Through focus groups we realized it was not working. We weren’t capturing the essence of who we were. We tried some messaging, it just wasn’t connecting enough with the market. And that’s when we decided as a … at a strategic level, to say “Do we need more research? Do we need the right partnership to come in and really identify what we want to put out to the market”

Bill: Right, right.

Todd: And, of course, we know what that became.

Bill: Yeah. We’ll let’s talk about it for a minute because when Finch met Diamond, which was probably a four years … probably more than four at this point. To your point, there was a moment in the life of the institution, while very successful in community … sort of engaged and connected, deeply rooted within the communities that you serve, there was a desire on the part of leadership to think through how at a sort of brand level but … The institution could connect and then express itself in a way that would attract new members and everything else. And you’re right the research data indicated, I suppose at that time that there was some concern or confusion about what a credit union was, and who was eligible and where it serve, but obviously there is a need to differentiate Diamond from other options that people will have, and that lead to a … what is now a multi-year campaign that is entitled Younity Y-O-U-N-I-T-Y, could you take through a bit about what led up to that and then your experience of building and executing that campaign.

Todd: Well sure, I think part of what lead to it was, quite honestly, failure-

Bill: Right.

Todd: That we did have, and we knew … we knew getting back to what wasn’t working. Because we did our own focus groups before we met Finch and it just wasn’t resonating. We realized that brand or name awareness … Not so much brand awareness or name awareness was gaining a little bit of traction, but not nearly enough that we wanted to do.

So the process of trying to find out who we are, what we do every day and take that to a market created the concept of “That’s Younity”, and it’s really tying in the factors of our structure, which we talked about … of the credit union structure. How we communicate with members, our membership every day and they’re members, not costumers. They’re members of ours.

Bill: Yeah, interesting.

Todd: Yeah it is, it’s confusing sometimes for some people, they want to say costumer all the time, but it is membership, and then tie that all together of trying to get out a message that seemed to resonate from people, as so many other things in the market were happening too.

Bill: Yeah, right.

Todd: Meaning mergers of banks and dissatisfaction among them.

Bill: It’s probably the right moment for something like this.

Todd: It was the right moment, not just for Diamond, but for the market and the industry. And to get people to actually move the financial relationship they have. They don’t wake up thinking “Yeah, today is the day I’m going to do that” lots of times, they go through before they decide to do it. But we did set ourselves up so well in the past few years … three or four years, when those mergers did occur that our membership growth hit record levels.

In fact, we were at capacity some months of bringing on new members. And the research did show part of that was the gain in brand awareness that we had out in the market. And overall it was not … it was not price, it was not product, it was selling who we are, “Come to us, sit down, we’ll talk to you, we’ll figure out your needs”. And that’s what became Younity, and what … what was … There was three parts of bringing this to everyone; and the first part was having employees buy into it.

Bill: No question.

Todd: And I’d never been part of an experience where that was so easy, and the reason it was so easy is because they created it. They didn’t know they created the words “That’s Younity” but talking to twenty five thirty individuals at our credit union throughout the process; they created the phrasing, and they bought into it from day one when we introduced it at a staff meeting, and you were part of that.

Bill: Yeah I remember. It was a big day.

Todd: The reaction to it immediately and the next day was just “Yeah that is us, that’s who we are” so that was step one. The next step then we take it to our membership really, before the market and … Well we did some surveying and people were putting down “What does Younity mean to you?” We were asking them-

Bill: I remember.

Todd: And they were just “Okay that’s perfect, you’re nailing it”. And now the third part of that of course is out to the consumers that don’t know Diamond, and we’re making great strides there, brand awareness increased incredibly over the first two years, stabilized a little bit the past year. But tremendous strides there, so we believe it connected and with our growth, but also the market research, which showed the same.

Bill: Yeah no doubt. And a cut … there were choices, I recall downstream in the creative process too, beyond Younity as a concept, which you know speaks to the sort of alignment of agendas between the credit union and its memberships and, as you said the structure and you know, Younity is about this relentless focus on the member and about how everyone’s interests are aligned here within the communities that people call home, or place of work. But then creatively there were choices that were made to highlight members as well as team members in everything from big billboards and live motion spots down to direct mail, right?

Todd: Well that’s true, and let me just back up for just a second on when we were deciding to go with “That’s Younity”, one of my favorite stories of that is … because everyone likes choices as we do and when we were going through analyzing “That’s Younity”, my question to the team was “I want to see other things”

Bill: Yeah.

Todd: “I want to see other options”, and I do recall asking “I want other options”, but what came back to me was “No, this is it”.

Bill: Yeah.

Todd: This is it, and that was actually right, and I needed to hear that, and we moved on from there. So yes, we then took it … It was commercials, and we went out to our membership and got some tremendous testimonials from our membership to use within the campaign. In our particular market, we did use billboards heavily because we don’t have any direct radio … limited radio and limited TV, but billboards, it was a big awareness part of it, and still is although it is lessening as time goes on, through digital channels now, but direct mail.

And now Younity you see when you walk into our locations, on our poster screens, TV screens that we have, and it’s integrated within everything we do. We have Younity days when we want to celebrate something that we’ve achieved together, or a community award, we’ll have Younity days where we’ll have … everyone will wear their Younity t-shirt, and it’s just a pride factor now among our staff. That does exist throughout our organization. And that’s just gone on to be much more than we ever thought.

Bill: Yeah, well it comes through, and it’s palpable and that brings us to another unmistakable characteristic of Diamond, which is this culture and sense of purpose and that manifests itself at a branch level in terms of service, but also through the incredible philanthropic efforts of Diamond. Could you speak for a minute about, sort of Diamonds culture and … as well as marketing’s role in building and nurturing that.

Todd: Well marketing’s role in nurturing that I would have to say we are … When I say we it’s a team of three other individuals along with myself … but I’d have to throw in many others into that team, but generally we’ll just focus on the team of three marketers that I have, is to be the protector, the keeper and the promoter of the brand. So nothing annoys me more than to see somebody at our organization try to put together a poster that doesn’t know how to put together a poster for all the great events we do, community events and now the logo stretch.

So we put a lot of commitment and effort and resources into saying appoint people to create that look that’s constant and we need them to go out. So they take a serious role in making sure that things look consistent, the brand is well defined in every piece that goes out, so that’s their role.

Bill: Yeah.

Todd: That’s their role, they have to be the eyes making sure that each piece is fitting the specs that we’re looking for. As far as the culture goes, that’s a … that’s from the top down from our president, and has been ingrained much into our HR department, which has expanded tremendously through the past three or four years. We didn’t even have a training department, now it’s a training department of three people who explain to anybody new coming in of what Younity does mean, and how that is part of our culture, and a part of our overall brand.

So, marketing can’t take credit for some of that, it’s permeated throughout our whole organization of the culture of how we want to take care of a member when they come in, and what that means as far as being able to nurture that relationship that we have, because that’s really what we have with our membership, is the relationship that we want to build.

Bill: Right, totally. We’ve alluded to it at a couple of times, but I mean one of the things that we’ve come to really respect and appreciate, among many things about Diamond is its philanthropic approach. Could you speak a little bit about, first of all what Diamond does and educate our listeners, but then the role of philanthropy in … in our sense of purpose, as well as you know, not to say that it’s insincere, because it is, but our way of spreading our own message and raising our awareness.

Todd: Well, sure. Well it really began quite a while ago, and a lot of our efforts are centered around the Relay for Life American Cancer Society, and it started with really two of our teammates battling their own fight, and it’s just grown since then of people throughout our organization taking leadership roles in running events, anywhere from people on our front line to back office, to collection managers, to IT people, running events for the good of the cause and putting it out to the community. So even as we speak today, we’ll have for our membership hot dog days and baked goods and-

Bill: We timed this well, I happened to see it out there and it just so happens.

Todd: So we have those events that others run and have taken ownership of, and it permeates through our membership. Membership will just say “Here’s twenty bucks for the cause” when they come in here, because they know what we’ll do with that money, and then roll it to all the good that The American Cancer Society does as a … in our community. But that’s one area and through our effort we’re going to be approaching a total donation over a million dollars real soon.

But that’s changing for us too, over time I believe Diamond has to … We’re looking into creating a foundation, which would help our territory in the region that we serve, to spread that around a little bit more. More needs that happen in our community, although we do that today through various other things of … Bowl for Kids’ Sake, and other events. We think there’s so much more that we can do for our community and we want to continue to build off of that.

We didn’t expect where we’d be today ten years ago, so another ten we think we can just do much more for the community as a larger … and then we think that’s the responsibility that we have, again going back to “This is what we … this is where we serve, this is who we serve and we should be part of that community”.

Bill: Well it certainly comes through and as we give you back the rest of your day, we’re about to overstay our welcome. What a journey both in your own career as well as all that’s been accomplished at Diamond certainly since you know, before and then since we’ve known one another. Any words of wisdom from your own career and the choices you made, I mean you have young members of the team, I’m sure there’s many of our listeners who were inspired by sort of the path you’ve taken, but any reflections or sort of words to live by that others might be able to take away from all that you’ve accomplished?

Todd: Well just the question alone I’m taken back by because, again I’ve … I never thought I’d be in a position like I am in when I began my career, so I’m a little taken back by even the question. But I just feel you … you have to give people … Yeah you have to have people who care about what you do, and that’s what we have, but you have to do a little bit more for me, you have to put goals out in front of, as a leader, because everybody wants to reach.

Bill: Sure, sure.

Todd: And if you … if you can’t put that goal out to people, I think they’ll … they’ll feel that and they won’t give as much as they feel that they can give and even more. That what was done for me, it’s put in challenges and put in things in front of me I never even thought about. And that’s what I hope to do too, not just my immediate team but the rest of the team here at Diamond is put things out there that you could have never imagined.

Bill: Yeah right, right.

Todd: And if you do that, well you may not hit it, but if you don’t hit it, you’re going to get pretty close and that’s some pretty good stuff too. So as a leader, which I’ve become, which again is pretty amazing, you have to always keep putting … putting those reaches out for people.

Bill: Yeah, well interesting, to them I think they, by this maybe a year ago. I mean I started for a very short time my career in sales, as did you and it may be that in the process of learning that that wasn’t what we wanted to do for the rest of our lives professionally, that there was some residue of learning about goals and about self-motivation and about ways to lead if and when we would reach sort of that moment, and here we are, so.

Todd: Well I think the experiences and sometimes failures that we have in life are much more important than reaching the pinnacle sometimes.

Bill: Yeah.

Todd: I know just recently there has been a Super Bowl champ that-

Bill: Yeah we heard something about that.

Todd: Without those failures they probably wouldn’t have reached the pinnacle they did, and I think that can happen in business as well.

Bill: No doubt, we’re recording this the day after the parade and everybody’s still smiling here in the Philadelphia area, it’s true. So Todd thank you so much for your time and insights-

Todd: Thank you Bill.

Bill: It’s been a pleasure to get to know you and the team and … Appreciate you being on our podcast.

Todd: It’s my pleasure, thank you.

Bill: Many thanks to Todd, both for his support and friendship, and certainly for his time and insight today. There’re three ways, as always to help us here at Real-Word Branding if you are compelled by this content, and we hope that you are; the first is to subscribe in the store of your choice, make sure that you do not miss an episode, and again we strive to do this weekly, and we’ve been pretty much living up to that so far this calendar year and our plan is certainly to continue since this provides a lot of joy for us and then hopefully for you as well.

So that’s one way to support us, another way is to give us a rating, we love five starts if we deserve it, we do read this, we appreciate the comments and it does help make it easier for those who are seeking interesting podcast content to find us, based upon number of people who’ve rated our content and hopefully the … how high …. Sky high we’ve earned in terms of a rating, and then the third is, as always let’s keep this dialogue going on … Twitter is probably the best place, @BillGullan or @FinchBrands we love comments and questions and ideas for future guests, future topics.

Really enjoying the back and forth with our listeners and we thank you, without you this would just be sort of a fun diversion, but it’s become more than that and we’re really grateful for your time, hopefully each and every week and we strive to live up to making it worthwhile, so we’ll sign off from the Cradle of Liberty.

The post Membership Has Its Perks – Todd Rothenberger appeared first on Finch Brands.

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Todd Rothenberger is SVP and CMO of Diamond Credit Union. Credit unions are interesting for a variety of reasons, but Todd and his team have been extremely effective at telling the Diamond story and conveying their difference to compel consumers to cho... Todd Rothenberger is SVP and CMO of Diamond Credit Union. Credit unions are interesting for a variety of reasons, but Todd and his team have been extremely effective at telling the Diamond story and conveying their difference to compel consumers to choose Diamond. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!<br /><br /> Transcript:<br /><br /> Bill Gullan: Greetings one and all, this is Real-World Branding, I’m Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands, a premier boutique branding agency. Thank you for joining us. Normally the cadence here at Real-World Branding, is that we have an interview with a brand and business builder every other week, and in between we do what’s called One Big Idea, which is normally me spouting off on a topic, either in the news, or that hopefully has some practical value in terms of being a practitioner in these areas.<br /><br /> But, Finch Brands is moving. After a decade plus in our current offices in Old City Philadelphia we are moving; for those of you who know the area, more towards what is called Center City, which is the central business district. Where we are Old City now, is primarily known for its historical attractions, and some office too. But we’re moving into Center City, moving on up to 123 South Broad Street, which actually currently is I think a Wells Fargo branded building, there’s a big branch in the lobby. But it’s a building of note, because it was featured in the moving Trading Places; which A, is dating me, but B, holds up extremely well even today. So you will hear us and me saying “Looking good Louis,” in the coming weeks.<br /><br /> So in the light of the move and all that’s required to make that happen, we’re going to give you a bonus interview, and do two interviews in a row, and then I’ll be back next week with One Big Idea. But this interview today, and this brand and business builder is special and close to our hearts here at Finch. It’s <a class="" href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/todd-rothenberger-74198813/" target="_blank" rel=" noopener">Todd Rothenberger</a>. Todd’s role at <a class="" href="https://diamondcu.org/" target="_blank" rel=" noopener">Diamond Credit Union</a> is Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Office.<br /><br /> Diamond is a community-based financial institution with an interesting history, as Todd will take you through, that I think is really found an effective mix today of sort of corporate level, or I guess institution level, brand communications, that are designed to both sort of educate and connect, as well as a strong community-based approach.<br /><br /> Credit unions are interesting for a variety of reasons. There’s a different glossary in terms of credit unions have members, not customers. Their structures are interesting, and in some cases foreign, and so one of the tasks that Todd and his team have to surmount here to be effective … and they’ve been extremely effective, is to A, explain to prospective members what a credit union is and what the benefits are, and then B, to compel them to choose Diamond as opposed to other options that they may have through work, or in the geography where they live.<br /><br /> So Todd will take you through all that, but really good guy, really effective marketing leader. Enjoy Todd Rothenberger.<br /><br /> Bill: We’re here at the Pottstown, PA headquarters of Diamond Credit Union, with Todd Rothenberger, who’s the Senior Vice President/Chief Marketing Officer here at Diamond. Thanks for having us.<br /><br /> Todd Rothenberger: It’s a pleasure, thanks Bill.<br /><br /> Bill: The pleasure is all ours, and we’re grateful for your time and insight, and let’s start as we normally do with a bit of a twirl through your own professional journey, and at what point you settled on a career direction, and kind of the choices you’ve made, and what’s led us to this point?<br /><br /> Todd: Well, Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands clean
Getting Kleer Direction – Dave Monahan, CEO of Kleer https://finchbrands.com/getting-kleer-direction-dave-monahan-ceo-of-kleer/ Tue, 13 Feb 2018 16:00:30 +0000 http://finchbrands.com/?p=2898 https://finchbrands.com/getting-kleer-direction-dave-monahan-ceo-of-kleer/#respond https://finchbrands.com/getting-kleer-direction-dave-monahan-ceo-of-kleer/feed/ 0 <p>Countless industries are ripe for disruption, and the dental market is no different. Dave Monahan and his team knew there was something to be done but needed clarity to build a successful model. Through a rigorous process of market research and beta testing, they’ve built a brand and platform at Kleer that cuts out the middle man […]</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com/getting-kleer-direction-dave-monahan-ceo-of-kleer/">Getting Kleer Direction – Dave Monahan, CEO of Kleer</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com">Finch Brands</a>.</p> Countless industries are ripe for disruption, and the dental market is no different. Dave Monahan and his team knew there was something to be done but needed clarity to build a successful model. Through a rigorous process of market research and beta testing, they’ve built a brand and platform at Kleer that cuts out the middle man and connects dentists directly with consumers to make dental care accessible and easy for all. If you enjoy our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!

Transcription:

Dave Monahan: And I didn’t know that market, it was a bit a whim to say, “There’s something here, but I’m not quite sure what it is, let’s go dig.”

Bill Gullan: Greetings one and all, this is Real-World Branding, I’m Bill Gullan, president of Finch Brands, a premier boutique branding agency. Big treat today, despite my obvious nasal condition here, and my apologies to our listeners, I seem to have a little bug every time we do this, but that will not diminish the enthusiasm for our guest, Dave Monahan, who’s the CEO of Kleer, which is K-L-E-E-R, and as he’ll tell you a disruptive force, soon to be and already beginning to be a disruptive force in the dental insurance market, and the dental market in general. Connecting dentists who want to think a little bit differently about services and how they’re bundled and delivered, and consumers who are in need or have a desire for a greater level of care, and consistency of care.

So, Dave’s backstory is fascinating in terms of starting on the engineering side of the world with a passion for software and technology, and as his responsibility grew, as he enhanced his education, moving into more general management roles, including a really strong tenure at Microsoft, among other places, and then now moving more into the early state realm with the last business he was part of, which was in the fitness channel, and now with Kleer.

Kleer itself has had an interesting development story, and he’ll take you through all that. Enjoy Dave Monahan.

We’re here in the Wayne PA offices of Kleer, which is K-L-E-E-R, with Dave Monahan, who’s the CEO, thank you for having us.

Dave: Oh, thanks for having me on it.

Bill: And such an interesting business story, not only your journey, but what you’re doing here at Kleer, and we’re going to try to touch on all of that.

To start, could you take us through some of the steps in just your own career journey that has led up to this point?

Dave: Sure, yeah, I’ll try to make it brief so I don’t bore you, but so when I came out of … I actually went to Penn State University.

Bill: Heard of it, they have a football team, I think, right?

Dave: They do, and they’re back.

Bill: Yep.

Dave: I was just up there this weekend actually.

Bill: Nice.

Dave: But so graduated in engineering, actually went to work for Northrop Grumman in advanced avionics and electronics and surveillance systems. And just a little claim to fame, we were working on the first surveillance systems for drones back in the early 90s.

Bill: Take credit for that, you invented the drone, nice.

Dave: Exactly.

Bill: Nice work, wow.

Dave: It was incredible. but back then you weren’t even allowed to talk about it. But anyway, so a lot of advanced avionics things. But at the same time, and I’m not sure if it still happens, but they paid full ride for MBA once you’re working, so I got my MBA at night from Loyola, and spent about five or six years at North Grumman then moved on and started working for a company called SkyTel, which their claim to fame was two-way paging back in the mid 90s.

Bill: I think I had one.

Dave: It was amazing, actually I was running their US marketing team. But what was amazing, when I look back on it, it was actually messaging and it was texting, but we didn’t realize it. We didn’t realize what we had, I don’t think. But they ended up consolidating, moving their offices down to Mississippi, I had no interest in going to Mississippi.

I moved into and worked for a small, private company called Phillips, who has done a number of things, but one of them was around nutrition. They were doing supplements, they were also doing some newsletters around nutrition and really, I got my … I learned a lot about finance and business analysis, and basically worked with their CFO to better understand their business and make some decisions from a business perspective and a strategic perspective, and got a really good grounding on the financial side when I was there.

So, if you think about it, first engineering, second job was marketing, third job was finances.

Bill: MBA in between, yeah, yeah.

Dave: Trying to round myself out.

Bill: General management direction. Yeah, sure.

Dave: Exactly. And I randomly … Microsoft came in and was interviewing … I was actually living down in DC at the time. And was interviewing so I said, “What the heck, I’ll go talk to them.”

Talked to them, next thing I know I’m out in Redmond doing some more in-depth interviews and land at Microsoft. And at Microsoft I actually started in the Toronto office, and I was lucky enough to be basically reporting to the VP who ran all of Canada, and the central part of the US.

So this is the Wild West of Microsoft, but that territory, you can’t get much bigger. But, very large business. Billions of dollars. And my job was to help that vice president better understand his business, and make strategic decisions about what they’re going to focus on, how they’re going to market, what’s the customer base, how do we partner, all that good stuff. So, I got exposed to pretty much everything in a company. My first week, actually, at Microsoft, I was in front of Steve Ballmer.

Bill: Nice.

Dave: Presenting to him.

Bill: What was that like? He’s a pretty high intensity guy, right?

Dave: Really intense. So I’ll give you … let me paint the scenario. I’m a week in. I know nothing alright, about Microsoft. And my VP, his philosophy is throw people into the fire.

Bill: Yeah, that’s the way to do it.

Dave: So he put me in, we had a business review. Every year, every business needs to come into Redmond, present how they did the prior year, and then present what they’re going to do for the following year. So my job was to do the first 10 minutes of that all day presentation. Where I sum up everything that’s happened and where we’re going.

So, come back to Ballmer for a second, so I’m five feet … we’re across the table from each other and I’m presenting. It’s about 8:00 in the morning. And he already has pulled off his tie, he’s unbuttoned his shirt, and he’s thrown his shoes off. By the time I’m done with my presentation…

Bill: He’s pacing around the room, nice.

Dave: And basically, he tells me at the end he hated my presentation.

Bill: Excellent. Nice job on the first week, really outstanding.

Dave: So I figure I’m done. Right, that’s it.

Bill: Got to go up from there, right?

Dave: Yeah. But he gave me an amazing piece of advice, he basically said, “Never present any problem without a solution.” And I presented a number of problems without solutions. So, I will never do that again. But anyway, I spent about eight years at Microsoft, and I went from that business manager job, to running multiple businesses for Microsoft.

I ran their Washington DC office, we moved down to DC. I basically ran their … it was Virginia DC, Maryland and Delaware territory. And then moved up to Philadelphia. I actually grew up here, but left for a while, came back, and ran their Philadelphia office. So, when I was there, learned a ton, it’s by far the most influential company, for me from a career perspective.

Learned how to run a business, and a number of things. But from there, my real interest was health and tech. That’s really what I cared about most. A friend mine who was working at Microsoft, he left, joined a VC up in Boston. They were looking for a CEO of a health tech company. It was more fitness tech at that time. Called FitLinxx, and they came and asked if I’d like to do it. I accepted, and went up and started running a company called FitLinxx.

The net was, when I got there, they were basically putting electronic devices on fitness equipment. So, for gyms, they would go and wire up the whole facility. You could get data off the equipment when you came in, you’d get a report online, all that good stuff. You could track your exercise, but it was only for the gym. In about six months, I decided to change the strategy of the company, and focus on wearable devices.

This was back when nobody knew what wearables were. So, we ended up acquiring a company, it was actually a set of 10 engineers in a barn outside of Boston. I ran into the CEO of that company at a conference, we thought there was a good fit. We acquired them, brought them in, and then we started focusing on wearable devices.

One of our claims to fame was we built the Nike Plus products for Nike.

Bill: Very cool.

Dave: Yeah, and then we built a device, it was basically a device you could put on your chest that monitored your cardiovascular system. We ended up selling the company to a medical diagnostic company in April … or March of 2016.

Bill: Nice.

Dave: And then we were looking for something to do.

Bill: Moved down here, yeah. Nice. And we’ll get to what that something is. Real quick question about Microsoft though, you were there, at least according to LinkedIn, from about ’99 to ’06 which seems like it would’ve coincided with the shift from PC to mobile, at least on the tail end of that. What was that like? And I know you needed a problem and a solution, but that was a big sea change, wasn’t it?

Dave: It was huge. It was absolutely a monstrous sea change. There was two sea changes that happened at Microsoft when I was there. One was that, and the other was the whole antitrust, DOJ thing, which was a major influence on what the company did. But, yeah, back in … it was probably 2002, or 2003, Microsoft actually came out with a handheld device that, if you remember, the little stylus.

Bill: Yeah, sure, sure.

Dave: They were well ahead of the curve of that market. But they didn’t go after it, and as everybody knows, they the lost the mobile war in the beginning. And it was a classic, I think, case of there was so much money to be made elsewhere that it was an incubator, it didn’t make a lot of money, it was a nice business, but it wasn’t something they focused on. There was just way too much money to be made in Windows and Office and all of the productivity suites, and-

Bill: And channel competition with hardware partners I would imagine.

Dave: It was very complicated. And also, the company at that point was not a hardware company. We were a software company. They were fooling around with some hardware, but the net was they weren’t really a hardware company. So, it was a nice little tangential business, it was a nice product, but just never focused on it, until they realized it was a big market. And then they reacted to all of that.

Bill: Sure. And then … yeah. Totally, and now they’ve resurged, at least in some ways. Interesting, what a story. I mean, the whole peaks and valleys in that company and it’s history.

So here we are. You’re somebody who has an engineering and technology mind and background, the general management disposition and skillset. And here we are in the offices of this business, Kleer. Tell us a little bit about what you all are up to, and not to give away the story, but what is it about the dental marketplace that is so ripe for disruptive thought, and new ideas?

Dave: So let me say from the beginning, if you asked me would I be in the dental market two years ago, I would’ve said no. I-

Bill: I mean, I brush, but-

Dave: Yeah, exactly. But so when after I sold the company FitLinxx, I was looking for what I wanted to do next, so I’d been networking a little bit, and I ran into somebody who owned six dental practices, and just started talking about the market. And what really struck me was about 50% of people in the US do not go to the dentist. Even though they know that it’s very important and it’s important for their health.

The other part that really surprised me was that dentists were struggling to make profit, and also increase revenue, given the control insurers had on the marketplace. And the insurers basically dictate what the dentists get paid.

So, we spent about six, seven months researching it and as you know, we used Finch Brands to do the market research.

Bill: It was a very interesting process.

Dave: And what came out of that, was for us, a major revelation. There was on one side, if you talked to the consumers, and you remember some of these discussions and interviews, yeah, which Bill was leading, the consumers wanted more dental care. They were avoiding it for really one reason, which was cost. But when we dug into it further, it wasn’t just cost, it was fear of cost.

What we realized in the research was that consumers had no idea how much dental services cost. So, there was a large group of consumers who wanted care but didn’t think they could afford it. You had dentists who most of their patients were coming through insurance, but they had trouble making money off the insurer programs. And what they were looking for … and by the way, it’s not just that the fees are low, that insurers force on the dentist, it’s also there’s a lot of hassle associated with insurers.

Bill: I can imagine.

Dave: Yeah, and paperwork, and denial of claims, and you got to pre-approvals, and you have caps and it’s insane, if you’ve ever looked at a dental insurance contract-

Bill: Well for a consumer, it works differently than we’re used to in terms of insurance. Dental insurance seems like it isn’t even really insurance at all, at least in the way we mean it health wise, yeah.

Dave: Absolutely, so dental insurance is not insurance. It isn’t. It’s basically prepaid cleanings and exams, with discounts on anything else.

So that was also an insight from that research was this really is a simply program, at the end of the day. It’s not complicated insurance. So from that research, what we saw, was the need to directly connect patients with dentists and get rid of the middle man. So think about all the industries where that’s occurred, right?

Bill: Right, sure.

Dave: Uber, whatever, you can pick 100 of them now. But what we decided to do was create a company called Kleer. K-L-E-E-R. And it’s a platform where dentists can come in and set up a dental care plan that they offer directly to their patients. So it looks very much like insurance. It’s not insurance, quote, unquote, but it’s basically they can put your two cleanings, your exams, your x-rays, package that up, plus discounts off all other treatment, like fillings and crowns, and so on and just charge a subscription for those services.

So typically, we see $25 to $30 a month is the subscription that they charge. You basically have a full dental care plan and then on the consumer side, so the platform enables to dentist to very easily set that up, and create that program they want to offer, with lots of different things they can customize and decide for their practice what makes sense.

On the other side, on the consumer side, we have a whole consumer facing side, with website, mobile app. Very easy to purchase the plan from your dentist and then you get the full range of … you get a membership card, you get plan documents, you have a website and a mobile app you can log on to see your benefits and manage payment, all that good stuff, just like any other consumer app.

Bill: Right.

Dave: So very simple.

Bill: Supply and demand side, I know that we were talking a little bit before we started about obviously efforts to equip the dentists who are in the program with all of the information the consumers would want when they walk up to the front, or whatever. But for consumers, and we know that there’s a high percentage who don’t have a dentist of record, I know that company’s endeavoring to find ways to reach them with a lower acquisition cost. Any thought on … but as we talk about long term, thoughts about the consumer channel versus the professional channel, and how you all are thinking about setting these up and making sure this can scale?

Dave: Yeah, so we went through a few iterations as we were building and learning. So initially, we were thinking a lot of our effort would be towards the consumer and marketing to the consumer, and bringing in new patients for the dentists. What we learned, pretty quickly, is about 30% of a patient base within a typical dentist office does not have insurance and they want something.

They want coverage. And by the way, the market research highlighted that. We just didn’t know how the dental practices would respond to that opportunity. So, within probably two months, a month, two months of launching the platform, the feedback from dentists was, “This is a great solution for my uninsured.”

And they had a number of groups of uninsured. So uninsured patients who came in all the time. Once or twice a year. They had what they call dormant patients, who don’t have insurance and stay away, and typically only come when they have a major issue. So that group is about 10% of their base.

And then another group was just retirees. So not a lot of people realize this, but as you retire, your dental benefits go away. Because there’s nothing under Medicare to cover dental. So you have to go out into the market and buy whatever’s out there.

Bill: And you would think that that coincides with the greatest need for care, as you get older and your teeth are-

Dave: Absolutely. Yeah. So, and I’ll get back to the question in a second, but so, and then actually one other group was just small employers. About 50% of small employers don’t offer dental benefits, and it’s the number three benefit that employees want. So it’s healthcare, 401k, and then dental and 50% of small businesses don’t offer it. And the reason they don’t offer it is because insurance is too expensive, it’s too complicated, and all that stuff.

So, what we realized was we did not have the emphasize the consumer market. We actually needed to emphasize marketing to the dental practices. Bringing them into the platform, teaching them how to sell and market to their patients, and giving them the tools to do that. So, we actually have a suite of tools they can use, all the way from sheets in the office that the patient can take, up to sophisticated digital marketing tools that they can customize on our platform and offer through Facebook, or Google ads or whatever.

Bill: All the ways they communicate.

Dave: Yeah, so what we’re focused on now is enabling the dental practices to market to their patients.

Bill: Yeah, and the value proposition to them seems rather clear, forgive the pun, as an acquisition tool, as a frequency tool, as a loyalty and lifetime value, and it makes a lot of sense.

Dave: So we’ve … I haven’t mentioned, but I’m a bit of a data nerd, we actually pooled data from the dental practices on our platform, and we analyzed patients who have insurance, patients who don’t have insurance, or a membership plan and then patients who have a membership plan. And we said, okay, what’s our pattern, right, of utilizing dental services and how much they typically purchase all that good stuff.

What is really interesting is, insurance plan patients and membership plan patients act exactly the same. They come in for their cleanings, they come in and when they’re in, they’re in the chair, if the dentist suggests treatment, they accept it, for the most part because they have a dental plan.

Bill: And they’re lying there with their open in a chair, right.

Dave: Exactly, everybody’s been through that experience and they accept treatment anywhere between two and three times at a higher rate than people who don’t have insurance and don’t have a membership plan. So you get about twice as much treatment acceptance from patients on a membership plan than people not on a membership plan, or not insured.

Bill: Makes sense.

Dave: But, the huge benefit of being on the membership plan for the dentist is there’s no middle man. You get paid directly. So, if you take a step back, the benefits to the dentist are multiple. One is they lock in a subscription. A profitable subscription that’s guaranteed on an annual basis, and they can count on that business. Versus, think about insurance for a second, if that patient does not come into the dentist, the dentist gets nothing.

Right, it’s only if they come in do they get paid. So, one is locking the subscription. Number two is that treatment acceptance rate is about 50% higher for people on a membership plan, than people who aren’t insured. So they have more treatment and complete more procedures. The third one, which is a real interesting one, is that by creating a subscription business and converting their practice more towards a subscription, they actually get a higher valuation on their practice.

So most dental practices, eventually, they want to sell their practice. Once they get to a certain age, and also they build up a certain patient base-

Bill: Yeah, succession’s an issue I would think that they don’t really know how to deal with, unless they have a son or daughter who wants to get in-

Dave: In often goes to, yeah, son or daughter. Or they bring in a transitional-

Bill: Younger, right.

Dave: Who helps them figure it out. But, what we’re seeing, and this is typical in any market, is if you have a subscription business, you’ll get about two times, three times the valuation on the subscription business, versus a non-subscription business.

Bill: Yeah, that makes sense.

Dave: So, if they can build up this base of membership plans, people paying subscriptions, the valuation of their business will go up.

Bill: Right. No, makes a lot of sense. While you were entering here, during a moment of great discovery, and figuring out what to do, I know the company existed, or was launched before and if I recall correctly, under a different name, the original priority or focus was about transparency. And I think you made the point that in the research, there were revelations that that is important, but it isn’t the full value proposition that Kleer now is embracing.

Can you think about, or comment on, just the path for this company to find its sweet spot, and its niche, and its brand approach, and its model that has put you in such a good position to really grow this thing?

Dave: Well, I think the first thing … and obviously Finch Brands helped us with this, is just understanding the market before you do anything. and I didn’t know that market. It was a bit of a whim, to say, “There’s something here. But I’m not quite sure what it is, let’s go dig.” And I was lucky enough to have an investor who wanted to dig as well and understand it.

So, I think we got the market, or whatever the model, the business model about 80% correct through the market research. Which was a huge, obviously, advantage, going into the market. That drove a lot of our decisions on product and how we did our brand, and how we market. And then, and I tell this to anybody, and then you’ve got to listen to the market, right.

There’s nothing you can do except listen, and wait, and understand, and then adjust. And between that process, it probably took us … we did what we called a pilot, or a beta program, from October of last year to December, and that was the idea, was to listen and understand and what we heard back from the market is one, the one item that I already talked about, which is the dentists themselves would like to sell to their uninsured.

We need to do direct consumer. We are going to still do some, but it was very obvious that they were very happy to sell to their existing patients. But, they didn’t have the tools to do it. So what we did is, we put a huge emphasis on account management. So we have an account management team and they have relationships, like this is not … we don’t do anything where it’s not connected to a person. Like you can talk to people, you can live chat with them, and things like that. But there’s a relationship between our account managers and dental practices.

And we’re emphasizing that as the major driver of a way to … a basic tool to help the dental practices to be able to sell, and market. I had not planned on that, going in. I thought we were going to have more of a very hands-off, typical technology company approach. You take it and use it. But we realized a huge value prop was having that account manager in there. So we’re investing heavily in account managers and constantly recruiting for that. So that was a big change.

The other thing was we came into it with … a little bit on the consumer side, more of from a branding perspective, and a position perspective. Like we want to be different than what’s out there. So I stayed away from the typical stock photos and the typical images that you see in healthcare. And we went more to a cartoonish look and feel, which people responded really well to.

Bill: Good.

Dave: We used bright colors and all that good stuff, but-

Bill: Contemporary, but not unfriendly.

Dave: Not unfriendly, yeah, it’s approachable. It’s different and all that good stuff, but we felt, once we got feedback from the market, we went a little too far. So, dentists are pretty serious people. It is healthcare. So, we’re actually, right now, in the process of tooling it a little more towards, it’s not going to be anywhere near what healthcare is typically, but it’s going to be a little bit more sophisticated.

Bill: To underline clinical …

Dave: A little bit.

Bill: Nobody wants to go to a chop shop dentist, right.

Dave: Exactly. So it’s going to have a cartoonish whatever, a fun feel, but it’s going to be a little bit more … whatever, refined.

Bill: Sophisticated cartoon, right.

Dave: Yeah.

Bill: Makes sense. What a story. It’s so stimulating and there have been innings and different eras in the life of this company, and obviously your own career. Given what you’ve accomplished, and the choices you’ve made, having an engineering soul, but then a finance capability, and a general management capability, big companies, smaller companies, public versus venture backed, versus private. Any words of wisdom, as you’ve assumed this path, and learned things about yourself and about the world, and the process of building businesses? And words of wisdom that have become important as you … the Steve Ballmer lesson is a great one. And it’s actually very similar to what Finch Brands has been going through, our own values development process, we have some new team members, and we always want to renew that every period of time, and that came through with us.

But any important maxims, or beliefs at this point, that might inspire others who are thinking their own path?

Dave: I’m not sure how inspirational I’ll be, but just here two things I think are, for me, were really important. And I think … one of them I know is important to everybody. But, finding somebody who can be your mentor.

Bill: Yeah, sure.

Dave: I can’t tell you how important it is. When I was Northrop Grumman, I didn’t have one. When I moved in SkyTel, I didn’t have one. And when I went into that small company prior to Microsoft, maybe a little bit one, but not where I wanted to go was somebody who was very smart, and could teach me things from a financial perspective, but not somebody who’s going to inspire me to go do great things. When I landed at Microsoft, the person I was reporting to up in Canada, his name was Frank Clegg, master of marketing, master of sales, incredibly smart guy.

He could run through any number and understand any number, and spreadsheet of equations, and break through it. He was the first person I ever ran into who could do everything. Like I would sit down with him and I’d be awed by how much he could do. And what was really great for me, was he and I spent every day together. And we would go out to Redmond to meet … we met with Bill Gates, we met with Steve Ballmer, and like all the high up level people at Microsoft. And I got to sat in a plane seat with him on a flight, about once a month from Toronto to Redmond, and what we’d do is we’d talk about business.

Bill: Yeah, he can’t run away at that point.

Dave: Exactly.

Bill: Stuck with you.

Dave: And he was one of those people who he understood I was going to be moving on at some point. He would introduce me to other great people, and was completely unselfish in sharing what he understood, and the people he had. So my first piece of feedback is find that person. If you’re in a job where you don’t have that person, they’re out there. Go find them somewhere else. I mean, I’m not saying leave your job, you might be able to find one through networking, but if push comes to shove, and you need to move away from a job, because eventually it will pay big dividends if you find somebody that … try to find that person is all I can say. It’ll pay big dividends.

And then the second piece is, the first step is the hardest. And somebody told me this to me once. So I was at Microsoft, doing really well, they wanted to me come out to Redmond and actually run Office marketing, marketing for all the Office product for the US.

Bill: Paperclip and everything. Yeah, right.

Dave: And it was a very, very nice offer. But my gut was I wanted to run a company. And I loved Microsoft, I loved the people there, but the net was that I had to take that step. And somebody from the outside told me before I did that, once you take that step, you’ll thank God you did it. And it won’t feel like a big thing on the other side. It’s taking it that’s the hard part.

And so if you’re in a job where you’ve learned a lot, and you’re ready to go, and you have this passion to go do something else, I just … I highly recommend just take the step.

Bill: No, makes sense. And Steve, our executive producer, is weeping in the corner, thinking about his own choices and path, but no, mentors, absolutely and you have left a variety of large, secure, successful enterprises to do either another one, or now, the most recent, to deal with some things that are early stage, and to make them amazing, and valuable, and everything else.

Dave Monahan, CEO of Kleer, a company that we will certainly be watching, a lot happening. You were talking about how the initial pilot was well beyond expectations in terms of learning as well as interest, and exciting road ahead, thanks for your time.

Dave: Yep. Thank you.

Bill: Many thanks to Dave for his time and insight. Not only is his career journey a really interesting one, but what he’s doing at Kleer is also really interesting, and it’s an idea or set of ideas whose time has come, and a market that’s ripe to be progressed, both on the supplier, dentist side, but also from a consumer perspective, so we’re grateful that he shared a bit of that with us today.

As always, there’s three ways to support what we do here at Real World Branding. One is to subscribe via the podcast store of your choice. Click that little button, make sure that you don’t miss any content. Comes in every week, as is our goal, and we’ve been pretty true to that goal so far in 2018, and the momentum will continue.

Beyond subscribing, again, if we’ve deserved it, we’d love a rating in the app store, the podcast app store of your choice, that helps us get found. Also helps us learn, and apply that feedback to make this, the time we spend together here ever more valuable.

And then directly to that point, let’s keep a dialogue going on Twitter, probably is the best place for that. @BillGullan, @FinchBrands, we love ideas, we love criticism, we love praise. Future guests, topic, many thoughts, all the thoughts that come through as you experience this hopefully every week, and hopefully this is going to become part of that routine, whether it’s a commute, or a plan ride, or on the treadmill, or wherever life takes you, we’re grateful that you’ve chosen to bring us with you.

So, on that note, we’ll sign off from the Cradle of Liberty.

 

The post Getting Kleer Direction – Dave Monahan, CEO of Kleer appeared first on Finch Brands.

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Countless industries are ripe for disruption, and the dental market is no different. Dave Monahan and his team knew there was something to be done but needed clarity to build a successful model. Through a rigorous process of market research and beta te... Countless industries are ripe for disruption, and the dental market is no different. Dave Monahan and his team knew there was something to be done but needed clarity to build a successful model. Through a rigorous process of market research and beta testing, they’ve built a brand and platform at Kleer that cuts out the middle man and connects dentists directly with consumers to make dental care accessible and easy for all. If you enjoy our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!<br /><br /> Transcription:<br /><br /> Dave Monahan: And I didn’t know that market, it was a bit a whim to say, “There’s something here, but I’m not quite sure what it is, let’s go dig.”<br /><br /> Bill Gullan: Greetings one and all, this is <a href="http://blog.finchbrands.com/topic/podcast">Real-World Branding</a>, I’m Bill Gullan, president of Finch Brands, a premier boutique branding agency. Big treat today, despite my obvious nasal condition here, and my apologies to our listeners, I seem to have a little bug every time we do this, but that will not diminish the enthusiasm for our guest, <a href="https://www.kleer.com/about">Dave Monahan</a>, who’s the CEO of <a href="https://www.kleer.com/">Kleer</a>, which is K-L-E-E-R, and as he’ll tell you a disruptive force, soon to be and already beginning to be a disruptive force in the dental insurance market, and the dental market in general. Connecting dentists who want to think a little bit differently about services and how they’re bundled and delivered, and consumers who are in need or have a desire for a greater level of care, and consistency of care.<br /><br /> So, Dave’s backstory is fascinating in terms of starting on the engineering side of the world with a passion for software and technology, and as his responsibility grew, as he enhanced his education, moving into more general management roles, including a really strong tenure at Microsoft, among other places, and then now moving more into the early state realm with the last business he was part of, which was in the fitness channel, and now with Kleer.<br /><br /> Kleer itself has had an interesting development story, and he’ll take you through all that. Enjoy Dave Monahan.<br /><br /> We’re here in the Wayne PA offices of Kleer, which is K-L-E-E-R, with Dave Monahan, who’s the CEO, thank you for having us.<br /><br /> Dave: Oh, thanks for having me on it.<br /><br /> Bill: And such an interesting business story, not only your journey, but what you’re doing here at Kleer, and we’re going to try to touch on all of that.<br /><br /> To start, could you take us through some of the steps in just your own career journey that has led up to this point?<br /><br /> Dave: Sure, yeah, I’ll try to make it brief so I don’t bore you, but so when I came out of … I actually went to Penn State University.<br /><br /> Bill: Heard of it, they have a football team, I think, right?<br /><br /> Dave: They do, and they’re back.<br /><br /> Bill: Yep.<br /><br /> Dave: I was just up there this weekend actually.<br /><br /> Bill: Nice.<br /><br /> Dave: But so graduated in engineering, actually went to work for Northrop Grumman in advanced avionics and electronics and surveillance systems. And just a little claim to fame, we were working on the first surveillance systems for drones back in the early 90s.<br /><br /> Bill: Take credit for that, you invented the drone, nice.<br /><br /> Dave: Exactly.<br /><br /> Bill: Nice work, wow.<br /><br /> Dave: It was incredible. but back then you weren’t even allowed to talk about it. But anyway, so a lot of advanced avionics things. But at the same time, and I’m not sure if it still happens, but they paid full ride for MBA once you’re working, so I got my MBA at night from Loyola, and spent about five or six years at North Grumman then moved on and started working for a company called SkyTel, which their claim to fame was two-way paging back in the mid 90s.<br /><br /> Bill: I think I had one. Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands clean
One Big Idea: Super Bowl Smackdown https://finchbrands.com/one-big-idea-super-bowl-smackdown/ Sat, 10 Feb 2018 16:01:52 +0000 http://finchbrands.com/?p=2894 https://finchbrands.com/one-big-idea-super-bowl-smackdown/#respond https://finchbrands.com/one-big-idea-super-bowl-smackdown/feed/ 0 <p>Following the final whistle, there is a clear winner and loser on the field. While Eagles fans everywhere rejoice, we take some time to look at the winners and losers off the field as it relates to the Super Bowl advertisers. In this episode, we provide a couple of comments on this year’s commercials — […]</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com/one-big-idea-super-bowl-smackdown/">One Big Idea: Super Bowl Smackdown</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com">Finch Brands</a>.</p> Following the final whistle, there is a clear winner and loser on the field. While Eagles fans everywhere rejoice, we take some time to look at the winners and losers off the field as it relates to the Super Bowl advertisers. In this episode, we provide a couple of comments on this year’s commercials — both trends and overall themes, as well as specific ads that worked or didn’t work. If you enjoy our podcast, pleas subscribe and leave us a rating!

Transcription:

Bill Gullan: Greetings one and all. This is Real-World Branding. I’m Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands, a premiere boutique branding agency. This is One Big Idea, and here we are basking in the reflective glory of the Eagles Super Bowl triumph. Yes, the city is still standing, and our hearts are aflutter, and all of that.

This was an atypical year for those who are used to watching the Super Bowl, either for the ads, or for hoping that your cousin in New England or in Carolina, or wherever else, is happy at the end. We had a different way of engaging with this year’s game, I think, many of us who are certainly are Eagle fans. This time through, I actually didn’t really notice the ads, because I was largely in the fetal position and I was largely feeling such an intense emotional reaction to what was happening, that I had to go back, and almost didn’t even remember them when the game was over.

Fortunately, on Wednesday night there was a terrific, I thought, great panel of experts, who were talking about the ads that they liked, and that they didn’t. But even more than that, what they felt the strategy might have been behind each of them – who the target was, and how well it did or did not register. It was an event put on by the American Marketing Association of Philadelphia, and there were terrific panelists.

If you go online onto LinkedIn, or wherever else, I think you’ll probably be able to access, hopefully, a recording of this. I was honored and fortunate enough to be the moderator in whatever meager way that I could contribute, in least of terms of teeing up topics for the panel and the audience.

It was a thrill to do so, but in doing so, I was brought back to the ads themselves, and had to prepare for this by watching them through another two or three times and to really think about them with a marketer’s hat on, not just an Eagles hat, hoping and worrying about the next series once they got off the air.

So, with that, a couple of comments on this year’s commercials – both trends and overall themes, as well as specific ads that, in my own humble opinion, worked or didn’t work.

A couple of themes that were really interesting from a marketer’s perspective. One was, and we talk about this one on various podcast episodes here, about purpose and about the role of philanthropy. There was a really strong trend in the direction of highlighting and underlining a company’s philanthropic efforts.

It was not nearly as overtly political as last year was in the early days of the Trump administration, which was only a few months in when last year’s big game happened, but these were warmer and fuzzier, and more optimistic.

You had brands such as Verizon, such as Budweiser, such as Stella Artois. In some cases, big Super Bowl advertisers who were not speaking about new products, or about individual attributes, or just trying to make you laugh, or bringing in puppies, or other heart-warming scenes or celebrities just for the sake of the a-ha. They were talking about very specific philanthropic efforts.

The Budweiser one is memorable. I’ve heard some folks in the aftermath on social media questioning whether or not this is true, but this notion of Bud factories kind of switching from beer production into water production, to come up in a natural disaster situation, and provide the water that’s needed, was a really powerful image.

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And speaking of corporate responsibility, and the overall desire of the marketplace to lean into values, and work with companies that are likable, was a really strong and powerful emotion that was very much expressed in this year’s ads, and Budweiser’s one example of that. Stella, Verizon, etc. There is one, however, ad that I think was following this strategy roughly, and ran into a little bit of trouble, and that was Ram Trucks.

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Ram Trucks put forth a beautifully produced ad, that was full of various images of Ram doing tough and important work, with an overarching soundtrack of Doctor King giving an amazing sermon or speech about greatness, and about service. Then, at the end of the ad, what popped up on the screen, and those who were listening and just vibing the whole thing and experiencing it, I think were surprised. At least if the data on social media is correct, very much let down at the end of this amazing peroration, all of a sudden, the Ram logo and the tagline, “Built to serve” lands there.

I certainly saw a lot of heat on Ram as to whether or not they really deserved to claim the mantle or to deliver in that way. So we’ll see. It’s certainly gotten conversation started, which is an important element of what large form advertising is supposed to do, but they were taking some blows online, and at this panel on Wednesday night. They were a very overwhelmingly jeered. Not for the production of it, because it was beautiful, but for what they seem to be trying to connect their brand to, in ways that people thought they might not have earned the right to do that.

There were a couple of other trends that were notable, more for the brand strategy geek in me. I can’t remember too many times when major brands whose brand strategy tends to be more of a house of brands, like Procter & Gamble. Like Pepsi Co. Typically the strategy out of P&G would be to keep these brands separate, and not intermingle them. And yet, we’ll talk about it in a minute in other ways, but the Tide campaign that in many ways I think many people think was one of the winners of the night.

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Not only was a winner of the night, but it brought in a whole arsenal or stable of P&G brands that many consumers don’t know are co-owned, and the strategy in fact is for them not to know. You have Old Spice, you have Mr. Clean, you have these other brands appearing in an on-going Tide campaign.

The benefits of that, in addition to potentially brand managers sharing budgets, is you are able, within a larger Tide narrative, to be able to just call back and call out brands like Old Spice, and then Mr. Clean in particular. Campaigns of the past that were effective for those, and these are brands that the marketplace knows and understands, and for them to appear even in a supporting role, is a nice way of not compromising your larger message in Tide’s case, to underlie it, but to also bring in other brands, and have them be noticed on that large Super Bowl stage.

So trends in philanthropy, trends in brand management. So P&G’s one example. Pepsi Co. did it in a very direct way with Doritos and with Mountain Dew, two brands as far flung as you can be within that stable, but with ads that were mirror images of one another, with hot and with cool, of course, with the requisite celebrity connotations and executions.

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For Pepsi Co. and the brand management infrastructure there, to find a way to integrate new product offerings from each of those brands that heretofore have occupied, again, different ends of the same stable, is not only a marketing efficiency, but also I think we’ve seen at least in our panel discussion on Wednesday, as a big win for both.

They play off each other. There were certainly ways and areas to criticize each of those, whether they were portraying them as they ought to be bought together, or not. Were they obscured one by the other? There’s a lot of arguments, perhaps, to be had about the efficacy of that, but it was notable.

So those are a couple over-arching trends.

A couple of the spots that for me really landed effectively, beyond just the realm of triggering a laugh, or bringing a surprising celebrity back. I’ll tell you maybe three, that for me were particularly effective.

The first, let’s talk about Tide. The Tide ad, whatever on Wednesday night the only criticism, really, that seemed to register, was that you didn’t quite get ‘Tide ad.’ It’s an awkward phrase to voice. And so the diction of that maybe didn’t land the first time, but as an on-going structure throughout the game, and as a platform throughout the game, across very direct Tide advertisements, and into those that are a little bit surprising, this notion and association of Tide with clean clothes. Almost hijacking every ad.

Some people were reporting on social media that they couldn’t see another ad afterwards, because everyone of course is clean in these ads, mostly. And it was, it had an amazing impact that people were thinking about it, and laughing about it, and it had a good use of a very much of the moment celebrity.

It had the, again, the invocation of old favorites like Old Spice, and old favorite brands like Mr. Clean and there was a very interesting tie-in with halftime. Tide really was one of the winners of the night. Particularly when you hold it up against the only competitor in the detergent category which was Persil, that had an advertisement.

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Persil is certainly a brand that doesn’t have as strong of a U.S. based reputation, and didn’t register, I think, in the way that Tide did. So that was probably one of my favorites.

Another one that was a favorite of mine was the Alexa losing her voice, for a couple reasons. Obviously, there was an incredible array of celebrity cameos in there that, in of themselves, were breathtaking. The ad itself was 90 seconds long, and you really touch all the parts of the consumer target when you have Gordon Ramsey, Cardi B, Rebel Wilson, and Sir Anthony Hopkins, and all of these folks doing their thing in one ad platform.

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You also had Jeff Bezos, which I thought was interesting, and it was a, I guess, in some ways a very atypical role for him, as someone who’s not typically a front man for Amazon. He was portrayed in a way that was in some ways humanizing, because you saw him being concerned that Alexa lost her voice at the beginning, but also this executive hard-nosed profile of, “What are we going to do about it?” It was an interesting celebrity turn for Bezos.

The thing that for me enabled this brand to register in addition to just having it be inventive and long form, was that as opposed to other ads that are really just kind of about, “Hey, look at me and chuckle. And maybe associate me with something fun and happy.” What this ad did was, was anchor in, I think, in subtle ways, to core Alexa brand attributes.

They portrayed her as a ‘her,’ a helpful human, not just this disembodied voice out of a piece of technology. By showing how little things were functioning after she lost her voice, they really made the point of how much she does, and is capable to do.

For fans of Alexa who deploy her in a household, or a corporate environment, and have used her for a bunch of different things, this is a validation of her as an overall part of that alignment and what can happen, and what the peril is when for whatever reason she clicks off.

Now some at the panel discussion on Wednesday didn’t like, and I think they were quibbling around the edges, because we wanted to have a dialogue, but they didn’t like the fact that it indicated that maybe Alexa could go down. It also indicated that maybe Alexa was a little bit intrusive in one’s life, and she’s always sitting there listening.

I guess that’s true, and there are some concerns about security and privacy, and everything else, but I think the overall effectiveness, and the audience Wednesday night I think agreed, was a home run. Both to convey the impact of Alexa, her ubiquity, and to do it in a way that was humorous, and redounded to the positive of the parent company Amazon, that is such a factor in everyone’s life.

Let me see, some other ones. Another one that was really well-regarded, and I think was probably number three on my list of best of the night, was this NFL touchdown celebrations to come, that had a “Dirty Dancing” playback with Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr.

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Of course ,as an Eagles fan, it’s always fun to say at least the Giants had something to do on Super Bowl Sunday this year. After week three, we knew they were done, so it certainly appeals to the mocker in me, of Giants fans. But this was a really funny send up of the Patrick Swayze, Jennifer Grey, “Dirty Dancing” dance scene, that is iconic for folks of a certain age. Ahem.

With Odell Beckham and Eli Manning hamming it up, and going through Bill Medley’s “Time of Your Life”, in a way that was really funny. Offensive linemen getting in the act, which we know is always funny. We saw that yesterday in Philadelphia with Jason Kelce. You always want offensive linemen to be seen, and maybe heard just a little bit. But a really effective ad. But for me what makes it effective is not just that there was a chuckle, and that you know, “Ha ha, look at these guys are dancing.”

The underlying reality, we’ve talked about it a lot on this podcast of where the NFL brand is, I think informs how they chose to execute creatively. And if it didn’t, it was a happy accident. The NFL is taking shots from the cultural right and the cultural left, in a way that is unprecedented in the history of this league, that has been hegemonic when it comes to Sundays and other days. A clear leader. Having your Ole Miss grad, deep south republican Manning family, connect in this way with your brash young African American superstar, in some ways is about bridging a divide that has opened up within the culture of the game.

Also emphasizing the fact that the NFL sees itself as fun. They’re allowing celebrations. This is about having fun with the game. And I think for many fans, whether they’re cord cutters or objectors, for whatever other reason. One of the reasons, be it CTE or concussions, be it the anthem protest, for or against, the NFL didn’t seem fun to as many people as it had anymore.

So not only portraying the league as fun, but also bringing together various sides, to the degree that you can in a Super Bowl ad spot, of the cultural divide, addresses some of the vulnerabilities that have opened up, in terms of the way the NFL is perceived.

Now, there are challenges, obviously, that the league faces, that are well beyond what something like this can solve, but this definitely seemed to have not only creative but strategic inspiration underlying it. I think for that reason, it fit and hit, and landed well, within the arsenal of other ads that were deployed.

One that I did not like, beyond the M&Ms Danny Devito one, which they weren’t really sure how to end that, I didn’t think. Actually two I think that I didn’t like as much. Not even so much for the ad creative, but just for the business strategy, that was underlying.

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We spoke on this podcast a couple weeks ago about what was happening at Diet Coke. Diet Coke’s made a decision because of the decline in the diet soda marketplace, which is, I think, high single digits. And for Diet Pepsi it’s like 8%, for Diet Coke it’s like 4%. But either way, very very clear that where they’re losing is to the millennial audience.

Almost all of those loses can be seen as gains for La Croix, and other flavored seltzer or sparkling waters. I mean, there’s a really obvious category challenge. And as noted, Diet Coke is doing something about it, to their credit.

However, what they’re doing about it, is a new packaging play that looks a little bit more like Red Bull and a couple new flavors that are designed to appeal to millennials. Then an overall communications vibe, and aesthetic, that is classically millennial. Now, whether it is perceived as being authentic, or the work of some 45-year-old brand manager trying to speak millennial, I guess that remains to be seen.

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I think the challenge with the ad, and its execution today, was again in the words of our ex-Creative Director here, our old friend Jordan Goldenberg. “Whoa, your strategy is showing.”

I mean, the execution of this. I think, I don’t know her name, but she’s YouTuber, I think, drinking the twisted mango flavor of Diet Coke, and dancing, and talking in a way that was so quintessentially millennial Twitter snark. Comes across, and again, I’m not the target, but it just didn’t land, or with anyone on Wednesday night. Land in a way that felt like, “Oh, I’m interested in trying this, this speaks to me. This is made for me.”

From my perspective, expressed a couple weeks ago, the issue with Diet Coke is not an issue of lack of flavor among millennials. Nor is it an issue with the brand not being youthful entirely, it’s an issue with the fact that the ingredient profile, and the health profile and all the nutritional trends are moving away from what diet soda is, from a sweetening perspective, and everything else on that label.

So the way to achieve some level of win back with millennials is not novelty flavors, or changes to can, it is something deeper and more significant, and substantial. At least that’s my two cents.

The other one that I thought the ad fine, was Michelob Ultra. But the concern about strategy is I’ve never really understood why that brand exists, and that sounds a little bit harsh, but I’m sure there was an insight when it was launched, about carbs. I’m sure there was an insight about an audience that would love to drink beer, and does love to drink beer, but avoids it, or avoids drinking more of it, for issues of waistline and health, and fitness.

That’s true, and I can’t debate the authenticity of that insight. I think the challenge, though, is that Michelob Ultra has always tried to straddle a line that is really hard to straddle. I mean, beers need to have credibility. You will need to be able to, in a bar, hold that logo and label, and bottle, and carry it around with pride.

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Beers say something about the person who’s carrying them. And Michelob Ultra, I’m not sure what it says. It doesn’t have a great… Would you go up to the bartender, the cool bartender, and say, “I’d like a Michelob Ultra, please.” I don’t know if that’s the kind of bar call that really works.

Then you have the fact that I’m not sure that super fit people are really focused on drinking beer, or if they are, they’re fit enough that they can deal with an occasional beer and they’re going to want to have full flavor.

So this notion, it’s just like we’ve done so much studying about indulgent treats, and people don’t want watered down indulgent treats that aren’t bad for you. When they’re going to have an indulgent treat, they want to indulge in a treat.

So I understand the insight that led to the launch of Michelob Ultra, but again, they are repackaging the brand around this, they want it to be the choice of the super fit, yet fun-loving work hard, play hard, work out hard, audience. I just don’t think it lands and there may be data to the contrary, and I haven’t necessarily done my homework on this, but it’s been a brand that I’ve never understood.

Rather than blathering about the other 20 or 25 Super Bowl ads, let’s leave it here. As always, we’d love dialogue on this, so I’d love to hear your thoughts on Twitter @BillGullan or @FinchBrands. Certainly if we’ve deserved it, we’d appreciate you subscribing to this, or giving us a rating in the app store of your choice. But we’ll leave it there, and we’ll sign off from the Cradle of Liberty.

The post One Big Idea: Super Bowl Smackdown appeared first on Finch Brands.

The post One Big Idea: Super Bowl Smackdown appeared first on Finch Brands.

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Following the final whistle, there is a clear winner and loser on the field. While Eagles fans everywhere rejoice, we take some time to look at the winners and losers off the field as it relates to the Super Bowl advertisers. In this episode, Following the final whistle, there is a clear winner and loser on the field. While Eagles fans everywhere rejoice, we take some time to look at the winners and losers off the field as it relates to the Super Bowl advertisers. In this episode, we provide a couple of comments on this year’s commercials — both trends and overall themes, as well as specific ads that worked or didn’t work. If you enjoy our podcast, pleas subscribe and leave us a rating!<br /><br /> Transcription:<br /><br /> Bill Gullan: Greetings one and all. This is <a href="http://blog.finchbrands.com/topic/podcast">Real-World Branding</a>. I’m Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands, a premiere boutique branding agency. This is One Big Idea, and here we are basking in the reflective glory of the Eagles Super Bowl triumph. Yes, the city is still standing, and our hearts are aflutter, and all of that.<br /><br /> This was an atypical year for those who are used to watching the Super Bowl, either for the ads, or for hoping that your cousin in New England or in Carolina, or wherever else, is happy at the end. We had a different way of engaging with this year’s game, I think, many of us who are certainly are Eagle fans. This time through, I actually didn’t really notice the ads, because I was largely in the fetal position and I was largely feeling such an intense emotional reaction to what was happening, that I had to go back, and almost didn’t even remember them when the game was over.<br /><br /> Fortunately, on Wednesday night there was a terrific, I thought, great panel of experts, who were talking about the ads that they liked, and that they didn’t. But even more than that, what they felt the strategy might have been behind each of them – who the target was, and how well it did or did not register. It was an event put on by the <a href="https://amaphiladelphia.com/">American Marketing Association of Philadelphia</a>, and there were terrific panelists.<br /><br /> If you go online onto LinkedIn, or wherever else, I think you’ll probably be able to access, hopefully, a recording of this. I was honored and fortunate enough to be the moderator in whatever meager way that I could contribute, in least of terms of teeing up topics for the panel and the audience.<br /><br /> It was a thrill to do so, but in doing so, I was brought back to the ads themselves, and had to prepare for this by watching them through another two or three times and to really think about them with a marketer’s hat on, not just an Eagles hat, hoping and worrying about the next series once they got off the air.<br /><br /> So, with that, a couple of comments on this year’s commercials – both trends and overall themes, as well as specific ads that, in my own humble opinion, worked or didn’t work.<br /><br /> A couple of themes that were really interesting from a marketer’s perspective. One was, and we talk about this one on various podcast episodes here, about purpose and about the role of philanthropy. There was a really strong trend in the direction of highlighting and underlining a company’s philanthropic efforts.<br /><br /> It was not nearly as overtly political as last year was in the early days of the Trump administration, which was only a few months in when last year’s big game happened, but these were warmer and fuzzier, and more optimistic.<br /><br /> You had brands such as <a href="https://youtu.be/ipx4Wu5P_lE">Verizon</a>, such as Budweiser, such as <a href="https://youtu.be/_R2N9TJJfcA">Stella Artois</a>. In some cases, big Super Bowl advertisers who were not speaking about new products, or about individual attributes, or just trying to make you laugh, or bringing in puppies, or other heart-warming scenes or celebrities just for the sake of the a-ha. They were talking about very specific philanthropic efforts.<br /><br /> The Budweiser one is memorable. I’ve heard some folks in the aftermath on social media questioning whether or not this is true, Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands clean
It’s What’s Inside that Counts – Daniel Ruble, VP Marketing at CubeSmart https://finchbrands.com/its-whats-inside-that-counts-daniel-ruble-vp-marketing-at-cubesmart/ Thu, 01 Feb 2018 20:06:28 +0000 http://finchbrands.com/?p=2889 https://finchbrands.com/its-whats-inside-that-counts-daniel-ruble-vp-marketing-at-cubesmart/#respond https://finchbrands.com/its-whats-inside-that-counts-daniel-ruble-vp-marketing-at-cubesmart/feed/ 0 <p>Daniel Ruble is Vice President of Marketing at CubeSmart, a leading self storage service provider. In this episode, Daniel lends his insight into how the brand is used to balance the functional and emotional factors that drive consumer decision-making in an interesting, yet low-frequency category. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a […]</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com/its-whats-inside-that-counts-daniel-ruble-vp-marketing-at-cubesmart/">It’s What’s Inside that Counts – Daniel Ruble, VP Marketing at CubeSmart</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com">Finch Brands</a>.</p> Daniel Ruble is Vice President of Marketing at CubeSmart, a leading self storage service provider. In this episode, Daniel lends his insight into how the brand is used to balance the functional and emotional factors that drive consumer decision-making in an interesting, yet low-frequency category. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!

Transcription:

Daniel Ruble: So often it’s not about building that unaided recall, that brand awareness, that top of mind awareness. It’s about building and establishing a brand expectation that’s a bit of an undercurrent.

Bill Gullan: Greetings one and all. This is Real-World Branding. I’m Bill Gullan, president of Finch Brands, a premier boutique branding agency. Thank you for joining us for an interesting conversation today with Daniel Ruble, who’s the vice president of marketing at CubeSmart.

CubeSmart is a leader in self storage. Depending on where you’re listening to this, you may have one very near you. They have a very broad real estate portfolio. Daniel in some ways is an accidental marketer. As he’ll walk you through his description of how he got there makes perfect sense, and why marketing appeals to him. But Daniel started his career really more on the finance side and real estate side.

He did his undergrad at Tennessee, Knoxville. His BS is in business administration and finance. He then, through some of his early career experiences, wound up here in the Philadelphia area at the Wharton School at Penn where he got his MBA in finance and real estate. From there, as he’ll tell you, a couple different roles at CubeSmart culminating in his occupying the VP of marketing chair right now.

So he has a really interesting prospective on not only his own career journey but what marketing and brand needs to do in a category like self storage and why for someone who maybe comes from a finance background, the principles that drive successful marketing are so appealing and so natural. So enjoy Daniel Ruble.

Bill: Coming to you live from what is affectionately known as hCube in Malvern PA is the vice president of marketing at CubeSmart, Daniel Ruble. Daniel, thank you for joining us.

Daniel: It’s a pleasure to be here, Bill.

Bill: It’s our pleasure and I mean that sincerely. This is such a fun place to be and it’s a cool contemporary office in a company that we’ve gotten to know. Long way from Rocky Top to Malvern here. So why don’t we start as we normally do with a little bit about your background and what’s led you to this point personally or in terms of your career journey.

Daniel: Yeah. Happy to discuss. You mentioned Rocky Top. I’m a hillbilly from the hills of east Tennessee. But yeah, my path to where I sit today in marketing has been an interesting one. I’ve got two finance degrees. I’m a CFA charter holder. 10 years ago, if you had told me that I would be working in a marketing function or marketing capacity for a self storage company, I would’ve laughed at you.

I started my career in investment consulting in Atlanta. From there really pursued a career in investment management. I moved up this way to the Philadelphia area about 10 years ago from graduate school. Got my MBA from the Wharton School. I was interested in buy side equity analysis. Really fascinated by equity analysis, getting into businesses to create value, identifying, quantifying that value, looking for opportunities.

But as luck or bad luck may have it, I was graduating in 2009 with my MBA in the depths of the credit crisis. A lot of us had to pivot and be pretty open minded with the kinds of opportunities we were exploring. So low and behold, a self storage real estate investment trust at the time, we were then called U-Store-It, was looking to hire some people to join a project team to source capital for the company in the depths of the credit crisis.

I did that as a short-term opportunity to get some experience, build my resume, and serve as a launch pad for other things. But from that I was able to work with our CEO at the time pretty closely, and at the end of that project he gave me an opportunity to stick around and work for the company.

It was intended to be a short-term arrangement. He was going to help me find an opportunity, give me a great recommendation, but I never looked. Part of it was just I was enamored by what an incredible business, and this is going to sound ridiculous … But what an incredible business self storage is. Then being able to work with people who have continued to give me different opportunities.

I started out sourcing capital. Spent some time after that working as an operations analyst for the CEO. Spent some time on the investment team after that. Spent a couple of years as vice president of finance supporting our CFO with capital markets activities, leading investor relations. Then made the natural transition to marketing.

Bill: Yeah. It’s perfect.

Daniel: Exactly.

Bill: That’s the way everybody does it, right? Yeah right.

Daniel: So, my path has been unconventional but I think a lot of it just whenever there’s opportunity opening the door and being open minded.

Bill: Right.

Daniel: But yeah.

Bill: What a path, and for those who primary think of self storage as consumers storing their stuff. You mentioned the investor side. You mentioned the not into the third-party management side. The business model at CubeSmart and perhaps in other places is a blend. Is it not of managing of other people’s property, acquiring property, corporate owned and launched. Can you comment a little bit on what lies beneath?

Daniel: Yeah. It’s a fascinating business because it’s a really hybrid business in many ways. We are a real estate and investment trust. Most of our revenue comes in the form of rent payments that we collect from our customers who are renting space from us in a real estate transaction, or signing a lease. But it’s a … Unlike an office building or a retail strip center, our customers primarily are consumers.

This is largely a B2C business and a pretty fragmented one at that. I mean, we unlike other REITs, we have a very deep, robust operational infrastructure. We’ve got 2,500 teammates around the country, 1,000 locations. You have relatively short lengths of stay. So, the customers are always moving in and out, so you need a very robust customer capture and operational infrastructure to support the business.

You get a lot of really interesting business decision dynamics that come into play and make our business surprisingly complex and interesting from an operations perspective but also from a marketing perspective. Little things like because we’re a real estate business, we have a finite amount of space to rent. If I’m generating more demand for widgets, I can’t just make more widgets to sell.

Bill: Add another floor.

Daniel: Exactly. Yeah. I mean, I got to maximize or we have to maximize the economic efficiency of the limited space that we have to offer. So it creates a lot of very interesting and complex data challenges and opportunities for what we’re trying to accomplish.

Bill: I can imagine. So, your path has taken you here into this VP of marketing role. You’ve been on this side of the house for I think three or four years at this point. For someone who comes at this from a finance and a real estate background, what is it about marketing leadership and about whether its situational characteristics of this business or just the general demand stack and everything else that … How’s this connecting for you? What causes you to embrace this and thrive in it? How does it work with how your mind works?

Daniel: Yeah. That’s a great question. I have to ask myself the same thing. Yeah. So I mentioned a moment ago when talking about my own progression, I used to be so focused on a career in investment management because I was really intrigued by value. How businesses create value, what types of businesses create more value, how to value those businesses, understanding the value drivers, dissect them, develop an investment thesis.

What I’ve discovered by pursuing different opportunities along the way is that I really enjoy much more than evaluation a company or valuing a business. I much prefer to create value and communicate value. So the great thing about what I’m doing here, what we’re doing as a company, this is a real business. We have real customers with real stories.

People need storage when they’re going through a very difficult life transition. They’re getting married, they’re getting divorced, they’re having children, they’re getting a new job, and we provide a valuable service to these people at a pivotal moment in their lives. So to be able to contribute to those customer journeys and to create value for them and then to ultimately create value for our shareholders and continue to refine our mousetrap and deepen our competitive advantages that help grow the company.

I get a lot of energy from all of that. Now that I reflect upon my path it’s funny because I’m shocked that this wasn’t my initial interest to begin with.

Bill: From the beginning.

Daniel: Yeah.

Bill: Funny. You mentioned some of the category dynamics here and obviously there’s a box that has little boxes and you rent them and try to fill them and revenue maximization points and other things. This is podcast called Real-World Branding. We’re here to talk about branding in part. So, what’s the role of the brand in a category that one might, at first blush, consider to be overwhelmingly functional or promotional?

You see everywhere, “First month free” offer. There’s a lot of offers here. There’s a lot of almost direct response communications. What’s the role of the brand?

Daniel: Yeah. It’s funny. I think your description of function is actually kind. At the end of the day, it’s a pretty plain, simple product. I mean, we are selling, or renting in our case, three corrugated metal walls, concrete floor, a roll up door, and a light bulb. That’s what we’re selling at the end of the day. So it’s not a terribly … It’s not an exciting product for people. Self storage is not something that people want.

Bill: Right.

Daniel: It’s not an aspirational purchase. It’s something that they need. I mentioned they need it when they’re going through a life transition. Oftentimes, it’s a very difficult time. We think about the customers journey almost like scaling a mountain. It is not pleasant. It’s tough. You have to push yourself. The payoff is really at the end when you’ve scaled the mountain and you’re at the summit.

For us, brand is really important in helping soften the inevitable perception of the product and the service as a difficult thing that they have to go through as part of another logistical challenge or disruption that’s happening in their life. You have to take the day off or get your friends to help you over the weekend. There are a lot of hurdles and it’s not always pleasant.

We want to soften that experience and the perception of the experience and help focus on the end, getting to that summit, having a more organized space at home, being in your new space, opening a new door, turning a new chapter on your life. Brand helps us convey that.

Then practically from a customer, capture perspective it is tough because brand equity in our business, and I’ll admit it’s fairly illusive. It’s a low … It’s need based, but it’s a low transaction frequency business. This is not something that people think about that often. Half of our customers have never used self storage before.

Bill: Probably won’t again.

Daniel: That’s right. Those who have used it may have been five or 10 years. So the reality is if you ask someone on the street to name a handful of self storage companies, they can’t do it.

Bill: Right.

Daniel: For the most part.

So often it’s not about building that unaided recall, that brand awareness, that top of mind awareness. It’s about building and establishing a brand expectation that’s a bit of an undercurrent. So when someone’s deeper in the funnel, they’re looking for storage, and they’re looking on say the search engine results page. They see the CubeSmart link. It clicks. It’s like, “Oh yeah. I’ve seen that beautiful location on the corner,” or, “I’ve seen that YouTube ad. I’ve seen that billboard or the signage.” That’s often where the brand comes in to play. The aided recall.

Once we’re in the conversation with the customer, quickly establishing and conveying our value proposition and competitive difference. The brand is really the vehicle through which we do that.

Bill: Right. Right. To that end, this is a brand that has had its own innings as the game has unfolded. Could you speak to us a bit about that and walk us through the brand platform and brand promise? I think there’s been newly released internally … We’ll talk about culture in a minute, which is so palpable and strong here. But in to the marketplace under the creative platform of ‘it’s what’s inside that counts’ as a line. But could you walk us through the recent history of the brand platform and the process to getting to where we are today in terms of what’s out there now?

Daniel: Yeah. It’s a great question. It’s an interesting path too. I kind of reflect on it. We rebranded from U-Store-It to CubeSmart seven years ago. That was a big decision. It was very different in our space. When you look across the self storage sector, there are a lot of very utilitarian terms associated with a product that make their way into the brand. So secure, safe, space.

Bill: Store.

Daniel: Store. Even our old brand U-Store-It. I mean, there were hundreds … I wouldn’t say hundreds, but dozens of derivations of U-Store-It the different companies were using. There was a practical business challenge and that we did not have control over or protection over that brand.

So as we were growing and scaling the business, we needed a brand that we owned. As we were building equity in the brand and putting resources behind making ourselves known, those efforts weren’t for not or weren’t being expropriated by other businesses who were basically using the same name down the street.

Bill: Sure.

Daniel: But also U-Store-It was a very … Something straight out of the ’70s. It was very utilitarian, stale, and boring. But it was also diametrically opposed to our budding service model at the time. U-Store-It really puts the onus on the customer. U-Store-It, you do it. Here’s the key. You take care of your things. That’s really not the tone or the message that we wanted to convey.

So we rebranded to CubeSmart. I won’t walk through that entire rebrand process, but with really an eye toward being a break out brand in the space and creating a broader umbrella under which we could communicate more value and more active value creation and service for our customers.

Fast forward. The past couple of years or over the past several years since we’ve rebranded, we have struggled to really find a common voice and to balance the functional with the emotional. So we’ve had various campaigns and creative efforts. Every time we go to write a creative brief it’s been challenging to really articulate what exactly is it that makes CubeSmart different? What is the CubeSmart difference? What’s at the heart of our value proposition?

So, we really took a step back and had a very large concerted effort internally and externally with Finch Brands, our partner, to really articulate, define, conduct the necessary research and build a proper brand foundation that would allow us to streamline our creative efforts and really provide a more cohesive shared understanding of what CubeSmart stood for internally and externally.

So I’m happy to walk through that process if you like.

Bill: Or just talk a little bit about maybe where we all landed and what’s significant about it from your perspective.

Daniel: Yeah. So the tagline, ‘It’s what’s inside that counts,’ is something that came from we started with a lot of internal research and focus groups, interviewing stakeholders, interviewing our customers, focus groups of our customers, surveys. What it kept coming back to is what the customer is going through when they need self storage. Then what they’re using it for, right?

We may be, like I said, renting three metal walls, concrete floor, and a roll up door, but at the end of the day, it’s what’s inside that counts. For the customer an extension of their home. They’re putting things that matter dearly, oftentimes, to them in the space. It’s what’s behind the door, the customer’s story, that really matters and is ultimately driving their decision to choose CubeSmart.

So keeping that as a focus for us, making the customer aware of our commitment and our genuine care and understanding and empathy for everything that they’re going through. That’s where the double entendre really comes into play. It’s ultimately what’s inside our teammates that makes the difference.

When we boil this down and we think about a brand structure, the core idea is really more heart. CubeSmart difference is that we’ve got more heart at CubeSmart.

Bill: It rhymes!

Daniel: It does rhyme, thank you, Finch Brands. We care enough about the things that matter to the customer to take the actions to offer a differentiated service that addresses those needs.

So our customers, as I’ve mentioned, they’re going through a lot. It’s a stressful time. Sometimes a warm smile is enough to make the difference. So we care about that in store experience, the customer service. We have more than caretakers in our stores. They’re active customer service agents who are helping our customers. So customer service is a core pillar that we focus on because it matters.

Cleanliness. Again, this is an extension of someone’s home. They’re keeping things that are near and dear to them in the space, and they need to be as comfortable using their space as they would be walking into their own living room and keeping it as clean. So we have very detailed inspection checklist that we work through when we’re preparing a space for a customer to move into.

Then ultimately, security. People are emotionally tied to their things, and they’re walking away from them. They’re leaving their things in their storage space and they need to be confident and have the peace of mind that they’ve made the right decision leaving their things with the right company.

So at the end of the day, yeah, we have more heart at CubeSmart. We care about the things that matter to the customer. Ultimately, service, cleanliness, security. That effectively is the brand structure.

Bill: Yeah. ‘It’s what’s inside that counts’ also eludes, and you made the point, let’s go there now about the unique and distinctive, which I guess is redundant, qualities of this company and this team. Your colleagues, be they in corporate roles or out in our individual locations are called teammates. That means something beyond just a designation.

Daniel: Right.

Bill: We were struck. I remember the first day we came. You walk in here and you’re like, “Wow. They had a good architect. They had a good designer. This is a pretty neat place.” Then the deeper you go, the more people you meet, there’s a real feeling here. There’s a real depth of feeling about culture and about what’s inside.

So if you could maybe, first of all, take us through some of the cultural touchstones here. The also speak to the role of teammate engagement in the full realization of the brand strategy, both as a place to work and a place to share, but also as a vehicle to serving our customers as best as we possibly can.

Daniel: Yeah. That’s a great question.

Bill: I’m full of great questions today.

Daniel: Yeah. Exactly.

Bill: Thank you.

Daniel: It is. It’s true. One of the reasons that I’ve been here so long …

Bill: Yeah. You thought you were going to be here a couple months.

Daniel: I never submitted a resume or a job application to another place despite the fact the arrangement was that it would be a short-term gig. My CEO would actively help me look for something else. But this is a special place. Yeah. I mean, we have a strong strategy house internally that establishes a clear vision for the company. The vision that we have with our relationships and each other. Values that support that. A strong central mission. But it’s deeper than that. It’s the people.

We have bright, smart, genuinely good people here, and that’s really been at the heart of everything we’ve done. We extend that genuine care, and it’s articulated clearly in our mission statement. But that genuine care is the central theme.

We’ve extended that to our customer service efforts. Many years ago or several years ago we introduced an internal wow function. That was a very strong rallying cry for the company surprising and delighting our customers, leaving customers with a wow impression. So walking to a storage facility and having carpet under your feet and bright colors and a store teammate who actually stands up and walks around the counter and shakes your hand. It’s just not what you’d expect from a self storage experience.

We’ve taken a lot of pride in that. But we’ve still struggled to … Historically, we had struggled to balance that customer service pride and focus that was so entrenched and ingrained in everything we did with a clear articulation of value proposition. The brand work, I would say, helped bring all of that together.

So when we rolled, ‘It’s what’s inside that counts,’ out to our store teammates and our teammates at hCube, the response was tremendously positive. I think it really galvanized that common sense of purpose across the company, and further reinforced what we’ve all known was inside of us culturally. But this more clearly articulates and expresses it both internally and externally.

The power and importance of that not only in our working relationships with each other because we do think of each other as customers, internal customers whom we’re serving. But ultimately, it strengthens our ability to support and serve our customers across the country. So the way we think about our teammates, and the way they think about themselves is that we’re all brand advocates. The truest expression of the CubeSmart brand is the in-store experience that the customer has.

Bill: Right.

Daniel: That warm smile, that greeting, that interaction they have with the manager, that’s what CubeSmart’s all about. So to the extent that we as a marketing function can help articulate what CubeSmart means centrally and help amplify that throughout the company and reinforce it, it’s ultimately in support of that in-store experience where the rubber really hits the road.

Bill: Yeah. Roll of the brand, just as we think about it in the B2B side of the house, third-party management, the ability to acquire, to manage properties from folks who may have one of these in random towns. Is the brand play into that endeavor as well?

Daniel: It does. Yeah, it does. So in a few different ways. So you mentioned third-party management, and it’s true. We own a little more than half of our properties. The other half we’re managing on behalf of third-party owners.

I mean, that could be an institutional investor that owns a portfolio of a hundred self storage facilities or it could be a small, a local doctor who has an investment in a storage property. His cousin’s been or her cousin’s been managing the facility and now it’s time to look for professional management. I think one of the big benefits of the brand is conveying value to that owner so that they understand what it means to be a CubeSmart … What it means for their location to be a CubeSmart store.

Bill: Right.

Daniel: Right. What does that mean for their customers and how we’re positioning their store in the marketplace and how we’re treating their customers. There’s a lot of benefit in that message. But then also when you roll it up and you think about the communication of our value proposition on the third part management side to our perspective partners.

The brand that we position for consumers has a lot of reach and extends to the B2B side of the business as well. ‘It’s what’s inside that counts,’ speaks to the fact that we genuinely care about the interest of our partners. We take a partnership approach to third party management, and every one of them has unique business circumstances and needs. So we take less of a cookie cutter approach, I would say, to third-party management than others in the space may. I believe that our brand really conveys that.

Bill: We’ve stayed longer than we promised we would. This has been wonderful. As we break, you talked about your journey and your path. Are there any words of wisdom that you’d want to share with those who are inspired by what you’ve come through and the chooses that you’ve made along the way? Are there any words to live by that are important to who you are as a person and a professional that you want to leave us with?

Daniel: Yeah. I think I use the word inspire. I think it’s really about finding that inspiration. I mention for me it was about finding that I loved creating value, communicating value, but the inspiration for all of that comes down to our customers. So just to come back to the brand work and something we’ve done here is really bring our customers to life. So we’ve actually interviewed many of our customers and have documented their stories. We’ve converted some of those to videos. For me personally, as well as teammates around the company, what that does, just seeing what a customer is going through and why they use us. For me to feel and see the impact of my day to day efforts, impact the real life of a customer, is incredibly inspirational and motivating. So my advice is to not lose sight of the end goal and the ultimate impact that your efforts are having. That will guide you whether it be professionally or in terms of pursuing a specific project or business outcome.

Bill: Yeah. If you ever get the late night Sunday, “God. Do I have to do this again?” I mean, if you think about the people whose lives you’re touching and the impact that your work makes. To your point, folks coming to through transitions, some of which are happy but all of which are different. You could certainly do worse than focuses on the impact, the positive impact, that a company like this has. So Daniel Ruble, VP of marketing at CubeSmart. Thank you for welcoming us in here and for sharing your insight and your experiences.

Daniel: Thank you, Bill. It’s been a pleasure.

Bill: Thank you to Daniel Ruble for his time and his insight. I encourage … I guess they don’t want people to just drop in, but I do encourage, if you have the opportunity to get a little bit closer to what CubeSmart does from a cultural perspective and to study the company a little bit. I encourage you to do it. It’s a really special group of people in a category that, again, may come off as being primarily transactional or promotional. They’ve built a really distinctive culture and a brand, certainly, and we’re privileged to know them in the way that we do.

Three ways as always to help us here at Real-World Branding and all have to do with easy things to do on your end. Hopefully if you are so inclined. One is to click subscribe in the podcast store of your choice. Make sure you don’t miss a one. We try to deliver content weekly. Various forms. If you subscribe, you’ll make sure that you don’t miss that next great interview or hopefully some though provoking ideas from me on off weeks. So we’d love that.

Secondly, if we deserve a rating in the app store, please give it to us. Five stars hopefully. Though skin is thick, but either way it just helps us know that people are out there and also I think the more urgency that folks show around rating our content shows that we’re out there and people are listening. It helps us get found by those who would find value with what we’re doing.

Lastly, let’s go with this dialogue. Let’s keep it going on Twitter probably is the best way. @BillGullan or @FinchBrands. Love ideas for future guests or future topics. Love feedback on shows that we’ve completed. Generally, just like to get to know the folks who spend a little bit of time with us each week.

So in that spirit, with hopes high for Super Bowl 52, I’ll sign off from the cradle of liberty.

The post It’s What’s Inside that Counts – Daniel Ruble, VP Marketing at CubeSmart appeared first on Finch Brands.

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Daniel Ruble is Vice President of Marketing at CubeSmart, a leading self storage service provider. In this episode, Daniel lends his insight into how the brand is used to balance the functional and emotional factors that drive consumer decision-making ... Daniel Ruble is Vice President of Marketing at CubeSmart, a leading self storage service provider. In this episode, Daniel lends his insight into how the brand is used to balance the functional and emotional factors that drive consumer decision-making in an interesting, yet low-frequency category. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!<br /><br /> Transcription:<br /><br /> Daniel Ruble: So often it’s not about building that unaided recall, that brand awareness, that top of mind awareness. It’s about building and establishing a brand expectation that’s a bit of an undercurrent.<br /><br /> Bill Gullan: Greetings one and all. This is <a href="http://blog.finchbrands.com/topic/podcast">Real-World Branding</a>. I’m Bill Gullan, president of Finch Brands, a premier boutique branding agency. Thank you for joining us for an interesting conversation today with <a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/daniel-ruble-cfa-40012b5/">Daniel Ruble</a>, who’s the vice president of marketing at <a href="https://www.cubesmart.com/">CubeSmart</a>.<br /><br /> CubeSmart is a leader in self storage. Depending on where you’re listening to this, you may have one very near you. They have a very broad real estate portfolio. Daniel in some ways is an accidental marketer. As he’ll walk you through his description of how he got there makes perfect sense, and why marketing appeals to him. But Daniel started his career really more on the finance side and real estate side.<br /><br /> He did his undergrad at Tennessee, Knoxville. His BS is in business administration and finance. He then, through some of his early career experiences, wound up here in the Philadelphia area at the Wharton School at Penn where he got his MBA in finance and real estate. From there, as he’ll tell you, a couple different roles at CubeSmart culminating in his occupying the VP of marketing chair right now.<br /><br /> So he has a really interesting prospective on not only his own career journey but what marketing and brand needs to do in a category like self storage and why for someone who maybe comes from a finance background, the principles that drive successful marketing are so appealing and so natural. So enjoy Daniel Ruble.<br /><br /> Bill: Coming to you live from what is affectionately known as hCube in Malvern PA is the vice president of marketing at CubeSmart, Daniel Ruble. Daniel, thank you for joining us.<br /><br /> Daniel: It’s a pleasure to be here, Bill.<br /><br /> Bill: It’s our pleasure and I mean that sincerely. This is such a fun place to be and it’s a cool contemporary office in a company that we’ve gotten to know. Long way from Rocky Top to Malvern here. So why don’t we start as we normally do with a little bit about your background and what’s led you to this point personally or in terms of your career journey.<br /><br /> Daniel: Yeah. Happy to discuss. You mentioned Rocky Top. I’m a hillbilly from the hills of east Tennessee. But yeah, my path to where I sit today in marketing has been an interesting one. I’ve got two finance degrees. I’m a CFA charter holder. 10 years ago, if you had told me that I would be working in a marketing function or marketing capacity for a self storage company, I would’ve laughed at you.<br /><br /> I started my career in investment consulting in Atlanta. From there really pursued a career in investment management. I moved up this way to the Philadelphia area about 10 years ago from graduate school. Got my MBA from the Wharton School. I was interested in buy side equity analysis. Really fascinated by equity analysis, getting into businesses to create value, identifying, quantifying that value, looking for opportunities.<br /><br /> But as luck or bad luck may have it, I was graduating in 2009 with my MBA in the depths of the credit crisis. A lot of us had to pivot and be pretty open minded with the kinds of opportunities we were exploring. So low and behold, Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands clean
One Big Idea – Your Strategy is Showing https://finchbrands.com/one-big-idea-your-strategy-is-showing/ Fri, 26 Jan 2018 16:20:58 +0000 http://finchbrands.com/?p=2885 https://finchbrands.com/one-big-idea-your-strategy-is-showing/#respond https://finchbrands.com/one-big-idea-your-strategy-is-showing/feed/ 0 <p>Strategy is only as good as it’s execution. All too often, we see brands taking a very heavy handed, overt approach to bringing a strategy to life. This week, we look at the recent Diet Coke expansion and how this strategy is directly linked to the brand’s initiative to reach millennials. If you like our […]</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com/one-big-idea-your-strategy-is-showing/">One Big Idea – Your Strategy is Showing</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com">Finch Brands</a>.</p> Strategy is only as good as it’s execution. All too often, we see brands taking a very heavy handed, overt approach to bringing a strategy to life. This week, we look at the recent Diet Coke expansion and how this strategy is directly linked to the brand’s initiative to reach millennials. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!

Transcription:

Bill Gullan: Greetings, one and all. This is Real-World Branding. I’m Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands, a premier boutique branding agency. Thank you for joining us. This is One Big Idea, and today we’re going to talk about big news out of Atlanta and everywhere else that sells Diet Coke, within the last couple of weeks.

Some changes to the lineup, and this comes on the heels of sort of a rebrand and, I guess, reformulation of a beverage I love called Coke Zero over the summer. It was beloved. They said, “We’re changing it, we’re discontinuing it, we’re changing it and relaunching it. It’s now called Coke Zero Sugar.” It tastes the same to me, which is wonderful, but in any case, it’s apparently different. But that was the, I guess, preparation for what seems to be even a bigger deal, which is major changes to Diet Coke.

Here’s a bit of the backstory, at least as it’s been reported. We all know that there are continual changes in tastes and preferences and beliefs around health and nutrition, and obviously when diet sodas became, over the several decades that they’ve risen to prominence, part of the message there is that sugar bad and artificial sweetener better. That, as well as perspectives about calories, as well as desires for authenticity, etc., etc., have sort of reshaped the way that at least some consumers, particularly younger consumers, think about what health is.

And so just to kind of fast forward to where we are here, Diet Coke, at least the data indicates that Diet Coke and the diet soda category in general is shrinking, not falling off a cliff but shrinking. In the last three months of 2017, research suggests that diet soda sales fell 2% in the US, and in that period Diet Coke fell by 4%, Diet Pepsi by 8, so presumably those who are gaining share or holding steady are not those two sort of behemoth brands but, as with many other categories, sort of craftier, smaller, sort of more authentic, quote-unquote, brands that are those that are keeping the category close to level.

But still, there’s a decline, and given the way the demographic splits break down, the larger concern in Atlanta, of course, would be that this decline is going to be bigger and maybe perhaps longer-lasting, given that it is younger consumers who are rejecting the notion of artificial sweeteners in Diet Coke and everything else. You can, I think, fairly easily see some of the areas where those sales and those beverage purchases are going.

National Beverage Corp., which makes La Croix, reported that sales were up 43% in the sparkling and still flavored water category. Anywhere you look in an urban area, you can see La Croix with its colorful cans. You can see private label versions of sort of seltzer and sparkling. There’s a ton of category momentum there, and the data indicates, as well as, I think, our naked eyes, that it is younger consumers, so-called millennial consumers, who are driving that.

And so here comes Diet Coke, and here’s what they decided to do, and it’s probably available now or pretty soon. In two weeks, at least data indicates it may be around two weeks from now, you will be able to find four new flavors of Diet Coke that are particularly focused on the millennial market. First of all, there’s a general brand makeover that makes Diet Coke a little sleeker, both in terms of packaging and in terms of look and feel, though the original Diet Coke will largely stay the same. However, it will joined by four new flavors: Diet Coke Ginger Lime, Diet Coke Feisty Cherry … I don’t know why it’s all pissed off … Diet Coke Zesty Blood Orange, and Diet Coke Twisted Mango.

The company is being very overt in expressing the target and the intent behind this new launch. In addition to these flavors, these new flavors will come in a can, the dimensions of which and the look and feel very similar to Red Bull. You know, the skinnier, taller, colorful can that maybe Red Bull pioneered but has become de rigueur, at least for energy drinks and for other drinks that are sort of youth-focused and youth-targeted.

North American Group Director for Diet Coke, Rafael Acevedo, says, “We’re modernizing what has made Diet Coke so special for a new generation. Millennials are now thirstier than ever for adventures and new experiences, and we want to be right by their side.” What a brand manager thing to say. I in some ways sort of respect that, but I think it gets to the point of our discussion here.

It’s obviously too early to pass judgment one way or the other on the strategy. I think it’s probably fairly clear that Diet Coke and sort of old line manufacturers and brands like that needed to do something. These trends, which appear to be more durable than just season-by-season, are upsetting and shaking up the balance.

Now, one could make the point about whether Coca-Cola Company can get there with Diet Coke, or whether it made sense to launch a diffusion concept, just as some beer manufacturers did with things like Shock Top and Blue Moon, that felt a little craftier but came from sort of macro-brew types of labels. But anyway, they decided to do it. There’s a limited option set, and they chose one that they think is best for them, and so good for them. T

hey also learned from the mistakes, I guess, of New Coke back then, and the original Diet Coke, the Diet Coke that many millions of consumers, even if the category’s declining, still love and rely on, isn’t changing in a material way, even if the overall brand has a bit of new energy and focus. So we can still get our squat silver can Diet Coke as we so desire.

I think the question, ultimately, that we’ll see the answer to as they go to market is, is this cool? Will their target embrace it? The overt way in which they’re proclaiming how they got there and what they’re doing really is what lends to us the title of this podcast episode. Long-lost friend and creative director emeritus at Finch Brands, Jordan Goldenberg, liked to say, “Ooh, careful. Your strategy’s showing.” And what he meant by that is, I think, a variation of a couple things. One, how brands are judged is how they act, not what they say, A.

And B, if you’ve gone through a process to identify a strategic direction that is promising, you need to deliver it in a way that is received and perceived by the target as authentic and real and sort of connected, and to basically say, “We did a bunch of research on millennials,” as if we’re studying them in the zoo, “we learned the flavors that they’re drinking, and so we replicated them, and then we’re using more or less cosmetic changes to the brand, in terms of the can and other things, and we’re going right after them. We want to be by their side as they seek out new adventures,” raises the question of whether or not Diet Coke’s strategy is showing just a little too much here.

I went to the social media pages for Diet Coke, and all of a sudden … maybe not all of a sudden, but it certainly seems palpable and prominent … that Twitter is using all millennial-speak now for Diet Coke. You know, “Who dis?” and other things that are sort of part of how younger people communicate on Twitter, and it’s just like you wonder whether or not this is real or whether or not it’s sort of cringy. And I guess ultimately that will be one of the determining factors in how successful this move is. You also wonder whether flavor-level changes and/or cosmetic changes to the brand and the packaging and everything else really addresses the concern that millennials have with Diet Coke.

I don’t know that it’s that Diet Coke’s brand image was uncool as much as it is that the sort of sweetening process and the overall ingredient profile and nutritional profile of diet soda in general does not align with the tastes and preferences and sort of emerging belief system of today’s millennial consumer. This relaunch or rebrand or brand extension or whatever you want to call it has nothing to address that. It’s possible that these flavors may, in how colorful they are rendered and how they taste, may win some fans, and that’s obviously what they’re hoping for in Atlanta, but I think the jury’s still out as to the degree to which … of course, it hasn’t even launched, but the jury’s out as to how effective this ultimately will be. I think, as noted, the concern about it is whether or not this is so transparent as to become a little bit cringy.

It’s like, you know, I have kids. I make dad jokes. Dad jokes are sort of recognized as a subsection of humor that’s not really all that funny, maybe a little bit endearing, I hope. But if you’re a brand that’s communicating at a level of sort of trying so hard to be millennial, that’s kind of anti-millennial in the first place. So we’ll see. It’s going to be worth watching. Definitely going to try these flavors. Feisty Cherry’s got to be awesome, and Twisted Mango, I’m not sure what’s twisted about it, but can’t wait. Can’t wait to try it. We’ll certainly be watching. It’s rare and interesting that a brand of this size and heft has made a zig or a zag that is this significant, and for that reason alone, super-interesting for our industry, and we wish them all the best.

Signing off from the Cradle of Liberty.

The post One Big Idea – Your Strategy is Showing appeared first on Finch Brands.

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Strategy is only as good as it’s execution. All too often, we see brands taking a very heavy handed, overt approach to bringing a strategy to life. This week, we look at the recent Diet Coke expansion and how this strategy is directly linked to the bra... Strategy is only as good as it’s execution. All too often, we see brands taking a very heavy handed, overt approach to bringing a strategy to life. This week, we look at the recent Diet Coke expansion and how this strategy is directly linked to the brand’s initiative to reach millennials. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!<br /><br /> Transcription:<br /><br /> Bill Gullan: Greetings, one and all. This is <a href="http://blog.finchbrands.com/topic/podcast">Real-World Branding</a>. I’m Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands, a premier boutique branding agency. Thank you for joining us. This is One Big Idea, and today we’re going to talk about big news out of Atlanta and everywhere else that sells Diet Coke, within the last couple of weeks.<br /><br /> Some changes to the lineup, and this comes on the heels of sort of a rebrand and, I guess, reformulation of a beverage I love called Coke Zero over the summer. It was beloved. They said, “We’re changing it, we’re discontinuing it, we’re changing it and relaunching it. It’s now called Coke Zero Sugar.” It tastes the same to me, which is wonderful, but in any case, it’s apparently different. But that was the, I guess, preparation for what seems to be even a bigger deal, which is major <a href="https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2018/01/23/580004834/facing-slumping-sales-coke-hopes-to-catch-a-wave-of-fans-with-new-flavors">changes to Diet Coke</a>.<br /><br /> Here’s a bit of the backstory, at least as it’s been reported. We all know that there are continual changes in tastes and preferences and beliefs around health and nutrition, and obviously when diet sodas became, over the several decades that they’ve risen to prominence, part of the message there is that sugar bad and artificial sweetener better. That, as well as perspectives about calories, as well as desires for authenticity, etc., etc., have sort of reshaped the way that at least some consumers, particularly younger consumers, think about what health is.<br /><br /> And so just to kind of fast forward to where we are here, Diet Coke, at least the data indicates that Diet Coke and the diet soda category in general is shrinking, not falling off a cliff but shrinking. In the last three months of 2017, research suggests that diet soda sales fell 2% in the US, and in that period Diet Coke fell by 4%, Diet Pepsi by 8, so presumably those who are gaining share or holding steady are not those two sort of behemoth brands but, as with many other categories, sort of craftier, smaller, sort of more authentic, quote-unquote, brands that are those that are keeping the category close to level.<br /><br /> But still, there’s a decline, and given the way the demographic splits break down, the larger concern in Atlanta, of course, would be that this decline is going to be bigger and maybe perhaps longer-lasting, given that it is younger consumers who are rejecting the notion of artificial sweeteners in Diet Coke and everything else. You can, I think, fairly easily see some of the areas where those sales and those beverage purchases are going.<br /><br /> National Beverage Corp., which makes La Croix, reported that sales were up 43% in the sparkling and still flavored water category. Anywhere you look in an urban area, you can see La Croix with its colorful cans. You can see private label versions of sort of seltzer and sparkling. There’s a ton of category momentum there, and the data indicates, as well as, I think, our naked eyes, that it is younger consumers, so-called millennial consumers, who are driving that.<br /><br /> And so here comes Diet Coke, and here’s what they decided to do, and it’s probably available now or pretty soon. In two weeks, at least data indicates it may be around two weeks from now, you will be able to find four new flavors of Diet Coke that are particularly focused on the millennial market. First of all, Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands clean
Small Business Branding – Pia Silva, Partner at Worstofall Design https://finchbrands.com/small-business-branding-pia-silva-partner-at-worstofall-design/ Thu, 18 Jan 2018 15:19:44 +0000 http://finchbrands.com/?p=2878 https://finchbrands.com/small-business-branding-pia-silva-partner-at-worstofall-design/#respond https://finchbrands.com/small-business-branding-pia-silva-partner-at-worstofall-design/feed/ 0 <p>Pia Silva: Never be different just for the sake of being different. I think that people get confused with that, “Oh, I have to stand out, so let me do this thing,” and that’s why there’s so much inauthenticity milling about. Bill Gullan: Greetings one and all. This is Real-World Branding. I’m Bill Gullan, president […]</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com/small-business-branding-pia-silva-partner-at-worstofall-design/">Small Business Branding – Pia Silva, Partner at Worstofall Design</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com">Finch Brands</a>.</p> Pia Silva: Never be different just for the sake of being different. I think that people get confused with that, “Oh, I have to stand out, so let me do this thing,” and that’s why there’s so much inauthenticity milling about.

Bill Gullan: Greetings one and all. This is Real-World Branding. I’m Bill Gullan, president of Finch Brands, a premier boutique branding agency.

And it’s not going to stop me, folks, having a cold here, which you may be able to hear a little bit of the vestiges of. I know that it is of deep concern to our listeners, but I am on the upswings. Been a pretty congested couple of days, but happy to say that things are better in that realm, as well as really excited about today’s guest. Pia Silva is a partner, co-founder, brand strategist, at Worstofall Design, which is a Brooklyn-based design and branding agency that focuses its business on sort of one to three-person services companies, and they do this through really intensive what they call brand-ups, which is a methodology for how to sort of build and plan around brands for companies like that. And it’s a little bit off the beaten path for us.

Pia’s written a book called, “Badass Your Brand”, which is a practical kind of how-to guide for companies like that, for how to think about their own brands and build them. She also writes for Forbes and in other places. She speaks widely for entrepreneurial organizations, and so she’s a visible leader who has a unique perspective on this and a particular focus, and whether you’re the type of business that Pia would traditionally service, the small services firm, or whether you’re not, there are definitely lessons to be drawn from her perspectives in the work that she does.

So enjoy Pia Silva. We are honored to have Pia Silva from Brooklyn join us today.

Pia, thank you so much for your time.

Pia: Thank you so much, Bill. Great to be here.

Bill: It’s our pleasure, and our listeners’ pleasure, too. And your journey and story is a fascinating one, as well as obviously some of the work that you do and beliefs sort of about branding and about this industry that you hold, and we’ll certainly get into that, but maybe a place to start would be a bit of your own story and sort of what has led you to the point where we’re speaking today.

Pia: Sure. Well, I’m born and raised New Yorker, and always just felt very entrepreneurial, I think just because I never wanted a boss. I think that was the thing that was very clear to me. Knew nothing about design or branding. I went to school for economics. And about six, a little over six years ago my then-fiance, now husband, and I were traveling around trying to figure out what the hell we were going to do in our lives, and was an amazing … he’s a very talented artist and painter, but he’s also an amazing graphic designer, and he was freelancing, and at a certain point I just said, “You know what? I’m going to just manage your business. Let me get the clients. You’re terrible with money, but you’re very, very talented. I can make a lot of money off of you.”

Bill: Keep you in your lane, right. Yeah.

Pia: Stay in your lane, yeah. So I said, “You just stick to creative. I’ll find the clients. I don’t know anything about this, but I’ll figure it out.” And that is where it all began.

Bill: Right. And there was a moment, just having read through the story, where all of the … “This has got to be easy, right?” Or “I can just work hard and it’ll happen.” Didn’t happen exactly the way we drew it up. And it sounds like there was a big moment of sort of discovery and pivot.

And take us through a little bit of the realization.

Pia: Yeah. Well, like I said, I didn’t know anything about this, so my first step was just to look for clients. I did it on Craigslist, I did it networking. That got me around a lot of little agencies. I saw what they were doing. I copied what they were doing, again, just trying to figure it out. And all of that led us to have a couple of employees, a studio in Brooklyn, going after bigger and bigger projects, that kind of seemed like what you were supposed to do.

Bill: Sure.

Pia: That’s how you make money. You keep increasing prices and bigger, better clients. And all of that landed us in $40,000 of debt three years into our business. So I was just working so hard and I meant so well, but it just wasn’t working. So that was a terrible time in my past, but also probably one of the most amazing things that could have happened. The $40,000 of debt is so important to me, because at the time that was my credit limit.

Bill: Perfect.

Pia: So there was literally nowhere else to go.

Bill: Right.

Pia: We could not continue the way we did. So we were kind of forced into a corner to figure out … we’re going to do something different. I thought I was going to have to get a job. I was freaking out. And there were kind of a couple of light bulb moments, one of which was Steve telling me, “This is not a failed business, we just … maybe we can kind of do it differently, and maybe it doesn’t have to look the way you think it has to look.”

Bill: Right.

Pia: And so that was like, “pew, pew, pew,” light bulbs and fireworks going off, and I was like, “Oh, you’re right, it doesn’t have to look like that.” And we completely pivoted our business, redefined what we were looking for in life, what success meant to us, and we got rid of our employees, unfortunately, but it was the best decision for us, and we built the business that we have today, which is the complete opposite of that, an enjoyable and beautiful thing that gives me profit and happiness and freedom. Yeah.

Bill: What we can all strive for.

And this business, one of the things that’s interesting and our listeners know, I think what we do here at Finch and we talk a lot about, large organizations thinking through in some cases complex brand strategy and executional issues, but from my perspective, at least, currently, if I’m wrong, Worstofall Design really focuses on small service businesses and helps them, quote, as you would say, “Badass their brand.” In fact, you have a book called “Badass Your Brand”. And I know there’s a specific offer for our listeners, which we’ll detail later in terms of being able to access some of that content.

But how did you all hit upon that focus? Because as you say, the agency way is you go bigger and bigger and bigger and you fake it till you make it and you pitch forever larger projects and [inaudible 00:06:39]. But it seems like part of the transformation for you all was this level of focus, and how did that come?

Pia: Yeah, absolutely. And my hat’s off to you, Bill, because you’re working with bigger organizations and all of that is very complex stuff. I’ve done it in the past. It’s not an easy feat, and nor is wrangling organizations of people.

Bill: Sure.

Pia: Many design by committees, one of the things that we hate, and we did it a lot back in the day, our focus really started from looking at how do we define success, what are we really looking for in this business, and I think that I was seeing all these agencies, and as you just said, “Oh, it’s supposed to look like that,” but then when I said, “Well, what are we really going for here?” … Steve and I just want time to ourselves. We want to do projects we love. We want to be great at what we do, and we realize that it is fake it till you make it, but we don’t have to fake it over there. I do know a lot of stuff. I know a lot of stuff about small businesses, and especially these kind of almost a micro business, solopreneurs. This is the world I live in, and I can bring a lot of value to those brands and those business owners in a way that I can’t to organizations personally, because I have never worked in a corporate environment.

So they all kind of aligned at once. “Okay, we’re looking for success and freedom and profit and freedom in our life, and we want to be really good at what we do, and we also want to work in this intensive model, because we’re not really fond of these long, drawn-out projects that kind of suck our energy and suck the creativity out of the work sometimes.

So they all kind of aligned into the same thing, which is what we do now, these one to three-day intensive branding projects, and those really work for the one to three-person service businesses that we specialize in. And I think we kind of excel in that space, because not only do we focus there so every time we do a client we get even better, but I’m simultaneously one of them, so I bring a lot of knowledge about business to the table. They hire us for branding, but half of what I do is business consulting.

Bill: Right, sure.

Pia: Because it’s necessary and they need it, and my job is really just to solve their problem in the end, so they might say, “Well, I need a logo,” but it’s like, “Well, what’s the problem? Let’s solve that.”

Bill: Right, sure. Well, one of the things that is appealing to us and to me is we’re talking about Badass brands, but the end of that is sort of without the BS. Our industry is noted as … certainly contributed many elements of jargon to the world and sometimes we over-complicate things. Sometimes we naval-gaze. Sometimes we confuse or prolong.

Talk to me about the second part of the sentence, the “without the BS.” Why is that important to you and how do you kind of check yourself, and what’s that all about?

Pia: Yeah. Well, I think that originated from feeling like when we were doing six-month projects there was a lot of BS in that project.

Bill: Right.

Pia: There was a lot of back and forth. There was a lot of tweaking of the hue of the blue and we were like, “What are we doing here? This is so irrelevant to what’s going on.” And so we built this process that eliminated all of that. Now, at the time, we pivoted from going after 30 to $50,000 projects to doing one-day brand-ups for $3,000. Now, that’s a big swing, but the … and it was for a different target, obviously, but part of it was this was more profitable, but it was also that we were cutting out the BS of many weeks of feedback and revisions and all of that, and clients were really coming into trust us and say, “We want what you have to give us, and we kind of trust that you know what that looks like.”

So cutting out the back and forth and the “Let my show my wife and my brother and my sister-and-law and see what they think,” all of that to me is such BS in these projects. And so but you get to get our work, which I think is very high level, at a lower price, although I don’t position us as low priced-

Bill: Yeah, of course.

[crosstalk 00:10:47]

Pia: … not low priced anymore. But you get it at a lower price because you’re willing to give up the BS to be in the project. So that’s a big part of it.

Bill: Definitely. I know that the answer for each individual company or client or entrepreneurs is different, but aren’t there common threads in how small business, service businesses, ought to think about branding that might help them frame the conversation in a way that’s sort of productive?

Pia: Frame the conversation for themselves?

Bill: Yeah, and just sort of think about-

Pia: Figure out their brand?

Bill: You make the point in some of your writings that branding is a word that’s kind of tossed around in so many different contexts as to maybe not have as much meaning as we would perhaps want it to. So for the types of clients that you target and where there’s sort of the greatest amount of value for your work, how should they think about branding?

Pia: I think that for the very small business, you are your biz. I mean, especially if you’re the only person in it or just a couple of people, you’re really the guiding light. So it should originate with what you’re best at, what you love to do, where you can deliver the most value. And I think when people think of brand, because it’s so widely used across so many industries and sizes of businesses, we have to water it down and say that it’s emotion and it’s the colors and whatever.

But when it comes to very small businesses, it also has a lot to do … well, it always has to do with your positioning, but it just has a lot to do with what that special little thing that you have to offer is and really pulling that out of you and throwing it on a billboard and owning it and being known for it and building this reputation that precedes you. And you can do that so much more easily when you’re a very small business, because you don’t need that many clients to make a lot of money and to be very profitable and to have a life of freedom.

So definitely my clients are more lifestyle business oriented, but the badass, really standing in your space and being okay to not be misunderstood, I say, “If you want to be loved, you need to be okay being misunderstood or even disliked by others.” That works for the small business in a way that I don’t necessarily think it applies to much larger companies when you’re trying to slice off a piece of the pie of the market share. It’s just a different strategy.

Bill: No, makes sense. And so in a minute I’ll ask you for a couple of examples of either clients of yours or folks who you think very really sort of done this well. One of the things in our business and in our industry, as you well know, that people are sort of craving and we’re trying to help people sort of drive towards is a sense of difference. In the sort of small business universe where there may be thousands of people doing in a rough proximate geography the same suite of services or at least offering, more or less the same answers, how do you think about difference or about distinctiveness, and how important is it to be differentiated versus communicating with some degree of personality? I mean, these things are all related, but could you speak about differentiation and its sort of role and the challenge of that perhaps in markets that are really saturated?

Pia: Yeah, absolutely. Well, first of all, never be different just for the sake of being different. I think that people get confused with that, “Oh, I have to stand out, so let me do this thing,” and that’s why there’s so much inauthenticity milling about. But I think that you want to find your difference through an authentic piece of your personality paired with some sort of positioning and space that you can own, and I think that the biggest mistake people make is having a fear of limiting themselves, not understanding that there’s such a beauty in being that expert.

And some people fear boredom, which I think is ridiculous, because success is not boring. Chasing after clients is boring, I think. But also that being specialized in something actually opens up a whole space for you to grow and I think actually find a lot of opportunity to do different things, because for me, every client is a new challenge and a new opportunity not just to do stuff for them, but also to build on my own process and become better.

So if you’re always striving for that kind of Mr. Miyagi, I call it, of your space, then really owning a smaller space is the key to that, especially in a saturated market. And since most people are scared of owning a space and owning their position in the world, it’s usually not that hard to rise above the sea of saneness.

Bill: Right. Do you have an example or two of folks who’ve sort of followed this approach, either with your help or without, and have kind of gotten it done? I mean, the work’s never done, of course, but that are kind of good examples of this line of thinking and work?

Pia: Yeah, absolutely. So one of my first clients with the brand-up actually said they’ve been active the longest, is a company is a company called Stash Wealth, and they’re a financial firm positioned for young professionals, millennials. And when they came to us, they said that they wanted to be for this younger generation because they were very anti the Merrill Lynch that they came from and how it’s just for wealthy people.

Bill: Sure.

Pia: And that was a perfect example of they were doing that, but then everything that they put out there really looked like just a watered-down version of Merrill Lynch. It was a little sassy, but [inaudible 00:16:41] and boring and appropriate, and so I pushed them into this other direction, they had a different name and everything, but I pushed them into this other direction and now they say things like, their newsletter is, “Your financial Cliff Notes, get your financial shit together,” like all their articles are amazing and I highly recommend checking them out. Actually, they’re really great writers over there.

But they really own their voice and space, and when they first started this, it was so almost cute, because they were like, “We can’t say that.” Financial people are emailing us and telling us, “This is inappropriate” and all of that, and I said, “Exactly, ’cause you’re not them, and if you don’t understand that they’re not going to get it, you’re never going to be the differentiated brand that you can be and that you should be.”

And so their perfect example … because it took them a good six months to really embrace it, but once they did, I mean, their brand is killer. And they’re very well-known and people really love their brand and kind of fall in love with it. And that’s how they attract tons of clients because of it.

Bill: Yeah, that’s an interesting story, and I think it seems like there’s two … there’s many, but two sort of obvious takeaways for our world that we share about this. One is leaning into your sense of self rather than to your point, being hung up on what you can or can’t do. I mean, if you have a perspective and sort of an animating thought or purpose or direction, live into it and really make it happen rather than water it down, because then it isn’t as different or as compelling as it was intended to be. And then the second is the strength and importance of brand personality in expressing sort of unique ideas and build trust and everything else. What a great story.

Pia: Yeah. And they’ve done a really good job because it was really authentic to them.

Bill: Right.

Pia: My job was to pull it out of them and say, “No, actually write how you speak. You are very compelling people. You’re too scared to show that online.” So I mean, half my job is also helping people get over the fear of being themselves.

Bill: There’s a therapy quality to what you do.

Pia: Yeah. We call it a “brand shrink.”

Bill: Right, exactly.

In terms of your own sort of journey, I mean, as noted, you’ve taken us through part of the story at least in your work with Steve and your life with Steve to kind of reach the brink and then pivot, you have expanded this sort of Pia Silva empire into-

Pia: Thank you for calling it that.

Bill: Sure. It’s an empire.

Speaking and writing and being sort of an advocate for a particular line of thinking. How do you kind of see at mid-career yourself and your own sort of brand and your own endeavor, and what are the things that are kind of important to you beyond client work moving forward?

Pia: Yeah. Thanks for asking that. I mean, that really is where this is going. I just, I love people working for themselves doing what they love, and I hate how many people want to do that and are having a hard time with it. I just think … I won’t get into my big visions of how to change the world, but a lot of it has to do with kind of just everybody being able to invest a lot and being very potent in the world, and that doesn’t happen when you’re in scare city mode and it doesn’t happen when you’ve got day-to-day things that you’re struggling with, and so I just want to spread these ideas and kind of empower people to really own their space so they can move into the more abundant place where they’re really doing their thing. They’re really great at it, they attract the kind of clients they want to work with, they don’t have to work with clients who don’t appreciate them. And I think that that just kind of spawns this much more giving community of people who also have a lot of money to hire other people like them.

Bill: Sure.

Pia: I give back to this community because I hire a lot of similar, like-minded people who are delivering really high value. And they charge a lot, but I’m willing to pay it, because I appreciate that value and I get a lot of value from that, because I value my time.

So I’m trying to feed this, I call it the “solopreneur economy.” I want to feed it with as many awesome people as possible, so I want to spread these messages through my book and my writing, and I have an online quote coaching course now that I’m training people to do this stuff, as well.

Bill: Well, one of the things that comes through is both in your own experience growing this business and some of the speaking and writing that you’ve done is this sort of networking isn’t necessarily the right and only answer for how to expand visibility and sort of become known within a community. In fact, there’s a “Screw Networking as Usual,” speaking-

Pia: Oh, I know.

Bill: … place that you’ve had and it’s sort of on your LinkedIn and everything else. When it comes to small services businesses who may think the best way to win clients is to sort of be everywhere and to be in every event and to carry that stack of business cards, I mean, what’s the message for them to get out of kind of the old way of doing this? What are alternatives and ways maybe to sort of more efficiently get this process done?

Pia: Sure. Well, okay, yeah. So I really hate on networking all the time, because I did-

[crosstalk 00:22:04]

Bill: Sure, sure.

Pia: … sucked my soul. But it is a great short-term strategy, and I do recommend it actually as a short-term strategy. I would say that it’s a great short-term strategy to build a group of people around you who really know and like and trust you and get what you do, and they become your unofficial marketing team. But this only has to be short term if you do the other stuff, which is badassing your brand so that you have something that’s very memorable, I say “noticeable, memorable and sharable.” Do people when they hear it they remember it and then they think about it later because something triggered it and they’re excited to tell them because you’re so clearly a good fit because you so clearly align with a certain kind of client? All of those things, if you do those very well, you don’t have to network for very long, because you’ll never be forgotten.

I haven’t networked in over four or five years at this point, and every once in a while I’ll go to an event that is a bunch of people there that I used to know. They’re all still networking on a consistent basis to get clients and they all remember me, ’cause my company’s Worstofall Design, I mean, it’s hard to forget, and they all know now that I do this intensive branding. Nobody else does that. So there’s kind of a couple of things there, and I don’t have to show my face all the time.

So it’s short term, and then long term is really the content creation, and continuing to build your value online and be visible in a way … by investing in things that live on past you being there. That’s why content creation is so important, because it continues … it has exponential value over time.

Bill: Right, right. Makes sense.

I don’t expect you to give away the book or the core of the work that you do-

Pia: That’s okay. I give it all away.

Bill: There you go. But I mean, other core principles of sort of badassing your brand from your perspective, what can you tell us, and again, feel free to hold something back, but about what that means and how to do that?

Pia: It means, well, first of all, really figuring out where your focus is going to be. It means really looking inside yourself and how you define success, as I mentioned earlier. It means really looking inside yourself and figuring out what you are and aren’t willing to own and kind of getting over yourself about worrying about what other people may or may not think.

Bill: Right.

Pia: One of the worst things you can do is have one person comment, “Oh, I don’t understand that,” or “I don’t get your website,” and then change it every time. I think a lot of people do that out of fear, and it’s actually more confusing and I think it waters it down.

And then the last chapter, I’ll give it away, the last chapter is all about, “Do you have the guts to say no? Do you have the guts to say no to bad clients, bad projects, projects that are outside your value, projects that you could do and make a little bit of money with but ultimately are not feeding your long-term value and your long-term brand in any way. It’s just, I call it “fast cash,” cash in hand for trading your time. You can do that if you’re desperate, but I would look at that as a desperate situation kind of thing, and you want to get out of that as quickly as possible. And then you want to grow the kahunas to say no in the future and realize there are better clients around the corner and look at that stuff as the opportunity cost of taking a bad client over right around the corner there’s a better client and I’ll be happier and more profitable because of it.

Bill: Right, okay.

You mentioned your own sort of curricular interests in economics, and this was at Wesleyan, yes?

Pia: Yes.

Bill: Okay. So you and I are both liberal arts people. I was a Davidson College, maybe the southern version. Is there something about your academic path that prepares you or enhances your perspective or your efficacy in the sort of brand strategy/brand role here? We’ve been thinking a lot about it, and I think a fair percentage of our listeners are students who are sort of those starting out. What’s your take on the role of the liberal arts and sort of the full development of PI as a businessperson here?

Pia: Interesting. I think probably more outside the classroom than inside.

Bill: Right, right.

Pia: But I had a lot of really amazing friends and colleagues and mind-expanding experiences and conversations that I think really … I mean, days spent hypothesizing on utopia and how to create it and I think all of that has informed how I ultimately see a bigger vision here. What I’m going for here is really more about how do you reshape society or communities in a way that is more effective. And as an economics major, I’m always looking at exemptives and I’m always believing that you use incentives to make people go a certain direction or another, so I think the incentive part especially is a big thing for me, and so I’m always bringing that in to how I approach the strategy for the clients, but also my own strategy in business and what I’m trying to do, how do I incentivize people to do the things I think are best.

Bill: Right, right. Makes sense.

Thank you so much for your time and your insight. Your energy is palpable. I mean, we’re on Skype here, but it comes through.

You shared a few, but are there a couple sort of rules to live by or ideas to internalize as you think about your own career path? I mean, I think for those who are inspired by what you’ve done and the choices you’ve made and what you do, are there couple of key lessons that we ought to take from this that we can maybe apply to our own journeys?

Pia: Yeah. For me, the one that I keep learning every six months or year is always take a step back and reevaluate and look at what the next thing is. Steve and I make it a point of going away. We try to do it every year for at least one or two months. And getting that really far distance gives a huge perspective, and every time we do it we come back with a whole restructured idea of where we’re going next.

So this past summer we went to Europe for two months and we came back and decided that we were only going to work 1:00 to 6:00 five days a week, and we were just going to do whatever we needed to do to make that happen, because we can be really potent in those five hours. And so far it’s been pretty amazing. I get more done now than I did before went on this trip, and I don’t know if I would have been able to do that if I hadn’t been on that, always stepping back and looking, so that’s what I would say.

Bill: Cool. Definitely words to live by, and I guess by coming to a conclusion like that, it forces you to figure out how to do it, in a way, and to stick to it and to hold yourself accountable to it in a way that works for you and obviously helps deliver benefit to your clients.

Pia Silva of Worstofall Design, of piasilva.com, of badassyourbrain.com, the author of Badass Your Brain, thank you so much for your time and insight.

Pia: My pleasure, Bill. Thank you so much for having me.

Bill: Thank you, Pia, so much for your time and insight, your energy, the story. It’s all super interesting.

And as noted, this is not a type of company that Finch Brands works with that extensively and to be able bring on someone who really does focus on what are a unique set of issues and opportunities for small services businesses as they find their voice and really lean into what makes them distinctive and proceed with confidence and focus.

Pia has, and I mentioned it in the interview, very generously created an offer for listeners of the Real-World Branding Podcast. If you go to badassyourbrand … sorry for the kids in the audience, if you go to badassyourbrand.com/finchbrands, apparently you will be able to download the first chapter of the book and there will be other goodies for you to access there that sort of relate to the conversation that we’ve just had and heard.

And as always, if you’re eager to or open to supporting what we do here at Real-World Branding, there’s a couple different ways that you can do that. The first is let’s keep the dialogue going on Twitter. Probably the best way, you got to come at me directly @BillGullan, or @FinchBrands. Love to hear thoughts and criticism, too, the skin is thick, as well as ideas for future guests and topics.

And then two ways that I think will be helpful to making sure that others who would enjoy this content have the ability to find it is, one, to subscribe within the podcast store of your choice. If you click that subscribe button, you’ll make sure that you do not miss content from us. And our goal’s to do this weekly and we’ve been pretty loyal to that recently. We have interviews like the one with Pia every other week, and then in between we do what’s called “One Big Idea,” where we really focus on a specific topic and it’s either me or me and a colleague or two from Finch who have specific expertise.

So hopefully every week there’s some content from us, and if you click “subscribe,” you’ll make sure that you never miss one. And it also I think helps us become visible within those app stores or those podcast stores for those who may be looking for interesting content about branded business building.

And then the last thing which would also be helpful in that regard is to give us a rating, hopefully five stars if we’ve earned it. We are told, at least there’s obviously some mystery around this, that the number of subscribers and how many ratings you get indicates something about how the algorithms kind of pick you up in search rankings, and obviously our goal is to expand what we’re doing here and to continue what we’re doing here, so we’d be grateful for whatever support you are compelled to provide.

And on that note, we’ll sign off from the Cradle of Liberty.

The post Small Business Branding – Pia Silva, Partner at Worstofall Design appeared first on Finch Brands.

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Pia Silva: Never be different just for the sake of being different. I think that people get confused with that, “Oh, I have to stand out, so let me do this thing,” and that’s why there’s so much inauthenticity milling about. Pia Silva: Never be different just for the sake of being different. I think that people get confused with that, “Oh, I have to stand out, so let me do this thing,” and that’s why there’s so much inauthenticity milling about.<br /><br /> Bill Gullan: Greetings one and all. This is <a href="http://blog.finchbrands.com/topic/podcast">Real-World Branding</a>. I’m Bill Gullan, president of Finch Brands, a premier boutique branding agency.<br /><br /> And it’s not going to stop me, folks, having a cold here, which you may be able to hear a little bit of the vestiges of. I know that it is of deep concern to our listeners, but I am on the upswings. Been a pretty congested couple of days, but happy to say that things are better in that realm, as well as really excited about today’s guest. Pia Silva is a partner, co-founder, brand strategist, at <a href="http://worstofalldesign.com/">Worstofall Design</a>, which is a Brooklyn-based design and branding agency that focuses its business on sort of one to three-person services companies, and they do this through really intensive what they call brand-ups, which is a methodology for how to sort of build and plan around brands for companies like that. And it’s a little bit off the beaten path for us.<br /><br /> Pia’s written a book called, “Badass Your Brand”, which is a practical kind of how-to guide for companies like that, for how to think about their own brands and build them. She also writes for Forbes and in other places. She speaks widely for entrepreneurial organizations, and so she’s a visible leader who has a unique perspective on this and a particular focus, and whether you’re the type of business that Pia would traditionally service, the small services firm, or whether you’re not, there are definitely lessons to be drawn from her perspectives in the work that she does.<br /><br /> So enjoy Pia Silva. We are honored to have Pia Silva from Brooklyn join us today.<br /><br /> Pia, thank you so much for your time.<br /><br /> Pia: Thank you so much, Bill. Great to be here.<br /><br /> Bill: It’s our pleasure, and our listeners’ pleasure, too. And your journey and story is a fascinating one, as well as obviously some of the work that you do and beliefs sort of about branding and about this industry that you hold, and we’ll certainly get into that, but maybe a place to start would be a bit of your own story and sort of what has led you to the point where we’re speaking today.<br /><br /> Pia: Sure. Well, I’m born and raised New Yorker, and always just felt very entrepreneurial, I think just because I never wanted a boss. I think that was the thing that was very clear to me. Knew nothing about design or branding. I went to school for economics. And about six, a little over six years ago my then-fiance, now husband, and I were traveling around trying to figure out what the hell we were going to do in our lives, and was an amazing … he’s a very talented artist and painter, but he’s also an amazing graphic designer, and he was freelancing, and at a certain point I just said, “You know what? I’m going to just manage your business. Let me get the clients. You’re terrible with money, but you’re very, very talented. I can make a lot of money off of you.”<br /><br /> Bill: Keep you in your lane, right. Yeah.<br /><br /> Pia: Stay in your lane, yeah. So I said, “You just stick to creative. I’ll find the clients. I don’t know anything about this, but I’ll figure it out.” And that is where it all began.<br /><br /> Bill: Right. And there was a moment, just having read through the story, where all of the … “This has got to be easy, right?” Or “I can just work hard and it’ll happen.” Didn’t happen exactly the way we drew it up. And it sounds like there was a big moment of sort of discovery and pivot.<br /><br /> Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands clean
One Big Idea – Brand Damage and the Effects of Scandal https://finchbrands.com/one-big-idea-brand-damage-and-the-effects-of-scandal/ Thu, 11 Jan 2018 14:55:42 +0000 http://finchbrands.com/?p=2874 https://finchbrands.com/one-big-idea-brand-damage-and-the-effects-of-scandal/#respond https://finchbrands.com/one-big-idea-brand-damage-and-the-effects-of-scandal/feed/ 0 <p>Almost every day or every week there’s a negative headline about a brand. In this week’s episode, we look back on brands that have been tarnished by some event or series of events and how and why some scandals will hurt brands more than others. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us […]</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com/one-big-idea-brand-damage-and-the-effects-of-scandal/">One Big Idea – Brand Damage and the Effects of Scandal</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com">Finch Brands</a>.</p> Almost every day or every week there’s a negative headline about a brand. In this week’s episode, we look back on brands that have been tarnished by some event or series of events and how and why some scandals will hurt brands more than others. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!

Transcript:

Bill Gullan: Greetings one and all. This is Real-World Branding. I’m Bill Gullan, president of Finch Brands a premier boutique branding agency and this is One Big Idea. Today’s topic is scandal. Maybe not in such a fun and interesting way as some scandals, but we’re going to talk today about brands that have been either intermittently or permanently tarnished by some event or series of events.

We’ve all seen it and you see it now almost every day or every week there’s something ripped from the headlines about a brand. The news cycle makes the negativity seem unrelenting and after a couple of days one can’t even see how the brand could recover from that which is in the headlines and the beating that they’re taking on social media and well beyond.

Though, many brands do recover and recover relatively quickly. We’re going to talk today about some recent scandals or incidents or general narratives and we’re going to try to understand why few, several of them have recovered quickly and a couple of them haven’t or might not and try to figure out why that is.

There are in our media today and in our ability to communicate over social, endless opportunities to go viral for all the wrong reasons. A couple of examples from the last year, United. That happened in the spring and the shaky viral mobile phone video of the passenger being bloodied and then dragged off a flight sent the brand’s reputation metrics into free fall.

There was a lot of negative publicity this year about Uber which led to a management change. This is about workplace culture. This is about rider safety. This is about various tactics that the company has used to continue to disrupt the taxi industry and grow its service.

Another brand in the headlines for reasons that nobody’s happy about is Amtrak, dealing with a pretty significant crash situation within the last month and all that comes out of something like that. And then there’s other brands too that we’ll get to in a minute.

My thesis is though, that brand damage seems to be really closely tied to issues that hit at the heart of a brand’s appeal. A lot of the data that I’m going to cite comes from a media source called Morning Consult that tracks a lot of favorability ratings and buzz ratings for various brands and actually we find their daily emails and site to be very stimulating when it comes to content around the business world and about the brand world and consumer behavior.

It was interesting to note that shortly after the United scandal, so called scandal, happened they wrote an article that said some scandals matter, United, and some scandals don’t which was Uber. A lot was happening at the time of these scandals, but the data indicates that Uber, Amtrak, and United have all recovered quickly and meaningfully when it comes to net favorability.

Let’s look at United first. Different writers, but now Morning Consult has written an article called The United Scandal That Wasn’t. The company fell in favorability after this service scandal, immediately and deeply. But less than six months later they’re almost back to where they began. Morning Consult reports that their favorability dropped from 57% to 35% in one week but as the year ends, the stock market, stock price is generally unmoved, financial health of the company’s where it was and consumer purchasing consideration is where it was.

This was a scandal that on April 9th all this happened and even the President called it horrible. Everybody was the ripping the CEO, Oscar Muñoz. There were hearings and everything else. The company was testifying on the Hill etc. The response was botched. There were three apologies within a week.

The company however, data indicates, did not suffer in long term material ways. Favorability plummeted as noted, very quickly, the scandal was deeply covered. An incredible percentage of adults said that they’d heard that coverage and everybody was grumbling about it but then the buzz dissipated and here we are at this writing according to Morning Consult, United favorability has returned to levels almost matching the beginning of the year.

Roughly half of respondents in their rolling favorability poll, 48% view United favorably and that’s about where the year began. We’ve gone from a scandal that in April seemed maybe even to be the death of an airline brand to six, seven, eight months later a complete perceptual recovery.

Let’s look at Uber. Similar situation. The continued pull away of Travis Kalanick, I think that’s how you pronounce it, Kalanick, Kalanick sounds unpleasant. Kalanick. Was a big issue throughout the year. There were tons of meaningful scandals that were either momentary or reported in an ongoing way.

There was a toxic corporate culture for female employees, there was issues at the leadership level with Travis and others. There were class action lawsuits within the investor group. There was a major data breach. There are, every so often, a fight or a rape or something horrible happens somewhere in the world and an Uber driver is implicated. All of this happens and it hits the headlines and people roll their eyes and there’s symposia about Uber’s culture in the valley and Travis leaves etc.

But, here we are. Since Morning Consult began tracking the Uber brand among consumers in terms of favorability, the average favorability rating for Uber has been 45%. As of the last week, their average favorability’s at 47%. Whereas the main competitor Lyft, which is intended and portrays itself to be warmer and fuzzier is down at 34%.

One of the major things within the last year was that when a former Uber engineer published in February or March an expose of what she considered to be sexual harassment and gender bias within the company, at that time the favorability that Uber was experiencing was at 44% and before her post it was at 49 so pretty significant, quick drop.

Then, the resignation of Travis in June also was all over the headlines but had a limited impact on perception of the company. Since his resignation the favorability which was on June 20th, the favorability has been on average 42% and prior to that it was 47% and now it’s back up into 47% territory. Uber’s an example of withstanding the headlines.

The last one, Amtrak had this horrible jumping of the tracks in Washington state in the middle of December. Three people were killed, dozens injured. A survey that was conducted right on the heels of that showed that Amtrak had 51% favorability, ranked below other transportation companies like Southwest and Delta and American Airlines etc. Yet, among those Amtrak passengers, the rail service remained at a 70% favorability level. A majority, 59% said that the crash was a so called “isolated incident and it was not illustrative of a widespread and systemic problem.”

These are brands that have recovered reasonably quickly from, in some cases very quickly, from headlines or scandals or stories that seemingly placed really strong negative baggage and in the middle of these scandals seemed almost too big to recover from. At least in the moment. It certainly did for United. Again, one of the, my core hypothesis as to why this is is that airline travel sucks and airlines and employees can be heavy handed, we know that. But what happened on United is not attacking the very foundation of who United seeks to be. It maybe reveals them to be unsatisfactory but it doesn’t reveal them to be hypocritical.

Amtrak, same thing. Easy to chalk up and ultimately has been chalked up as an isolated incident. We all know the infrastructure in this, or all believe the infrastructure in this country’s crumbling. Sometimes there’s driver error. We’re quick to forgive in a case like that. Not to forget certainly and maybe not even to forgive but for the brand to recover.

The issues at Uber as noxious and concerning and negative as they are, Uber has never proclaimed itself to be in the business to be socially progressive or to be pioneers of positive workplace culture or anything else. They’re there to disrupt, in some cases using very aggressive tactics, that sleepy, non-innovative taxi market that has been screwing people over for years in major cities.

Uber’s damage, whatever damage they take from that does not hit the core of who they are. Nor does it reveal them to be hypocritical in any sort of meaningful way.

Then here’s two brands that we’ve talked about before in this space that are facing negativity right now and that’s CNN and the NFL. The concern about that baggage that either a general narrative among some in the US, CNN not being fair to the President and the President certainly pushing forth that narrative and then the NFL for the all the problems that we talked about. These are brands that risk a lot and stand to lose a lot in an enduring and durable way from these scandals and these negative narratives.

CNN, ‘the most trusted name in news.’ Their brand is predicated upon a widespread belief in their impartiality. The toll that this back and forth with the White House and with right leaning voters in general, this back and forth has taken a significant toll in terms of their degree of and sense of perception.

Morning Consult did this Buzziest Brands of 2017 story recently and they found that CNN was number 18 on that list with a total buzz of 51% and this is calculated by folks who’ve heard something about it within a reasonable amount of time. But within that buzz 25% of it is positive, 26% is negative. A toll is being taken from this dialogue and I would argue a toll that has a long-term negative impact on the brand because the debate is about the heart of who CNN is and seeks to be and what it wants to be known for.

Then you have the NFL. We’ve talked in a variety of ways at great length about the challenges they’ve had with ratings and other measures of brand health. The risk that the NFL faces here is again, that the heart of who they are and seek to be which is this patriotic pro-American, bringing people together, family focused owner of our Sundays and our Thursdays and our Mondays, all the concerns about player safety and all the concerns about the anthem back and forth and all of the debates about that have real impact because it chips away not only at people’s desire to watch and how one feels about watching but it chips away the identity of who the NFL is and what the brand stands for.

We’ll leave it there. Suffice it to say that in 2018 as we get going, there will be very likely, headline grabbing scandals and incidents and we’re looking at you H&M this week. However, I would argue that whether a brand can recover and if so how quickly, from this type of widespread either controversy or negativity, has to do with whether the content of that negativity is a shot across the broadside of fundamental brand attributes and personality or whether it is largely and easily, ultimately interpreted as being something apart from that.

The brands that recover [from scandal] are those whose fundamental value propositions, brand promises, and connections with the consumer are based on other characteristics. The brands that risk long-term damage are those where these incidents are really at the heart of who they are.

From the Cradle of Liberty, this Bill Gullan. We’ll sign off. Have a great day.

 

The post One Big Idea – Brand Damage and the Effects of Scandal appeared first on Finch Brands.

The post One Big Idea – Brand Damage and the Effects of Scandal appeared first on Finch Brands.

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Almost every day or every week there’s a negative headline about a brand. In this week’s episode, we look back on brands that have been tarnished by some event or series of events and how and why some scandals will hurt brands more than others. Almost every day or every week there’s a negative headline about a brand. In this week’s episode, we look back on brands that have been tarnished by some event or series of events and how and why some scandals will hurt brands more than others. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!<br /><br /> Transcript:<br /><br /> Bill Gullan: Greetings one and all. This is <a href="http://blog.finchbrands.com/topic/podcast">Real-World Branding</a>. I’m Bill Gullan, president of Finch Brands a premier boutique branding agency and this is One Big Idea. Today’s topic is scandal. Maybe not in such a fun and interesting way as some scandals, but we’re going to talk today about brands that have been either intermittently or permanently tarnished by some event or series of events.<br /><br /> We’ve all seen it and you see it now almost every day or every week there’s something ripped from the headlines about a brand. The news cycle makes the negativity seem unrelenting and after a couple of days one can’t even see how the brand could recover from that which is in the headlines and the beating that they’re taking on social media and well beyond.<br /><br /> Though, many brands do recover and recover relatively quickly. We’re going to talk today about some recent scandals or incidents or general narratives and we’re going to try to understand why few, several of them have recovered quickly and a couple of them haven’t or might not and try to figure out why that is.<br /><br /> There are in our media today and in our ability to communicate over social, endless opportunities to go viral for all the wrong reasons. A couple of examples from the last year, <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Express_Flight_3411_incident">United</a>. That happened in the spring and the shaky viral mobile phone video of the passenger being bloodied and then dragged off a flight sent the brand’s reputation metrics into free fall.<br /><br /> There was a lot of negative publicity this year about <a href="http://www.businessinsider.com/uber-scandal-crisis-complete-timeline-2017-6">Uber</a> which led to a management change. This is about workplace culture. This is about rider safety. This is about various tactics that the company has used to continue to disrupt the taxi industry and grow its service.<br /><br /> Another brand in the headlines for reasons that nobody’s happy about is <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2017/12/20/us/amtrak-derailment-washington/index.html">Amtrak</a>, dealing with a pretty significant crash situation within the last month and all that comes out of something like that. And then there’s other brands too that we’ll get to in a minute.<br /><br /> My thesis is though, that brand damage seems to be really closely tied to issues that hit at the heart of a brand’s appeal. A lot of the data that I’m going to cite comes from a media source called <a href="https://morningconsult.com/">Morning Consult</a> that tracks a lot of favorability ratings and buzz ratings for various brands and actually we find their daily emails and site to be very stimulating when it comes to content around the business world and about the brand world and consumer behavior.<br /><br /> It was interesting to note that shortly after the United scandal, so called scandal, happened they wrote an article that said some scandals matter, United, and some scandals don’t which was Uber. A lot was happening at the time of these scandals, but the data indicates that Uber, Amtrak, and United have all recovered quickly and meaningfully when it comes to net favorability.<br /><br /> Let’s look at United first. Different writers, but now Morning Consult has written an article called <a href="https://morningconsult.com/2017/12/19/the-united-scandal-that-wasnt/">The United Scandal That Wasn’t</a>. The company fell in favorability after this service scandal, immediately and deeply. Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands clean
B2B Branding – Jason Rabbino, CEO of Saberhawk Growth Partners https://finchbrands.com/b2b-branding-jason-rabbino-ceo-of-saberhawk-growth-partners/ Wed, 03 Jan 2018 15:18:18 +0000 http://finchbrands.com/?p=2868 https://finchbrands.com/b2b-branding-jason-rabbino-ceo-of-saberhawk-growth-partners/#respond https://finchbrands.com/b2b-branding-jason-rabbino-ceo-of-saberhawk-growth-partners/feed/ 0 <p>With significant differences from marketing to consumers, B2B branding is a unique and interesting challenge for organizations across the globe. Having served as a senior executive at three best-in-class multinational companies: Aramark, Tyco International and CHEP (Brambles Ltd), Jason Rabbino shares his insights on how to build strong brands in the B2B world. If you […]</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com/b2b-branding-jason-rabbino-ceo-of-saberhawk-growth-partners/">B2B Branding – Jason Rabbino, CEO of Saberhawk Growth Partners</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com">Finch Brands</a>.</p> With significant differences from marketing to consumers, B2B branding is a unique and interesting challenge for organizations across the globe. Having served as a senior executive at three best-in-class multinational companies: Aramark, Tyco International and CHEP (Brambles Ltd), Jason Rabbino shares his insights on how to build strong brands in the B2B world. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!

Transcription:

Jason Rabbino: But on the B2B side, once you go beyond your home country the brand characteristics, the brand value, the brand message may resonate quite differently.

Bill Gullan: Greetings one and all. This is Real-World Branding. I’m Bill Gullan, president of Finch Brands, a premier boutique branding agency, and Happy New Year. 2018 is upon us. Hope everyone had a warm and bright holiday season and the right amount of laughter and rest and everything else, because we’re ready for a new year and we’re coming at it with a vengeance and a fervor, starting with today’s conversation with Jason Rabbino.

Jason has an incredible career as a senior executive across different organizations at different moments. His career began, as you will hear, with a distinguished period of service in the US Navy as a pilot and as a lieutenant, which extended into work with McKinsey and then into senior executive roles across a variety of global, primarily B2B focused institutions, including many that you’ve heard, Aramark, Tyco and others.

His perspective on branding in B2B, his perspective on managing and building brands across international markets, and his general perspective on leadership and team building is something that makes for a tremendous listen, so enjoy Jason Rabbino.

Bill: We are honored here at Finch Brands to welcome Jason Rabbino to our offices and to our show. Jason is the CEO of Saberhawk Growth Advisors and we’re grateful for your time.

Jason: It’s great to be here, and thank you guys very much for having me.

Bill: It’s a pleasure. Let’s start where we normally do. You have such an incredible career that hopefully you’ll at least give us the highlights of, so could you take us through your journey a little bit and what leads us here?

Jason: Yeah. Sure. I’ve had three stages in my career. My first ten years or so I was actually in the US Navy, and most of that was flying helicopters, so a pretty different portion of my career, pretty good global brand I guess you’d say, but not something I was actively promoting.

Bill: It’s a leader in its space.

Jason: Exactly. Number one in its sector for sure. Coming out of the Navy, I had gotten my MBA at The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and joined McKinsey and Company. McKinsey certainly has a famous brand name unto itself, but for me it was an opportunity to work with leading companies across all sectors and understand what made great companies work, everything about people, about products and services and innovation, but also about brands and what made brands distinctive and made brands last and evolve over time.

I had a chance to work with great organizations there for about six years, and after doing that I decided at that point I really wanted to get more hands on personal ownership over organizations and really drive the change over a longer period of time. I had the opportunity to move up to Philadelphia and join Aramark.

Aramark is certainly a leader in its space and a great brand. At the time that I joined, Aramark was really on an early stage of a longer journey to reinvent itself. It had been known very long as a great outsource services provider, but in that timeframe, so this is about 2005, Aramark was moving more and more towards positioning itself as a business partner, going in and working with our clients to help them deliver their services to their customers better, and Aramark really being the engine that enabled them.

I joined the healthcare group and we provided food service, facility services and clinical engineering services to hospitals and healthcare systems. In 2005, it was a bit more who could offer the lowest price and who could do it the fastest or least costly. What we did over the first couple of years I was there though was we took our team and then ultimately our customers in the marketplace on a journey to link when you deliver our services better that delivers better healthcare outcomes.

The idea of the Aramark healthcare brand was not so much we do these services, it was we make the hospital or the healthcare environment better. That allows you to get better patient outcomes, better health outcomes. That leads to better doctor and nurse satisfaction, lower employee turnover, and so you combine a brand like Aramark but then link it to delivering patient health and delivering outcomes that the staff gets excited about, that’s a much more powerful value proposition. Over the years I was there it allowed Aramark initially in healthcare and then in other segments as well such as higher ed, business services and sports entertainment to really link its business and link the Aramark brand to better success for our client organizations.

Bill: Right. We’ll resume in a minute, but I think during the Aramark experience you had some role in pioneering online ordering, if I recall, which spun out independently from within the Aramark umbrella?

Jason: Yeah. Absolutely. One of the most fun things, and probably the most different things for Aramark at the time was in 2006 we acquired a relatively small company based primarily in New York called seamlessweb.com. Most people today are very familiar with what’s now called either Seamless or Grubhub, depending on what market you’re in, but at that time it was a pretty nascent B2B business model.

Initially we thought we’d integrate it into the broader Aramark brand and make it the e-commerce arm of that, but after about six months past the acquisition we realized that there was more and more opportunity for Seamless to drive its own growth. We worked initially with Jason Finger, the founder, and his team and then started bringing Aramark people up to New York to join the team there and really focus them in two ways.

One was to make them much more independent, so they were a part of Aramark we really let them grow their brand and what they’re doing as a distinctive brand identity, but secondly, we asked the team to start looking more at the consumer market, looking more at what B2C could look like. It was a very small portion of their business at the time we did the acquisition. If you look now, fast forward about a dozen years, B2C is by far the largest portion of the combined Grubhub network and they’re the global leader in the online food order space.

So the idea of working a large industrial type company like Aramark acquiring an early stage business like this with its own identity and its own core competencies and then understanding how to unleash that, how to give that team enough support from the corporation but enough latitude to go off and build the business they thought fit and guide them more towards the consumer channel, which became ultimately the biggest home run for the business, was a great thing to lead, and I was very fortunate to have great people on my team and the Seamless team to help drive that forward together.

Bill: So, you had a senior strategic role at Aramark for a period of time, and then next to Tyco, yes?

Jason: That’s right. I had a great experience at Aramark. I was there for a little bit over three years, but in 2008 I received a call from the team at Tyco, and Tyco at the time was led by Ed Breen. When I was at McKinsey, Ed was my first client back in McKinsey back in 1999. I had talked to Ed at that time, I said, “Listen, I loved working on this engagement with you. If there’s ever an opportunity to work for your company down the road please give me a call.”

Sure enough, almost nine years later Ed’s team gives me a call and I said when you ask people to reach out to you and they do reach out to you, you need to follow up and at least explore that. So, I went and had lunch with the team and just was really blown away by the opportunities for Tyco and what Ed and the team were doing there. Some people may know the Tyco story. Under the previous CEO Tyco had gone through a very difficult period of time, a lot of negative headlines-

Bill: Very public.

Jason: Exactly. A lot of challenges. It was at a time when other companies like WorldCom, Lehman Brothers and Enron were really getting some very negative publicity. Tyco had been caught up in that and Ed and the team he founded around him were brought in to really reinvent the company and bring it back from the brink.

They did a tremendous job and that resulted in 2007 in Tyco being broken up into three separate public companies. Originally one was a healthcare company, which became Covidien. One was an electronics component company, which is now called TE Connectivity, initially called Tyco Electronics, and then the core business, which is what I joined, was called Tyco International. That was a fire and security and valve or flow control focused business, about $20 billion in size.

I joined right after the breakup, and what the team was looking to do was really to recreate these businesses in a new structure and recreate the brand equity separate from the businesses that had been spun off, which meant a much leaner and a much more focused Tyco. That’s a great challenge to come in as part of a large established company that’s still trying to reinvent itself at the same time.

Bill: Right. That seems to be a persistent theme of your work at Aramark as well as at Tyco, which I think after a tenure there and very senior roles led to this role at Brambles as well?

Jason: Yeah. Another great experience for me with Ed and the team at Tyco, and then as a result of some very good success we had there, we realized that the best way to unlock shareholder value was to actually separate the company one more time. So, in 2012 we actually separated what was Tyco International into three separate standalone companies for a second time, something that no one else as far as I know has ever done.

As part of that, I was contacted by a company called Brambles Limited, which is an Australian listed company. They were looking for somebody who had been through a lot of corporate transformation really repositioning brands, rethinking about how the companies work and how they’re organized, and Brambles at that time had just done a number of acquisitions in adjacent spaces and wanted someone to come in who had managed a global portfolio of different kinds of business like I had done at Tyco and help them assess which were the business they had just bought into that were the real winners, that they should double down their investments, which ones were ones that they might want to monetize over some time but weren’t natural fits, but importantly, how these new businesses fit underneath the overarching umbrella of the Brambles brand and the sub-brands that worked underneath it.

Bill: Interesting. Interesting. That gave way … I think along the way you began to give back a bit of this knowledge, though I assume that you were all along that path of mentees and team members, but to formally weigh in. As a professor, an adjunct at Villanova, I know you’ve been involved on the investor and PE side and now you’re consulting as well. Take us into the present day with Jason.

Jason: Yeah. Sure. I had the opportunity earlier this year to step back and reassess from a career standpoint. Even going back to my military days, I spent almost my entire career flying around the world, living on planes, in helicopters when I was flying them, and in hotel rooms, and had worked for some great companies and some great teams, but I realized that I actually wanted to start working with a bit more smaller businesses.

Not necessarily just startups, but startups, middle market type companies, in some cases the kind of companies I acquired when I was working for the Aramarks and the Tycos and the Brambles of the world, and take what I had learned in these large corporate environments about what does and doesn’t work for smaller organization at whatever stage they’re at and help them to grow.

So, I brought some of that, as you said, to the MBA program at Villanova, where I absolute love teaching, and go Wildcats.

Bill: Yeah, it’s starting.

Jason: We do have very high hopes. The team’s looking great and Coach Jay is as terrific as always.

Bill: Well dressed.

Jason: Yeah. And for me it’s really allowed me to spend some time working with private equity firms in terms of looking at companies where brands or companies themselves may be undervalued and figuring how we could monetize that more effectively, and then along the way I’ve had some of my former colleagues, some of my students actually from Villanova, reach out to me and say, “Hey, I’m starting a business or I’ve got a business but it’s kind of early stage. We need your help to think about how we scale this business up, how we position ourselves in the market. Can you help us out?”

So, for me it’s a great time to step back, as you say take some of what I’ve learned over my career and apply it frankly a bit more locally to the greater Philadelphia/Mid-Atlantic market and help a number of companies and a number of organizations think about and help them execute doing different things.

Bill: So Saberhawk, which has a wonderfully military ring to it, perhaps is a vehicle for your own consulting and the interest that you’ve brought to your work over this period of time it sounds like?

Jason: Yeah, that’s right. It’s funny you picked up on that. Saberhawk was actually the name of the first squadron that I flew for when I was in the US Navy, the HSL47 Saberhawks. It was a great experience personally for me, but it also taught me that even in an environment such as naval aviation, where everyone is pretty distinctive, our squadron was the best of the best, so you realize that even among incredibly talented peers or among incredibly talented competitors in the business marketplace there’s always ways for organizations to stick out and distinguish themselves.

That’s the kind of mindset I’ve taken in my company career throughout my life, working with organizations to say listen, we’ve got great competitors, we’ve got great clients, but what do we do to make ourselves distinctive? So then when I decided to start up my own consulting business, I said let me take that mantra and that mindset forward, and I’ve been fortunate that I’ve been joined on a project-by-project basis with colleagues I’ve worked with throughout my career who want to work on those kind of issues with, again, companies ranging from early stages to middle market and larger companies.

Bill: That’s terrific, and living up to the name of our podcast, I know that you’ve both been a leader as well as certainly in the decision-making capacity related to many different brand development initiatives. A couple areas that I think are particularly of interest from my perspective, the B2B side of this, we across the history of this podcast have many consumer facing brands that are weighing in on what propels their growth or asserts their difference or whatever at all different stages, but whether it’s Aramark or even McKinsey or Tyco or everything since, what is your perspective on what’s the same and what’s different when it comes to high level B2B brand development as opposed to the normal consumer stuff that we always hear about or think about?

Jason: It’s a great question and I spent a lot of time not just thinking about it, but working on it, as we talked. Companies like Seamless have been very consumer focused, but a lot of my career has been focused on B2B branding. For me there’s really three things that I think stick out on the B2B side.

First of all, it’s much more complicated from the standpoint that your feedback loop is much longer and much more limited. For good or for bad, on the consumer side you can get often very real-time feedback and adapt your product to your service offering.

Bill: I don’t like the burger.

Jason: Exactly. I don’t like the burger. Let’s get 15 people in a room and do a panel discussion. B2B doesn’t have that luxury in most cases, so you need to spend more time getting the branding and the positioning right, because your ability to course correct is more limited.

The second thing is that it’s much more challenging to understand the buyer’s journey. If someone is looking for a burger or someone is looking for a consumer electronic, it’s pretty easy to identify how they’re going about searching for that. In B2B the ways that people connect with your company tend to be a bit more opaque, so it requires more knowledge of your customer on an individual level in some cases, particularly if you’re selling large projects or very expensive offerings. It requires the investment in helping those customers understand.

When I started working in the corporate world, for the most part the internet was not a major source of really anyone’s accessed information.

Bill: I think it might catch on.

Jason: Yeah, I think we’re starting to see some momentum around that. Now when I was at Brambles, we found that over 80% of our customers in the B2B space started their journey, their learning about products and services that might be of interest to them, online. So, the idea that really you need to adapt yourself is something which consumer brands tend to think about very regularly. B2B brands haven’t historically done so, and that’s where this second thing is, being more dynamic in what they do.

Then the third one is where are things going in terms of digital marketing? The internet is one data point, but how does social media play into this? How do you think about that? How do you think about consumer and lifetime retention of customers? When I was at ADT for example within the Tyco portfolio, ADT was very much literally a household name, but ADT was also a very big brand in the industrial space, doing security, access control and video for large buildings, installations, universities. How do you actually have a business brand and a consumer brand at the same time and how do you manage those two so one plus one equals more than two?

More and more companies today which may be known as a B2B company are seeing overlap of their products and services into the B2C space. How do you actually manage the dynamic of that going forward with much more of the product and service being delivered in digital fashion is a great challenge, one which we saw, as I said at ADT.

Brambles had a lot of that as we’d be moved from the back of the supply chain to more of the consumer floor, and I think any company which does B2B marketing today needs to consider that, as you say, the differences in business marketing, but also more and more how B2B market and B2C marketing are starting to converge and overlap with one another.

Bill: Right, no doubt, plus people are people and the internet is the internet, and you find yourself in different places. One of the perhaps oversimplifications that I think I’ve run into B2B versus B2C is this notion that consumers are emotional and irrational and are buying based on … I some cases very price driven, but the characteristics that come from all parts of their heart and everything else, and there’s notion of B2B buyers being purely rational actors, where it’s budget and it’s value.

I love to hear your take on it. My sense is that people are people and it’s always that balance of head and heart, but what is your experience as it relates to the difference … You talk about the feedback loop being different. You talk about there being it’s more complicated. Any sense or opinion related to how B2B buyers versus consumer buyers may different?

Jason: Sure. I think the first premise you offer there is an important one, which is on the B2C side there is a buyer. There is a consumer that you’re trying to reach out to and develop products and services for. B2B doesn’t usually work that way. There may be someone who in theory is your point of contact for example, but the buying process is much more complicated, because there’s usually a group of people behind that, what we generally refer to as the DMU, the decision-making unit.

The DMU often seems simple on paper. You might get for example an RFP, a request for information or a request for proposal. That may have a name associated with it. That often will be one of anywhere from three to 30 people who weigh in on the ultimate decision.

What you need to do is to quickly move beyond your point of contact name to understand who is involved in the decision process and what their needs are. To your point about people being irrational, people in the B2B space tend to be rational in their own sphere, in their own silo, but what you discover pretty quickly is that there may be four or five different spheres of influence or silos within the company.

When you start getting feedback at an aggregate level, it actually may come across as somewhat irrational. When you dig underneath and you look at those 30 people weighing in, you realize that those individual groups are all really trying to optimize what they’ve been asked to optimize for, so you as the marketer, you as the salesperson, you as the business leader, you need to position your plan such as the characteristics of your brand or your offering appeal in equal ways to people in some cases who have very different looks on what they’re trying to accomplish. That’s tough to do.

Bill: No question, and you may have procurement who exists as sort of process manager and a contract negotiator and you may have the finance stream who’s obviously thinking about budget, and so the total value. Then you have the buyer may not be the user, the end user. It is complicated.

Another thing that I think is interesting, throughout the experiences that you’ve had you mentioned Brambles being … I think it’s an Australian company. The challenges and the opportunities that brands have if they have truly global businesses, it’s easy in the US within reason to understand that there’s different consumers in different places and they have different cultural cues, different climates, different et cetera.

When we work for example in nutrition we know that the southern California consumer thinks about body image differently than … et cetera. That’s a little bit nuanced, but fairly direct. Global brand development as opposed to US based primarily domestic, what are the wrinkles that that adds to the way that business leaders think through how to build durable brands that stand out and succeed?

Jason: When you start thinking about branding and products and services globally, the complexity goes up obviously fairly dramatically. What you see is that it’s very difficult for many brands, particularly B2B brands, to break out of their home market and to achieve similar success in other places around the world.

You see more of that with consumer brands these days and the internet has made that a bit more ubiquitous on the consumer side. But on the B2B side, once you go beyond your home market, and to your comment sometimes your home market may be a region of the country, but once you go beyond your home country the brand characteristics, the brand value, the brand message might resonate quite differently.

As an example, in the ADT business, even on the commercial side, we had people in developed markets, so the US, western Europe, Australia, who really were looking for the absolute best, the gold standard. Over many years ADT and Tyco have been able to establish that, and so based upon brand alone, but then backed up by service, by innovation, by R&D, we were able to command in many cases a premium price.

When you try to extend the brands that have great value in developed markets to emerging markets it became fairly obvious to our teams that the consumer there, who is in much more of a developmental state in terms of thinking about things like fire and security were far more price sensitive and they wanted a brand that they might have seen or recognized somewhere else in the world, but they didn’t always want to pay more for it.

As the business leader, as the product leader, how do you develop a product and service offering for these markets that maybe meets a lower price point without diluting the value proposition you have in the more mature markets where you can command a premium? Balancing that out is incredibly challenging, and that’s where people in the marketing department for example really earn their stripes and make their money, is thinking about how do I juggle this portfolio of brands and products in a way that is really additive to the global plan as opposed to diluting?

Very few people really pull off that trick well, but the brands that do that are the ones that over time have grown to be very global brands and have really a distinctive nature about them that can make one plus one equal more than two.

Bill: Uh-huh (affirmative). No doubt. One of the things you mentioned that now in your work at Villanova you’re teaching, your role at Villanova, it’s an organized way obviously to share what you’ve learned and help nurture careers and the journey of discovery for students.

Along the way you’ve built teams, you’ve managed teams, you’ve … All the way back to obviously your days in the military. Are there a couple of things from a cultural or a team or a mentoring perspective that are important to you when it comes to building the types of organizations that can flourish and win on a global scale and across all the product groups that you’ve managed and brought forth?

Jason: Sure. There is definitely a couple of very specific things which I have developed over my career. I’ve been fortunate to work alongside and for great leaders, so I’ve had people show me the way to do things and occasionally I’d have people perhaps demonstrate the wrong way to do things. I think most people learn a lot from great success, but also learn from their mistakes and mistakes of others and I’ve tried to do that throughout my career.

For me, the first one is that there’s not one right way to lead. I think that great leaders have a range of leadership styles and approaches based upon the situation and can adapt themselves. They’re always true to their core and who they are, but they understand that some people may be motivated by different things and don’t just … People say when you have a hammer you go around looking for nails everywhere. When you do that you tend to be a very one-dimensional leader and those people tend to be successful in one circumstance but not others.

I think one of the reasons that I’ve enjoyed working and have been successful in different environments is I have flexibility in my style within certain guidelines that allows me to lead in different ways and to motivate people in different circumstances.

The second thing I’d really highlight is you want to build a team where people are truly complimentary. Sometimes that means that there is some degree of tension and friction with the team. As long as it’s kept to a manageable level and is really channeled in a productive way, that can be incredibly powerful. Abraham Lincoln got a lot of publicity recently through the book Team of Rivals. He created a Cabinet of people who didn’t agree all that often with one another and were pretty contentious at times, but ultimately the sum of those very different points of view and inputs wound up being some consensus and some compromise that really drove great success at the national level.

Likewise, in a business team you want to understand where people’s strengths and weaknesses are and bring in people who are going to complement one another, but also as part of that challenge one another. Building that kind of team is a very dynamic force and can be very effective.

Then the third one is most leaders struggle at times with giving very direct and very personalized feedback. Particularly from my time at McKinsey, my first corporate experience, McKinsey is world-class in many things and one of them is giving constant feedback. After every meeting, after every assignment, after every review your project manager or the partner would sit down with each member of the team and give them very specific pros of cons of what they did in that meeting or that phone call.

It takes a little getting used to for most people, but once you do that you realize that the power of that to help people adapt and understand where they can improve, how they might do things differently … And it was always positioned as here’s a suggestion, here’s a way of thinking about it, here’s something you might have done differently, so McKinsey lets you experiment with different approaches and different styles.

Going back to my first point, that allows you to find your leadership path, and as I built teams across different kinds of businesses, particularly in the areas of marketing and branding, challenging people to think and act differently and to innovate around themselves allows you to really create teams of people that can innovate for customers as well.

 

Bill: Awesome. We’re really grateful for your time, all that you’ve accomplished both in the service of our nation, thank you, and in the service of wonderful global brands and businesses, a tremendous wealth of lessons and learning for our listeners, and we’re grateful for your time.

Jason: Thanks, it’s been really enjoyable to talk to you guys. As I’ve talked about what I’m doing, I build organizations, I know that you guys do the same thing as well in your own way. I just love getting to meet organizations and companies who really have that passion from the team here and look forward to hopefully working with you going forward.

Bill: Thank you. That’s generous.

Many, many thanks to Jason for his time and insight. He’s a terrific person, a terrific leader, and his words to live by when it comes to building teams and growing careers I trust will be of great inspiration and support to those in our listener base, speaking of which there are three primary ways to support us here at Real World Branding if you’re so inclined.

The first is to click subscribe in the podcast store of your choice so that you do not miss a single episode. Not only will this insure that our weekly content will arrive when it is published, but it will also we’re told help us become more visible to those who would find some interest and some value in what we’re doing here.

The second way to help and to support us is to give us a rating. We’d obviously love to and we strive to live up to five stars, but either way seeing ratings come in also we are told increases the visibility of what we’re doing here and proves to the algorithms out there that people are listening and enjoying this content.

Then lastly let’s keep the dialogue going. On Twitter is probably the best place at Bill Gullan or at Finch Brands. We’d love to hear criticism and comments and praise if warranted. The skin is thick. Always trying to get better here.

In addition, ideas for topics and future guests and things that you find value and are getting into in 2018 would be of great interest to us. This wouldn’t exist if not for the feedback and the time that you all spend listening, so thank you so much or that.

On that note, we’re all huddling up to keep warm and make 2018 all that it can be and we’ll sign off from the Cradle of Liberty.

The post B2B Branding – Jason Rabbino, CEO of Saberhawk Growth Partners appeared first on Finch Brands.

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With significant differences from marketing to consumers, B2B branding is a unique and interesting challenge for organizations across the globe. Having served as a senior executive at three best-in-class multinational companies: Aramark, With significant differences from marketing to consumers, B2B branding is a unique and interesting challenge for organizations across the globe. Having served as a senior executive at three best-in-class multinational companies: Aramark, Tyco International and CHEP (Brambles Ltd), Jason Rabbino shares his insights on how to build strong brands in the B2B world. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!<br /><br /> Transcription:<br /><br /> Jason Rabbino: But on the B2B side, once you go beyond your home country the brand characteristics, the brand value, the brand message may resonate quite differently.<br /><br /> Bill Gullan: Greetings one and all. This is <a href="http://blog.finchbrands.com/topic/podcast">Real-World Branding</a>. I’m Bill Gullan, president of Finch Brands, a premier boutique branding agency, and Happy New Year. 2018 is upon us. Hope everyone had a warm and bright holiday season and the right amount of laughter and rest and everything else, because we’re ready for a new year and we’re coming at it with a vengeance and a fervor, starting with today’s conversation with <a href="https://saberhawkgrowth.com/leadership">Jason Rabbino</a>.<br /><br /> Jason has an incredible career as a senior executive across different organizations at different moments. His career began, as you will hear, with a distinguished period of service in the US Navy as a pilot and as a lieutenant, which extended into work with McKinsey and then into senior executive roles across a variety of global, primarily B2B focused institutions, including many that you’ve heard, Aramark, Tyco and others.<br /><br /> His perspective on branding in B2B, his perspective on managing and building brands across international markets, and his general perspective on leadership and team building is something that makes for a tremendous listen, so enjoy Jason Rabbino.<br /><br /> Bill: We are honored here at Finch Brands to welcome Jason Rabbino to our offices and to our show. Jason is the CEO of <a href="https://saberhawkgrowth.com/">Saberhawk Growth Advisors</a> and we’re grateful for your time.<br /><br /> Jason: It’s great to be here, and thank you guys very much for having me.<br /><br /> Bill: It’s a pleasure. Let’s start where we normally do. You have such an incredible career that hopefully you’ll at least give us the highlights of, so could you take us through your journey a little bit and what leads us here?<br /><br /> Jason: Yeah. Sure. I’ve had three stages in my career. My first ten years or so I was actually in the US Navy, and most of that was flying helicopters, so a pretty different portion of my career, pretty good global brand I guess you’d say, but not something I was actively promoting.<br /><br /> Bill: It’s a leader in its space.<br /><br /> Jason: Exactly. Number one in its sector for sure. Coming out of the Navy, I had gotten my MBA at The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and joined McKinsey and Company. McKinsey certainly has a famous brand name unto itself, but for me it was an opportunity to work with leading companies across all sectors and understand what made great companies work, everything about people, about products and services and innovation, but also about brands and what made brands distinctive and made brands last and evolve over time.<br /><br /> I had a chance to work with great organizations there for about six years, and after doing that I decided at that point I really wanted to get more hands on personal ownership over organizations and really drive the change over a longer period of time. I had the opportunity to move up to Philadelphia and join Aramark.<br /><br /> Aramark is certainly a leader in its space and a great brand. At the time that I joined, Aramark was really on an early stage of a longer journey to reinvent itself. It had been known very long as a great outsource services provider, but in that timeframe, so this is about 2005, Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands clean
Sweetening the Brand – Kim Holdsworth, VP Marketing at Heartland Food Products Group https://finchbrands.com/sweetening-the-brand-kim-holdsworth-vp-marketing-at-heartland-food-products-group/ Wed, 13 Dec 2017 14:40:36 +0000 http://finchbrands.com/?p=2859 https://finchbrands.com/sweetening-the-brand-kim-holdsworth-vp-marketing-at-heartland-food-products-group/#respond https://finchbrands.com/sweetening-the-brand-kim-holdsworth-vp-marketing-at-heartland-food-products-group/feed/ 0 <p>As the Vice President of Marketing at Heartland Food Products Group, Kim Holdsworth manages global marketing for SPLENDA®, among other things. With her CPG background and insight into managing brands globally, Kim provides a unique perspective on what makes big brands successful. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating! Transcription: […]</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com/sweetening-the-brand-kim-holdsworth-vp-marketing-at-heartland-food-products-group/">Sweetening the Brand – Kim Holdsworth, VP Marketing at Heartland Food Products Group</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com">Finch Brands</a>.</p> As the Vice President of Marketing at Heartland Food Products Group, Kim Holdsworth manages global marketing for SPLENDA®, among other things. With her CPG background and insight into managing brands globally, Kim provides a unique perspective on what makes big brands successful. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!

Transcription:

Kim Holdsworth: You have to understand who you’re speaking with, how they’re using the product and we continue to do that every day. We continue to do the research to understand how consumers are using and thinking about the category.

Bill Gullan: Greetings one and all. This is Real-World Branding. I’m Bill Gullan, president of Finch Brands, a premier boutique branding agency. We’re glad to have you, and glad to have our guest today, who’s Kim Holdsworth, who’s the vice president of marketing at Heartland Food Products Group. It’s a pleasure and an honor to host Kim. As you’ll hear, she takes us through her really interesting career that, right now sees her overseeing the SPLENDA® brand, among other things. But, the SPLENDA Brand for Heartland. Heartland acquired SPLENDA out of J and J, Johnson and Johnson, in September of 2015.

SPLENDA, as one might imagine, has run the gamut during its lifespan from pioneer, and innovator in low-calorie sweetening, to certainly being part of the dialogue that consumers and food service brands have about health and nutrition and taste and all the things that matter.

Kim has a really unique perspective on both the SPLENDA brand, as well as the category. I think you’ll enjoy hearing from Kim Holdsworth.

Bill: Coming to you live from the offices of Heartland Food Products Group, at least the Horsham, PA offices. We’re with Kim Holdsworth, who’s the VP of Marketing at Heartland for brands, including SPLENDA. Kim, thanks for having us.

Kim: Absolutely, thanks for coming in.

Bill: It’s a pleasure. Let’s start as I think we normally do. You have a particularly interesting story, or this brand does. We’ll certainly get into that. A bit about your journey through your career up to this point.

Kim: Sure.

Bill: What you were interested in going into school and coming out and how we’ve gotten to this point.

Kim: Yeah. Sure. It is a fun story. I’m a local girl.

Bill: Yes. Villanova, we were just talking about.

Kim: Yeah, born and raised, Philadelphia area, burbs. And only was looking at colleges in the area, didn’t see the point in leaving. In the area, there are so many options. To be honest with you, I always knew I was going to Villanova as long as the accepted me.

Bill: Is there a family connection, or you just loved it?

Kim: No, no, actually my family are Hawks.

Bill: They call that the holy war in and around Philadelphia.

Kim: Yeah, for sure. I of course, looked at St. Joe’s, but Villanova’s where I decided to go. I actually went in as an Accounting Major. I knew business. I’d always, my dad and I have a good relationship, and I always went to work with him. He was an accountant, so I got into that and thought that’s what I was going to do. Then after my first Marketing 101 class, I was hooked. Basic class, and I was like, OK, how do I change my major quickly?

Bill: Nice

Kim: … and focus on this.

Bill: I’m sure the accountants were all depressed in the family right.

Kim: I’m sure they missed me. That made it really easy. Did a communications minor, which was another area that I’d always been interested in. More from being able to speak in front of groups, and taking that edge off, being able to bring a good presentation together. So, really enjoyed that part of the business school as well.

Bill: School helps, alcohol helps. Those are all ways through.

Kim: All of it. You could always take that, take that edge off.

So chose Villanova, chose marketing. Using the career center, got the great opportunity to get my first role at McNeil Consumer Healthcare as part of Johnson and Johnson, just down the road here in Fort Washington.

Bill: Sure

Kim: The way they pitched it to me, you’re in undergrad, and you’re learning about the 4 P’s. I was definitely going to do one of the P’s. I was working in category management, placement, shelf placement, planograming, and they showed me this shelf and it was like, “You get to design this shelf.”

Bill: That’s cool.

Kim: And like, that sounds awesome!

So that’s where I started, and then was working with all the brand team. In McNeil Consumer you had, Tylenol, Pepcid, Imodium, major brands. Motrin.

Bill: Big Brands.

Kim: Big brands. Household brands. Brands that were in my medicine cabinet. So I got to work with the Associate Brand Managers and Brand Managers of those brands on a weekly basis, and then kept saying, “No, no. Great. That’s what I want to do.”

Bill: Right, right.

Kim: The one thing they’ll always tell you at J and J is, “Good things come to those who perform.” So I continued to do my job, continued to learn, and eventually was asked to be part of the core Brand Marketing team as an Associate Brand Manager. And, did several roles, in that capacity and then was around some really smart people. People with their MBA’s.

Bill: Sure

Kim: People who were coming from top 10 schools. I felt I needed to do that, to continue to grow. Again, didn’t want to leave what I was doing, because I loved it. And J and J luckily set up a way for you to do that, and pay for it for you. So I took advantage of that, and I recommend everybody who has an opportunity to take advantage of that to do that. I actually went to LaSalle University, for my MBA. Actually didn’t take any marketing classes. I was getting that on the job.

Bill: Rounding out the rest of the …

Kim: So I rounded out the rest of it. General management, HR, and team building. The things that I felt were going to be more important for me to lead teams, and take my career to a different level there, as well. And I actually did that on the Gwynedd Mercy Campus, they had a satellite campus.

Bill: Nice, nice.

Kim: It was right down the street, and got that done.

Bill: That’s perfect.

Kim: Bought a house, got married and all that stuff at the same time.

Bill: Great you did it all … knocked out right.

Kim: It’s a crazy time when you’re in your 20’s. You do a lot, it’s amazing. So, yeah.

Bill: Nice. That’s great. What a journey, and how did you wind up … I think if I remember correctly, you were attached to the SPLENDA brand on the J and J side …

Kim: Yeah, so, the one thing about J and J was, throughout your brand management career, is you don’t have to actually to get a lot of different brand experiences. Big brands like Tylenol. Small brands like Benecol, which is a cholesterol lowering butter.

Bill: I could use that.

Kim: It’s great, actually tastes great.

So I had all those different experiences and never had to leave. I had to shift campuses within Fort Washington, but still great experiences. My last key experience at J and J was as the Senior Director on SPLENDA, and bringing SPLENDA to a place where J and J wanted it. Unfortunately it was in a place where they were looking to divest it, but, awesome experience for me.

Bill: Yeah, I’m sure.

Kim: Awesome experience to understand that, how you get that done, how you pitch a brand. Just that overall process. And I ended up pitching myself into a new job, which has been another great experience. Going into a small, entrepreneurial, environment, where SPLENDA is, wants to be grown and can be grown, and has a lot of focus and a lot of investment in its future. And really seeing that transition through over the last few years, has been a lot of fun.

Bill: As an old promotions person, I would imagine you would appreciate being a gift with purchase. So SPLENDA’s divest in … gift with purchase, Kim and other, much more than that.

Kim: And other members, yeah.

Bill: Coming over here to Heartland, how does being part of the Heartland portfolio impact SPLENDA, and tell us a little bit about Heartland too. I mean, this is … I think an early brand, branded foray, for Heartland.

Kim: It is. Absolutely. So Heartland got its start in the private label side of the business. Our owner, Ted Gelov, was really the visionary for this business and saw an opportunity in bringing private label SPLENDA, to market. When we were pitching this business to Heartland, I pitched it to 12 different companies and private equities. I kept saying, it has to be Heartland because they get it. They understand sweeteners, they know how to make it. This will be easy. Right, that transition will be easy. I would say it was. That’s been a great asset to SPLENDA coming into Heartland because they understood the category. They understood how to do it. We have a lot of leverage, coming in, and able to make more investment into the brand.

The difference now is, we have a brand, beyond private label. We were in liquid water enhancers, and creamers and coffees and such, but the SPLENDA brand really is, the beacon of the company now. And, you know, added so many more people, so many more talents to the organization, already a tremendously talented workforce. But now added Marketers and Brand people, market research, etc. It’s just been a tremendous time of growth, for the organization. Just one heck of a ride for sure.

Bill: Yeah, I’m sure, and I know there’s high expectations and a lot that is ahead. This brand, being a jewel in the crown here at Heartland, with opportunities. To that end, one of the things that’s happened fairly recently, that I know is a big priority for the brand team, is, this launch of SPLENDA Naturals. Can you tell us a bit about that story, and what was the need and the rationale and how you see the opportunity with SPLENDA Naturals moving forward?

Kim: The Naturals category, really came on the scene in about 2007. Truvia, I think most of us know that brand, has really come on and lead that category, or led that sub-category within sweeteners. Just like any category that, in food these days, it’s really shifted more to naturals and organic. So SPLENDA, and previous lives of SPLENDA has always seen naturals as a place we wanted to be, but was always curious to us was why hadn’t naturals really taken off.

When SPLENDA launched, 20 years ago, we overtook the category in two to three years. Right? We were better tasting. More easily used in other products, in cooking and baking. We just didn’t see that transformation with the naturals category. Really what it came down to, was taste.

Bill: Yeah, sure.

Kim: What we’d been able to do here at Heartland is develop a product that, frankly is a great tasting, Stevia product. No bitter aftertaste, unlike competition. We knew that only the SPLENDA brand could bring that. Consumers know the SPLENDA brand is great taste and low calorie, and not until we had a product that we were fully proud of, and knew lived into that equity, were we going to launch it. That’s the product we have today.

Bill: Having seen consumers experience it for the first time, I can attest that there is a pleasant surprise and a big smile around taste and consistency too.  Other factors.  How do you see the opportunity for SPLENDA Naturals?

Kim: Honestly, again consumers really do want to try to eat better every day. They want to try to cut back on their sugar. Sugar’s being vilified every day, in the media. But there’s some truth in that right? We are consuming too much sugar, in the world and especially in the U.S. SPLENDA products are an easy way, to cut back on that sugar, but there’s always that halo of concern. Not that there should be, with SPLENDA. So, we offer those consumers who, want natural in their diet, an opportunity to have great taste in doing that and not feel that their really giving up on anything.

Especially consumers who have diabetes, who are, their lives are already being turned upside down. If we can give them some level of normalcy by saying, “Hey, you can still have the sweet things that you love, and have them with the SPLENDA products.” That’s something that gets me up every day to come here. I’m not just shilling sugar, right? We’re out here, really helping people make an impact in their health.

Bill: No, huge impact. I know that you also have a global responsibility. The, various, sort of, cultures and their relationships with sugar. There seems to be some difference around the world.

Kim: There is, for sure. There’s some markets where sugars really not part of it, right? They’re not sweetening a cup of coffee every day.

Bill: Sure, sure.

Kim: And then there’s markets where, in Latin America, where it’s a very big part of their lives, and their family in their day to day. In every market where SPLENDA shows up, we show up as SPLENDA. The positioning, the look, the feel, the taste is SPLENDA. But, in some markets we can break through a little differently. And we don’t hit the same barriers in other markets.

Bill: Now we see, even in the U.S. and regions like the Southeast, where there’s a cultural connection. We did some field research in Atlanta, we got to go to Waffle House and do the sweet tea and sugars part of the culture, so it’s interesting.

Kim: It is fun. You talk Iced Tea, you know we’ll say ice tea, no sweet tea. You go to Canada and their like, no.

Bill: No, no, no.

Kim: It’s tea time.

You have to understand who you’re speaking with, how their using the product. Really help them see how easy it can be to switch.

Bill: No question. You alluded to it, but, SPLENDA is a brand that rides the ups and downs of consumer trends and sentiment. There’s an ongoing dialog of course about health and wellness from folks who are trying to make small choices, and others who have a strong dogma about what they do and don’t want. How does a brand like SPLENDA, contribute to that dialog and what’s the role of a brand like SPLENDA in this, quest, I guess that we all have in different ways, to live our best, most healthful nutritious sort of lives.

Kim: SPLENDA’s the category leader. It’s not by accident. It’s because we invested in the science. We invested in healthcare professionals. We’ve invested in the awareness, in the equity of the brand. We continue to do that every day. We continue to do the research, to understand how consumers are using and thinking about the category. The research to help doctors, and health educators on how they need to talk about the brand, and how they can help their patients make those changes in their life.

We also ensure that we are at key conferences, where healthcare professionals are. If there is misinformation in the marketplace, and unfortunately there’s a lot of it, that we’re in that conversation. That we get the right key opinion leaders, and we get the right science out there, and not let the negativity hold us back. As brand people, making sure that that truth is out there, because the product is a great product for consumers. If their option is sugar, where we know it’s going to add to, a potentially negative health affect in the long run. We really need to make sure, as the brand leaders, that we’re getting that truth out there.

Bill: You mentioned earlier, not only your own interest across your career, and the development in terms of teams and cultures, but what you and your colleagues are building here. What are some important ingredients that you put into practice about, building a strong team and a positive culture, and developing people. How do you look at this as a leader in this enterprise?

Kim: I think by default, the marketing department’s always more fun.

Bill: Of course!

Kim: We’re dealing with fun things. We’re out having fun events. We’re partnering with key partners, that could be celebrities. We just sponsored the Emmy’s. I mean, these are cool things.

Bill: Right, I saw that was all over Twitter. I didn’t win. My hashtag was [crosstalk 00:15:07]

Kim: It’s inherently fun, what we do. I think the other things is, working with people that you enjoy working with. There are members of this team, that we’ve been together for several years. Team members that, we worked together years ago and came back. I truly believe that we work with our friends here, and we really do enjoy coming in every day, and just being together.

We are a satellite office of Heartland, but Heartland is a family. It’s a family owned business.

Bill: It’s not Wall Street.

Kim: It’s not Wall Street. We have a few members of our, headquarters here today. When they walked in this morning, it was like, it was exciting. It was exciting to see them. There’s hugs and, so really building that, that family atmosphere here at Heartland, but then especially at our office here, because we’re a satellite, we have to come together as a team and know that we have each other. Since we’re not in that bigger, headquarters office.

The other thing, honestly, is ensuring team building. Giving everyone opportunities to try new things. We’ve only been here two years, but those of us who transitioned feel like we’ve gotten 10 years of experience. When you come into a smaller organization, you touch more, you see more. You’re in more in depth and higher level conversations at the same time. I think the teams seen that too as an opportunity for development, for themselves and then ultimately, for the brand.

Just even last week we were on a hay ride at [inaudible 00:16:36] Farms. So you have to sprinkle in a little of the team building as well.

Bill: Well this seems to be a … I mean it shows just being around here. A lot of smiles and, good mix of people. Some folks at different moments in their career. Everybody seems to be smiling, and engaged, in what is a, very stimulating company and category and brand here.

To that end, I won’t ask you to disclose things that are close to the vest and it’s always fun to be surprised, but, anything you can share that’s new or coming that’s related to SPLENDA or other parts of the business that you’re involved in?

Kim: Yeah, a little bit. I think from a SPLENDA and a SPLENDA Naturals perspective, you’ll continue to see, new for us ways to help consumers find new and different ways to, incorporate SPLENDA in to their lives. So definitely more coming from the SPLENDA brand, and as we grow the SPLENDA Naturals portfolio.

We also have begun work, and started showcasing our new cold brew product, Java House.

Bill: Very cool.

Kim: So that’s been a lot of fun for us. I’m getting some really great feedback from operators, from consumers. The product tastes amazing.

Bill: That’s great.

Kim: Cold brew is a category that is up and coming. It’s, again, working in an organization that can see, that vision and make the investments to bring that to life. Not only in the equipment, but also in the people that it takes to bring that to life. So we’re really excited to see where that takes us.

Bill: That’s super interesting. I know, or I think Heartland places a really high premium on speed to market, and being decisive. Compared to other, publicly traded, large battleship types of organizations, probably an advantage I would think.

Kim: It’ is. I would say that’s probably the biggest difference for us. For those of us who – and not just those of us who came at the transition of SPLENDA, but any new team member who have come from bigger corporations to Heartland. The speed at which we get it done, and get it out into market is, hands down just amazing. It still amazes me two years in, and I’m like, oh my goodness. We were here I think five months and we launched our first SPLENDA product. It was so fast. Within less than a year we had launched SPLENDA Naturals. We kind of just talked about them in previous lives.

It’s exciting to see the speed at which we can bring something to market.

Bill: That’s great. Well it’s super cool and it’s a lot to be proud of and obviously it’s an opportunity to try different things, and get behind things that are exciting and high potential.

Kim: For sure.

Bill: To that end, given the path that you’ve taken, and choices you’ve made and exposures that you’ve had, that you walked us through. Are there any words of wisdom or rules to live by that have become important to you over time as a person and a professional?

Kim: Yeah, I think for me over the years, note the managers that, you loved working with. You know, the ones you feel like were, inspiring you and take those and how you want to manage others, over time. That’s something that I always try to look back on and learn from, and the ones that you didn’t. Try not to do that, right?

Bill: There’s a reason, right.

Kim: But also, going back to working with your friends. If you’re not coming to work every day and laughing a little …

Bill: Right, sure.

Kim: … go somewhere else. Like, find somewhere else to work. Life’s too short, you spend too much time at work, especially in brand management careers. Have fun. Find a way to be with people that you enjoy being with every day and that inspire you to be better at what you’re doing, and inspiring to want to bring more people into your organization, so you can make better brands. It’ keeps me coming to work every day for sure.

Bill: Sure, it also sounds like in your academic career that, you were open to being inspired, with something. That may not have been, no offense to accounting, which is super sexy as we know.

Kim: No offense dad, sorry.

Bill: Right, sorry mister, mister [crosstalk 00:20:34]

Some people have a narrowed and grooved sense of what’s possible and what they’re going to be. You fell in love with something curricularly, and then you did professional, and it seems like it’s been a passion play all the way along the way.

Kim: Coming out of high school I didn’t even know what brand management was.

Bill: Yeah, right.

Kim: I didn’t know it existed. Again, it wasn’t something my family was in. Then my kids, I mean, my god they watch casting reels with me.

Bill: Yeah, oh my goodness.

Kim: It’s hysterical. And they actually imitate them sometimes, it’s kind of funny. They know, they get brand management. They understand what I do. Their friends ask if it’s my commercial why aren’t I in it. You know what I mean?

Bill: Of course.

Kim: You know, that’s always the hard thing to answer. So I’m sure one of them will probably steer that way a little bit, but maybe like I did, they might follow mom, but then realize that accounting was more interesting.

Bill: I think that’s highly unlikely, but yes.

Well thank you Kim, this has been … I appreciate your time and insight in getting to know this team and this brand and this leader, and everything else. It’s been a lot of fun for us and, so many exciting things for the brand and for the team moving forward and we’re grateful for a bit of your wisdom.

Kim: Thank you so much. It was so much fun to talk with you.

Bill: Thanks to Kim for her time and her insight, and getting to know this company. This leader and this brand has been a real pleasure for us. SPLENDA, interesting times. Very intellectually stimulating, set of topics on which their developing products and going to market. We’re super grateful, to Kim.

Ways to support us here at Real-World Branding. As always if you are so inclined, are to keep that dialog going on social media. We really appreciate the back and forth on Twitter about, future guest ideas. Topics that you’d like to hear us address, as well as some criticism, for those of us who are thick skinned, has never hurt. And, in fact, I think only makes this better, hopefully.

Other things that are very much on our plate here, and we’d love for you all to consider, is clicking Subscribe in that podcast store or podcast app of choice, to make sure that you don’t miss a week. We try to do this every week. Making sure you click subscribe, also makes sure that our podcast downloads automatically, when new content is available.

And then lastly if we’ve deserved it, we’d greatly appreciate a rating. Hopefully five stars, in that podcast app store of your choice. I’m not phrasing that well, but, we are told at least that the mystery of how podcasts are elevated in the search rankings does have in part, to do with the number of subscribers as well as the number of reviews and what those reviews are. So if you’re enjoying what we do here, and you think others would to, a quick way to help make sure they have that level of access, and we do to their ear buds, is to either subscribe or to rate and preferably to do both, if you’re in that holiday giving spirit.

In that spirit ourselves we’ll sign off for the cradle of liberty.

The post Sweetening the Brand – Kim Holdsworth, VP Marketing at Heartland Food Products Group appeared first on Finch Brands.

The post Sweetening the Brand – Kim Holdsworth, VP Marketing at Heartland Food Products Group appeared first on Finch Brands.

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As the Vice President of Marketing at Heartland Food Products Group, Kim Holdsworth manages global marketing for SPLENDA®, among other things. With her CPG background and insight into managing brands globally, As the Vice President of Marketing at Heartland Food Products Group, Kim Holdsworth manages global marketing for SPLENDA®, among other things. With her CPG background and insight into managing brands globally, Kim provides a unique perspective on what makes big brands successful. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!<br /><br /> Transcription:<br /><br /> Kim Holdsworth: You have to understand who you’re speaking with, how they’re using the product and we continue to do that every day. We continue to do the research to understand how consumers are using and thinking about the category.<br /><br /> Bill Gullan: Greetings one and all. This is Real-World Branding. I’m Bill Gullan, president of Finch Brands, a premier boutique branding agency. We’re glad to have you, and glad to have our guest today, who’s <a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/kim-holdsworth-9a94352/">Kim Holdsworth</a>, who’s the vice president of marketing at <a href="http://www.heartlandsweeteners.com/">Heartland Food Products Group</a>. It’s a pleasure and an honor to host Kim. As you’ll hear, she takes us through her really interesting career that, right now sees her overseeing the SPLENDA® brand, among other things. But, the <a href="https://www.splenda.com/">SPLENDA</a> Brand for Heartland. Heartland acquired SPLENDA out of J and J, Johnson and Johnson, in September of 2015.<br /><br /> SPLENDA, as one might imagine, has run the gamut during its lifespan from pioneer, and innovator in low-calorie sweetening, to certainly being part of the dialogue that consumers and food service brands have about health and nutrition and taste and all the things that matter.<br /><br /> Kim has a really unique perspective on both the SPLENDA brand, as well as the category. I think you’ll enjoy hearing from Kim Holdsworth.<br /><br /> Bill: Coming to you live from the offices of Heartland Food Products Group, at least the Horsham, PA offices. We’re with Kim Holdsworth, who’s the VP of Marketing at Heartland for brands, including SPLENDA. Kim, thanks for having us.<br /><br /> Kim: Absolutely, thanks for coming in.<br /><br /> Bill: It’s a pleasure. Let’s start as I think we normally do. You have a particularly interesting story, or this brand does. We’ll certainly get into that. A bit about your journey through your career up to this point.<br /><br /> Kim: Sure.<br /><br /> Bill: What you were interested in going into school and coming out and how we’ve gotten to this point.<br /><br /> Kim: Yeah. Sure. It is a fun story. I’m a local girl.<br /><br /> Bill: Yes. Villanova, we were just talking about.<br /><br /> Kim: Yeah, born and raised, Philadelphia area, burbs. And only was looking at colleges in the area, didn’t see the point in leaving. In the area, there are so many options. To be honest with you, I always knew I was going to Villanova as long as the accepted me.<br /><br /> Bill: Is there a family connection, or you just loved it?<br /><br /> Kim: No, no, actually my family are Hawks.<br /><br /> Bill: They call that the holy war in and around Philadelphia.<br /><br /> Kim: Yeah, for sure. I of course, looked at St. Joe’s, but Villanova’s where I decided to go. I actually went in as an Accounting Major. I knew business. I’d always, my dad and I have a good relationship, and I always went to work with him. He was an accountant, so I got into that and thought that’s what I was going to do. Then after my first Marketing 101 class, I was hooked. Basic class, and I was like, OK, how do I change my major quickly?<br /><br /> Bill: Nice<br /><br /> Kim: … and focus on this.<br /><br /> Bill: I’m sure the accountants were all depressed in the family right.<br /><br /> Kim: I’m sure they missed me. That made it really easy. Did a communications minor, which was another area that I’d always been interested in. More from being able to speak in front of groups, and taking that edge off, Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands clean
Interacting with Brands – James Giglio, CEO of MVP Interactive https://finchbrands.com/interacting-with-brands-james-giglio-ceo-of-mvp-interactive/ Thu, 30 Nov 2017 16:00:13 +0000 http://finchbrands.com/?p=2847 https://finchbrands.com/interacting-with-brands-james-giglio-ceo-of-mvp-interactive/#respond https://finchbrands.com/interacting-with-brands-james-giglio-ceo-of-mvp-interactive/feed/ 0 <p>From virtual and augmented reality to interactive kiosks and beyond, technology has impacted every facet of our lives. The emergence of these platforms present an opportunity for brands to create immersive experiences for consumers. James Giglio and the team at MVP Interactive are leading the way in tech-driven brand experiences. In this episode, James provides […]</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com/interacting-with-brands-james-giglio-ceo-of-mvp-interactive/">Interacting with Brands – James Giglio, CEO of MVP Interactive</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com">Finch Brands</a>.</p> From virtual and augmented reality to interactive kiosks and beyond, technology has impacted every facet of our lives. The emergence of these platforms present an opportunity for brands to create immersive experiences for consumers. James Giglio and the team at MVP Interactive are leading the way in tech-driven brand experiences. In this episode, James provides his insight into the way technology is changing these brand interactions and how it enables deeper connection with consumers. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!

Transcription:

James Giglio: This idea of consumer engagement and levering alternative methods to connect with an individual as a brand, it just makes sense.

Bill Gullan: Greetings one and all, this is Real-World Branding. I’m Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands, a premier boutique branding agency. Happy Thanksgiving. I hope everyone had a terrific holiday of football, and gluttony, and family, and we were dark last week given some deadlines as well as some time off, but we are back with a vengeance and we’re proud to bring you an interview with James Giglio, who is the founder and CEO of MVP Interactive. It’s a great entrepreneurial story, but also a glimpse into the world of consumer engagement.

They call themselves the consumer engagement technology company, but what that means, at least today, is bringing really interactive and fun experiences to sports and other special event venues on behalf of brands. So, that’s Bud Light, that’s a Budweiser, that’s Coca-Cola, Cox Communications, other leading consumer facing brands and whether that’s at a sports venue, like a ballpark or an entertainment venue, MVP Interactive is a pioneer in bringing forth these experiences that really engage and activate consumer interest and connection. Enjoy hearing from James.

Bill: Welcome James Giglio. Did I get that right?

James: Wow.

Bill: Nice. You were coaching me. James is the founder and CEO of MVP Interactive. He is with us here at Finch Brands Global HQ. James, we’re honored to have you and thanks for your time.

James: My pleasure. I’m happy to be here.

Bill: As we typically start, I think the folks on the other end of this would really enjoy hearing about your backstory and your journey up to building this really, really interesting company, which we’ll certainly get into, but tell us a bit about the about your journey.

James: Sure. Well, despite where we are today I had an early career in finance. In particular it was real estate finance and trading mortgage backed securities for independent small investment firms up in the New York area. I felt that I have always had … Well, each position was always either managerial role of business development and I think, like most people are, some people kind of go through their journey – you fall into the box, you graduate college and you kind of go through your ranks and what have you – but I always felt that I was pretty good at what I did in terms of connecting with who our end clients were and all of that good stuff.

I had a career trading mortgage backed securities. Right around, I think history tells this story pretty well, but mid 2000s I was starting to field calls from the Goldman Sachs of the world asking me well, a little James Giglio, my opinion on what the market was doing and I thought that was a pretty … I mean, it was fascinating when Goldman Sachs is asking you the questions. I think that kind of … lead you to a head space-

Bill: It’s like when your doctor says, “So what do you think about this?”

James: That’s right. Exactly. To use the term that I’ve told people in the past is it was at that moment that I felt that I needed to get off the beach before the tsunami hit. I started to explore some other creative outlets. I always felt, on top of my business development and/or managerial experience, I always felt a need for some level of creativity and finance is not exactly the industry that allows for that. So, I completely made a career change into the advertising world. I was like a fourth or fifth employee of a very small boutique out of home advertising agency in New York.

I did that for a few years, but what I started to see there was the absolute or the pre-trend, if you will, the need for technology and using that as a conduit to consumer engagement. I started to see some interest in the early 2000s, mid 2000s, mobile apps, the iPhone, all of that good stuff where brands really saw the phone as a medium of communication, the way traditional advertisement is, like the TV.

It was there that I realized the company was doing it wrong and they weren’t really taking advantage of the opportunity. I was actually down in Tampa with my now business partner, who is our CTO, Anthony DiPrizio at MVP Interactive.

We were on an ad pitch together and I pretty much pitched him this idea and said, “Listen, I think we really need to productize this technology and really create a conduit to connection using technology.” And we’re talking facial recognition and gesture, all the popular technology that has happened since then. Snapchat probably wasn’t an even a thought at that timeframe. So, on that note I’m digressing a little bit, but we, despite using the very similar filter facial recognition technology, we’ve been doing that on a kiosk much longer than Snapchat on an app. It’s bittersweet.

Bill: You should go public.

James: Yeah, yeah. Exactly. We didn’t go mobile at first, but in any event, I felt targeting the sports venues and sports community was a perfect piece of real estate to not take advantage. To really leverage a fan’s passion for the brand infinities that they’re following – whether it’s the team and the brands associated and sponsors with that team.

But I couldn’t build the technology on my own, obviously. Working with Anthony for about four or five years at the agency I knew that we had a skillset and capability to really produce these pieces of equipment, if you will, and this technology.

We had our meeting and then while we were in Tampa I realized, “Why don’t I just take advantage of this time? There’s three sports properties here.” I cold called each of them and the Tampa Bay Rays took my call. We went in there, full disclosure, working for another company, pitching MVP Interactive.

We didn’t have a name, obviously. We didn’t have a product, but we had a vision. So, I pretty much sold the vision to the CMO of the Ray’s and his response was, “This is exactly what we’re trying to figure out, creating more of an in-venue experience. We want to have this engagement and theme park environment and technology like this sounds really amazing.”

I use that as pretty much my first piece of discovery and I would say that was in February of 2012, February or March. I spent a couple more months doing some research and in May 2012 I launched MVP Interactive. I did it.

Bill: Starting with two or one and the half or when you made the jump or-

James: It was me and a desk. That’s how I always tell the story. Anthony, unfortunately at the time, he was unable to take the leap and he wanted to work through his contract and whatnot with the agency. I just took the plunge and at that time wrote a business plan and got the first website up and running and started my outreach.

We spent a solid six months prototyping our first product, which is called the morphing station. I was mentioning it earlier, it’s basically now, for most people that understand this, it’s a Snapchat kiosk, but we were a bit of ahead of the curve in what we were doing there. But we were using the same technologies where facial recognition, gesture input and multi-touch screens and what have you.

We had a very rudimentary, sorry for the pun, but MVP, the minimal viable product, in our prototype. I still don’t know how or why, but the executive … What was his title at the time? He was the executive global marketing vice president or something along those lines for the NBA, took our meeting. So I pitched him and he said, “There’s something here, but I’m going to pass you over to my team.”

He made an introduction to some of the other marketing folks at the NBA and they said, “Listen, this sounds great. We don’t know you. We know you’re a startup. We’re not going to pay you, but if you’re able to take your equipment out to the All-Star Game in Houston we’ll give you space on the floor.”

The NBA does a great job with producing fan events. Yeah, it’s called the Jam Session and it’s literally like 24 hours for three days straight and it is a casino-like experience. We weren’t on the directory. We didn’t have an icon on the map, nothing, but what we did benefit from was being positioned right next to the autograph stage.

Bill: Oh, that’s cool.

James: As your Hakeem Olajuwon’s, your Yao Ming’s were getting ready for their signatures and autographs and all of that, folks had to walk past our machine. By the end of the event we registered thousands and thousands of users. Our social impression amplification reached higher than what the NBA was promoting. It was an amazing case study and we were able to literally sign two clients on the trading floor right there. BBVA Compass, which is the league sponsor bank and the Houston Dynamo, which is their MLS team.

That’s really what launched our company. It was great validation and no better feeling than risking it. We didn’t have much money in the bank when we went there, but we came back with a six-figure contract.

Bill: That’s terrific. Fast forwarding to where we are today, I know there’s offices here in Philadelphia as well as in New York and maybe even beyond. How many folks do you all have?

James: We’re a full-time staff of 10 and then we have a bunch of developers based on project flows that we call to from time to time. So, we’re headquartered, as you mentioned, here. We do have a presence in Manhattan. It provides a nice show room on Fifth Avenue and we just opened up our West Coast office via WeWork, which is awesome model. We have a West Coast presence as well so we’re able to really extend our reach that way.

Bill: MVP stands for a lot of things, but in at least in company parlance, it seems to be motion, virtual, play. Obviously, the sports connection. The minimal viable product early. Just looking at some of these case studies, I mean, aside from the fact that many of these teams I detest, like the Redskins and the Yankees.

James: We love all our clients.

Bill: Of course! There’s quite a range of utilizations, there’s quite a range of leagues and brand properties. What is the value to brands? You talked a little bit about what the NBA might have been looking for at the time, but of this kind of immersive on-site, what is the pitch to the brand owners for the impact of this?

James: I think it’s a perfect time in marketing right now because consumer engagement is such a focal point and I think what brands are starting to realize through the use of technology, not only ours, but just our general day-to-day technology that we use as human beings and consumers, is moving away from traditional forms of media, like your television commercials, like your billboards, where traditionally that’s what you had and there was KPM’s and there was research based on that, but where our society is moving towards and marketing to millennial provides a perfect opportunity for experiences.

With creating these experiences via technology as well as live events really provides a perfect storm of engagement. One of the things that we always say when it comes down to the ROI or the KPMs that brands are traditionally looking for, we provide that front-end experience with creating whatever that engagement point is. We provide data in the background in terms of user generated content, amplification through social media, impression rates through analytics, using facial recognition anonymously and all of that good stuff. So, I can’t tell you what the exact ROI is on an experience and if anyone can tell me that sign them up, but we provide you with every single tool to help extrapolate that return for you.

Each client’s vary. Some look for put through rates and we need to churn these users in 30 seconds or 60 seconds or what have you. Other clients look for email addresses and user information. Other clients don’t care about that and when they say, “You know what, we just want our brand associated to this awesome experience. I think the global brands like Anheuser-Busch’s, your Coca-Cola’s of the world are moving away from their traditional signage model of advertisements where just slapping their logos all over the place right into, “Hey, let’s take advantage of our presence and our product at a music festival, at a sports stadium, at a tent-pole event, at a lifestyle theme park.” So on and so forth, where it feels less intrusive.

I think generationally, I think the younger generations and millennials and what have you, they’re more averse to traditional forms of advertisement, and listen, advertising is not going to go away, we all know that, right?

Bill: No, of course not.

James: But it’s how you remove the pop-up ad experience of advertising that really bodes well for us in creating these experiences.

Bill: Right. It looks like, just looking at some of the greatest hits here and they’re really awesome, there’s a couple different models here. You mentioned what Tampa Bay was trying to do back in the day with the Ray’s making a live event experience interactive and fun and different to increase presumably the value of a ticket and of an experience and the connection, everything else. Then you see brands like you did the Bud Light social lounge with the Redskins this past year, this is a way for a corporate brand to express their values through something that’s fun and in-person. You can easily see why this connects.

James: Yeah, absolutely. I think that’s a phenomenal case study because from a brand message standpoint, you’re Bud Light, you want to sell beer, right? That’s your goal, but you’re not going to sell beer by having a sign on the concourse.

Bill: Reminding someone that you’re available.

James: You’re available, but how you’re going to sell beer is to create a destination point and you’re going to have engagement, you’re going to have people loitering in a particular area. Oh by the way, here’s a bar and a cooler that you can enjoy a beverage while you’re interacting with virtual reality.

We’re doing all of that great stuff. It’s a phenomenal case study and, again, I think Anheuser-Busch is ahead of the curve in terms of brands creating these 4D experiences.

Bill: Right. We know that technology marches on to your point and I’m sure it’s, even it’s 2012, it’s transformed itself completely. Lot of ink and pixels being spent talking about the potential of VR and AR, virtual reality and augmented reality. What are you seeing or projecting or envisioning when it comes to how what you do becomes even more?

James: Yeah, yeah. Well, I guess my industry input on where I think AR and VR is going. I think despite VR being a little bit more I guess earlier released I think AR is far more scalable and it’s going to be a lot more pervasive in our everyday lifestyle than VR at this point. I think through the advent of Apple’s ARKit it’s going provide developers like us a host of opportunities and engagement points. I think the success of Pokemon Go is a clear indication of how scalable AR can be and how well it can work seamlessly into your day-to-day.

VR, despite our production capabilities and we love doing VR and producing, it’s still very much feels like the Betamax machine or the VCR where it’s a race to the bottom on the hardware. You’re going to see iterations of the LaserDisc, then the Blu-ray Disc. From a hardware standpoint, I think from a consumer, a residential grade consumer engagement, I think is going to be kicked out the affordability a few more years before it’s in every household. But I do think it allows for folks like us, more on the commercial side, to develop these brand experiences through VR, because it is truly a one-on-one experience that gives you access to otherwise inaccessible locations or experiences.

Bill: Well, we’ve even seen base level consumer applications in AR and VR, which happens seemingly rather quickly. Super interesting stuff and I’m sure that you and your team are licking your chops when it comes to what will be possible in the next while.

James: Yeah, yeah. Absolutely. One of the things it’s funny though, because you do realize technology moves extremely fast and I think what we’re seeing is an opportunity for AR and VR interest to loop us around into other technologies that we’ve been doing for the last five years. Oh wow, we can, to your point, add all of these ingredients, so to speak, into an experience that provides this extremely unique experience for users.

Bill: Supercool. Whether it be MVP itself or just technology in general, what are some new things that we ought to keep our eyes out for in the near future, either that you can share about MVP’s up to, but just about how technology is changing in advancing the way you’re able to deliver it? What’s next?

James: I guess that’s a two-prong question. I can lend you some insight in terms of what we’re doing and what we’re looking to roll out in 2018, but I think as an industry and society, I think what Amazon is creating is really spectacular and frightening at the same time. Where this automated lifestyle, whether it’s using artificial intelligence or making your life easier through technology is fascinating to me. What concerns me on the technology end is the amount of extrapolated data for the user and this is coming from the producer side of things where I know what’s obtainable in these engagements.

Respecting personal privacy and all of that good stuff, I think, is my slight concern. But I think this is the way that it can change our lifestyle, whether it’s the Lyft’s of the world, the Amazon’s of the world and this artificial intelligence driver, if you will, that’s going to change the way we experience our day-to-day.

As far as MVP Interactive goes, we’re really excited about our media network vision and plan. What we’re looking to do is create one of the first experiential media networks in venues so it’ll be a scalable cross-country network of interactive products, inside stadiums that are going to become more and more commonplace through the game time experience.

We are in this stage of acquiring our early adopters. We’re about 10 properties in right now where we’re really flipping the model in terms of how corporate sponsorship teams have traditionally sold inventory in their stadiums. I guess that’s a lot of insider jargon, but the best way to put it is we are creating the concourse level jumbotron using all of these immersive experiences that we’re giving the teams availability to sell sponsorship onto these units.

One of the things that we’ve learned … and I’m digressing, I apologize for that. One of the things that we’ve learned over the past few years in focusing on sports is despite the billion dollar valuations, despite the million dollar contracts, properties spend very, very little on outside of grass root marketing efforts on this type of technology.

Brands absolutely love it and will spend the money and use and work with the team in a symbiotic relationship, but the team themselves really didn’t have an opportunity to make money on connecting the brands to the vendors, so to speak. We flip that model where we’re providing the property a new piece of inventory that they can sell and earn revenue off of.

So far the response has been tremendously positive. We’re excited about that. That’s what we’re up to, and again, with every technology that you have described here earlier, we’re going to encompass one singular unit that is able to produce all of that.

Bill: That’s supercool. Nice. In your role as a manager and a business builder and a brand builder in your own right, what have been some of the areas of particular focus and interest for you in building MVP Interactive?

James: I think on the human resource side the biggest … Not to discredit any MBA or the value in … Again, that was always an interest of mine, getting an MBA, but I could say over the last five years starting a business, working through all the nuance and details of all of that has been the best education I ever had in my life.

Bill: School of Hard Knocks.

James: Yeah, exactly. It sounds so cliché, but it’s really true because I can’t imagine what I’ve learned or entrepreneurs or even yourselves, working in an agency like this, that an MBA can teach you. A lot of that is the human resource element. I think what’s intrigued me the most is really valuing others that believe in the vision despite the lack of luxury or corporate benefits and things of that nature.

Being able to build a team, maintain a team and have them as equally as passionate to what we’re doing and building and seeing the long-term value in that has been a really fascinating experience for me. On that side there’s been a … I’ve just loved every minute of that.

What’s not so glamorous, trying to raise money for a startup and people poking holes through your dream and your vision and what have you and then the ups and downs of what finances look like and keeping the bootstrap, all the classic stories.

I think we’re going to get to a point … we’re very sports centric right now and I don’t think that we’re ever going to lose focus, but I do see the opportunity to build this very divisional technology company where we have that media network up top, we have a VR production studio on the seventh floor, on the sixth floor we have experiential marketing and event style productions and so mobile apps, things of that nature, because what we’re seeing now is, “Hey, you guys did this, are you able to do this?” Absolutely. If we haven’t done it before we’re going to give it a shot for sure. I think the long-term vision and where we see this going is that multi-tiered technology offering. Maybe there’s a rebrand that we can work with you guys after we move away from MVP, but yeah.

Bill: We’ll do it for 10% less…

James: There you go. There you go.

Bill: I mean, to your point, the company describes itself as a consumer engagement technology company.

James: That’s right.

Bill: That is a pretty clear blueprint for seemingly what you’re into and what you’re chasing and what you’re after. Your path is, your personal path, as you described it to us, is fascinating and full of twists and turns in decisions and tough days and great days, I’m sure. As someone who’s who reached this point, I’m sure some of our listeners are inspired by this. Any words of wisdom that you want to share that have kind of become important to who you are as a business person and a person?

James: Yeah. Well, again, I’m seeing this through an entrepreneurial lens and so I’ll have to answer it that way. Knowing that internally I always felt very entrepreneurial, but I never necessarily had the plan or a direct pathway and I don’t know many people who. I mean, there’s a handful of people, the 20-year-old success stories and all of that, but I think what I constantly tell myself and others is the moment you find your passion that is coupled with a plan you’re on the right path.

I think that, above anything else, that’s how I define MVP and what I’m doing. I’ve never been as passionate about something in my life than this, but I also had a plan. I’ve been passionate about things before, but I was a clueless or I didn’t have the plan, I didn’t have the vision.

When you can couple those two things I think you’re … And it doesn’t have to be starting your own business, but whatever your interest is, whatever you’re passionate about, if you can form a plan of action to succeed or at least go down that path I think that’s a real positive road. It won’t be easy. I’m not going to disillusion anyone with that, but to me, I wake up every day the same way that I woke up in May 2012, on the first day and I go to sleep-

Bill: Drunk.

James: Yeah. Right. Yeah. So, the passion is still there.

Bill: What is it about … Sorry I’m interrupting, about what it is that you’re doing that really lights you up? Obviously building the company, obviously the entrepreneurial piece, obviously the opportunity for your life and everything else, but is there a particular ingredient here that’s just supercool to you?

James: I just think it makes sense. I remember thinking back maybe in March of 2012 trying to talk myself out of this like, “This is a shitty idea. Who do you think you are? You’re not going to be able to do that.” And I couldn’t, and in a weird way I kind of make a lot of decisions that way. If I can’t talk myself out of something, because I am fairly analytical, I think, but I couldn’t talk myself out because it just made sense and it still makes sense five years later.

I think technology is … in the way brands are thinking about marketing and advertising. It still makes sense and it’s going to make sense 10 years from now. Is it going to be same technology? No, but this idea of consumer engagement and leveraging alternative methods to connect with an individual as a brand, it just makes sense.

Bill: People dying out for that. Sorry, I interrupted you. You were sharing your words of wisdom and that was one. I don’t know if there were others that you had or if that pretty much sums up your philosophy.

James: I think that really … Yeah, I mean, that really sums it up.

Bill: That’s great.

James: Yeah.

Bill: Good. James, thank you. MVP Interactive is super cool. We spend a lot of time in this space talking about what it takes to build strong and durable brands and connect with people and as part of that endeavor what you all are doing is really kind of ground level where these connections get forged like this. It’s the closest to the sun way to connect with folks and it’s super interesting I would imagine. I can just imagine given how technology is marching on, how much cooler it’s even going to get as time continues to pass.

James: Yeah. And we’re going to be challenged with keeping up with that and innovating and not really losing sight of what’s cool now isn’t necessarily going to be cool in 10 years, but there’s going to be something cool that we’re going to do.

Bill: Right, right. Awesome. Well, thank you so much for your time and insight and congrats on all the success so far. We’ll be watching what happens next.

James: Thank you.

Bill: Thanks to James, a supercool guy at a really cool company. We’ll be very excited to see all the new things as they happen. MVP has been fun to watch and certainly will be in the future. Three ways, as always, to give us a little bit of support here at Real-World Branding. One is let’s keep this dialogue going. Twitter is probably the best way @billgullan or @FinchBrands. We’d love to hear feedback on the shows that we’ve had, interesting topics for future guests or one big idea podcast where we talk about something in particular.

As always, we really just appreciate feedback and back and forth with our listener base. In addition to that, we’d certainly appreciate a rating in the App Store of your choice, if we so deserve it. That helps us make sure that others who would enjoy this content about brand of business building will be ever better able to locate what we do and related that is to subscribe, if this is something that you find that you’re downloading when we either send it on a social media or when you think of it.

One way to make sure that you never miss a one of these in our plan is to do something weekly is to make sure that you click that subscribe button in the place where your podcast come from, be that the iTunes store or Stitcher or Sound Cloud or anywhere else, to make sure that it automatically drops and downloads and not only does that make sure you don’t miss any episodes, I think it helps us to. I mean, there’s a mystery as to how the App Store works and how search rankings work with podcast, but we are told that the more folks who receive this automatically the better and more likely the App Store is to elevate us for those who are interested in this kind of content.

We’ll sign off from the Cradle of Liberty.

The post Interacting with Brands – James Giglio, CEO of MVP Interactive appeared first on Finch Brands.

The post Interacting with Brands – James Giglio, CEO of MVP Interactive appeared first on Finch Brands.

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From virtual and augmented reality to interactive kiosks and beyond, technology has impacted every facet of our lives. The emergence of these platforms present an opportunity for brands to create immersive experiences for consumers. From virtual and augmented reality to interactive kiosks and beyond, technology has impacted every facet of our lives. The emergence of these platforms present an opportunity for brands to create immersive experiences for consumers. James Giglio and the team at MVP Interactive are leading the way in tech-driven brand experiences. In this episode, James provides his insight into the way technology is changing these brand interactions and how it enables deeper connection with consumers. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!<br /><br /> Transcription:<br /><br /> James Giglio: This idea of consumer engagement and levering alternative methods to connect with an individual as a brand, it just makes sense.<br /><br /> Bill Gullan: Greetings one and all, this is <a href="http://blog.finchbrands.com/topic/podcast">Real-World Branding</a>. I’m <a href="https://finchbrands.com/team_members/bill-gullan/">Bill Gullan</a>, President of Finch Brands, a premier boutique branding agency. Happy Thanksgiving. I hope everyone had a terrific holiday of football, and gluttony, and family, and we were dark last week given some deadlines as well as some time off, but we are back with a vengeance and we’re proud to bring you an interview with <a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/james-giglio-16a8715/">James Giglio</a>, who is the founder and CEO of <a href="https://vimeo.com/mvpinteractive">MVP Interactive</a>. It’s a great entrepreneurial story, but also a glimpse into the world of consumer engagement.<br /><br /> They call themselves the consumer engagement technology company, but what that means, at least today, is bringing really interactive and fun experiences to sports and other special event venues on behalf of brands. So, that’s Bud Light, that’s a Budweiser, that’s Coca-Cola, Cox Communications, other leading consumer facing brands and whether that’s at a sports venue, like a ballpark or an entertainment venue, MVP Interactive is a pioneer in bringing forth these experiences that really engage and activate consumer interest and connection. Enjoy hearing from James.<br /><br /> Bill: Welcome James Giglio. Did I get that right?<br /><br /> James: Wow.<br /><br /> Bill: Nice. You were coaching me. James is the founder and CEO of MVP Interactive. He is with us here at Finch Brands Global HQ. James, we’re honored to have you and thanks for your time.<br /><br /> James: My pleasure. I’m happy to be here.<br /><br /> Bill: As we typically start, I think the folks on the other end of this would really enjoy hearing about your backstory and your journey up to building this really, really interesting company, which we’ll certainly get into, but tell us a bit about the about your journey.<br /><br /> James: Sure. Well, despite where we are today I had an early career in finance. In particular it was real estate finance and trading mortgage backed securities for independent small investment firms up in the New York area. I felt that I have always had … Well, each position was always either managerial role of business development and I think, like most people are, some people kind of go through their journey – you fall into the box, you graduate college and you kind of go through your ranks and what have you – but I always felt that I was pretty good at what I did in terms of connecting with who our end clients were and all of that good stuff.<br /><br /> I had a career trading mortgage backed securities. Right around, I think history tells this story pretty well, but mid 2000s I was starting to field calls from the Goldman Sachs of the world asking me well, a little James Giglio, my opinion on what the market was doing and I thought that was a pretty … I mean, it was fascinating when Goldman Sachs is asking you the questions. I think that kind of … lead you to a head space-<br /><br /> Bill: It’s like when your doctor says, “So what do you think about this?”<br /><br /> James: That’s right. Exactly. Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands clean
One Big Idea: How Good is Your Logo? https://finchbrands.com/one-big-idea-how-good-is-your-logo/ Wed, 15 Nov 2017 16:51:30 +0000 http://finchbrands.com/?p=2842 https://finchbrands.com/one-big-idea-how-good-is-your-logo/#respond https://finchbrands.com/one-big-idea-how-good-is-your-logo/feed/ 0 <p>In this week’s episode, we talk all about logos with Finch Brands’ Creative Director, Jess Koffman. We review what makes a logo successful and detail the finer points of great logo design. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating! Transcription: Bill Gullan: Greetings one and all, this is Real-World Branding, […]</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com/one-big-idea-how-good-is-your-logo/">One Big Idea: How Good is Your Logo?</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com">Finch Brands</a>.</p> In this week’s episode, we talk all about logos with Finch Brands’ Creative Director, Jess Koffman. We review what makes a logo successful and detail the finer points of great logo design. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!

Transcription:

Bill Gullan: Greetings one and all, this is Real-World Branding, I’m Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands, a premier boutique branding agency. This is One Big Idea, and today we have ‘logopalooza’ or something similar. We’re going to talk a lot about logos, and we’re going to introduce to the discussion here and to all of you through your earbuds, Jess Koffman, who’s the Creative Director at Finch Brands and is a logo creator and evaluator extraordinaire.

So we’re going to have Jess weigh in a little bit on some recent research about the best logos, as well as thoughts from her own career in terms of what makes a great logo and how we think through how to create great logos and visual identities for clients.

Before we get to Jess, just to set this up, there was a survey by the Morning Consult, the research firm and AdAge were responsible for this in partnership, and they surveyed for favorite logos. They surveyed Americans, I haven’t read the whole methodology, but just general consumers and then also a group that they consider to be ‘brand experts,’ an those are marketers and designers and everything else. They presented their results of the top logos from a perspective of both these audiences, and there were some areas of agreement and some areas of difference, and I’m not sure what the actual criteria were, but we thought that this was the makings of an interesting conversation about the technical and emotional aspects of creating great logos.

Without further ado, Jess Koffman, Creative Director for Finch Brands is here, thanks for coming and joining us.

Jess Koffman: Thanks for having me.

Bill: So Jess, full disclosure, you have developed at least one logo on this list-

Jess: At least one.

Bill: … on the surveys, at least one.

Jess: It’s not number 31, but it should be.

Bill: Yes, that’s a hint. We’ll give it away at the end of the podcast for those still listening, which I know will be everybody. A little bit before we get into it about your own back story, which is really interesting. Could you take us through that career journey up to this point and then we’ll dive into logos?

Jess: Absolutely. I like to think of it as my hunt, my personal hunt for the cruelest winter ever, because I started my career in Chicago, where I worked for a promotional agency on accounts like Coca-Cola in the beginning, and then quickly shifted over to a branding think tank. It was a teeny tiny agency with really big clients. I got to work on some brands like Build-A-Bear Workshop, I did their flagship store, we built the brand Five Below from the ground up, and are happy to see them succeeding locally and beyond, and just everyone from more Coca-Cola work to Microsoft to everyone in between – lots of fun work with that company.

Then Chicago I guess didn’t seem to be cold enough, so I then migrated to Minneapolis where I went in house and worked for Target. Worked with them doing product design and marketing. I designed one of their gift cards, and got to see what makes that brand tick, which is quite an operation. And I got to eat at the Target café.

Bill: Nice.

Jess: Then, I decided it was time to come back home to tropical Philadelphia. This is where I’m from originally, and-

Bill: Particularly balmy today-

Jess: Yeah, yeah.

Bill: … here in November, yeah.

Jess: Definitely. And found my creative home with Finch Brands, and was initially working on freelance projects with Finch Brands and partnering up on the hard ones and now I get to do the hard ones all the time here. Love it.

Bill: Thank you, and we’re so glad to have Jess every single day and though she is modest, the logo in this list that was actually a big favorite of consumers in the survey is the Baskin-Robbins logo, which embeds the number 31 for flavors in the heart of the mark. Anything you wanted to say about that logo or other logo design projects that you’ve worked on that were particularly fun?

Jess: Sure. That one was funny because when they launched it, they actually felt the need to put it on the homepage and say, ‘Do you see the 31?’ And I’m like, ‘Stop, you’re ruining all the magic!’

Bill: That’s funny.

Jess: FedEx doesn’t usually say, ‘Do you see the arrow?’

Bill: Hey look, there’s an arrow in our logo. That’s funny. When we look at the top 10 in this survey, the top four or five, consumers and marketers seem to agree on, if not exactly on the order. Both marketers top five were Nike, Apple, Target, McDonald’s, and Coca-Cola. Top five for consumers were Coca-Cola, Apple, Target, McDonald’s, and then Gerber. Nike was down to eighth among consumers.

Then when you go all the way down to the very bottom, there was a whole lot of diversity among what we would call the losers. The bottom five I think for marketers was Anthem and then United Healthcare, maybe a categorical consistency here, and then WeWork, Western Union, and Humana – health insurance taking a beating here.

Then for consumers, the bottom, Airbnb, which quote unquote, ‘had a sexual look’ to consumers, ‘Tells you nothing,’ one consumer said. WeWork was actually in the bottom for consumers too, it’s just a typeface of the mark, lowercase, so it almost looks like it’s one word, ‘wework’ or whatever.

Jess: A non-sexual look.

Bill: Yeah, non-sexual look though, they had that going for it. Slack was down there, Uber was down there, salesforce… So winners and losers, it’s an interesting study and you know, marketers are saying probably what our favorite logos are, probably looking through the lens of what these brands have become and how strong they are.

We thought it would be interesting to hear Jess’s perspective. When we look at some of the logos, either in the survey or elsewhere, what are some of the best logos from your perspective across the whole landscape and what makes them so great?

Jess: There’s a lot of great lessons with these logos because clearly there are ones that rose to the top. Even at the top of the marketer’s list and number eight in the consumers, which is still pretty up there, the Nike swoosh. The coolest thing about that, and it comes up a lot with logo projects with clients, it’s just that it takes time to become an icon. They officially dropped ‘Nike’ from their logo in I think 1995, and it’s been quite some time, but the swoosh is officially their mark.

But the behind the scenes design story of that is that this particular logo was always kind of a thorn in a designer’s side because the story originally was that Phil Knight starting his company and he is like a freelance professor at this random university and he’s doing this product. He grabs a student and says, ‘Hey, I gotta do logos, my investors are coming over from Japan, can you do it, can you do it, can you do it overnight, just do it.’ And so basically, she did it, and he picked one and paid her $35 bucks, which netted out to like two bucks an hour for her-

Bill: Not bad, right.

Jess: … and so then you know, it goes on to become one of the most recognized icons of all time in the world.

Bill: They made it right with her, didn’t they? After a while, but-

Jess: They did, it was a little bit like, ‘Ah, it’s always going to happen,’ but they did actually 10 or so years later give her a gold swoosh ring and took her out to lunch and gave her some stock options too, so she’s pretty set now.

Bill: I think she may have appreciated that more than the lunch at Fuddruckers or wherever the heck they went that day-

Jess: Yeah, right.

Bill: … but she certainly deserves it. What is it about the Nike logo other than the business that was built around it and all that it’s come to mean, from kind of a technical or a meaning perspective, what is it that appeals to you, Jess?

Jess: It’s a very nice stylization, it symbolizes the wing of the Greek goddess of victory-

Bill: Which is Nike herself, right?

Jess: Which is Nike, and so it takes that story and in one clean mark, it tells that and still, even if you don’t know the history behind it, it suggests momentum, it suggests energy, and just the … I mean you can’t separate it from the marketing juggernaut behind it, so it’s motivating for people. It is ‘just do it,’ it is sports, and just a glance at it really fills you with all that association.

Bill: Perfect. To your point, the logo was developed in 1971, and they didn’t take the Nike name off of it for really 25 years, so the business by that time was a multi-billion-dollar global juggernaut, so I guess one can’t force icon status too early, but yeah, incredible, both story and brand that’s been built. Other ones that particularly stand out to you?

Jess: Yeah, I think it’s interesting the number one on the consumer side is Coca-Cola, and this stood out to me because there’s a jpeg that’s been floating around on Pinterest and around the web, and it takes I think it compares the evolution of the Pepsi logo and the Coca-Cola logo, and I think it takes it all the way back to like 1896 or whenever. It shows how Pepsi has followed so many design trends, like they had a cap in the logo then they reduced the cap to the swirls on the cap then they did you know, they’ve got some amorphous swirling thing going on right now. But Coca-Cola pretty much has reserved the original type and the original script and is so iconic.

Now, if you really read into that, that jpeg that has been floating around is a little doctored up and forgets a couple of phases that Coke had, but the point is that when you have equity like that and such a long history, you have to respect that. You’re able to build your brand with the elements that you surround it with and the stories you tell beyond that. They have really stayed true to it and there is a reason why in the South, they ask for a Coke when they want a soda. Their branding is strong.

Bill: Sure, they definitely do and it definitely is, so that’s another one. Another one that obviously is a company that has a tremendous amount of financial and cultural value at this point, hadn’t always, but is Apple. What is it about the Apple logo? Obviously interesting backstory there, but what about it that draws your eye and gets you fired up?

Jess: Other than the fact that they have me, you know, handcuffed to their machines and their smartphones-

Bill: Pretty much, same here.

Jess: … it is a beautiful mark and it has a cool story in the background, and that’s there was a third, lesser known founder of Apple who actually designed their very first logo, which was this crazy illustration, this very vintage storybook detailed illustration of Sir Isaac Newton sitting under the tree, waiting for that apple to drop on his head, and thus discover gravity. It had a banner running through it that had quotes from Walt Whitman or something like that and basically there’s no way that was a logo, it was really an illustration.

Bill: It’s not easy to embroider that on a golf shirt for example.

Jess: Yeah, that would be quite the embroidery. But anyway, that was for Apple 1, with Apple 2, Steve Jobs got involved, the lesser known founder sold his stake for 800 dollars, it would have been worth 22 billion today.

Bill: That’s a shame.

Jess: But anyway, Steve Jobs recognized that this complicated illustration was not going to reproduce well on product, so he tasked his logo ad friends to design something that could carry the story forward and be iconic. So Rob Janoff was the guy he turned to in 1977 and just didn’t give him much of a creative brief, but said, ‘Don’t make it cute.’ Typical Steve Jobs.

Bill: Right right.

Jess: There’s two features of it which are kind of interesting. The fact that it was known for so long to have rainbow stripes running through it and that was sort of a nod to the fact that when they came out with Apple 2, it had color capabilities in the monitor, and that was a big deal at the time, so that was their way of capturing it, and of course Steve Jobs had to stipulate exactly which colors in exactly which order.

Bill: No doubt.

Jess: Apparently, he had a knack for that.

Bill: It just didn’t appear, yeah.

Jess: And then there’s all sorts of design lore out there about why there’s a bite out of the apple and it’s everything from the fact that it’s kind of this coder wink to the fact that byte, like byte is a computer thing and it was a little signature of that, but also that it’s a bite from the tree of knowledge, like Eve taking a bite from the tree of wisdom or what have you.

Then the designer actually who’s been interviewed about it said he simply added a bite so that it didn’t look like a tomato, and when you take a bite out of an apple it’s crisp, and the bite stays intact, and it’s also a way for him to show size and scale, so that it certainly reads as an apple. It certainly does now. It’s morphed a little bit since then, the colors came out, which upset a lot of Apple users, but they did it when they came out with all the different colors of iMacs, and so each one had a matching apple on it, and it became monochromatic.

I guess the fun lesson from this one is really sometimes logos need to evolve, and you’ve got to do it to stay current, and if you have a good reason to evolve, like on product, and your product’s changing and your product has new capabilities, and so forth, then that’s a good time to do it.

Bill: Perfect. Another one, and this is a brand that I know that you worked on earlier in your career is McDonald’s. What’s your take on the arches? I know it performed well, it was number four on both consumer and marketer parts of the survey. What is it about the golden arches that really works? And again, many of these are combinations as you’re telling us of technical aspects, but also history and heritage. So tell us about the arches.

Jess: The arches actually came from an architectural element that were around in the 50s. So the architects had built a giant golden arch in front of the restaurant and in the back of the restaurants, and so for visibility basically. So you could see it from the roadside and say, ‘Oh my God, I need a burger.’ When they had to distill that into a logo, they took a cue from the most notable feature of the geographic location and synthesized it into the arches.

It originally had a little bit of a roof slant to it also going through the golden arches, but that evolved out, probably a good thing. It is the arches that we love today, and like you said, I did have a chance to work with the arches, I had a chance to do a project with McDonald’s where we were building play places that were kids’ gyms to teach them about fitness and how you’ve got to work out a lot to burn off those supersize fries.

Bill: You can say that again.

Jess: It was a big education, but it was fun to work on it, and basically the internal, there’s a lesson in this one too, I guess is that we were putting this gym in and they tasked us with naming it, developing the signage, the graphics for it, the logo, and so we were really excited to come to the table in the first presentation with our recommended name, which was the ‘Clown Around Gym.’ And so there was kind of an awkward dead silence in the room after we said that name, and there is a woman at McDonald’s headquarters whose full-time job is to manage the personality of Ronald McDonald, and she looked at us and said, ‘Oh no, that’ll never work, Ronald McDonald is not a clown, he’s an ambassador of fitness and fun.’

Bill: There we go.

Jess: Then she went on to show us all kinds of pictures of Ronald McDonald skateboarding and surfboarding and snowboarding and-

Bill: Just being creepy, yeah.

Jess: … it wasn’t creepy at all that he had clown makeup and clown shoes, you know? And we actually wound up not using his face on any of the materials that we developed, and just simply did little cropped motions of him wearing a sneaker or whatever-

Bill: Oh wow.

Jess: … and so it wound up being called R Gym, R for Ronald.

Bill: Interesting, interesting. So looking at the list, and again, there’s not a ton of detail, just the rankings, any surprises there from your perspective? We obviously hear clients will come to us and say, ‘We want our swoosh and we want this and that.’

Jess: Yeah.

Bill: Anything surprise you based on what we read?

Jess: I mean most of the ones on there are obviously well-celebrated and for good reasons. I’m surprised Amazon isn’t in there since they have taken over the world now. One of my favorite firms overseas Turner Duckworth, they actually did the evolution and built the smile into their logo, but apparently that was not top of mind or prime for most of the people in this survey.

I was also surprised that the Olympic rings weren’t on there because that five-ring circus is always interesting, and when people add it to their products, they literally sell more. They’ve done studies on that, you know, so I guess consumers went for more of the nostalgia touch, like the Gerber baby and so forth, and that’s not surprising. If we had a logo with a puppy in it, that might be in there too, but I mean it’s part of Americana and they still have the Gerber baby contest and so forth. It’s cute, I see why it’s on there.

Bill: Right, no doubt, no doubt. When we use the word brand, oftentimes people may think immediately of a logo or a visual identity, but I think we all know that brand has much more to it than that. Although identity is an important market face and artifact of what brand is and stands for. In that spirit, what role does a logo play in expressing the personality of a brand?

Jess: When I think about brand personality, and this is a logo’s job too, is that, and design’s job in general, is that it’s not just decoration, it’s absolute communication. So that’s why it’s so important for us as designers to really get to know the client, get to know their brand personality, to really dig deep on that.

We do a lot of work with our clients when we first get to know them, we take a look at their brand, see what’s working, see what’s not. Look at the competitors in their space, and critique them as well and see what lessons there are, and really figure out what their personality is. Sometimes we ask if they were a celebrity, who would they be. You would be surprised how many people want to be George Clooney, it’s amazing.

But there is quite a range, and we need to know that so we can filter through as we’re designing – what is this character, how do we portray that, how do they become the approachable person in their industry, and does that mean lower case type, or does that mean that we use really bright, positive color palette involved in it?

It’s not just arbitrary decisions like ‘ah, yeah, my favorite color is magenta so I figured I’d use that. My favorite font is this.’ That’s everything you should not be doing when determining a brand personality and a logo personality.

Bill: Before we go, you’ve highlighted a couple of really great aspects of many of these logos and I think that in and of itself gives a window into how great logos are made and what they mean and everything else. But before we sign off, when you think about designing and assessing logos, what is it, are there a couple of important rules from your perspective that sort of put in practice by our creative team, or ought to be that sort of govern what makes a good logo or a great logo?

Jess: Yeah, absolutely. Some of the basics are pretty simple, but it’s surprising how many logos can squeak through that don’t quite get them right. One of the prime things to think about is that a logo reproduces well at a small scale, and it also has visibility. So when you think of a logo appearing on signage, appearing like McDonald’s did, from the roadside, driving by, and these are all areas of design we consider when we work on a logo.

You can’t do the skinny little tasty fonts for a brand that’s going to have big impact. If you can’t see it from across the conference room, you’re not going to see it from across the parking lot, so you have to avoid that kind of thing.

Then, to get to that level of being an iconic logo and being timeless, it can’t be inflexible. It has to have legs, it has to have the ability to go on and tell stories and be part of a bigger context, and sometimes that means there’s multiple versions of it, it’s modular, it turns into things, but with some parameters so there’s equity in what you’re doing.

Another thing I’d say is that a logo absolutely has to be expressive and own-able. If you can hide a secret meaning or a message in it, it’s awesome, like FedEx, there’s a sombrero inside the Tostitos logo, that little 31 thing.

But I think a big lesson too is just that kind of in the example in the Pepsi logo, the blindly following design trends can be a big downfall, so one of the most obvious examples of this in modern times I’d say is the whole lower-case trend.

So many companies are doing it, it’s like hey, this is not AT&T all caps talking to you, this is friendly at&t lower case talking to you, and we’re going to just go ahead and collect that giant bill from you month to month, thank you. And so a lot of brands do this, everyone from Amazon, Aramark, Ebay, all these people went from having traditional sentence case logos or upper case logos, and went to full lower case in the first letter. Macy’s, Xerox, even Facebook.

So they all switched from first letter capitalization to lower case, and that was right for them, it gives them that conversational feel, and it works in some arenas. But then there’s others who are just traditionalists, they still adhere to the rules of grammar. Who would have thunk it, you know? Lipton, Coca-Cola, Google, and then there’s a reason to be all caps in some markets too, like Ikea, Target, they’re big, bold presences in their space, so Best Buy.

I guess the point for me really is you don’t just go lower case because everybody in your industry’s doing it. You have to find a way for your own logo, your own story to stand out, and you have to be able to own it, so it may be a trend, but it doesn’t mean it’s right for you.

Bill: When you were talking about Pepsi and Coke, one of the points that you were making was that Pepsi seemingly has nipped and tucked and tweaked their logo in response to more or less every design trend over time, where as Coke has maintained sort of a remarkable consistency in the execution of their logo. Is there a time and if so, when, when logos really should seek to modernize themselves?

Jess: You know when it’s time to evolve when you just need to breathe energy into it again. You need to breathe some new life. You’re not reaching the audiences that you want to. There’s a lot of brands now that are doing kind of retro things, like gum is doing, ‘Let’s take a look at retro Pepsi, let’s take a look at retro Juicy Fruit and all this stuff.’ They’re messing around a lot. I think you can get to the point where you’re messing around too much, you don’t want to change it like Pepsi.

I’d say in the past, I think a logo, timelessness for any given logo is probably actually more like a decade, and I think recently it’s probably more like five years, but that’s not a hard and fast rule, it really depends on your brand and you want to make sure that you’re constantly making an impression.

If you have new product offerings, you might want to come out with a splash, you might want to add rainbow stripes into your logo, you might want to do all sorts of things. But I think it’s a good exercise and it’s a good exploration to have. You really need to keep the lens on your own personality and be aware of how that can work for you or work against you. It’s a chance to really connect, and you can’t miss out.

Bill: So this may be an unfair question, and I might be asking a parent to pick their favorite child when they have multiple children, but are you able to say what your favorite logo of all time is?

Jess: That’s a ridiculous question, because I can’t pick one, I have to pick three. And this one, I actually have a little personal relationship to in a way, the I Heart NY logo, by Milton Glaser. I did not design that in any way, shape, or form, that’s not my connection, but what I love about that logo is that it changed language.

The logo design itself changed the way we speak because before that logo, people didn’t really refer to I ‘heart’ things. It was developed for a New York commerce organization, it was for tourism basically and he, Milton Glaser’s riding through a taxi cab just thinking about his city and basically how iconic it is and then designs this wonderful iconic logo with this shorthand of heart.

I kind of did a little borrowing from it when I had my sights set on Target and sent them a thank you card that was I ‘Target’ MN, so thanks Milton, it worked, and I heart him.

Another one that I would say is a favorite is FedEx. When Landor designed the FedEx logo in 1974, it had previously been the full name, Federal Express, and Landor did I think nine months of brand study, you know, just talking to consumers about what they were saying about FedEx. And that’s exactly what they were saying, they were saying ‘FedEx,’ they abbreviated it.

So Landor felt like it was necessary to go with that, to listen to their consumers and really talk about it not unlike KFC or BP or whatever else. In the course of that research and abbreviating it, they discovered that obviously the lower-case E fit with the X in such a way where they could build that forward arrow into the negative space of the mark, and it’s such a perfect symbol for what they do, it’s motion, it’s direct delivery, it’s just perfect and just a testament to the power of negative space, of white space.

So often clients’ tendency is to fill all the white space up, but the white space can be really important, and this logo really demonstrates that.

Then my third one I’d say is not on this list and not on many lists, but it should be. The NBC peacock. It’s brilliant. It’s a perfect visual metaphor from nature. It’s a display of color, and they actually launched the peacock logo in 1956, when NBC did start broadcasting in color and at that point it was this funky looking 11-feathered peacock, and it doesn’t look anything like the one of today, but it was a perfect metaphor.

The way it evolved over time is very clean now and this one even had a little bit of a controversy with it. When NBC merged with Comcast, they first wanted to just call it NBC Universal and get rid of that peacock. Apparently this upset everyone at NBC all the way up to Brian Williams, and they had an internal meeting and launched the NBC Universal logo, but they secretly added the peacock back in because you can’t get rid of that peacock.

I love that one, and it was cool because I looked around for some history on it just out of curiosity and they had this 60th anniversary special when it launched, I mean it was in ‘86 I think and it is so dated, and it has everyone from Johnny Carson to Rudy Huxtable sitting around this huge peacock on center stage, and they’re singing this tribute song to NBC’s 60th anniversary and it’s like, ‘Did you know, did you know, NBC.’

It’s really cheesy, but I thought it was a fun launch, and it made me think about probably one of the most formative moments in my logo design career, which was maybe like a year, year and a half into my career, I finally got a logo chosen, and I got to do a logo for this group called TAP Pharmaceuticals, and this was in Chicago, and they did, I mean it was like an internal group for a pharmaceutical company, but they wanted to throw a party for the launch.

This is my first experience of this and they go to the party and they literally hired a chainsaw artist to carve my logo out of a block of ice, and I was like, ‘I made it! This is amazing! This is going to happen every time!’ But unfortunately, although some logo launches that I have been part of did include things like stilts and lots of cheese platters and custom cupcakes and things like that, no more ice carving, but I am totally up for it in case anyone out there wants to come out with a bang.

Bill: Well, I’ll definitely bring my chainsaw next time to the party. We joke, we know that we at Finch have done T-shirts and obvious things like that as well as more fun and less obvious things like cupcakes, other ways to celebrate the launch or release of a new logo or an evolved logo. We always talk about how the brand needs to communicate externally, but how it also needs to be felt and lived internally, and often the moment of the development of a new logo or the sort of evolution or tweaking of a logo, a cosmetic refresh, is a great time to bring everyone aboard. So ice sculptures, chainsaws, whatever it takes.

Jess, thank you for your time and for your insight. We will sign off from the Cradle of Liberty.

The post One Big Idea: How Good is Your Logo? appeared first on Finch Brands.

The post One Big Idea: How Good is Your Logo? appeared first on Finch Brands.

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In this week’s episode, we talk all about logos with Finch Brands’ Creative Director, Jess Koffman. We review what makes a logo successful and detail the finer points of great logo design. If you like our podcast, In this week’s episode, we talk all about logos with Finch Brands’ Creative Director, Jess Koffman. We review what makes a logo successful and detail the finer points of great logo design. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!<br /><br /> Transcription:<br /><br /> Bill Gullan: Greetings one and all, this is <a href="http://blog.finchbrands.com/topic/podcast">Real-World Branding</a>, I’m <a href="https://finchbrands.com/team_members/bill-gullan/">Bill Gullan</a>, President of Finch Brands, a premier boutique branding agency. This is One Big Idea, and today we have ‘logopalooza’ or something similar. We’re going to talk a lot about logos, and we’re going to introduce to the discussion here and to all of you through your earbuds, <a href="https://finchbrands.com/team_members/jessica-koffman/">Jess Koffman</a>, who’s the Creative Director at Finch Brands and is a logo creator and evaluator extraordinaire.<br /><br /> So we’re going to have Jess weigh in a little bit on some recent research about the best logos, as well as thoughts from her own career in terms of what makes a great logo and how we think through how to create great logos and visual identities for clients.<br /><br /> Before we get to Jess, just to set this up, there was <a href="http://adage.com/article/agency-news/most-popular-logos-least-popular-logos/311058/">a survey by the Morning Consult</a>, the research firm and AdAge were responsible for this in partnership, and they surveyed for favorite logos. They surveyed Americans, I haven’t read the whole methodology, but just general consumers and then also a group that they consider to be ‘brand experts,’ an those are marketers and designers and everything else. They presented their results of the top logos from a perspective of both these audiences, and there were some areas of agreement and some areas of difference, and I’m not sure what the actual criteria were, but we thought that this was the makings of an interesting conversation about the technical and emotional aspects of creating great logos.<br /><br /> Without further ado, Jess Koffman, Creative Director for Finch Brands is here, thanks for coming and joining us.<br /><br /> Jess Koffman: Thanks for having me.<br /><br /> Bill: So Jess, full disclosure, you have developed at least one logo on this list-<br /><br /> Jess: At least one.<br /><br /> Bill: … on the surveys, at least one.<br /><br /> Jess: It’s not number 31, but it should be.<br /><br /> Bill: Yes, that’s a hint. We’ll give it away at the end of the podcast for those still listening, which I know will be everybody. A little bit before we get into it about your own back story, which is really interesting. Could you take us through that career journey up to this point and then we’ll dive into logos?<br /><br /> Jess: Absolutely. I like to think of it as my hunt, my personal hunt for the cruelest winter ever, because I started my career in Chicago, where I worked for a promotional agency on accounts like Coca-Cola in the beginning, and then quickly shifted over to a branding think tank. It was a teeny tiny agency with really big clients. I got to work on some brands like Build-A-Bear Workshop, I did their flagship store, we built the brand Five Below from the ground up, and are happy to see them succeeding locally and beyond, and just everyone from more Coca-Cola work to Microsoft to everyone in between – lots of fun work with that company.<br /><br /> Then Chicago I guess didn’t seem to be cold enough, so I then migrated to Minneapolis where I went in house and worked for Target. Worked with them doing product design and marketing. I designed one of their gift cards, and got to see what makes that brand tick, which is quite an operation. And I got to eat at the Target café.<br /><br /> Bill: Nice.<br /><br /> Jess: Then, I decided it was time to come back home to tropical Philadelphia. This is where I’m from originally, and-<br /><br /> Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands clean
Culture Counts – Rob Levin, COO of Printfly https://finchbrands.com/culture-counts-rob-levin-coo-of-printfly/ Thu, 09 Nov 2017 21:12:23 +0000 http://finchbrands.com/?p=2837 https://finchbrands.com/culture-counts-rob-levin-coo-of-printfly/#respond https://finchbrands.com/culture-counts-rob-levin-coo-of-printfly/feed/ 0 <p>Rob Levin, COO of Printfly shares his perspectives on the role of brand and culture after joining a business that experienced explosive organic growth. His insight speaks to the importance of these elements in sustaining and supercharging the next stage of the business. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating! […]</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com/culture-counts-rob-levin-coo-of-printfly/">Culture Counts – Rob Levin, COO of Printfly</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com">Finch Brands</a>.</p> Rob Levin, COO of Printfly shares his perspectives on the role of brand and culture after joining a business that experienced explosive organic growth. His insight speaks to the importance of these elements in sustaining and supercharging the next stage of the business. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!

 

TRANSCRIPTION

Rob Levin:  Every company has a culture, like it or not it develops. You either get to write that story or it’s going to write itself.

Bill Gullan:  Greetings one and all, this Real-World Branding. I’m Bill Gullan, president of Finch Brands, a premier boutique branding agency. Big pleasure this week, we have Rob Levin who’s the COO of Printfly Corporation best known, at least in the marketplace as rushordertees.com. We went to the headquarters of Printfly in northeast Philadelphia. You can feel by being there and walking through and just being in the middle of this high activity, high energy place, how much is happening at that company and Rob will certainly walk through his background as a finance person originally and an investor into this operating role and what he found and how he found it and what he’s doing with it and the rest of the leadership team, what they’re doing with it. High culture, high energy, definitely a company to watch. Enjoy Rob Levin.

Bill: Coming to you from the northeast Philadelphia headquarters of Printfly which encompasses Rush Order Tees and we’ll certainly hear more about that. We’re here with Rob Levin who’s the COO of the company. Thank you for your time good sir.

Rob:  Thank you.

Bill:  Way to start, we’ve been fortunate enough to know a little bit about the under the hood of this place. It’s an incredible tale. Let’s start with you and a bit of your own journey to this point and then we’ll get into the company and all that you’ve been working on since you joined up.

Rob:  Sure. I have an entrepreneurial background. I started in the financial services business working for a big insurance company called Principle Financial Group out in the Midwest at a time when they were demutualizing and going public. I had the opportunity to take that ride and watch a 110-year-old mutual insurance company take itself out into the capital market which was really interesting. Pretty quickly after that figured out that I wasn’t well suited for a 10,000 plus person organization and so I left shortly after the IPO and started my own consulting business which grew over a four or five-year period of time where we were doing some interesting things in the financial services space. I ended selling that to an insurance company and five years later I was right back to where I started. Employee number 12,000 at an insurance company.

True to form, that didn’t last very long either. The entrepreneurial bug bit again so about two years later I left there and started another business which was in the lending space. That’s was around 2007 and that was successful up until the financial crisis of 2008.

Bill:  Interesting timing on that.

Rob:  Yeah, it looked really good going in and if we knew then what what we know now, I would’ve taken a different course. Like anything else, was a great learning opportunity. I would never want to go through that again but having gone through it, lot of lessons learned out of that. We ended up selling off the assets of that business and I started another company with a couple of classmates of mine which was an international reinsurance business. Right back again into the entrepreneurial space and working in that. It was a lot of fun. That was a really good experience. Our clients were global so I spent a lot of time in southeast Asia, the Middle East, Europe, working on and getting a bird’s eye view of the health insurance markets all over the world. And did that for a while until the travel got to be a little bit too much.

That business, the first two companies, the first company was completely bootstrap so that was all paid for by client work and a little bit of money that I put in, very little bit. Then when we sold we had a little bit of war chest to start the second business with. Never had to go to any outside investors in the first two businesses and in our third business we did. We knew that we needed a much bigger balance sheet than we were capable of funding on our own. After we got over the first initial hump we did go out and raise a bunch of private equity capital and started that process which is also an interesting experience going out now having to pitch your wares to investors and doing that.

When I came back to the States I was living in London at the time and traveling all over the world, when I came back to the States I actually went onto the investment side working for, first for the private equity company that had invested in us as an advisor to them, helping them do a few deals and then subsequent to that as a portfolio manager, chief investment officer for a private equity fund. Based out of southeast Asia, looking to make investments in the US. That brought me full circle back to the US, working, now I had the full gamut. Starting business, sold a business, invest, raise money from investors and now invested in other businesses.

I take that 360-degree view which led me actually to the Nemeroffs who are the family that started and still to this day, own the business. They were, I don’t know if you want to transition into the next piece. When I first met them, I had been working with a couple of other families on their investment strategy having come back to the US as a chief investment officer. Just consulting with a few families around their investment strategy, how to structure investments, how to make investments in private companies, I had a pretty unique perspective on that. I got introduced to Mike and his brother and his sister and they were at this inflection point with their business. They had started the company fully expecting it to be a weekend project then 13 years later they had built this real robust business and they weren’t really sure what to do with it.

My initial interaction with them was around exactly that. Do we go raise investor capital? Do we sell the business to somebody? Do we go acquire somebody? What do we do with this thing? I got to know them through that process and tried to understand what the motivations were and what do you want to do with the business? And the more that we got to working together the more that we figured out that there was a lot more value in the business that could be developed. It wasn’t the right time to bring in outside investors or sell the company or do anything else. Be careful what you wish for because they were like, well that’s great. You found all this value now come and help us go get it. Help us figure it out.

Bill:  That’s cool. Just as our most recent interview with Baked by Melissa, similar alignment. Company with assets deciding what to do next. Bringing in professional yet still passionate leader to be a galvanizer. Tell us, if you wouldn’t mind, about just the structure of the company. The Rush Order Tees brand is market facing and well known. The organization as a whole is under the Printfly brand umbrella. What is Printfly comprised of?

Rob:  That’s one of the things that came out of the early discussions that I had with Mike and the management team at the time was really looking at where the value was developed and where the value was brought to market. Printfly is where all the value is developed. Printfly is the production facility and the IT and the IP. All the intellectual property, all of the things that make the business what it is have been developed by and are part of Printfly. Rush Order Tees is really just an eCommerce platform to access a certain part of the market that can then benefit from the Printfly production facility. If you think about Rush Order Tees, Rush Order Tees appeals to a very specific part of the market. Initially a lot of the business that comes into Rush Order Tees is exactly that. Is last minute, I need it right away quickly. I’ve got a deadline, I need to know that it’s here. It’s really just a brand that accesses that part of the market.

In our last iteration of work that we’ve done with you, we’ve got another brand called College Inc. College Inc. accesses a totally different part of the market. It’s colleges and universities and clubs and fraternities and Greek organizations and they have a very different set of needs, they have a different set of products. But those two marketplaces are still powered by the Printfly production facility. That powered by Printfly is really the core of the business. Just a little bit, if we back up a bit, the business really grew out of, it’s one of those things, when you’re doing it, it doesn’t feel deliberate sometimes. It’s much easier to tell the story in hindsight.

What Mike and his brother and sister were seeing was that the screen printing, custom apparel process was very complicated, was very opaque and was very unreliable for the most part. And still today we see it where the customer was made to work on the deadline of the printer. You can have it when we get it to you kind of thing. That was just the expectation in the market. Is this is going to be a pain, this is going to be difficult and we’re just going to have to wait for the printer and oh, by the way, you have to order a 1,000 pieces in order to be meaningful. It’s one of those classic cases of not knowing any better, they went in there and goes, well this is a terrible experience, there’s got to be a better way to do this. If somebody needs their order in a week instead of three weeks, we should be able to do that. The business really started by taking all of the orders that nobody else wanted.

It was a really interesting dynamic because all the screen printers didn’t see them as competition, they saw them basically as fools. It’s like, sure, if you want to do that go ahead. And they would actually send business to these guys. Printfly really developed a culture, whether they knew it of not of doing all the hard jobs that nobody else wanted. They didn’t start with some legacy of what the screen printing or the custom apparel business was and when they got into it they realized very quickly that there was no off the shelf software that they could buy to run a business like that. So they developed everything for the order management side. Once something comes in house, all on their own.

Throughout the 15 years, the company just had its 15th anniversary last month in September. We always say, it’s a 15 year overnight success. It took a long time to get there and 13 of those years it was your classic entrepreneurial, are we going to be able to make it to the next month? Luckily that’s well in the rear view. Over 15 years they’ve had to pioneer a lot of what is now accepted practice in the industry. Being able to set your deadline, being able to rush ship stuff, being able to print on demand. These were, having an online design studio which again, is table stakes for the industry right now, a lot of that was pioneered here because they needed it and nobody else had it and there wasn’t some off the shelf software to buy like there is today.

All of those assets are really Printfly assets and part of what we are looking to do now is okay, how do we drive into more markets using those assets. How can we use the powered by Printfly platform to make the buying experience better in different places?

Bill:  What a cool story. The company has also had, in addition to becoming this overnight sensation after 15 years, a lot of, we were talking before we started, of headcount growth. What’s the role, as this growth has happened and as you’ve become part of obviously the leadership group, just from our relationship with you, we know that brand and culture matters a lot here. Could you talk a little bit about the role of culture and of internal communications in helping that growth can be well managed, can be sustainable that that Printfly power is found in every touchpoint and in every manifestation of the company?

Rob:  Having built businesses before and invested in businesses at different stage, I know every company has a culture. Like it or not it develops. You either get to write that story or it gets to write itself. When I look at it, culture is people caring about what they do. What does that mean? It can be expressed in lots of different ways and we with your help, have boiled it down into nine core values that we think are the underpinning of that culture. It’s really, it’s getting people to care about what they do. We have a little thing that we write, it’s culture equals people. People caring what they do and culture equals brand. because it really is to me, tied together.

Because every interaction you have with a customer is a reflection of your culture. If people here care what they do and the culture is one where we put customers first, where we start with yes, where we try and solve problems when 100% satisfaction is the minimum that we’ll accept, that then becomes the brand. I don’t think you can artificially create some, as much as we would all like to and just say, okay, this is our brand. If the culture doesn’t reflect than it’s not genuine. It just doesn’t become authentic. Here what’s very unique is every great product has 15 knockoffs that’s the case but the difference is you can’t knock off a brand. You can’t knock off a story. The story here is so unique. It really permeates the culture. Having been part of this process in helping us tease out and express what that culture is, a lot of it really just boils down to that story.

That story of Mike, Lex and Jordan who are the three Nemeroffs, two brothers and a sister who started the business were 15, 13 and 17 when this business started. They really were just trying to figure out where can we add some value? Where can we do something that isn’t being done right now? It was really just through perseverance and hard work that they got to where they got to. It wasn’t like, I had the benefit of coming in here 13 years after it started and building.

Bill:  Asset, asset challenge.

Rob:  Right, exactly. That’s a great place to come into. For these guys, they didn’t know what they were doing. They did not when I talked to them, outside of work, it’s like they had no idea that they would ever be sitting in a 63,000-square facility with 225 employees, running this big business when they were 16 years old, screen printing in their parents’ garage washing out the screens in their bathroom sink.

Bill:  Steve had a lemonade stand back then. He was 13.

Rob:  Exactly.

Bill:  He’s still figuring this out too.

Rob:  Yeah, right. You can’t knock off that story. It’s genuine, it’s real. It happened. The culture around here reflects that story. It reflects the fact that these kids struggled for 12 years to try and figure out, to try and get it to the point where it is today and then you have people come in today who just assume it’s always been this way. That’s a really interesting intersection. What we do very well and it was part of, I’ve been here now little more than one year, in this role. One of the first things I did was call you guys, to say, we need to put this thing together because if we’re going to go from where we are to where I think we can get, we have to start being able to articulate this better. You mentioned headcount growth, we doubled our headcount growth in the period of about 15 months.

Bill:  That’s amazing.

Rob:  But if you walk around here and you see, we’ve done so in a way that we’ve maintained culture. It would’ve been very, we could’ve gone in a totally different direction and we could’ve brought in some really smart, effective operators who would’ve clashed with the culture that we’re trying to build. Not milled well. Having this identity, this culture which then flows into what the brand stands for, now we actually can hire to that. We can bring in people, we know what to look for. It is part of hiring, it is part of our onboarding.

Everybody here goes through the exact same first four days which is interesting for a lot of people because those first four days, the first hour of the first four days is mission, vision, values. It doesn’t matter if you are working in our receiving department, opening up boxes of apparel and putting them on shelves to the head of marketing or one of our developers. You’re sitting in that room all together, throughout that first four days you’re going to screen print a shirt, you’re going to embroider some garments, you’re going to take a sales call, you’re going to listen to our customer care calls. We just think that people coming in and experiencing that for four days, one of things that I’ve seen happen before and I’m sure you have too and it probably drives you crazy, these culture books that you build and these vision statements that you build, they just become plaques on the wall.

Bill:  Part of the furniture.

Rob:  They just become part of the furniture and here we’ve tried really, really hard not to make that happen.

Bill:  Using this as strongly as you do in onboarding and reinforcing and rewarding and everything else as a way of making vision, mission, values referenceable, these fundamental elements of how the company operates and grows and trains, that’s part of it but there is very little that is more frustrating than what really is a missed opportunity for an organization to discover and disseminate its purpose in a way that makes everybody, we spend work, life balance whatever, we spend however many hours here that we all have to. We want ideally this to align with our values and we want to know what expected of us. Everyone has a right to that. What’s happened here is amazing and impressive. You mentioned coming in some of the challenges and opportunities that you saw related to fast growth and the assets and the new way of doing this in a market that hadn’t been as customer friendly, other things that you either knew about or discovered in the early days here that were going to be areas of focus as you thought through how to put this all together.

Rob:  I can tell you the biggest thing for me coming in here was I come from a background of being an entrepreneur, working in the investment world, working in the financial services space, in healthcare and I definitely took for granted that this is, I was like, oh, we’re printing t-shirts, how hard can that be? This is custom, this is an easy business. How hard can this be to work? It’s really complicated. It’s very hard and it’s very hard to get it right. If you think about it, no two orders are the same. You think about it, it’s very different than if we’re selling chairs. We have these chairs, you can buy these chairs or you can buy these chairs or this. There’s a limited number of things but imagine if I said, pick any combination of legs, height, width, do you want leather? Do you want cloth? Do you want wood? And every person coming on would have some different combination and then you had to go make that?

It’s quite an orchestra to try and conduct that. One of the things that was super important in looking at that was making sure that when somebody’s coming to you for custom apparel, it’s really important to them. It’s much more significant and it’s very easy to lose sight of that when you’re just looking at it from 30,000 feet and looking at we have this asset, we have this asset, to very quickly lose touch from that customer.

Bill:  It’s also very easy to be jaded by it because everyone buys on price and they need it now and they’re very particular as we expect them to be because it’s a big deal.

Rob:  Sure. That’s part of the challenge that I’ve had to work with with the company on in terms of strategy is you can’t be everything to everyone. That is one of the things that will very quickly, didn’t work for Sears, didn’t work for Chevrolet, didn’t work for Radio Shack, it definitely doesn’t work for us. There’s an eagerness to want to say yes and we have a core value that says start with yes. Have an open mind. But it’s very particularly worded that way because we not going to always end with yes. We’ll start with yes, we want to have an open mind, we want to be able to if we can do it we’re going to do it but we can’t always end with yes.

Bill:  Could be a yes but, perhaps.

Rob:  Right. Or we’re going to try. We’re going to start with how can we get it done and if we can’t get it done at least we’ve tried. That also opens you up to a tendency to try and do too much for everyone and you try and please everyone then you’ll end up pleasing no one. We’ve had to figure out what our niche is, what our core customer really wants from us and then leverage that. We have stopped doing certain things since I got here that were not valuable to the business. And as any business, that’s a little scary. Change is always scary to anybody coming in but looking back at it, it was the right thing to do. We did, we shut down two brands that we were running that were, they were just not core to what we were doing. They didn’t serve the right audience and it was just a bad experience all around for everybody. We were able to take the energy there and refocus it on things that we thought did add a lot of value.

Right now it’s a very interesting time in this space because it’s never been easier to say you’re in the custom apparel business. Never. With websites like Shopify and Etsy and some of these places, it’s really simple for you to just throw up a website and say, “Hey, we’re in the custom apparel business.” It’s really hard to execute on that.

Bill:  Sure, I can imagine.

Rob:  Finding that balance and that’s really one of the things that makes the company unique is we can do both. We can do the front end, we can serve the customer really well because we’ve invested a lot of time in a customer service team that’s a luxury to have. It’s very expensive but we think it’s really, really important. At the same time we feel like it’s critical for us to own the fulfillment. We don’t just take orders and then send them to some print shop in Canada or Mexico or California.

Bill:  Find somebody with capacity.

Rob:  And keep our fingers crossed and hope it comes out right because our customers, we have this on our website and people don’t believe us, some people test us all the time. We have 100% money back guarantee. If you are not satisfied with what you get, for any reason, even if it was your fault, then we’re going to take care of that. We’ll reprint it, we’ll refund it, we’ll take care of it. In order to do that, we have to have a pretty high standard and we have to control everything. Getting into the business is really easy, executing is really hard. That’s been the biggest challenge here is to make sure that we’re really focused on that customer experience and getting them a high quality good.

We are not the cheapest, lowest cost provider in the marketplace but we think that we have the right balance of customer service, high quality and we’re going to make sure everything is perfect. We’re going to get to you when you need it and it’s dependable. because the worst thing to happen, if you think about custom apparel, you open up that box and it’s not right. Or you need it for your event and it’s not there. That’s really what happens over and over and over again in the industry. We’re very, very focused on that.

Bill:  We talked about brand architecture a little bit earlier and how Printfly is designated as the holder of the production capability both in terms of the actual structure as well as presumably the values and the culture that extends into all the different cracks here. Then there’s market facing brands, Rush Order Tees and College Inc. and other things. What are other ingredients in the overall brand strategic approach that you think enable this level of achievement and potential in terms of how the company goes to market?

Rob:  At the brand level it’s really again, just understanding who our target audience is. Understanding what that buyer wants and being able to deliver that and nothing else. We do spend a lot of time really trying to understand our customer. Why are they buying from us? What is it that’s important to them? What’s extraneous? What can get rid of? How can we make it easier? We’re constantly, constantly trying to do that. We do that on the website, we do that with our customer services reps, we do that through the use of technology. We’ve just introduced, it’ll be coming out this week, an ability for us, when you’re on the website and you’re designing that shirt and you’re not sure if it’s going to look right, we can just hold your hand literally and figuratively on the website now to help make that experience better. That is a direct result of talking to our customers and them saying, “Hey, as easy as you think your design studio, it’s a little bit tough for us. Can you help us here?”

Then on the Rush Order side, specifically, why are customers coming to us? We have this tagline which we think has really does capture that brand pretty well. It’s your design, your deadline. We know it’s your design, it’s really important to you and we know it’s your deadline and we got to get it there on that. From a brand architecture perspective, it’s knowing who the buyers are that are coming to those different brands and why because the 35-year-old professional who’s buying shirts for their kid’s soccer team and they need them on an event date for something, is coming to Rush Order Tees, is very different than the 23-year-old fraternity kid who need his shirts for beer pong on Saturday.

Bill:  Both equally important, mind you.

Rob:  Both equally important, absolutely. That 35 year was a 23-year-old at one time.

Bill:  They would grow up with the brand.

Rob:  But they definitely, they’d have a different experience with the brand. They want different things out of the brand. Understanding what people want from the brands and as we look at going forward and things that we may be doing in the future that’s also, we don’t want to just spin up a brand just because we think it’s cool. We want to spin up a brand or we want to enhance what we’re doing because there’s real value to somebody out there who can use what we do. We either solve some problem for them or create some value that they otherwise aren’t getting.

Bill:  Good segue into what next. There’s probably things that we’re not quite ready to share but anything that you can disclose about things that are happening that are new? Whether they be ultimately visible to the market or not. We talked a bit about another shift. There’s a lot that’s happening, lot of growth happening now. What’s next? What should we look for?

Rob:  From our perspective we’re constantly looking at where the market is going. What do people want? In terms of our internal growth we really do want to continue to own our production capacity. We want to own the quote, full stack. Everything from the time you place the order to the time it hits your door. As soon as we hand it off to UPS and FedEx we lose a little bit of control but all the way up to that point we want to make sure that we look at it. We’re investing more in things like QA and in new technology and in new machines and Mike and I, Mike who’s the CEO, and I spend a lot of time looking at where’s the technology going? What’s next? Where should be focused? What should we not be doing?

because our focus on customer service and quality, those are the two things. That helps now are our focus into what technology are we going to invest in, not just from the technology, the ones and zero side of things, but in terms of what equipment are we going to buy? What printers are we going to buy? Where are we going to invest in training? Just to constantly raise the bar on that side of things. Then again, just see what market needs aren’t being filled or are not filled well. We don’t need to be the first mover in every market. A lot of times it’s good to sit back and see where other people are stumbling.

I believe in this law of adjacent profits which is when a market gets very, very efficient, it creates an opportunity for a profit somewhere else. When everybody’s going into into discount retailing, it creates an opportunity for a Nordstrom’s to pop up out of there because people still want high quality, high service and are willing to pay for it. We can wait to see the Targets and the Walmarts and Costcos fight it out for a while and let’s see what adjacent profit will come up there. There we’re obviously always looking at what we could be improving on and we’ll continue to do that.

Bill:  Your journey, your own journey’s been a fascinating one from large organizations but always with an entrepreneurial spirit, for those who’ve been inspired by your story and your path are there a couple learnings from the road or word that you live by or things that you remind yourself and are fundamental that you are as a guy and as a business that you’d want to share?

Rob:  Sure. There’s two things that I always repeat and people around here get tired of hearing me say it and some of it’s come in through our words. They don’t forget it for sure. It’s two things. One is, people always overestimate what they can do in a month and underestimate what they can do in a year. It doesn’t always have to be big, big, big gains. If you make small gains every day and you look back a year, two years out, you’ll be amazing at what you can accomplish. If you think you’ve got to get it all done in the next month, it’s never going to happen. I always remind people just you don’t have to do it all at once, just make a little bit of progress every single day. That to me, I wish somebody would’ve told me that 20 years ago.

Bill:  If you win the day.

Rob:  That’s it. You don’t have to do everything today. You do some stuff tomorrow. Have a little bit of a longer-term view. Having worked in my own, having built my own businesses and having worked in startups and fast growth industries we have this term of being in startup years. Every month here is like a year somewhere else and you expect so much to get done and things are moving so fast but even then you have to pull back and just say, just make small improvements every day, you don’t have to do it all at once. That’s a big thing and that comes with perspective and time. It’s hard to express to some people, especially when you’re 23 and you’re full of yourself and you think you can do everything. That’s great. That would be one. Small progress every day and you’ll accomplish a lot.

Two is there three fundamental things. Do what you say you’re going to do. Show up on time. Say please and thank you. That will get you pretty far in this world. Those are very simplified things that have taken a long time to winnow down into those three things. There’s a lot of deep meaning behind that. If you’re dependable, if you do what you say you’re going to do, that’s huge. If you show up on time, it’s respectful of other people and you say please and thank you. That’s basically, you said it before, and I say this to everybody who starts here, it’s not quite as far as Tony Hsieh would go with Zappos but we tell everybody on their first day, I get to kick off their onboarding and them through mission, vision, values and I say this, “If anybody who’s here for the paycheck should leave right now.”

Everybody in that room, everybody that we hire, if we hire you here, then you’re pretty smart accomplished person. You can work anywhere. You don’t have to work here. Work here because you want to work here. Given where I’ve been and the companies I’ve operated and things that I’ve done, I want to come a place, to your point earlier, I’m here 10 hours a day, five, six days a week during some periods, I don’t want to go to a place where I’m like, oh, I gotta go to work today. It’s just not fun. Say please and thank you, just be respectful and it is one of our core values is have fun. There’s that question that people ask, if you would give advice to your 20-year self. It’s like, don’t take yourself so seriously. Have a little bit of fun. It doesn’t have to be a grind every single day.

Bill:  Steve had, was it 12 or 16 beers on the way here actually? He’s ready to … Steve’s our executive producer, as long time listeners will know. As we close Rob, this has been great. People are knocking on your door. I know there’s a lot to do here. Couple greatest hits you want to brag about? We know the Sixers’ relationship’s been awesome and we were talking as we were plugging things in about the home opener that maybe did not end well. Everyone got an awesome t-shirt. What’s in the brag book for Rush Order Tees or Printfly that you can tell us about?

Rob:  There’s so many thing we’re just going through a greatest hits the other day. Looking at our year end. A lot of it’s little things that add up over time. It’s a big insurance company calling us up on the eve or Hurricane Irma and saying, “We need 10,000 shirts by Monday to give our adjusters who are heading down to Florida after this hurricane hits.”

Bill:  because they know it’s coming.

Rob:  “And we’ve called everyone.” The best stories are the ones that start out with, “I know you guys can do this but we figured.” We see that all the time. Some of them, to the people on the other side of that, that’s huge. That insurance company who we can’t, we won’t tell you who it is but they had called everybody and they finally called us. We got them 10,000 screen printed polo shirts. They called us on Thursday afternoon, they were delivered full stop, Sunday afternoon to them and they were putting them in kits and sending them with adjusters to Florida on Monday. We see things like that all the time. We have a couple of cool projects that are coming up that we can’t tell you the names are but they’re product launches but they need 30,000 shirts to be ready on a specific day that are going to handed out with this big announcement. They’re counting on us.

Bill:  You can’t mess that up.

Rob:  They are millions of dollars of other things going on around it and TV and video and everything else. Those are cool. Equally as cool as around Hurricane Harvey, we donated hundreds of shirts to people who just needed them and a lot of them who wanted specific messages put on there for some commemoration or outreach. There’s a lot of that goes on here. That unspoken we reach out, there was people who have tragedies or people have things that go and they come on and they order 100 shirts and we’ll ship them for free. Those kinds of things. Sure, the Sixers in great, it’s been a fun ride with them and hopefully this year we can get a playoff game.

Bill:  Yeah, right. I can’t imagine the shirts that will be.

Rob:  We told them already just put our order in now. We’re in for that. We’ve had some good partnerships. We work the Philadelphia Union now so that’s been a great opportunity to learn MLS and get to know some of those guys. That’s just kicking off. We work with Red Bull. We do Red Bull racing, that’s been a fun journey to look with those guys. Honestly, we have this really cool new partnership that started with the pro break dancing tour, called UDEF. I don’t know if you guys or anybody who listens has followed that but they just had their big, they call it the Silverback Open which is their pro championship out here in King of Prussia. The winner, his video went viral and Chris Brown shared it, Joe Rogan shared it. It’s got millions of views, these guys are unbelievable athletes. It’s a great fun demographic. We’ve got our toe in a lot of waters and we’re trying to talk to a lot of different people.

Bill:  Sounds like interesting waters too. All of which are, it’s probably fun to see something like that go viral and say we did that. That’s great. That’s great. Rob, thank you. COO Rob Levin of Printfly, appreciate your time.

Rob:  Thank you.

Bill:  Thanks Rob for your time and insight. Getting to know this company has been a pleasure and certainly getting to know this leader has been a pleasure for us and I’m sure for all of you. As always, three ways to support us here, Real World Branding. We love the dialogue so let’s keep it going on Twitter, on Facebook, other social media. Either @billgullan if you want to reach out to me directory or @finchbrands or other media too. We always like to compete for ratings and hopefully earn five stars and love seeing new ones pop into the app store, it helps us be visible for those are seeking content like this so we’re grateful for those who have found some joy and insight through this work if you could reward us not monetarily but just with a quick click and maybe a kind word or two. Again, if we’ve earned it.

And then the third way is we’re grooved back up here to keep the schedule going and keep the interesting content going and thus you won’t miss a thing if you just get into that app store of your choice, podcast store of your choice and you click subscribe. Anytime we have something new it’ll download automatically and you’ll be sitting there on the train or in the car or on the plane or just on a walk pondering the mysteries of life and business and goodness gracious there we. Anyway, laying it on thick in the spirit of a wonderful autumn. We’ll sign off from the cradle of liberty.

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Rob Levin, COO of Printfly shares his perspectives on the role of brand and culture after joining a business that experienced explosive organic growth. His insight speaks to the importance of these elements in sustaining and supercharging the next stag... Rob Levin, COO of Printfly shares his perspectives on the role of brand and culture after joining a business that experienced explosive organic growth. His insight speaks to the importance of these elements in sustaining and supercharging the next stage of the business. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!<br /><br />  <br /><br /> TRANSCRIPTION<br /><br /> Rob Levin:  Every company has a culture, like it or not it develops. You either get to write that story or it’s going to write itself.<br /><br /> Bill Gullan:  Greetings one and all, this Real-World Branding. I’m Bill Gullan, president of Finch Brands, a premier boutique branding agency. Big pleasure this week, we have <a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/robert-levin-29291b/">Rob Levin</a> who’s the COO of <a href="https://www.linkedin.com/company/printfly/">Printfly Corporation</a> best known, at least in the marketplace as <a href="https://www.rushordertees.com/">rushordertees.com</a>. We went to the headquarters of Printfly in northeast Philadelphia. You can feel by being there and walking through and just being in the middle of this high activity, high energy place, how much is happening at that company and Rob will certainly walk through his background as a finance person originally and an investor into this operating role and what he found and how he found it and what he’s doing with it and the rest of the leadership team, what they’re doing with it. High culture, high energy, definitely a company to watch. Enjoy Rob Levin.<br /><br /> Bill: Coming to you from the northeast Philadelphia headquarters of Printfly which encompasses Rush Order Tees and we’ll certainly hear more about that. We’re here with Rob Levin who’s the COO of the company. Thank you for your time good sir.<br /><br /> Rob:  Thank you.<br /><br /> Bill:  Way to start, we’ve been fortunate enough to know a little bit about the under the hood of this place. It’s an incredible tale. Let’s start with you and a bit of your own journey to this point and then we’ll get into the company and all that you’ve been working on since you joined up.<br /><br /> Rob:  Sure. I have an entrepreneurial background. I started in the financial services business working for a big insurance company called Principle Financial Group out in the Midwest at a time when they were demutualizing and going public. I had the opportunity to take that ride and watch a 110-year-old mutual insurance company take itself out into the capital market which was really interesting. Pretty quickly after that figured out that I wasn’t well suited for a 10,000 plus person organization and so I left shortly after the IPO and started my own consulting business which grew over a four or five-year period of time where we were doing some interesting things in the financial services space. I ended selling that to an insurance company and five years later I was right back to where I started. Employee number 12,000 at an insurance company.<br /><br /> True to form, that didn’t last very long either. The entrepreneurial bug bit again so about two years later I left there and started another business which was in the lending space. That’s was around 2007 and that was successful up until the financial crisis of 2008.<br /><br /> Bill:  Interesting timing on that.<br /><br /> Rob:  Yeah, it looked really good going in and if we knew then what what we know now, I would’ve taken a different course. Like anything else, was a great learning opportunity. I would never want to go through that again but having gone through it, lot of lessons learned out of that. We ended up selling off the assets of that business and I started another company with a couple of classmates of mine which was an international reinsurance business. Right back again into the entrepreneurial space and working in that. It was a lot of fun. That was a really good experience. Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands clean
One Big Idea – Amazon HQ2 https://finchbrands.com/one-big-idea-amazon-hq2/ Wed, 01 Nov 2017 15:20:08 +0000 http://finchbrands.com/?p=2830 https://finchbrands.com/one-big-idea-amazon-hq2/#respond https://finchbrands.com/one-big-idea-amazon-hq2/feed/ 0 <p>Cities and municipalities across the nation have submitted bids to host Amazon’s second headquarters. With the promise of economic development and job opportunities, its a no-brainer why. In this episode, we look at the role that this opportunity has on both the Amazon brand and the brand of it’s future home. Transcription Bill Gullan: Greetings […]</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com/one-big-idea-amazon-hq2/">One Big Idea – Amazon HQ2</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com">Finch Brands</a>.</p> Cities and municipalities across the nation have submitted bids to host Amazon’s second headquarters. With the promise of economic development and job opportunities, its a no-brainer why. In this episode, we look at the role that this opportunity has on both the Amazon brand and the brand of it’s future home.

Transcription

Bill Gullan: Greetings one and all. This is Real-World Branding. I’m Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands, the premier boutique branding agency and this is One Big Idea. In Philadelphia certainly, and in cities and towns across the country, there’s been a lot of buzz both in the general media as well as in economic development circles about Amazon and their intent to build a second headquarters. The codename, I think, is HQ2. And they promise, in the RFP that they issued at least, that it will be in terms of size and scope, very similar to what they’ve done in Seattle. We’re talking about an estimate of 50,000 jobs created through this initiative with about 100 grand in sort of average compensation, so these are headquarters jobs, less about sort of supply chain and logistics, but we assume a lot of that’s tech and engineering and maybe things like marketing too.

The RFP went out in the latter stages. I think it may have been in August and the deadline for participation just passed, and Amazon announced that they received 238 proposals. I’m not sure what they were expecting, but certainly an emphatic response that I believe included all 50 states in the US and certainly folks in Canada as well. The discussion seems to center around who’s going to win. There’s a lot of horse race kind of handicapping here, which regions seem to have advantages that would be appealing to Amazon.

The RFP did go into at least bullet point detail about some of the things that are really important to the team at Amazon who are doing the selection, but it didn’t get too deep into relative priority or things like a business friendly environment, what exactly that means. So we are all left to handicap this and gossip about it and discuss it. Just using Philadelphia as an example, the impact of 50,000 new jobs. One of Philadelphia’s largest and certainly most high profile employers is Comcast, which employs 16,000 people here. Another one is Vanguard, which is in the western suburbs that employs another 11,000. These are two organizations that have corporate headquarters here. If you combine them and double them, that’s the kind of impact you’re talking about, at least in terms of raw job numbers.

And because of the fact that Amazon, at least on the technology side, seems to be particularly appealing to a particular type, a younger person who’s technology inclined and sort of ever interesting millennial cohort to urban planners, et cetera. I mean, this seems like a bonanza. It’s the biggest of its kind sort of corporate, not re-lo, but decision making sort of RFP of its kind in generations, so not a big surprise that so many municipalities have either collaboratively or individually put forth bids.

There’s a lot of interesting stories as to some of the lengths to which people will go. There was one community in Georgia, suburb of Atlanta called Stonecrest, that offered and actually voted in city council. Four-two, mind you, was the vote, that if selected they would replace the name Stonecrest, Georgia and make it Amazon, Georgia. Talk about branding. We’ll get to branding in a minute. When we look beyond and beneath elected officials and economic development folks and city tourism and hospitality boosters, it’s a complicated story. There is a counterpoint here as to arguing that a particular region shouldn’t go after this or that it wouldn’t ultimately be in their interest to have it. The obvious, in terms of prestige and jobs and tax base and everything else, is counterbalanced by some concerns about gentrification and the increase in housing and other prices.

You look at the Bay Area, for goodness’ sake, with all of these tech employees. Nobody can live there. Not nobody, but very few folks. It’s not a livable type of environment in the Bay Area. Also, part of the RFP and thus part of the response is: What can you do for me? What are the tax breaks that municipalities are going to promise to Amazon in order to make this thing real and is it worth it? Are they worth it? Does it crowd out other folks? Where does the money come from? There are a host of concerns. Many cities that have … Gentrified may not be the right word, but cities that have undergone some degree of sort of economic revitalization. It’s happened in the urban core in the central business district. It hasn’t always happened in the neighborhoods, or at least some would argue it hasn’t always happened in the neighborhoods and the net effect of this, they argue, would be a further obscuring of the needs of neighborhoods of folks who already live here in pursuit of chasing those who don’t yet.

There’s a pretty interesting dialogue on editorial pages and on social media and on panels about what’s sort of the costs of victory here are. You always see articles every four years about the costs of winning and hosting the Olympics. This, while different, has a similar debate. Now, polling at this point, at least of the general consumer market, Morning Consult reports that among a cross sample of average American respondents, 72% would want Amazon to locate either in their town or the nearest city, so that’s a pretty emphatic positive response. I think folks can certainly see the impact on property values, the impact on geographical sort of prestige and the economy, because it’s not just Amazon. It’s all the businesses that spring up to serve it, the businesses that spin out of it four or five years later when folks want to do something entrepreneurial. Long lasting impacts and 72% think it’s worth it.

Actually, this is sort of colored by, Morning Consult does their brand favorability ratings and one of the things that’s interesting when we talk about brands is, Amazon’s favorability is really high. It’s 76% and that’s much higher than … I actually don’t know the numbers off hand, but much higher than your Wal Marts and your others, which to me is a little bit surprising given the degree to which Amazon, certainly in its infancy and as it was really taking hold, the criticisms in terms of really decimating the publishing and book industry, as well as in the same way that Wal Mart’s been criticized hurting local businesses and costing jobs at community hardware store levels and things like that. Amazon has certainly had an impact on that up to and likely well beyond and certainly in the future. Your Wal Marts and your Targets and your other sort of big boxes that have crowded out, some would argue, local businesses.

Amazon has remained, though, at least it is today, largely above the fray in that debate. Amazon is greatly valued for its convenience and its pricing and all that Prime means in terms of free shipping on incremental orders, though you certainly pay for it through your subscription. But Amazon, there’s all sorts of data around the way our economy’s changing and the role of Amazon and driving eCommerce, so don’t need to rehash that. But it is interesting to see that Amazon for such a large, and we would think polarizing brand, has such a strong net favorability, 76% of you view the brand favorably.

Many, many different debates here. There are brand implications, though, that we shouldn’t ignore beyond just economic development and sort of the pro and the con of how Amazon impacts local economies. There are certain cities and sort of urban areas, municipal areas, that have become at almost a brand level, very strongly associated with an industry, or a major employer, or a couple of major employers. We look at Seattle, for example, which obviously has Amazon and has Microsoft out in Redmond. But for a long period of time, Seattle was very closely and is closely associated with Starbucks and with coffee. Seattle’s Best is there too. In fact, the sort of emergence of Seattle on the national stage was kind of a mixture of flannel and grunge and coffee in the 90s.

Charlotte, North Carolina, the city, high growth city where I spent a lot of time earlier in my career, was known, is known, very strongly for banking because at the time Nations Bank, although Bank of America now, was headquartered in Charlotte and so was, at the time, First Union, which is now part of Wells Fargo. These made Charlotte, I think, the number one or at least number two banking center in the nation, despite being the 22nd or 23rd largest sort of DMA. So banking and Charlotte were really strongly associated too.

LA, of course, is very strongly associated with entertainment. San Francisco’s associated with the tech sector. The role and reality of corporate location has a really big impact on municipal branding, both from a perspective of corporate as well as individual relocation. Has to do with where you go to college. Has to do with where you choose to migrate in your career and in your life, where you choose to visit with your leisure dollar. There’s significant brand implications, I think, to this choice that extend beyond just the economic development impacts, again pro and con.

On the sort of positive side of the ledger, if you’re a rust belt city or another former manufacturing city like a Baltimore, or a Philadelphia here, or a Pittsburgh, not to mention Detroit and others, Amazon arriving is not just sort of a financial shot in the arm. It is an opportunity to write a new story about technology and about the future and about progress, and to bring those cities into the 21st century in many ways. Amazon has that impact. I’m not sure whether Jeff Bezos cares or has sort of a savior complex or not, but the impact to the local economy and the perception of Amazon going, shall we say, to New York versus Baltimore is a totally different proposition, and so to the degree that it matters that Amazon arriving is a seismic event, there are certainly cities on that list for whom it would be such a thing. I think sort of rust belt, or old economy, or manufacturing cities of the sorts that we mentioned are certainly motivated for economic reasons, but also for prestige and sort of brand level reasons to pursue Amazon in this case.

There are probably some brand concerns as well. As noted, Amazon is a brand that is overwhelmingly viewed favorably at this point, but certainly has the opportunity and a past of being polarizing. Company towns, so to speak, lose a little bit of their own identity, and if Philadelphia, or Baltimore, or Pittsburgh become sort of Amazon, PA, or whatever the case may be, that has a profound brand impact too, that folks should think about.

Let’s close with a little bit of how the current sort of handicapping is working here. An Irish bookmaker, I think it was Paddy Power and some others have published odds related to Amazon’s HQ2 and where it will be placed. And according to Paddy Power at least, and I don’t know what this is based on, but it’s an interesting discussion. Atlanta has a three to one odds currently posted. Makes sense. Atlanta has Coca Cola and many other sort of big corporate headquarters or regional corporate centers. It has a very pro business clime and it has a great combination of engineering and technical education with Georgia Tech, with Emery, with many other colleges and universities within Atlanta. It’s also a part of the country that’s booming. You don’t have issues with labor there.

At the same time, reasons why Atlanta might not be as strong is, the transit system isn’t as great. There’s a lot of elements here that we don’t, again, know how they’re going to be weighted. But Atlanta is considered to be the favorite based upon the bookmaker Paddy Power, followed by Austin, which has obviously a strong tech economy already. Followed by Boston, which was [inaudible 00:13:19] too, and certainly has a set of feeder higher education institutions when it comes to the kind of credential workforce that Amazon is seeking.

And then you have others, Toronto in there representing our neighbors to the north. Great city. The District of Columbia too, which has tech corridor. Northern Virginia has obviously proximity to government. Bezos already bought the Washington Post, so presumably has a couple of homes there at least. It’s also conveniently located on the eastern seaboard. Portland is there, which would be interesting because that certainly doesn’t represent geographical diversity with Seattle, but there’s probably some convenience in that. Then you get to the level of Pittsburgh at Philadelphia down there at 14 and 16 to one.

Let’s wrap it up. The Amazon HQ2 conversation is fascinating. It is significant in terms of what it says about the future of cities, what it says about the future of economic development, and for one municipality or geographic area that’s going to win this. Again, there’s a couple schools of thought about whether the net effects of that will be overwhelmingly positive, or a little bit positive, or on the other side of the ledger. But there also will be impacts to the brand, and in some cases it could be a very positive jolt of energy. In other cases, folks run the risk of really being perceptually linked for a very long time with one particular company whose fates rise and fall. We’ll sign off from the cradle of liberty. Thank you all. Have a great day.

The post One Big Idea – Amazon HQ2 appeared first on Finch Brands.

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Cities and municipalities across the nation have submitted bids to host Amazon’s second headquarters. With the promise of economic development and job opportunities, its a no-brainer why. In this episode, we look at the role that this opportunity has o... Cities and municipalities across the nation have submitted bids to host Amazon’s second headquarters. With the promise of economic development and job opportunities, its a no-brainer why. In this episode, we look at the role that this opportunity has on both the Amazon brand and the brand of it’s future home.<br /><br /> Transcription<br /><br /> Bill Gullan: Greetings one and all. This is Real-World Branding. I’m Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands, the premier boutique branding agency and this is One Big Idea. In Philadelphia certainly, and in cities and towns across the country, there’s been a lot of buzz both in the general media as well as in economic development circles about Amazon and their intent to build a second headquarters. The codename, I think, is HQ2. And they promise, in the RFP that they issued at least, that it will be in terms of size and scope, very similar to what they’ve done in Seattle. We’re talking about an estimate of 50,000 jobs created through this initiative with about 100 grand in sort of average compensation, so these are headquarters jobs, less about sort of supply chain and logistics, but we assume a lot of that’s tech and engineering and maybe things like marketing too.<br /><br /> The RFP went out in the latter stages. I think it may have been in August and the deadline for participation just passed, and Amazon announced that they received 238 proposals. I’m not sure what they were expecting, but certainly an emphatic response that I believe included all 50 states in the US and certainly folks in Canada as well. The discussion seems to center around who’s going to win. There’s a lot of horse race kind of handicapping here, which regions seem to have advantages that would be appealing to Amazon.<br /><br /> The RFP did go into at least bullet point detail about some of the things that are really important to the team at Amazon who are doing the selection, but it didn’t get too deep into relative priority or things like a business friendly environment, what exactly that means. So we are all left to handicap this and gossip about it and discuss it. Just using Philadelphia as an example, the impact of 50,000 new jobs. One of Philadelphia’s largest and certainly most high profile employers is Comcast, which employs 16,000 people here. Another one is Vanguard, which is in the western suburbs that employs another 11,000. These are two organizations that have corporate headquarters here. If you combine them and double them, that’s the kind of impact you’re talking about, at least in terms of raw job numbers.<br /><br /> And because of the fact that Amazon, at least on the technology side, seems to be particularly appealing to a particular type, a younger person who’s technology inclined and sort of ever interesting millennial cohort to urban planners, et cetera. I mean, this seems like a bonanza. It’s the biggest of its kind sort of corporate, not re-lo, but decision making sort of RFP of its kind in generations, so not a big surprise that so many municipalities have either collaboratively or individually put forth bids.<br /><br /> There’s a lot of interesting stories as to some of the lengths to which people will go. There was one community in Georgia, suburb of Atlanta called Stonecrest, that offered and actually voted in city council. Four-two, mind you, was the vote, that if selected they would replace the name Stonecrest, Georgia and make it Amazon, Georgia. Talk about branding. We’ll get to branding in a minute. When we look beyond and beneath elected officials and economic development folks and city tourism and hospitality boosters, it’s a complicated story. There is a counterpoint here as to arguing that a particular region shouldn’t go after this or that it wouldn’t ultimately be in their interest to have it. The obvious, in terms of prestige and jobs and tax base and everything else, Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands clean
Baking Up Brands – Melissa Ben-Ishay and Seth Horowitz of Baked by Melissa https://finchbrands.com/baking-up-brands-melissa-ben-ishay-and-seth-horowitz-of-baked-by-melissa/ Wed, 25 Oct 2017 13:21:57 +0000 http://finchbrands.com/?p=2821 https://finchbrands.com/baking-up-brands-melissa-ben-ishay-and-seth-horowitz-of-baked-by-melissa/#respond https://finchbrands.com/baking-up-brands-melissa-ben-ishay-and-seth-horowitz-of-baked-by-melissa/feed/ 0 <p>In this episode, we host Melissa Ben-Ishay and Seth Horowitz of Baked by Melissa. Melissa, co-founder and chief product officer, shares her story from losing her job to building a brand out of joy and authenticity. Seth details his journey from some of the biggest brands in the world to his new post as Baked […]</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com/baking-up-brands-melissa-ben-ishay-and-seth-horowitz-of-baked-by-melissa/">Baking Up Brands – Melissa Ben-Ishay and Seth Horowitz of Baked by Melissa</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com">Finch Brands</a>.</p> In this episode, we host Melissa Ben-Ishay and Seth Horowitz of Baked by Melissa. Melissa, co-founder and chief product officer, shares her story from losing her job to building a brand out of joy and authenticity. Seth details his journey from some of the biggest brands in the world to his new post as Baked by Melissa’s CEO. Together they discuss the role of brand and culture in building strong brands that grow. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!

Transcription:

Seth Horowitz: I thought, “Wow. Amazing brand. I think the brand is much bigger than the company. Maybe this thing has the potential to be exponentially bigger than it is.”

Bill Gullan: Greetings one and all. This is Real-World Branding. I’m Bill Gullan, president of Finch Brands, a premier boutique branding agency, and we are back with purpose and vengeance. We’re proud to bring, today, an interview that we conducted last week with Seth Horowitz, CEO, and Melissa Ben-Ishay, President, Co-Founder, and Chief Product Officer of Baked by Melissa.

Melissa’s name, of course, is on the door. She is the Melissa of Baked by Melissa. Seth is someone with an incredible track record of business growth stories in his background, including Everlast Worldwide and Modell’s Sporting Goods, etc. He’s been in the CEO chair for just a little while.

This is an incredibly interesting brand that not only has a great founding story, but is in the midst of authoring a really noticeable and inspiring growth story that’s predicated on culture, that’s predicated on creativity, predicated on joy, and the notion of making life sweeter in all the ways that that means, and all the ways that the company brings it to market.

Enjoy Seth Horowitz and Melissa Ben-Ishay.

Bill: We are here in Union Square at the super cool, except for the four flights up, home office, head office of Baked by Melissa here in Union Square. We’re here with Seth and Melissa. Melissa Ben-Ishay is the President and Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer. Her name’s on the door. Seth Horowitz is the CEO. Thank you both for your time.

Melissa Ben-Ishay: Thank you for coming.

Bill: Oh, it’s an absolute sweet pleasure for us to be here again.

Melissa: How many cupcakes have you eaten since you got here?

Bill: Those who know me or who can see me know that the answer is higher than that which one should, but one can’t resist this incredible assortment of flavors in front of us, so we encourage everyone in our audience to have this experience for themselves.

Having two folks is a fun and welcome change for us here, and so Melissa, why don’t you start us off by telling us a bit about your story and that of the company, and then Seth we’ll bring you in?

Melissa: Sure, so Baked by Melissa sells bite-sized treats. We have bite-sized stuffed cupcakes that come in a variety of flavors, and double stuffed bite-sized macaroons, and we exist to make life sweeter.

In June of 2008 I was working in advertising as an assistant media planner, and I wasn’t passionate about the work I was doing and it showed, because I was fired. On a Wednesday at 11:00am I was called to HR over the loudspeaker. I thought I was getting a promotion, but I was fired.

I went right to my brother’s office. He’s my best friend and an entrepreneur. We always wanted to go into business together, so when I sat down he said, “You know what? Go home, bake your cupcakes. We’ll start a business out of it.”

Instead of going home and feeling sorry for myself the night I lost my job, I went home and I baked cupcakes. Two hundred of them, four batches: cookie dough, peanut butter cup, S’mores and my signature tie-dye flavor.

I sent them into work with my best friend’s little sister, who was staying with me for the summer interning at a PR firm. The owner of the PR firm tried them and loved them and put me in touch with her caterer, who brought me in for a tasting, and I knew this would be a huge opportunity, so I ran back to my brother’s office and I said, “Holy crap. We got a tasting with Alison Brod’s caterer. We have to go in there like we have a business already and he could be a part of it.”

It was then and there that we came up with our name, Baked by Melissa, and our logo, the same exact logo we have today. I printed the logo out on paper and pasted it on pastry boxes that I got from the deli across the street from my apartment, went to the tasting with the caterer, and he loved them.

He said, “You know what? From a catering perspective, if they were just a bite, oh my God.” So I figured out how to do that. I baked for an event that he was hosting a week later, and for that event we created a website and business cards so when people saw the product and loved it, they could go purchase them on bakedbymelissa.com.

That’s how we started the business. The rest is history.

Bill: That’s amazing, and always a baker, someone who loved doing this for yourself and your friends and in your own time. To be able to do that professionally I’m sure is quite a joy.

Melissa: Oh, yeah. It’s a dream come true. I see baking as arts and crafts but you could eat your project, and the act of giving something that you create and then watching somebody enjoy it is why I’m here. It’s the best feeling in the world.

Bill: Amazing, and so this company now, I think what? 14 or 15 stores in and around metro New York, a vibrant eCommerce business, and what’s the newest thing that you want to tell us that’s super exciting that we have on the table near us, and I know we’ve seen a lot on social media here?

Melissa: There’s so much new and exciting stuff, especially in the past year or so since we brought on our amazing CEO, Seth, who’s sitting here next to me.

Bill: We’ll get to him, yeah, right.

Melissa: But I actually came out with my first book. It’s called Cakes by Melissa. It launched on October 3rd. In the book you get the full story of how we started Baked by Melissa, and my personal story as well.

I grew up with two parents who empowered me to do everything and anything I set my mind to, and that’s so much of a reason I think I was able to do what I’ve done with, of course, an amazing team of people surrounding me at all times in every step of the way.

The book takes you through my creative process. It’s laid out differently than any other cookbook. It starts with cakes. The first recipe is my base vanilla cake recipe, and by adding or subtracting one or two ingredients, the opportunity is endless to create hundreds of different flavors, and my goal for the book is to empower you to bake outside the lines and mix and match your favorite recipes to come up with flavor combinations that make the people around you or the people you love most happy.

Bill: That’s super cool and very interesting, and we’ll definitely get back to the book and the business, but Seth, let’s bring you in here. I know we go back a ways. What’re the highlights of your journey? It’s been an interesting career full of projects like this, brands that have excellent foundations, by your leadership helping clarify and strengthen and grow. Take us through a bit of your own career up to this point.

Seth: Thank you, Bill.

Bill: Sure.

Seth: It’s great having you up here.

Bill: It’s a pleasure.

Seth: You know, my career started off at a company called Active Apparel Group, which was a licensee for Everlast, and we positioned women’s active wear in a way that women’s active wear hadn’t been positioned before. It was late 1990s and the big brands really weren’t supportive of that business.

Bill: Right.

Seth: We took on a license from Everlast and built a brand around empowerment. People laughed at us. They thought that Everlast was a boxing company and what did that have anything to do with sports bras and bike shorts?

We built a brand through the eyes of the customer, and connecting to that female consumer on an emotional level, and then providing great product was the magic recipe. That allowed us to become the biggest part of Everlast’s business. We were a public company. We found a way to buy the much larger private company, Everlast.

Bill: Right, right.

Seth: On October 24th of 2000, a date I will never forget.

Bill: Nice. Yeah, I’m sure.

Seth: We took a lot of the learnings that we had from building around this brand of empowerment throughout Everlast’s entire business in the United States and worldwide, and it was an amazing journey. I had such tremendous mentors along the way that I’m incredibly thankful for, and one thing that was consistent with everybody is looking at the business through the eyes of the customer and being brand first.

So that journey at Everlast was amazing. We took the company from $100 million to almost $700 million, and it was awesome. We took a business in hard goods, our boxing equipment business, from a $12 million business that was losing money to over $50 million with an 18% contribution margin. We expanded our licensing around the world, and franchising in different areas in Brazil and Chile, and it was just tremendous.

Bill: This was not a time, by the way, that boxing was growing too much on its own, either. This is an impressive achievement.

Seth: That’s exactly right. It was interesting and ironic that boxing as a business …

Bill: Don’t you think?

Seth: That boxing was becoming less and less popular during this time period, but that wasn’t what was driving our business. We were driving a business to unleash strength and dedication in every individual, which is a vision that I believe you helped us create.

Bill: Well, it was effortless. No. Indeed, and I think in that story, the notion of taking the brand out of the physicality of boxing into the emotion and spirit of boxing was seemingly a driving force behind all that was accomplished, not only on the women’s licensing side but the broadening of the base beyond just a boxing application, even though that was growing too it sounds like.

Seth: Exactly. The boxing business was growing, but the much bigger business was the lifestyle business which was all about individual empowerment. After that I went to Modell’s Sporting Goods, which was …

Bill: You’re selling yourself short. There was an exit of some significance, if I recall correctly.

Seth: Yes. Everlast was a public company, and thank God we did extremely well for our shareholders. We were trading for a long time in the single digits. The company was growing exponentially. We were up to about $16.50, not that I remember exactly.

Bill: No, not exactly. Right.

Seth: We filed for a secondary stock offering to raise some money for some online endeavors that we had, and instead we had several offers for the whole company, a bidding war ensued and we ended up selling the company for $33 a share.

Bill: Terrific, and so when you landed at Modell’s you had taken a well-deserved break, but not a very long one in between. Tell us about how Modell’s came calling and brought you back.

Seth: I think I was off for about three weeks in that long-deserved break. It’s just because you know, the engine is revving and there was so much excitement at Everlast. We really felt we were building the next Nike, and maybe we were, and I had read in an industry publication that the President of Modell’s Sporting Goods had retired, and I thought, “Amazing. I’ve sourced product all over the world. I’ve been in factories in India, and Pakistan, and China, and I’ve done licensing and franchising around the world and wholesale business in the US.” At Everlast we owned two factories and distribution centers in the US, but the one thing that I had never done was retail.

I really wanted that opportunity to learn and to grow, and to apply what I had learned in these other parts of the business to retail, and I took Mitchell Modell out for breakfast to ask him if I could be considered as the replacement for President, and Mitchell’s an amazing guy. He stood up, he’s a very loud individual, at this breakfast place, and said, “But you have no retail experience,” which was true.

We talked about the strengths and weaknesses of all the retailers that I had done business with, and I saw why the good ones succeeded and why the bad ones went out of business, and there were a series of best practices and most of them were consistent with what I had always learned, which was you have to look at the world through the eyes of the customer, and it’s brand first.

Sure enough I joined Modell’s and I would spend the next almost five years as President of Modell’s Sporting Goods.

Bill: Right. Even since, your career and your resume’s almost like a greatest hits album of growth. Here we are at Baked by Melissa, and we’ll go back to the story and we’ll pick up the thread, but Seth, when this opportunity came to you or you became aware of this, what was so compelling to you about joining this person and this team and this brand at this moment?

Seth: Most compelling was the brand. I had been a customer for years. My children loved it. I knew that we would bring the product to parties, and we were proud of that. I was always fascinated by the business just as a consumer and person in the industry and I thought, “Wow. Amazing brand. I think the brand is much bigger than the company. Maybe this thing has the potential to be exponentially bigger than it is.”

Then I met the team, first Melissa, and I knew right away that she was somebody very special. That not only was she great at product creation but incredibly smart, a sponge, and somebody who I could not only sit next to trying to figure out whether it should be coconut or peanut butter in the next cupcake, but somebody that I’d be proud to sit next to in a board meeting or in an IPO. And I thought, could this thing be 10 times the size that it is and here we are a year plus in and I’m confident I made the right decision.

Bill: Yeah. No doubt. Getting back a bit to the company, over this decade period, Melissa, that you described forces outside of what we’ve been doing here, had an impact. There was certainly a big trend in cupcakes that came and went. There’s been obviously a lot of ink wasted or pixels wasted, I guess, on … Not wasted, but spent, covering the way that consumer attitudes shift about indulgence, about health, about nutrition, yet here we are.

Baked by Melissa has persisted and is intensifying even, in strength. How and what would we define as the core of what makes this such an appealing company and brand beyond … Steve, our executive producer’s reaching over in the middle of that question to grab a cupcake, which may be part of the answer, but to what do you attribute, Melissa, to the longevity and the strength and the appeal of this place, and this thing?

Melissa: We took a classic dessert and made it better. We solved a problem, I think, by making it just a bite. You could have every flavor. I personally see our product as more of a vessel for flavor. I put my favorite desserts into these cupcakes and macaroons. You have S’mores, brownie batter, cookie dough, ice cream sundae, like crazy stuff. I don’t really see it, when I’m developing new products and flavors, I don’t think of it as cupcakes and I don’t think our consumer does either.

Everything is handcrafted in a variety of flavors. Every bite is perfectly fresh and delicious. It looks beautiful too, so I think we just hit it out of the park. We have an unbelievable product, and then we have an unbelievable team of hardworking, passionate, like-minded individuals who love what they do, and appreciate the opportunity to come to work every day.

Bill: Yeah. That’s palpable sitting here in the center of the office.

Melissa: Yeah, and I laughed when you said you, at Everlast, Seth, was like, “We unleash strength and dedication in every individual,” because that’s what he does at Baked by Melissa, too.

Bill: No one’s punching each other, at least not most days, but generally the spirit of it’s the same, right?

Seth: Yeah.

Bill: You talk about product. I know one of the things that’s really distinctive here, as opposed to other folks who maybe have a couple of product hits and they rest on them, is this assortment is ever-changing. What is the source and sort of the nature of the inspiration that drives … Some of these have kind of almost a retro feel ingredients and old favorites, as you say, but I mean, can you in a bullet point or two explain sort of the product development core principles here? I know some of it’s just inspiration, but how do you go about it?

Melissa: I think I’m like a free-spirited kid in a candy store a little bit, and so much of the inspiration is just thinking back to my unbelievable childhood and what made me happy as a kid.

I’m also inspired by everything that’s happening around me, and I know the importance of continuing to innovate, so it’s a combination of all of those things that … And loving what I do, and being so damn good at understanding what makes a delicious dessert, and like combining flavors.

It’s what I’m always thinking about. What I was thinking about when I was in high school is the same thing that I get to think about today and call work. It’s what I’m great at, combining flavors that make people happy and bring them back to their childhood.

Bill: Right, and so Seth, as a leader of the business here, when you have a talent of this nature and whose been a founder, obviously, and name’s on the door, everything else, what is … You talk about being proud to have her next to you in a board meeting as well as involved in all of these different key decisions that drive the business. How do you think about what it takes to kind of manage/empower/encourage someone of sort of Melissa’s capability and inspiration?

Seth: You know, it’s funny. At my first board meeting for Baked by Melissa, which was about 30 days into being here, one of my first bullet points, if it wasn’t the first, was to unleash Melissa. I mean, one of the beauties of this brand and this product is that it’s very authentic, and the authenticity comes from who Melissa is, and why she built the company the way that she did through this product.

You know, I don’t know if it’s really the challenge. It’s the opportunity to give Melissa and other leaders here, that have been here almost since day one, the opportunity to really stretch what they can do. I give them the guardrails and make sure that they don’t hurt themselves or the business along the way, but really let them go.

One of the first things we did here was set a very clear vision, mission and value proposition so all of our decisions could go through a lens, or a series of lenses. That sounds like a real marketing speech, but it’s extremely helpful and it has dictated many of the decisions we make every day.

So unleashing with guardrails is a beautiful thing. I believe in over-communication. I love the fact that our customer happiness team is familiar with our P&L, because I want everybody to know when we’re winning so we can celebrate together.

Bill: Sure. Within the employ of this company, the vast majority of folks seem to be customer facing in one way or another, and also very youthful and very passionate, and so to your point, the balance of freedom and responsibility is probably part of the secret ingredient list here, I think.

Seth: I would totally agree with that. I think it’s really important that we both have face time with all of our associates and we do. We make the time to make sure we’re in stores. All of the new hires that we make, whether it’s a cupcake keeper at retail or a leader of customer happiness in our office, they come up to the office, we all meet, and we spend time together. They hear directly from Melissa her story and why we’re here, to make people happy through our bite-sized treats. It’s a very special culture and the proper combination of empowerment and the ability to make a difference.

Bill: That’s terrific, and again, it comes through so unmistakably, things that may be small things but that service team being called “customer happiness” speaks volumes about what’s expected of them and how they ought to be spending their time, not following a set of rules or guardrails, but using their own judgment within reason.

Seth: Just a small example, if you don’t mind.

Bill: Yeah, please.

Seth: I mean, so we have a leader of customer happiness and we got together and decided that everything that we say no to, like that we can’t do, we came up with a plan to say yes to all of that. There were just phone calls of things that customers were asking us for that traditionally the answer was no because we couldn’t do it for X, Y and Z, so we came up with a yes list instead of a no list.

We figured out all those problems and seeing the excitement on the team that they can now say yes and help our customers, and of course, the customer experience is exponentially better, has been tremendously rewarding and even further empowered them to make better decisions.

Bill: One of the things about the company and the brand that is unmistakable, I think, is the willingness and desire to lead with values here, to put the business behind the values that are important to the brand and to all the people that embody it. One of the things that had a profound impact on me was a campaign … I don’t even know what the right word is for … That the company did called #SideWithLove, I guess this summer, late summer, early fall. Melissa, would you kind of take us through what that was? What an amazing thing.

Seth: Yeah, how’d that happen?

Melissa: What an amazing thing.

Seth: It was wild.

Melissa: It really was wild. I think it’s just a perfect example of why we’re so awesome. Really, though.

Seth: If we do say so, but no, it’s true. Yeah.

Melissa: We get shit done, and one night lying in bed, it’s like 9:00. I go to sleep very early, and my phone rings. It’s Seth, and it was the night after everything happened in Charlottesville, and he calls me and he’s like, “I’m angry.” He’s like, “I’m standing here on my balcony. I’m listening to what’s going on in the news and what Trump’s saying and I’m just angry and I want to do something. I want to fix it any way I can.”

Then I got to thinking, “What if we give away a million cupcakes to inspire people to do nice things for others?” I was like, “Oh my God. I love it.” I got so excited, so literally the two of us called like … You know, we merged our calls on our iPhones and we called each of our teammates at Baked by Melissa. This was like 10:00pm already. We’re like, “Hi.”

Bill: You asked your CFO maybe to weigh in on this?

Melissa: “Hi. What do you think if we give away a million cupcakes to inspire people to side with love?”

Bill: Ah. I’m sure everybody was fired up, super fired up. Yeah.

Melissa: No, but really, so what we did was we wound up calling a meeting for 7:00am the next morning and within 24 hours we got together all the content and messaging, the newsletter, the social posts. We got the website ready. I mean, there’s a lot that goes into something like this, and we wound up giving away 150,000 cupcakes. We had thousands and thousands of people waiting in the queue at bakedbymelissa.com to order 25 cupcakes to send to anyone that they wanted.

Seth: We didn’t charge for shipping. We didn’t charge for anything. It was free.

Bill: Right.

Seth: It was our way of doing a random act of kindness to promote others to do random acts of kindness.

Bill: Right.

Seth: Because there are two sides to the issue and one is to #SideWithLove, and that’s what we very firmly believe in, and the reaction was tremendous.

Bill: Yeah, it seemed like it.

Seth: I don’t believe it was just because it was free cupcakes. I think it was because it was something that people believe in and wanted to be more inspired by, and maybe the most amazing part was the fact that our whole team pulled it together and executed it within 48 hours. It was Tuesday night I think when we spoke on the phone and Thursday was the promotion.

It’s my belief that moments in time come and go, and if you don’t jump on it it’s gone. The team was amazing and inspired, and we were here until 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning on Thursday finishing up orders, making sure that customers were as happy as they could be. Everybody was on the phones. I took a call from one customer who was giving them to her sister in another state. She had always heard about us, couldn’t believe what we were doing. She was so excited. She hoped her sister would send it back.

Bill: Right.

Seth: It was a little bit of what the country needed in the way that we could do it best.

Bill: Sure, and the way you know how, and as you said earlier, Melissa, you don’t think of these as cupcakes, but rather vessels for sharing and smiling, and togetherness and creativity, and all these different things, and the multiplier effect of that moment and the effect is probably impossible to calculate, but for all the folks who were touched by that.

Seth: Internally and externally.

Melissa: Yeah. We sent cupcakes to all 50 states and if each person who received them was inspired to do something nice for somebody else and they did then we made a huge difference in the world.

Bill: Yep. Super cool. This is a brand obviously, that has its start and its soul, and the heartbeat is here in New York City. With the launch of the eCommerce business and the fact that these cupcakes and other treats are being shipped far and wide, how does the multi-channel nature of what we’re doing and what we’ve gotten into impact the way we express the brand and how we think about the world at large, how we build the team, etc.?

Seth: The multi-channel aspect of the business is incredibly important for us. The fact that we can ship our product nationwide and have it delivered safe and fresh is something that we need to do a better job of communicating.

Our kind of 2.0 version of our stores, which we start rolling out the beginning of next year, we’ll have fully integrated multi-channel options. So we’d love for our customer to come in, enjoy our cupcakes and say, “Hey, I’d love to ship these to my daughter in Chicago,” and have that be seamless. I mean, when we look at our potential growth areas and prioritizing those, having a seamless multi-channel interaction for our customers is most important. We know who our customer is. We know what she wants, and making her life convenient and compelling is super important to her and us.

Bill: Okay. You began to get into this, but in terms of some of the things that might be next, store redesign, the 2.0, the integration of channels, within the realm of what your comfortable sharing at this point, because I know there’s always ideas bouncing off walls here. It’s part of the DNA of this place. Anything we can all get excited about in terms of what comes next for the company and the brand?

Seth: I’ll share a little something, and Melissa, you should jump in.

Bill: Listeners, they’re staring at each other, I think mentally communicating about what they shouldn’t say, so we’ll respect that process, but go ahead, Seth.

Seth: I mean, we are so thankful to be in a business that has so many opportunities, that prioritizing them so we can put the right people and resources behind them is probably the toughest part of my job. It is the toughest part of my job. As Melissa said, she recently launched the cookbook, which is awesome.

Bill: It is, yeah.

Seth: Along the way we launched bite-sized cupcakes made from recipes from the cookbook, which are exceptional. They’re called the Dream Team. They’re delicious. They’re like visually amazing, but we knew people would ask us if we made cakes, because the book’s called Cakes by Melissa.

Bill: Right.

Seth: Very quickly in such a beautiful entrepreneur way, we developed an amazing cake, so it’s not upcoming but it’s something we’ve just added to our offering, and we did it for the brand. We did it for our customers to experience the product that they can create on their own in the cookbook, and the reaction has been tremendous.

Bill: That’s great.

Seth: And has opened our eyes to some new things that might be coming in the future.

Bill: You had a really, at least it seemed, successful collaboration over the summer with ice cream, with, I think a creamery in Brooklyn, I guess.

Melissa: Ample Hills.

Bill: Ample Hills, that is well known and well regarded, and has, it seems a similar kind of value system and aesthetic here. Might there be partnerships like that down the road too, in terms of like-minded brands where there’s an ability to bring something to market that’s super cool?

Melissa: Absolutely. I think our goal is to continue to create new, delicious things and work with people who are passionate and hard-working on their own amazing product, and the partnership with Ample Hills, the Summer of Love ice cream. I mean, it was my dream to put our cupcakes in ice cream, and the only company I would do it with is Ample Hills, so I reached out to the owner, Brian, and got him to come into our office and told him what I wanted, and obviously Seth supported it 100%.

I actually told Seth one morning, like, “So, I reached out to the owner of Ample Hills because I really want to put our cupcakes in ice cream.” He was like, “Okay, great. Let’s do it.” That’s what makes it so fun.

Bill: That is fun. During that promotion, Seth’s Instagram feed, which typically is family and Phish, the band, was all about seemingly you going to different places and buying this ice cream again and again. There was picture after picture with here it is with a sunset. Here it is on the high line.

Melissa: He’s a very good food photographer.

Seth: I get very passionate about our product.

Bill: It was impressive.

Melissa: It’s very nice.

Bill: Right. To that end, Melissa, we’re talking about the Ample Hills collaboration, we’re talking about the book, and I don’t mean this question in a way that’s superficial, as some people talk about personal brands or whatever, but you are a brand.

You’re part of the Baked by Melissa corporate brand, but also there are elements of you that are obviously wrapped up in everything the company does, but that are a force for commerce and value creation in its own right, things that we’ve gotten to know about you. You know, you have kind of this hippy aesthetic. You’re super smart, you’re fun to be around, all these things.

Melissa: Oh, stop it.

Bill: Not to flatter, but I mean, how does it feel to be a brand in your own right, and does that … What is it to know that you’re looked at not only for leadership within a company that bears your name, but a taste maker and a lifestyle expert to whatever that phrase kind of means today, how does that feel? I don’t mean it as a therapist, but I mean, how does …

Melissa: Sure.

Bill: What does the personal branding element, what is the ingredient to that in the success of the company?

Melissa: Well, I think that it’s an extremely humbling position to be in first and foremost, and I find myself feeling extremely proud and appreciative of the position that I’m in. I would not be here without my amazing co-founders, and my amazing team, and I mean, I just feel so lucky every single day, and even on the hardest days I appreciate it all so much.

Bill: Right.

Melissa: To not only get to do what I love every day, but to give others the opportunity to do what they love every day, and work towards goals with unbelievable people, being the face of it all is wild.

Bill: Yeah, I’m sure. I mean, when you … I don’t know how to phrase this, so it’ll probably come off stupidly, but when I wake up in the morning and I decide what I’m going to wear, first of all I have to find something that fits, not super easy these days. Then you know, I want it to kind of match and want it to be appropriate for the level of what I might be doing that day, a meeting or an event, or something like that, but nobody’s going to see it except my family and people on the train and my colleagues and maybe some clients or whatever, but I mean, when you think about the various appearances that you do in the media, the sort of prolific social media work that you do …

Obviously it comes across as being very joyful and natural for you, but also it’s in the interest of the company. Are there moments where you’re like, “Holy crap, this is just like me and yet it’s a larger thing?” I’m not phrasing this well, but I mean, what … How do you think about seemingly mundane day in, day out tasks like what you’re going to wear or where you want to be that day or whatever, in light of the fact that brand Melissa is sort of always on? I don’t know if I’m phrasing it-

Melissa: I think it’s so cool that my job is to be authentically me.

Bill: Yeah. Right, right.

Melissa: I like to wear hooded sweatshirts and be comfortable because that … I do have a very set opinion on so many things, and I love having the chance to embody it and know that it’s my responsibility to do that. I should wear a hooded sweatshirt to work every day because that’s authentically me, and it’s my job to be me, so I can show our team what that is, I guess. I think perspective is also just a very interesting thing in general, and the way people perceive me is not the way I perceive myself.

Bill: Right.

Melissa: I think that divide is what keeps us going. I see it as an added responsibility, and it only makes me work harder every single day for the company, and also at home too, because the harder I work the more opportunities Baked by Melissa gets, and the more successful we could be as a company, and it’s just the coolest position to be in because my definition of success is working hard towards something you love.

Bill: Yeah, no doubt.

Melissa: How cool is that?

Bill: Speaking of family, you have … Anyone who follows you on social media knows there’s an adorable little daughter, Scottie, and your husband’s in the business, right? He’s part of the company. He’s in the bakery, right?

Melissa: Yeah.

Bill: Where is the bakery?

Melissa: The bakery is in North Bergen, New Jersey. That’s where we create our handcrafted product and ship nationwide and send everything to the stores. I create and conceptualize all new product. Every single flavor is genuinely baked by Melissa and my husband brings it to production.

Bill: Perfect.

Melissa: There’s no one I trust more.

Bill: That’s great. It’s just like those old family bakeries in a slightly different, more amplified way. Awesome, so you all both separately and together have had amazing journeys professionally and personally. I’m sure that among the listenership here there’s going to be a lot of folks who are inspired by the path that you both have taken in your own right. One at a time or whoever’s moved to speak on the topic, are there any words of wisdom that you would want to share with people who are inspired by these stories? Any words to live by or lessons from the roads that you all have taken or not taken?

Melissa: I’ll start since I’m the younger one and I feel like …

Bill: It shows.

Melissa: You have more experience to impart, but one thing that Seth kind of reminded me of in the past year is that it’s really not rocket science, and there’s a certain attitude and outlook on life that is necessary in order to do what we do and also what I’ve done. Hard work, self-confidence, and persistence, I think, and passion for what you’re doing.

It’s seeing every challenge as an opportunity. When you find yourself frustrated, knowing that it’s an actual opportunity to solve a problem and learn and be better, going after things that actually take you out of your comfort zone. Like when Seth started, we had just really been in conversation with HarperCollins about the details of writing the book and what it meant, and I said to him like, “Shit, should I write a book?” He was like, “I don’t know,” and then I realized that I was scared to write a book and that’s how I knew I needed to write a book because doing things that make you feel scared and uncomfortable are actually the only way to learn and grow.

Bill: Awesome.

Melissa: Those are a lot of things.

Bill: You certainly come across in this life and in this world, and in this company, as being fully in … You know, aligned with yourself and your values and everything else. What about you, old man? What about you, Seth?

Melissa: He’s not an old man. He just has even more … He’s just wiser.

Bill: I know he’s not. He’s very … Yes, he’s grizzled, yeah.

Melissa: Yes. Seth has already done what we’re going to do together.

Bill: Absolutely. He’s going to do it again here. What about you? Any … You’ve shared already some great perspectives on brands and about consistency and about managing teams and forming teams, but a couple thoughts about … You know, from GW University all the way through where we are here, words to live by?

Seth: I think that the most important thing that I’ve learned over the years is that it all comes down to people and culture. If a company believes that it can do anything, it will, and if it doesn’t believe that it can do anything, then it won’t.

I’ve seen that everywhere I’ve been. Convincing and showing people that they are capable of much greater things is super important because it shows them that it’s not only that, but anything they can think of they can make happen, and that’s where there’s this incredible, serendipitous relationship between how Baked by Melissa was founded and kind of the core values that I’ve grown up with and found to be super important. That’s why what we’re doing here is so magical.

Bill: No doubt, and having known you for a bit of time here and then coming to see you in this new environment and seeing immediately how perfect it is for your skills, for your attitudes, for the things that matter, and the things that light you up as a business person. Seth, Melissa, thank you for your hospitality and your insight, and your friendship, and it was a real honor to be with you for this short amount of time today.

Melissa: Thanks for having us, Bill.

Seth: You had us, but great pleasure.

Bill: Many, many thanks for the hospitality and inspiration and insight and sweetness of those treats that we were able to enjoy during the course of this interview. Seth and Melissa are terrific people, inspiring business people, and this is certainly a brand to watch and follow and to engage with from a consumer perspective, because it’s absolutely delicious. When you bring it to an event, whether it’s family or colleagues or friends, eyes light up, conversations start, a lot of smiles around the table and around the room.

Three ways, as always, to support what we do here at Real-World Branding. Certainly if we deserve it, in the app store of your choice we’d love a rating, five stars, please. I’d love comments in there, as well as directly with us. That’s the second way, which is let’s keep this conversation going and engage on Twitter @BillGullan or @FinchBrands, or on Facebook, whatever the social media channel is of your choice. Finch Brands is there, I’m there. Really appreciate your input and your feedback. The skin is thick. Love ideas for future guests and topics, and we appreciate the dialog so very much, and then you know, the third way is to just make sure you don’t miss a one.

Again, I know we’ve been a bit intermittent in our recording schedule and we hope for that to become much more predictable this fall and into the winter, but subscribe. Click that button, so whenever something new comes from us, whether it’s one of these great interviews with brands and business builders or one of the one big ideas that we do in sort of intervening weeks where we talk about a specific topic, you’ll make sure you don’t miss it, since again we’ve been unpredictable so you never know when it’s going to drop. Clicking subscribe in the app store or podcast store of your choice will make sure that you don’t miss it. We’ll sign off. Have a great day from the Cradle of Liberty.

The post Baking Up Brands – Melissa Ben-Ishay and Seth Horowitz of Baked by Melissa appeared first on Finch Brands.

The post Baking Up Brands – Melissa Ben-Ishay and Seth Horowitz of Baked by Melissa appeared first on Finch Brands.

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In this episode, we host Melissa Ben-Ishay and Seth Horowitz of Baked by Melissa. Melissa, co-founder and chief product officer, shares her story from losing her job to building a brand out of joy and authenticity. In this episode, we host Melissa Ben-Ishay and Seth Horowitz of Baked by Melissa. Melissa, co-founder and chief product officer, shares her story from losing her job to building a brand out of joy and authenticity. Seth details his journey from some of the biggest brands in the world to his new post as Baked by Melissa’s CEO. Together they discuss the role of brand and culture in building strong brands that grow. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!<br /><br /> Transcription:<br /><br /> Seth Horowitz: I thought, “Wow. Amazing brand. I think the brand is much bigger than the company. Maybe this thing has the potential to be exponentially bigger than it is.”<br /><br /> Bill Gullan: Greetings one and all. This is <a class="" href="http://blog.finchbrands.com/topic/podcast" target="_blank">Real-World Branding</a>. I’m <a class="" href="https://finchbrands.com/team_members/bill-gullan/" target="_blank">Bill Gullan</a>, president of Finch Brands, a premier boutique branding agency, and we are back with purpose and vengeance. We’re proud to bring, today, an interview that we conducted last week with <a class="" href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/seth-horowitz-a5198721/" target="_blank">Seth Horowitz</a>, CEO, and <a class="" href="https://www.instagram.com/melissabenishay/" target="_blank">Melissa Ben-Ishay</a>, President, Co-Founder, and Chief Product Officer of <a class="" href="https://www.bakedbymelissa.com/" target="_blank">Baked by Melissa</a>.<br /><br /> Melissa’s name, of course, is on the door. She is the Melissa of Baked by Melissa. Seth is someone with an incredible track record of business growth stories in his background, including <a class="" href="https://www.everlast.com/" target="_blank">Everlast Worldwide</a> and <a class="" href="https://www.modells.com/" target="_blank">Modell’s Sporting Goods</a>, etc. He’s been in the CEO chair for just a little while.<br /><br /> This is an incredibly interesting brand that not only has a great founding story, but is in the midst of authoring a really noticeable and inspiring growth story that’s predicated on culture, that’s predicated on creativity, predicated on joy, and the notion of making life sweeter in all the ways that that means, and all the ways that the company brings it to market.<br /><br /> Enjoy Seth Horowitz and Melissa Ben-Ishay.<br /><br /> Bill: We are here in Union Square at the super cool, except for the four flights up, home office, head office of Baked by Melissa here in Union Square. We’re here with Seth and Melissa. Melissa Ben-Ishay is the President and Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer. Her name’s on the door. Seth Horowitz is the CEO. Thank you both for your time.<br /><br /> Melissa Ben-Ishay: Thank you for coming.<br /><br /> Bill: Oh, it’s an absolute sweet pleasure for us to be here again.<br /><br /> Melissa: How many cupcakes have you eaten since you got here?<br /><br /> Bill: Those who know me or who can see me know that the answer is higher than that which one should, but one can’t resist this incredible assortment of flavors in front of us, so we encourage everyone in our audience to have this experience for themselves.<br /><br /> Having two folks is a fun and welcome change for us here, and so Melissa, why don’t you start us off by telling us a bit about your story and that of the company, and then Seth we’ll bring you in?<br /><br /> Melissa: Sure, so Baked by Melissa sells bite-sized treats. We have bite-sized stuffed cupcakes that come in a variety of flavors, and double stuffed bite-sized macaroons, and we exist to make life sweeter.<br /><br /> In June of 2008 I was working in advertising as an assistant media planner, and I wasn’t passionate about the work I was doing and it showed, because I was fired. On a Wednesday at 11:00am I was called to HR over the loudspeaker. I thought I was getting a promotion, but I was fired.<br /><br /> I went right to my brother’s office. Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands clean
One Big Idea: Kneel or Stand – What’s Happening to the NFL’s Brand? https://finchbrands.com/one-big-idea-kneel-or-stand-whats-happening-to-the-nfls-brand/ Wed, 18 Oct 2017 16:25:24 +0000 http://finchbrands.com/?p=2817 https://finchbrands.com/one-big-idea-kneel-or-stand-whats-happening-to-the-nfls-brand/#respond https://finchbrands.com/one-big-idea-kneel-or-stand-whats-happening-to-the-nfls-brand/feed/ 0 <p>As the cultural divide continues to widen in the US, many brands are caught in the middle. Most notably, the NFL finds itself in between the two positions and things are starting to heat up for the brand. In this podcast, we take another look at the things impacting the NFL’s brand and that of […]</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com/one-big-idea-kneel-or-stand-whats-happening-to-the-nfls-brand/">One Big Idea: Kneel or Stand – What’s Happening to the NFL’s Brand?</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com">Finch Brands</a>.</p> As the cultural divide continues to widen in the US, many brands are caught in the middle. Most notably, the NFL finds itself in between the two positions and things are starting to heat up for the brand. In this podcast, we take another look at the things impacting the NFL’s brand and that of others in the crosshairs. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!

Transcription:

Bill Gullan: Greetings one and all. This is Real-World Branding. I’m Bill Gullan, your host and the president of Finch Brands, a premiere boutique branding agency. This is on One Big Idea. This is where we lay out a little bit on one particular topic. Whether it be a part of the brand and business building tool kit or something from the realm of current events.

This week I wanted to check back in on something that we discussed a year or so ago and that was the National Football League brand and some of the challenges that the NFL was having. A year ago, there was a big ratings decline in the first few weeks of the season and there was a lot of hand ringing. In some ways, it felt like it was the first sign of any vulnerability really that the NFL had had in many years.

The NFL had asserted both financially and perceptually this hold on American life. This command of our Sundays and our Monday nights and now our Thursdays and everything else. The brand seemed unstoppable. And while it still is far and away the gold standard of live TV and its sub-brands like Monday Night Football continue to be strong and highly valued, the NFL is in some trouble here – at least perceptually.

About a year ago we talked about those early seasons rating drops and there had been a little bit of recovery, there had been a lot of factors that had been discussed back then for why that was. Some big-name players had gotten injured. Last fall the election and all the news surrounding it had sucked up all the oxygen and diverted a large number of eyeballs. There had been debates on the same nights as games. Things like that.

However, we couldn’t ignore then, and we certainly can’t ignore now the role that the NFL, or the position I guess that the NFL had gotten itself in and absolutely did not want to be in, which is in the cross hairs of this cultural and political divide that continues to roil America.

Back then, a year ago, how innocent we were. It seemed that this polarization was a threat to the NFL. It was because the cultural left and cultural right each had a case to prosecute that the NFL was sort of contrary to their own interests and sensibilities.

The left at that time was talking about these wealthy, out of touch white owners who were lining their pockets while the players were cast aside. It was inauthentic commitments to things like domestic violence. You know, they step up with pink one month out of the year to talk about breast cancer but their interest in social justice was very much in question. This continues with obviously be an unfolding conversation about CTE and the nature of the physical risk and the degree in which the league and its ownership covered that up.

We were talking a lot last year about racist team names some think. The Redskins and beyond. It wasn’t really a new critique. There were new elements to it, but the critique of the NFL from the cultural left was pretty well baked in.

Now last year, however, around this time there was the beginning of some distaste or anger from the cultural right. The Kaepernick protest had really just begun. Folks were still reeling from the halftime performance of the Super Bowl prior that Beyonce had given, being very political and activistic, if that’s a word.

You certainly saw some cultural conservatives begin to fall out with the NFL over items like this. And at the time I think we made the point that the NFL was in a bit of a difficult spot. The knives were out for the league from both sides, which is a new territory by the way. The NBA’s long balanced the empowerment and aesthetic and expression of its athletes with sensibilities of advertising, owners, season ticket holders, that might be a little bit more culturally mainstream or risk adverse. But the NFL has really occupied this special place in our culture that’s really never before seen in sports and entertainment and so here was the concern.

Now checking back in on that, good grief. It’s only been a year and looking at the ratings, they’ve declined even further. In fact, the ratings up to this point compared to last year down about 7.5% according to the Sporting News and down 18% over the first five weeks of the 2015 season. That’s a precipitous drop.

And again, there are all sorts of exculpatory reasons. There were hurricanes and increased competition from cable news. There were a lot of newsworthy events like the unfortunate situation in Las Vegas, etc. and then generally cord cutting just continues, and it’s an issue that everybody in entertainment is dealing with. But you can’t look beyond what has happened to make the cultural divide and conversation even more toxic related to the NFL.

With Colin Kaepernick remaining unsigned, with many more protests taking various forms, with the President then weighing in and the Vice President then weighing in, and the blow up that has occurred all around this issue of anthem protests and what it means and whether to tolerate it or not, etc., ad nauseum. I think normal sports fans, like me, are just kind of exhausted by the whole thing.

But here we are. The NFL does not want to be in this position. Commissioner Goodell had said that he wants all players to stand for the National Anthem. That said, that creates some backlash too.

You have a situation where the cultural right and the cultural left, again each have this case to make and the New York Times recently came out, very recently in the last week or so with an article that was based upon a study I think by Morning Consult that found that because of this the NFL is now one of the most divisive brands in the U.S.

It’s less divisive than Trump Hotels mind you but it’s more divisive than Huffington Post, which proclaims a leftward lean, Chick-Fil-A, which has very strong opinions that are controversial, Fox Business, Breitbart, these other in some cases very overtly partisan media sources are considered less divisive. They measure divisiveness by the degree to which there is a difference in favorability among Clinton voters and Trump voters.

And the NFL, at least right now we have a very strong lean actually to the left with Clinton voters viewing the NFL positively at plus 38 and with Trump viewers viewing the NFL negatively at minus 24. That’s a net difference of 62 points. Now caveats of course that outrage has a less long shelf life than it used to have in our society and who knows, the controversy may be gone. Kaepernick may get signed because Aaron Rodgers got hurt and everybody’s back to normal and happy and standing and who knows. Doubt it. Maybe the President moves onto other things. Who knows. But as of now, the NFL was in a bit of trouble a year ago and is in much more, at least in terms of overt and outward negativity from various sides of the cultural and political dialogue.

Again, there is some question as to what degree this hurts the bottom line. The NFL has a long way to go down still to decline in long term ways that threaten not only it’s survival, which seems absurd but it’s continued preeminence in the sports and entertainment landscape in the U.S.

Now while all this is happening, not a surprise in the data, I don’t think there’s the same level of data on it but ESPN has kind of stepped in it too. It’s funny how a year ago I could have done the same thing. Talking about the criticisms of ESPN on political and cultural grounds and back then they would have been coming primarily from the right. As we’ve heard, that has gotten louder. Giving awards to Caitlyn Jenner. Covering with real almost breaking news interests things like Michael Sam and Colin Kaepernick’s anthem protest and whether he signed or not signed and what other athletes around the world and in different sports are doing or are not doing to protest.

ESPN has also been very outspoken in what they would say is a values level around things like Title 9. They have vertical, sub-brands, ESPNW to cover so called women’s issues related to sports. The Undefeated, which looks at culture and sports from a perspective of race. And those platforms perhaps, almost by definition come at issues of gender and race from a progressive perspective. Then you have situations like Curt Schilling and Jemele Hill and some believing that there was a double standard in the way that they were treated and sanctioned.

ESPN doesn’t want to be in the middle of this either. So Jemele Hill comes out and Tweets that the President is a white supremacist and is not punished and then Tweets something about an advertising boycott and is punished. Now you have the Reverend Sharpton and others promising a boycott of ESPN advertisers. These big preeminent, dominate brands in sports and culture are stuck in the middle of a debate and a dialogue, it’s not really dialogue, that would suggest that folks are talking to one another but a divide in our country.

Both who are run by very astute and savvy business people who have challenges that are outside of their own realm continue to step in it and make the natural challenges in terms of court cutting and other things even harder by alienating and seeming to go back and forth between alienating one side or the other rather than flying above or below the fray.

I guess if there is a lesson to take from this and when we work with clients on positioning and brand personality and down to the level of values, one needs to own who one is. Trying to be all things to all people means to be nothing to anybody. I’m sure that the NFL would rather not even be in the political conversation at all.

ESPN on the other hand may benefit from underlying and clarifying the fact that it maybe does have at least a cultural point of view. Now there could be arguments about whether that’s helpful or not helpful but trying to appease the fringes on both sides and again, alienating both is certainly not the place that ESPN wants to be as it relates to the growth and continued success of the business.

We’ll leave it there but suffice it to say that as we’ve always said here, commerce is downstream from culture and what happens in the culture represented by brands such as this and angry back and forth such as we’ve seen with ESPN and with the NFL, gather cultural momentum of their own and that certainly has an impact on those brands and others who play in their spaces.

You already see Fox Sports for example competing with and positioning against ESPN. You see smaller brands punching up like Clay Travis on Outkick the Coverage with things that Barstool Sports has done. This creates opportunity for other content providers to come at the world from their own unique angle and that’s a good thing. But I’m sure ESPN wouldn’t want to be caught in the middle and neither would the NFL.

We’ll leave it there and we’ll talk to you soon and sign off from the cradle of liberty. 

The post One Big Idea: Kneel or Stand – What’s Happening to the NFL’s Brand? appeared first on Finch Brands.

The post One Big Idea: Kneel or Stand – What’s Happening to the NFL’s Brand? appeared first on Finch Brands.

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As the cultural divide continues to widen in the US, many brands are caught in the middle. Most notably, the NFL finds itself in between the two positions and things are starting to heat up for the brand. In this podcast, As the cultural divide continues to widen in the US, many brands are caught in the middle. Most notably, the NFL finds itself in between the two positions and things are starting to heat up for the brand. In this podcast, we take another look at the things impacting the NFL’s brand and that of others in the crosshairs. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!<br /><br /> Transcription:<br /><br /> Bill Gullan: Greetings one and all. This is <a class="" href="http://blog.finchbrands.com/topic/podcast" target="_blank">Real-World Branding</a>. I’m <a class="" href="https://finchbrands.com/team_members/bill-gullan/" target="_blank">Bill Gullan</a>, your host and the president of Finch Brands, a premiere boutique branding agency. This is on One Big Idea. This is where we lay out a little bit on one particular topic. Whether it be a part of the brand and business building tool kit or something from the realm of current events.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> This week I wanted to check back in on something that we discussed a year or so ago and that was the <a class="" href="http://blog.finchbrands.com/the-state-of-the-nfl-brand" target="_blank">National Football League brand</a> and some of the challenges that the NFL was having. A year ago, there was a big ratings decline in the first few weeks of the season and there was a lot of hand ringing. In some ways, it felt like it was the first sign of any vulnerability really that the NFL had had in many years.<br /><br /> The NFL had asserted both financially and perceptually this hold on American life. This command of our Sundays and our Monday nights and now our Thursdays and everything else. The brand seemed unstoppable. And while it still is far and away the gold standard of live TV and its sub-brands like Monday Night Football continue to be strong and highly valued, the NFL is in some trouble here – at least perceptually.<br /><br /> About a year ago we talked about those early seasons rating drops and there had been a little bit of recovery, there had been a lot of factors that had been discussed back then for why that was. Some big-name players had gotten injured. Last fall the election and all the news surrounding it had sucked up all the oxygen and diverted a large number of eyeballs. There had been debates on the same nights as games. Things like that.<br /><br /> However, we couldn’t ignore then, and we certainly can’t ignore now the role that the NFL, or the position I guess that the NFL had gotten itself in and absolutely did not want to be in, which is in the cross hairs of this cultural and political divide that continues to roil America.<br /><br /> Back then, a year ago, how innocent we were. It seemed that this polarization was a threat to the NFL. It was because the cultural left and cultural right each had a case to prosecute that the NFL was sort of contrary to their own interests and sensibilities.<br /><br /> The left at that time was talking about these wealthy, out of touch white owners who were lining their pockets while the players were cast aside. It was inauthentic commitments to things like domestic violence. You know, they step up with pink one month out of the year to talk about breast cancer but their interest in social justice was very much in question. This continues with obviously be an unfolding conversation about CTE and the nature of the physical risk and the degree in which the league and its ownership covered that up.<br /><br /> We were talking a lot last year about racist team names some think. The Redskins and beyond. It wasn’t really a new critique. There were new elements to it, but the critique of the NFL from the cultural left was pretty well baked in.<br /><br /> Now last year, however, around this time there was the beginning of some distaste or anger from the cultural right. The <a class="" href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colin_Kaepernick" target="_blank">Kaepernick protest</a> had really just begun. Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands clean
One Big Idea: The Keys to Successful Insights Communities https://finchbrands.com/one-big-idea-the-keys-to-successful-insights-communities/ Mon, 25 Sep 2017 14:15:20 +0000 http://finchbrands.com/?p=2808 https://finchbrands.com/one-big-idea-the-keys-to-successful-insights-communities/#respond https://finchbrands.com/one-big-idea-the-keys-to-successful-insights-communities/feed/ 0 <p>Whether your looking to inform brand positioning, product mix, pricing, specific ad copy testing, trend tracking,  or staying in tune with how the marketplace is changing, insights communities are a key tool for brands and consumer insights departments. This week, we host John Ferreira and Tom Finkle who share their perspectives on the changing pace […]</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com/one-big-idea-the-keys-to-successful-insights-communities/">One Big Idea: The Keys to Successful Insights Communities</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com">Finch Brands</a>.</p> Whether your looking to inform brand positioning, product mix, pricing, specific ad copy testing, trend tracking,  or staying in tune with how the marketplace is changing, insights communities are a key tool for brands and consumer insights departments. This week, we host John Ferreira and Tom Finkle who share their perspectives on the changing pace of market research and the keys to a successful research community. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!

 

Transcription:

Bill Gullan: Greetings one and all. This is Real-World Branding. I’m Bill Gullan, president of Finch Brands, a premiere boutique branding agency. Thank you for returning. This is part two of our discussion of insights communities, that is a theme for us this month. These discussions are supported by a blog post, we’ve written a couple of blog posts actually. These two episodes of the podcast, there’s a white paper on our site, there’s a lot of people over here excited to talk about insights communities.

We’ve been spending a decent amount of time assessing this marketplace and building our offering, which we call FinchSight, as a way of helping our clients make more efficient and powerful their market research program. We have with us Tom Finkle, who’s the chief innovation officer from last week. Talked a little bit about his background, he’s back. John Ferreira is also back. John is senior vice president and general manager here at Finch Brands. He was a guest on at least one earlier podcast episode, and we’re glad to have you back Johnny Smooth.

John Ferreira: It’s good to be back.

Bill: Refresh our audience’s memory if you don’t mind a little bit about your background before coming to Finch Brands, because we’re going to spend some time there I think, and in your role on what our industry calls the ‘client side,’ how you used communities, what worked and what didn’t.

John: Sure. Prior to Finch Brands I spent over 11 years at Campbell Soup Company, largely in brand management, as well as in consumer insights. Worked across a wide array of brands and their portfolio over the years, Chunky Soup to Swanson Broth, to Prego Italian Sauce, all their premium soups, so almost the whole portfolio at one point or another.

Bill: Right, terrific. I know that you, as well as Lauren Collier, who’s our VP of brand and marketing strategy and came to Finch Brands, at least her longest career tenure, was a decade at Kimberly-Clark. You both have been actual consumers of research communities along the way. Could you take us through the experience that you had at Campbell’s? What led to the implementation of a community, and then a little bit about the functional expectations and how it went? Then we’ll do pros and cons.

John: Sure. Insights communities I think map well to a lot of the macro-trends that are going on within brand business, as well as consumer insights departments. You’re looking for faster solutions that are more flexible and are also more efficient in terms of your spend. Consumer insights communities, customer insights communities, I think check all those boxes pretty well. Most of the leading solutions out there are able to deliver on those promises. For Campbell’s, there is, as you can imagine, across a portfolio that size that caters to so many different segments across the country, an infinite number of questions that we would want to answer.

Whether it was from the realm of informing brand positioning, product mix, pricing, specific ad copy testing, trend tracking, staying in tune with how the marketplace is changing – questions big, questions small. Often times insight communities were a great way to wrap around larger more expensive studies, where you would have a great piece of research but it didn’t provide everything you needed. So then you could drill down and surround that landmark piece of research by getting into, how do you translate that into action? So lots of different ways that we would rely on insights communities to keep that stream of insights coming.

Traditional research, I’ve always viewed it as you taking a photo. That is somewhat close to the truth, research is imperfect but it gets you close to the truth, and it’s true for that point in time. Then the world keeps changing around it. So what’s different is this is more like a movie, you can see the picture move from frame to frame and evolve as the marketplace does. We got value from insights communities year round.

Bill: That’s great. Bringing Tom in here, and Tom as a reminder is our chief innovation officer and is a pioneer in the community space where he was recently the CEO of a company called Passenger that really was a strong innovator in bringing communities to market. John mentioned, in his words, ‘an infinite number of questions.’ In your experience Tom, are there a couple of functional areas or streams for which communities are particularly well geared?

Tom Finkle: Yeah, absolutely. As we’ve discussed previously, and it ended our first podcast, there’s some real benefits to communities in terms of the opportunity to give consumers the ability to collaborate and really provide deep learning about the issues under investigation. The community’s ability to be agile, i.e. quick, responsive to the needs of internal stakeholders, and in terms of answering questions that come up in the business environment that are important to the company. Those benefits are really useful in really two key areas in our view.

One is innovation. In that sense, innovation is really dependent upon people coming together and creatively influencing each other and really providing great ideas as a result. The collaboration benefit leads to great innovation results that come out of the community.

The second area is customer experience. There, the speed with which answers can be obtained about corporate reputation, brand image are really critical in managing both the customer experience, perceptions of the customer experience, and in this environment where information moves at light speed across the internet, that’s particularly critical as you’re managing brands today.

Bill: That’s terrific. I know on top of those really core areas, the great thing about innovation it sounds like in terms of a community, is that you can do wide space needs assessment analysis in the form of journals or almost ethnography. Then you can very specifically test concepts. It’s everything from specific stimuli, where you want answers that help you prioritize, to broader, kind of ‘what’s happening in the world’ and then what matters to him or her.

John, in your experience at Campbell’s, and you mentioned a lot of the different uses that you all were hoping the communities could support, could you give your product review as it were of the community experience that you had? I know that the things that went well and the things that could be enhanced were really important to us as we set to building our own community model, but how did it go?

John: Yeah, on the whole I think insights communities and most of the leading providers provide a very valuable service. I think that there definitely are some areas in my specific experience that probably could have been stronger in the way that those offerings were designed.

Number one, a lot of the legacy players out there built their models around pretty small sample sizes. In my case, and this was early in the days of insights communities, but it continues on today. A lot of these communities get sold into large companies and it’s only several hundred people that you’re talking to.

Before long, that becomes kind of a fish bowl, and the people within the community become less and less representative of the people outside the community that you’re trying to have that as sort of a lens into their lives. So, sample size of several hundred, over time, some of our respondents almost became like professional researchers. You knew them by them and you could almost predict what they were going to say, so not ideal in the world of insights communities if your sample sizes are restricted like that.

Then, another of the challenges is I think a challenge of marketing research in general, the way your research is only as good as the output that you’re getting. If you have fairly junior staff on it that’s doing the thinking around what’s going into the community, in terms of stimuli and what questions are you asking and how are you asking them, things like that can make a big difference in terms of what you end up learning.

Then on the output, on the reporting side, a lot of these players in different research companies, within communities and outside of communities, they’re really just playing back the facts. They’re not giving you the big ideas. They’re not connecting the dots. They don’t either take the time, or have the ability to really wrap their heads around your business, and there’s no integration with any other research that is done outside of the community. It’s very transactional, and then it’s up to those inside the organization, whether they be brand managers or insights people, to do that higher level thinking.

A lot of organizations are equipped to do that and some aren’t, and some are but they don’t have the time to do it. I think having more seasoned people at the helm of the community, that really understand your business and your brands and your customers, and they’re connecting the dots, not only within any individual study but across studies, is immensely valuable, and it’s rare and it’s hard to find. I think getting those pieces right can make the tool that much more powerful and have a bigger impact on the business.

Bill: Right, so it sounds like you had a mixed experience that leaves you still extremely jazzed about the potential of communities to turn a market research string of projects into an actual program of continuous and aggregating knowledge. But some of the elements of its execution seem to have fallen short in your estimation.

Given that experience, Tom, and some of the other conversations that we had leading into our own development of our own product, FinchSight research communities, what’s our collective response to some of the things that fell short in John’s usage of this in his time at Campbell’s?

Tom: Okay, let me pick up on some of the pain points that you, John, mentioned when you were a buyer of communities at Campbell’s. The way I’d like to address this is by referencing a couple of case studies which demonstrate how we managed to address the difficulties that you experienced while on the client side.

The first case study involves a client who was in the OTC space and wanted to focus on the health and wellness market. They wanted to launch a new line of vitamins that would roll out based on the identification of consumer needs in this area. They setup a community which was comprised of the target groups for the product.

Then, as I mentioned before, using the iterative learning benefits that communities provide, members generated new ideas using ideation sessions, which were then iteratively refined based on subsequent rounds of research. The process was repeated for the first set of vitamins that they launched. The key thing that we brought to the table was the community management team. Because it was staffed with innovation and category experts, who were able to interpret the results and provide go/no-go guidance for each new product idea at each step of the innovation process, and in so doing I think addressed the issue that you mentioned John, which is the ability to turn data into business guidance.

As a result, the line of new vitamin products that came out of the community effort was extraordinarily successful in both initial sales and then getting shelf space in the large pharmacy chains. This was really a good example of the importance of having managers who work on the program, who work on the community, who understand how to use communities.

It’s really two things, understanding how to use communities, and understanding the category under investigation. Then again, by leveraging these skills, we were able to drive data from the community and turn those insights into successful innovation and business decisions.

There’s another case study which I’m going to come on to, which deals with the pain point that you mentioned around having robust sample sizes. That’s important because as you know having big sample sizes, surveying relevant subgroups allows you to slice and dice the audience to better understand consumer attitudes and behavior.

As we know and as I mentioned, over the last 10 years, consumers have increasingly used social media to vent their frustration at brands. This case study is all about how one company dealt with that issue and leveraged communities with its benefit of large sample sizes to really understand how to manage that situation.

In this example, a travel client had had a number of bad customer service incidents that became public. This is not that unusual lately, as we all know. In almost each case the company responded poorly to the events from a PR standpoint. So they decided to form a community that included key groups within their customer base, which were business travelers, and to some extent those travelers who are consumers and are just going for a vacation. The community’s 24/7 availability provided the client’s voice of customer staff with a tool to continuously and instantaneously monitor consumer opinion when a bad event took place.

Also, importantly, communities provided the capability to test different response strategies quickly against different target audiences. That’s what this large sample size allowed for. So when the next crisis hit, discussions and surveys were implemented in the community to assess reputational damage among this client’s key target groups, and importantly, learning was obtained by group, because the size of these samples was large enough to permit assessment of perceptions within each target and also the testing of response strategies.

A great example of how a large community with sufficient sample size can allow clients to manage their corporate reputation, where that reputation is dependent upon multiple subgroups in their market, very effectively.

Bill: Right, thanks Tom. Those are examples from Tom’s past, where he created community structures and managed them against specific objectives in a way that sounds like John, if you’d had access to that level of thinking your experience may have been not a B minus or a C plus but hopefully up the grade scale.

John: Yeah, totally agree. I think that addresses some of the key pain points. One of the others that didn’t exist at the time, but I think has evolved in the marketplace, is a lot of even the leading providers, really big names that you would know and recognize and companies throw a tremendous amount of money at, they don’t have tools that are fully contemporary and flexible for today’s mobile research environment.

Things like capturing video in efficient user friendly, productive ways, and being able to port that into the community for things like virtual ethnography or shop-alongs or virtual visitations into consumers’ homes. Even capturing stills from mobile devices, or even just taking the research and taking surveys on those mobile devices, believe it or not, 2017 some of the leading providers out there, it’s not user friendly.

I think those factors are serious limitations, where people’s lives have shifted much toward the direction of mobile, and if you want to stay in tune with how they’re living and get really high quality research and being able to do cutting edge things, staying in tune quickly with them, you need those mobile capabilities today.

Bill: Absolutely. Especially if you’re dealing with clients whose products are distributed in retail or where the environment has a lot to do with how one sees it. We’re not going to go over the edge here in terms of time, but I know that you guys worked a lot on assessing John’s experience, as well as that of others that we’ve spoken to, both inside and outside Finch Brands.

As we built the FinchSight business model here, we wrote a white paper that is available at finchbrands.com that really has a strong case for why insights communities as a structure is very much of the moment, as well as compiling a couple of very practical best practice tips for organizations that are considering implementing one of these or progressing one they already have implemented. Those tips I think came out of some of these types of conversations, yes?

Tom: Yeah, absolutely. I think the collaboration that we’ve had here at Finch between market research professionals, like myself, who’ve spent a long share of my career on the agency side with guys like John, who’s been a client guy for most of his career, have really together produced a winning product.

Bill: Charm and goods looks as well, which is not easy to find to this degree anywhere in the marketplace. As we went through this, I know there’s five specific areas among others where we really focused on building a differentiable product experience, as you mentioned, both of you guys mentioned earlier. Some firms in the space are really focused on being technology companies, and it’s really about the tool, and then it’s left to a client device or to a very junior person to operate it and make sense of it.

For us at Finch, we are a brand consultancy and we’ve built our communities model around what you said Tom, which is wringing genuine business insight out of all the data that a community like this creates. To your point John, flexibility and size in terms of the panel can be a constraint, if, ‘Oh, there’s Doris again, saying exactly what we would expect her to say,’ because she’s one of the people who always speaks up.

I think our preference is to build communities in the thousands and to be smart about segmentation so that we can get qualitative and quantitative readable samples on this and not have an element of fatigue or anything else interfere with the data that we collect. I know Tom one of the important things to you is replenishing those who attrite on a quarterly basis and engaging the community in a way where they understand their value. That creates a continuation of the cycle, they view themselves as consultants much more than independent survey takers who are trying to get the five bucks or the five points, which is the case somewhere in market research.

From a partnership style perspective, I know we spend a lot of time thinking how best to create a workflow where client input is essential and important, but also not too onerous. Where part of the point I think for our clients, who are busy folks, is for their insights programs to be made more efficient by the implementation of communities, not less efficient.

I know we’ve been focusing a lot of bringing project management and community engagement through insights and brand people, having a dedicated point of contact, using client input and taking as much management responsibility as we possibly can. They can get as deep as they want to, our clients can, but I also know in terms of reporting, to John’s point, some communities may deliver data without confidence or context, but we think that’s a towering and fundamental strength of what we’ve always done at Finch Brands, and so we bring it into the community process.

And then, from a value perspective, John as you mentioned, the big players so-to-speak in the community realm have been big companies, pitching big companies, whereas what we’ve built here we’d like to think at least, I guess we have to prove it but we’d like to think, is about an investment that’s right sized for the middle market.

Any closing thoughts from either of you guys, or both of you guys, maybe in unison or inverse, as to what we created and why and how it may progress this discipline in a way that, Tom your career’s led up to, or John your experience has led up to?

Tom: Yeah, I would just pick up on one point that you made Bill, and that’s the notion of a full-service agency in the community space is both unique and I think really important. I define full service as providing the technology platform, which really is the foundation for everything that we do because it provides the ability to engage members and perform all manner of market research. But that’s only the beginning, what Finch Brands does I think really well, is provide that added layer of consultation on top of the data that comes out of communities. Which as we discussed is really terrific. The notion of working with a one stop shop, where both of those kinds of capabilities are provided I think is really critical in today’s environment.

Bill: Right.

John: Building off of my own experience, for better and for worse, as well as other senior executives that we’ve met with and talked about who have communities today, what we’ve attempted to do is address those pain points. Sample sizes that are larger, staffing that’s better, reporting that’s richer and a business impact that’s greater.

Whether you have an existing solution and you’re not entirely happy with it today, or maybe you don’t have an insights community and you’re in tune with where the market is headed, and you want to make sure that the voice of your customer or your prospect is really integrated into the decisions you’re making, would love to chat. So, send us an email, pick up the phone, and let’s talk shop.

Bill: Indeed. Any one stop shop that includes the two of you and people like you is going to be a very productive stop indeed. Tom Finkle, John Ferreira, thank you for your time, your insight, the benefit of your experience and all the hard work you guys do every single day here at Finch Brands, both the two of you and the teams that you manage. Grateful for your input.

Tom: Thank you.

Bill: That’s what we got here on Real-World Branding today. Three ways always to support what we’re doing. We’d appreciate as always a rating if we deserve it. We’d love it for it to be five stars, that helps our content be found by others in the app store of your choice. We certainly love comments and feedback through Twitter, through Facebook, through other social channels, through email, through phone. We love this dialog about what we do, how it impacts our dear listeners as they surmount the tasks that are in front of them within their professional lives and as their careers grow.

Then, specifically related to community as noted at the very outset, we have built a whole range of content tools that are designed to be of value to those who are interested in or engaged in insights communities in terms of helping have them as a resource to progress brands and businesses. We’ve built a white paper that’s available at finchbrands.com for download. We’ve built a series of blog posts that go into greater detail than what we could ever possibly do in a quick chat like this. We have these two podcast episodes that are designed to be both philosophical and practical. Then of course, as John mentioned, we are here and excited to talk about this. It’s big news for us and we’re thrilled by its ability to help activate the full potential of client businesses and brands. On that note and in that spirit, we’ll sign off from the cradle of liberty.

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Whether your looking to inform brand positioning, product mix, pricing, specific ad copy testing, trend tracking,  or staying in tune with how the marketplace is changing, insights communities are a key tool for brands and consumer insights departments... Whether your looking to inform brand positioning, product mix, pricing, specific ad copy testing, trend tracking,  or staying in tune with how the marketplace is changing, insights communities are a key tool for brands and consumer insights departments. This week, we host John Ferreira and Tom Finkle who share their perspectives on the changing pace of market research and the keys to a successful research community. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!<br /><br />  <br /><br /> Transcription:<br /><br /> Bill Gullan: Greetings one and all. This is <a href="http://blog.finchbrands.com/topic/podcast">Real-World Branding</a>. I’m Bill Gullan, president of Finch Brands, a premiere boutique branding agency. Thank you for returning. This is part two of our discussion of insights communities, that is a theme for us this month. These discussions are supported by a blog post, we’ve written <a href="http://blog.finchbrands.com/">a couple of blog posts</a> actually. These two episodes of the podcast, there’s a white paper on our site, there’s a lot of people over here excited to talk about insights communities.<br /><br /> We’ve been spending a decent amount of time assessing this marketplace and building our offering, which we call <a href="https://finchbrands.com/finchsight-communities/">FinchSight</a>, as a way of helping our clients make more efficient and powerful their market research program. We have with us Tom Finkle, who’s the chief innovation officer from last week. Talked a little bit about his background, he’s back. John Ferreira is also back. John is senior vice president and general manager here at Finch Brands. He was a guest on at least one earlier podcast episode, and we’re glad to have you back Johnny Smooth.<br /><br /> John Ferreira: It’s good to be back.<br /><br /> Bill: Refresh our audience’s memory if you don’t mind a little bit about your background before coming to Finch Brands, because we’re going to spend some time there I think, and in your role on what our industry calls the ‘client side,’ how you used communities, what worked and what didn’t.<br /><br /> John: Sure. Prior to Finch Brands I spent over 11 years at Campbell Soup Company, largely in brand management, as well as in consumer insights. Worked across a wide array of brands and their portfolio over the years, Chunky Soup to Swanson Broth, to Prego Italian Sauce, all their premium soups, so almost the whole portfolio at one point or another.<br /><br /> Bill: Right, terrific. I know that you, as well as Lauren Collier, who’s our VP of brand and marketing strategy and came to Finch Brands, at least her longest career tenure, was a decade at Kimberly-Clark. You both have been actual consumers of research communities along the way. Could you take us through the experience that you had at Campbell’s? What led to the implementation of a community, and then a little bit about the functional expectations and how it went? Then we’ll do pros and cons.<br /><br /> John: Sure. Insights communities I think map well to a lot of the macro-trends that are going on within brand business, as well as consumer insights departments. You’re looking for faster solutions that are more flexible and are also more efficient in terms of your spend. Consumer insights communities, customer insights communities, I think check all those boxes pretty well. Most of the leading solutions out there are able to deliver on those promises. For Campbell’s, there is, as you can imagine, across a portfolio that size that caters to so many different segments across the country, an infinite number of questions that we would want to answer.<br /><br /> Whether it was from the realm of informing brand positioning, product mix, pricing, specific ad copy testing, trend tracking, staying in tune with how the marketplace is changing – questions big, questions small. Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands clean
One Big Idea: Research Communities and the Customer-Centricity Imperative https://finchbrands.com/one-big-idea-research-communities-and-the-customer-centricity-imperative/ Wed, 13 Sep 2017 23:50:45 +0000 http://finchbrands.com/?p=2796 https://finchbrands.com/one-big-idea-research-communities-and-the-customer-centricity-imperative/#respond https://finchbrands.com/one-big-idea-research-communities-and-the-customer-centricity-imperative/feed/ 0 <p>Research communities are the future of market research and serve as a vehicle for injecting the voice of the customer into decision making processes that inform sales, marketing, operations, product development, and beyond. In this episode, we host Tom Finkle, Chief Innovation Officer of Finch Brands. He provides his perspective on market research today, the […]</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com/one-big-idea-research-communities-and-the-customer-centricity-imperative/">One Big Idea: Research Communities and the Customer-Centricity Imperative</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com">Finch Brands</a>.</p> Research communities are the future of market research and serve as a vehicle for injecting the voice of the customer into decision making processes that inform sales, marketing, operations, product development, and beyond. In this episode, we host Tom Finkle, Chief Innovation Officer of Finch Brands. He provides his perspective on market research today, the power of research communities, and the need to put the customer at the center of your business. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!

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Research communities are the future of market research and serve as a vehicle for injecting the voice of the customer into decision making processes that inform sales, marketing, operations, product development, and beyond. In this episode, Research communities are the future of market research and serve as a vehicle for injecting the voice of the customer into decision making processes that inform sales, marketing, operations, product development, and beyond. In this episode, we host Tom Finkle, Chief Innovation Officer of Finch Brands. He provides his perspective on market research today, the power of research communities, and the need to put the customer at the center of your business. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!<br /> Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands clean
A New Take on Sweet – Pete Angevine, Co-Founder of Little Baby’s Ice Cream https://finchbrands.com/a-new-take-on-sweet-pete-angevine-co-founder-of-little-babys-ice-cream/ Thu, 13 Jul 2017 12:44:00 +0000 http://finchbrands.com/?p=2773 https://finchbrands.com/a-new-take-on-sweet-pete-angevine-co-founder-of-little-babys-ice-cream/#respond https://finchbrands.com/a-new-take-on-sweet-pete-angevine-co-founder-of-little-babys-ice-cream/feed/ 0 <p>Pete Angevine, Co-Founder and CEO of Little Baby’s Ice Cream, shares his journey and values-driven approach to building an entire business structure, building a brand, and connecting with the consumer. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating! The post A New Take on Sweet – Pete Angevine, Co-Founder of Little […]</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com/a-new-take-on-sweet-pete-angevine-co-founder-of-little-babys-ice-cream/">A New Take on Sweet – Pete Angevine, Co-Founder of Little Baby’s Ice Cream</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com">Finch Brands</a>.</p> Pete Angevine, Co-Founder and CEO of Little Baby’s Ice Cream, shares his journey and values-driven approach to building an entire business structure, building a brand, and connecting with the consumer. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!

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Pete Angevine, Co-Founder and CEO of Little Baby’s Ice Cream, shares his journey and values-driven approach to building an entire business structure, building a brand, and connecting with the consumer. If you like our podcast, Pete Angevine, Co-Founder and CEO of Little Baby’s Ice Cream, shares his journey and values-driven approach to building an entire business structure, building a brand, and connecting with the consumer. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!<br /> Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands clean
A Natural Connection – Jess Edelstein, Co-Founder of PiperWai https://finchbrands.com/a-natural-connection-jess-edelstein-co-founder-of-piperwai/ Wed, 03 May 2017 12:10:53 +0000 http://finchbrands.com/?p=2734 https://finchbrands.com/a-natural-connection-jess-edelstein-co-founder-of-piperwai/#respond https://finchbrands.com/a-natural-connection-jess-edelstein-co-founder-of-piperwai/feed/ 0 <p>On this episode, Jess Edelstein shares the story of PiperWai, from a need to build a better natural deodorant to the Shark Tank stage and beyond. She provides her perspective on building brands around the ‘natural’ movement and how to look at category disruption. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a […]</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com/a-natural-connection-jess-edelstein-co-founder-of-piperwai/">A Natural Connection – Jess Edelstein, Co-Founder of PiperWai</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com">Finch Brands</a>.</p> On this episode, Jess Edelstein shares the story of PiperWai, from a need to build a better natural deodorant to the Shark Tank stage and beyond. She provides her perspective on building brands around the ‘natural’ movement and how to look at category disruption. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!

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On this episode, Jess Edelstein shares the story of PiperWai, from a need to build a better natural deodorant to the Shark Tank stage and beyond. She provides her perspective on building brands around the ‘natural’ movement and how to look at category ... On this episode, Jess Edelstein shares the story of PiperWai, from a need to build a better natural deodorant to the Shark Tank stage and beyond. She provides her perspective on building brands around the ‘natural’ movement and how to look at category disruption. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!<br /> Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands clean
A Brand that Moves – Tom Wingert, Marketing Manager of City Fitness https://finchbrands.com/a-brand-that-moves-tom-wingert-marketing-manager-of-city-fitness/ Fri, 14 Apr 2017 12:15:23 +0000 http://finchbrands.com/?p=2726 https://finchbrands.com/a-brand-that-moves-tom-wingert-marketing-manager-of-city-fitness/#respond https://finchbrands.com/a-brand-that-moves-tom-wingert-marketing-manager-of-city-fitness/feed/ 0 <p>Tom Wingert is Marketing Manager of City Fitness. This week, he shares with us how his unique path led him to marketing in the fitness world and how he and his team seek to take a unique approach to standing out in a growing and somewhat crowded market. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and […]</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com/a-brand-that-moves-tom-wingert-marketing-manager-of-city-fitness/">A Brand that Moves – Tom Wingert, Marketing Manager of City Fitness</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com">Finch Brands</a>.</p> Tom Wingert is Marketing Manager of City Fitness. This week, he shares with us how his unique path led him to marketing in the fitness world and how he and his team seek to take a unique approach to standing out in a growing and somewhat crowded market. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!

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Tom Wingert is Marketing Manager of City Fitness. This week, he shares with us how his unique path led him to marketing in the fitness world and how he and his team seek to take a unique approach to standing out in a growing and somewhat crowded market... Tom Wingert is Marketing Manager of City Fitness. This week, he shares with us how his unique path led him to marketing in the fitness world and how he and his team seek to take a unique approach to standing out in a growing and somewhat crowded market. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!<br /> Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands clean
One Big Idea: Identity Crisis – Choosing the Right Brand Strategy for Your Merger https://finchbrands.com/one-big-idea-identity-crisis-choosing-the-right-brand-strategy-for-your-merger/ Thu, 16 Feb 2017 14:05:53 +0000 http://finchbrands.com/?p=2638 https://finchbrands.com/one-big-idea-identity-crisis-choosing-the-right-brand-strategy-for-your-merger/#respond https://finchbrands.com/one-big-idea-identity-crisis-choosing-the-right-brand-strategy-for-your-merger/feed/ 0 <p>The most fundamental brand architecture decision following and M&A event has to do with identity – the name, logo, and core message of the post-transaction company. In an M&A situation, there are 10 prevailing approaches – each with strengths and weaknesses. In this episode, we review what these options are and how to decide which […]</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com/one-big-idea-identity-crisis-choosing-the-right-brand-strategy-for-your-merger/">One Big Idea: Identity Crisis – Choosing the Right Brand Strategy for Your Merger</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com">Finch Brands</a>.</p> The most fundamental brand architecture decision following and M&A event has to do with identity – the name, logo, and core message of the post-transaction company. In an M&A situation, there are 10 prevailing approaches – each with strengths and weaknesses. In this episode, we review what these options are and how to decide which approach is best for your specific situation. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!

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The most fundamental brand architecture decision following and M&A event has to do with identity – the name, logo, and core message of the post-transaction company. In an M&A situation, there are 10 prevailing approaches – each with strengths and weakn... The most fundamental brand architecture decision following and M&A event has to do with identity – the name, logo, and core message of the post-transaction company. In an M&A situation, there are 10 prevailing approaches – each with strengths and weaknesses. In this episode, we review what these options are and how to decide which approach is best for your specific situation. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!<br /> Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands clean
Building Brands Through Acquisition – Amy Kothari, My Alarm Center https://finchbrands.com/building-brands-through-acquisition-amy-kothari-my-alarm-center/ Thu, 09 Feb 2017 16:42:37 +0000 http://finchbrands.com/?p=2644 https://finchbrands.com/building-brands-through-acquisition-amy-kothari-my-alarm-center/#respond https://finchbrands.com/building-brands-through-acquisition-amy-kothari-my-alarm-center/feed/ 0 <p>In this episode, we interview Amy Kothari, CEO of My Alarm Center. My Alarm Center has grown and expanded into new markets by making strategic acquisitions throughout the years. Hear from this practitioner as she details how she and her team thought through the difficult decisions around brand architecture and identity. If you like our […]</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com/building-brands-through-acquisition-amy-kothari-my-alarm-center/">Building Brands Through Acquisition – Amy Kothari, My Alarm Center</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com">Finch Brands</a>.</p> In this episode, we interview Amy Kothari, CEO of My Alarm Center. My Alarm Center has grown and expanded into new markets by making strategic acquisitions throughout the years. Hear from this practitioner as she details how she and her team thought through the difficult decisions around brand architecture and identity. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!

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In this episode, we interview Amy Kothari, CEO of My Alarm Center. My Alarm Center has grown and expanded into new markets by making strategic acquisitions throughout the years. Hear from this practitioner as she details how she and her team thought th... In this episode, we interview Amy Kothari, CEO of My Alarm Center. My Alarm Center has grown and expanded into new markets by making strategic acquisitions throughout the years. Hear from this practitioner as she details how she and her team thought through the difficult decisions around brand architecture and identity. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!<br /> Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands clean
One Big Idea: Boom or Bust – Branding After M&A https://finchbrands.com/one-big-idea-boom-or-bust-branding-after-ma/ Thu, 02 Feb 2017 14:35:29 +0000 http://finchbrands.com/?p=2627 https://finchbrands.com/one-big-idea-boom-or-bust-branding-after-ma/#respond https://finchbrands.com/one-big-idea-boom-or-bust-branding-after-ma/feed/ 0 <p>With the increase of M&A activity every year, its shocking to hear that more than half of these decisions fail to create value for organizations. One often overlooked factor in a merger or acquisition’s success is the brand decision. In this episode, we look at the need for practitioners to understand the role the brand […]</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com/one-big-idea-boom-or-bust-branding-after-ma/">One Big Idea: Boom or Bust – Branding After M&A</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com">Finch Brands</a>.</p> With the increase of M&A activity every year, its shocking to hear that more than half of these decisions fail to create value for organizations. One often overlooked factor in a merger or acquisition’s success is the brand decision. In this episode, we look at the need for practitioners to understand the role the brand plays in a M&A situation. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!

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With the increase of M&A activity every year, its shocking to hear that more than half of these decisions fail to create value for organizations. One often overlooked factor in a merger or acquisition’s success is the brand decision. In this episode, With the increase of M&A activity every year, its shocking to hear that more than half of these decisions fail to create value for organizations. One often overlooked factor in a merger or acquisition’s success is the brand decision. In this episode, we look at the need for practitioners to understand the role the brand plays in a M&A situation. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!<br /> Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands clean
One Big Idea: Rebranding GNC, A Recipe for Gains? https://finchbrands.com/one-big-idea-rebranding-gnc-a-recipe-for-gains/ Wed, 25 Jan 2017 13:58:50 +0000 http://finchbrands.com/?p=2672 https://finchbrands.com/one-big-idea-rebranding-gnc-a-recipe-for-gains/#respond https://finchbrands.com/one-big-idea-rebranding-gnc-a-recipe-for-gains/feed/ 0 <p>Reeling from struggling earnings and loss of market share, GNC announced a “One New GNC” rebranding initiative, will it be enough to pull the brand out of its slump? If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating! Podcast: Play in new window | Download Subscribe: iTunes | RSS Transcription: Bill Gullan: Greetings […]</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com/one-big-idea-rebranding-gnc-a-recipe-for-gains/">One Big Idea: Rebranding GNC, A Recipe for Gains?</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com">Finch Brands</a>.</p> Reeling from struggling earnings and loss of market share, GNC announced a “One New GNC” rebranding initiative, will it be enough to pull the brand out of its slump? If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!

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Transcription:

Bill Gullan: Greetings one and all. This is Real-World Branding. I’m Bill Gullan, your host an President of Finch Brands, a premier boutique branding agency. We were very happy to have you, and this is a fun time of year in our industry. There’s a lot happening in terms of new initiatives that clients and others are launching in advance of what they hope is a great year, and also one of the major rituals that brings about a lot of focus on brands and on marketing is the Super Bowl.

Word came down a couple weeks ago, I think, and actually the meat of this was happening between the Christmas and New Year holidays, was GNC, the major, I think they have 9000 stores worldwide or something big like that, maybe 4000 in the US, was going through and really put together an initiative geared toward a rebirth, bringing that chain out of the graveyard, and that may be an overstatement, a little bit reductive, but they’d had some trouble.

GNC’s been in financial trouble, perceptual trouble, and everything else for really 18 months or more, so it was long overdue for management and others to think about what GNC means in today’s commercial landscape, and how the company and the brand can regain some of the momentum that it had for many years before. So, they launched this new initiative. I think it was called “One New GNC” and it included a major store redesign. In fact, I think the entire, at least US store base, closed for a 24 hour period at the end of December to change over from old look to new look.

It also included a revamped loyalty program, and thankfully, an end to the practice of having different prices online and in store. A lot of changes and we know that these will be heralded, we hear at least, through a Super Bowl ad, the first in the company’s history that will design to bring to that huge audience word of the fact that their GNC experience is new and that folks ought to come back and give it a shot. I remember when Domino’s did that a couple of years ago. That’s worked, and we’ll get to that in a minute, but here we are with GNC and there’s a couple of questions that this raises from my perspective.

First of all, every couple years, it seems like a major brand – and Domino’s was one example, J.C. Penney is another example – goes through a spurt of big thinking that is designed to really transform a company in a category. Sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t, but the questions I have related to what GNC is doing is first of all, are they focusing on the right things?

There’s no question that the areas that GNC is addressing are areas in which it has fallen behind. The loyalty program previously was this weird thing – you get triple points on this day and double points on this day, and there were different levels. It was very hard to understand, particularly for a consumer that has been educated to expect, at least at mass interest retail, you get a loyalty card, you get a discount on certain products, you amass points that you can then spend or whatever the case may be.

GNC’s was very complicated. They’re focusing on bringing more technology to the store experience, so that’s good. They want to win back consumers that the company lost to other channels, but the question is does the world need a 9000 unit specialty vitamin supplement store? Its highest interest categories are widely available – they faced and one of the factors most seem to credit to their decline is tremendous competition – online and off, across food, drug and mass, including Amazon, of the basic categories, the vitamins and other things, whey protein that GNC made its name on.

I mean, GNC does have a vibrant private label program with I think it’s Mega Man and other brands that you can only get there, but the sense of their proprietary product excellence, I think it waned considerably. The fact that you could get good or better deals on what the marketplace thinks are very similar items in a variety of different channels. So, the question really is are they focusing on the right things and are they doing enough here that’ll really reverse the marketplace’s … I don’t think there’s hatred for GNC in the marketplace, but there’s a, ‘Meh, this brand isn’t current, relevant, necessary,’ and I’m not sure whether at least these first initiatives are really enough to address the downward trajectory that the brand has been on.

Secondly, and J. C. Penney certainly brings this up is will there be unintended consequences? We remember a few years back when Ron Johnson I think, the new CEO that came from Apple, at J. C. Penney, had a major initiative to really reinvigorate the retailer, and there were a lot of really interesting things. It was going to move more into a bazaar, a store within a store concept. It was going to be really interesting on the store design perspective, etc. But one of the things that led to this really flaming out quickly and the board having to respond, and to what the plan was, was that the company changed without much warning to its couponing structure. The company at J. C. Penney at least had really convinced and educated their marketplace to respond to a particular promotional approach.

While the vitamin/supplement category is large and mature, GNC’s position is volatile given this competitive dynamic, so the previous loyalty program was a strange concoction. It was, as noted, based on discounts, certain days, etc. The new iteration is much simpler, it makes much more sense, but there are some consumers, their core market, who are still big GNC customers who have been educated by GNC to shop a certain way, and now that’s changing, and how are they going to react when their patience or discipline or just basically the rituals that they’ve created around that loyalty program, when those are gone or rewarded differently?

J. C. Penney’s coupon clippers rebelled several years ago and it led to overthrow of the CEO and the company basically in a scared way saying, ‘Okay, okay, okay, we’re going to back to where we were.’ I’m not sure whether these unintended consequences will also befall GNC. I think there’s a strong likelihood that they will, because this is a struggling brand, but a big brand nonetheless and there’s millions of people who’ve been educated to shop a certain way and now they’re being told to shop differently, and we’ll see whether that takes hold.

Thirdly, just the fundamental question, is GNC a brand for this moment in our culture and in our commercial life? We noted that the category that they serve is large and mature. They may not be growing very fast, but there’s billions of dollars of business to be won and to be expanded upon in vitamins and supplements, but GNC is facing competitive pressures like never before, so in addition to the food, drug, and mass, there’s a ton of direct businesses that have proprietary approaches and really unique, or at least marketed as unique kind of product offerings.

The company, GNC, has stood for engineered nutrition, yet the data suggests that many consumers are heavily scrutinizing ingredient panels. They’re very skeptical of synthetic processes. So, in short, GNC’s still selling the power of science while the consumer culture seems to be all about the simplicity of nature. There’s a real question as to whether or not those eccentric rhythms of what consumers define as healthy accommodate GNC’s historic brand definition of what it means. Now, a ton of vitamins and supplements are always going to be bought, so it isn’t about the industry or the category going away. It’s about whether or not GNC can grow within it.

My three questions here, and they’re critical questions, is one, is GNC focusing on the right things? Is it a big enough change to right the ship? Two, are there unintended consequences that will compromise their efforts? Then three is, is GNC really just a brand for now? 9000 stores worldwide, 4000 in the US, and is that the right size of a business here that is facing crosswinds both of their making and not of their making? As noted, every so often this major company shifts direction. Sometimes the changes are too big, too fast, like J. C. Penney. Sometimes they get it right.

We mentioned at the beginning that Domino’s offered a multifaceted initiative that touched the product, it touched the promotion, and it touched the marketing, and Domino’s has had a tremendous resurgence. Sometimes the changes aren’t big or deep enough, and Sears and their many false starts is an example of this.

My fear is that GNC might at least at present, and it’s very early, my fear is that they may be falling into that category of changes that are welcome but not fundamental enough to reorient the trajectory of the brand and the business. As always, it’s very easy for me to sit here and sound off without either the dataset to illuminate these opinions, nor the responsibility to execute.

The management team in Pittsburgh is there, they’ve had their heads down, studying the business, talking to consumers, and so they deserve a chance to see what happens here. Yet, my sense is that GNC plan is more cosmetic and the issues are more fundamental. The CEO of GNC admits that the model is ‘badly broken.’ I’m not sure this ultimately is a big enough fix for a retailer with fundamental problems.

So, we’ll leave it right there. That’s One Big Idea for this week. We’re so glad that you’re with us, and we’ll sign off from the Cradle of Liberty.

The post One Big Idea: Rebranding GNC, A Recipe for Gains? appeared first on Finch Brands.

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Reeling from struggling earnings and loss of market share, GNC announced a “One New GNC” rebranding initiative, will it be enough to pull the brand out of its slump? If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating! Reeling from struggling earnings and loss of market share, GNC announced a “One New GNC” rebranding initiative, will it be enough to pull the brand out of its slump? If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Podcast: <a title="Play in new window" href="https://soundcloud.com/real-world-branding/one-big-idea-rebranding-gnc-a" target="_blank">Play in new window</a> | <a href="http://traffic.libsyn.com/realworldbranding/One_Big_Idea__Rebranding_GNC_a_Recipe_for_Gains_.mp3" target="_blank">Download</a><br /><br /> Subscribe: <a title="iTunes" href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/real-world-branding-podcast/id984089067?mt=2&ls=1" target="_blank">iTunes </a>| <a title="RSS" href="http://finchbrands.com/feed/podcast/" target="_blank">RSS</a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Transcription:<br /><br /> Bill Gullan: Greetings one and all. This is <a href="http://blog.finchbrands.com/topic/podcast" target="_blank">Real-World Branding</a>. I’m <a href="http://finchbrands.com/team_members/bill-gullan/" target="_blank">Bill Gullan</a>, your host an President of Finch Brands, a premier boutique branding agency. We were very happy to have you, and this is a fun time of year in our industry. There’s a lot happening in terms of new initiatives that clients and others are launching in advance of what they hope is a great year, and also one of the major rituals that brings about a lot of focus on brands and on marketing is the Super Bowl.<br /><br /> Word came down a couple weeks ago, I think, and actually the meat of this was happening between the Christmas and New Year holidays, was <a href="http://www.gnc.com/" target="_blank">GNC</a>, the major, I think they have 9000 stores worldwide or something big like that, maybe 4000 in the US, was going through and really put together an initiative geared toward a rebirth, bringing that chain out of the graveyard, and that may be an overstatement, a little bit reductive, but they’d had some trouble.<br /><br /> GNC’s been in financial trouble, perceptual trouble, and everything else for really 18 months or more, so it was long overdue for management and others to think about what GNC means in today’s commercial landscape, and how the company and the brand can regain some of the momentum that it had for many years before. So, they launched this new initiative. I think it was called <a href="http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/gnc-to-close-its-doors-and-reopen-as-one-new-gnc-300379211.html" target="_blank">“One New GNC”</a> and it included a major store redesign. In fact, I think the entire, at least US store base, closed for a 24 hour period at the end of December to change over from old look to new look.<br /><br /> It also included a revamped loyalty program, and thankfully, an end to the practice of having different prices online and in store. A lot of changes and we know that these will be heralded, we hear at least, through a Super Bowl ad, the first in the company’s history that will design to bring to that huge audience word of the fact that their GNC experience is new and that folks ought to come back and give it a shot. I remember when Domino’s did that a couple of years ago. That’s worked, and we’ll get to that in a minute, but here we are with GNC and there’s a couple of questions that this raises from my perspective.<br /><br /> First of all, every couple years, it seems like a major brand – and Domino’s was one example, J.C. Penney is another example – goes through a spurt of big thinking that is designed to really transform a company in a category. Sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t, but the questions I have related to what GNC is doing is first of all, are they focusing on the right things?<br /><br /> There’s no question that the areas that GNC is addressing are areas in which it has fallen behind. The loyalty program previously was this weird thing – you get triple points on this day and double poi... Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands clean
One Big Idea: Hits from All Sides – The State of the NFL Brand https://finchbrands.com/one-big-idea-hits-from-all-sides-the-state-of-the-nfl-brand/ Sat, 21 Jan 2017 15:41:38 +0000 http://finchbrands.com/?p=2666 https://finchbrands.com/one-big-idea-hits-from-all-sides-the-state-of-the-nfl-brand/#respond https://finchbrands.com/one-big-idea-hits-from-all-sides-the-state-of-the-nfl-brand/feed/ 0 <p>Much has been made of the NFL’s early season ratings drop and subsequent recovery, with explanations ranging from the situational to the fundamental. We take a look at the state of the NFL’s brand and how cultural trends are shaping the future of the league. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us […]</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com/one-big-idea-hits-from-all-sides-the-state-of-the-nfl-brand/">One Big Idea: Hits from All Sides – The State of the NFL Brand</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com">Finch Brands</a>.</p> Much has been made of the NFL’s early season ratings drop and subsequent recovery, with explanations ranging from the situational to the fundamental. We take a look at the state of the NFL’s brand and how cultural trends are shaping the future of the league. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!

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The post One Big Idea: Hits from All Sides – The State of the NFL Brand appeared first on Finch Brands.

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Much has been made of the NFL’s early season ratings drop and subsequent recovery, with explanations ranging from the situational to the fundamental. We take a look at the state of the NFL’s brand and how cultural trends are shaping the future of the l... Much has been made of the NFL’s early season ratings drop and subsequent recovery, with explanations ranging from the situational to the fundamental. We take a look at the state of the NFL’s brand and how cultural trends are shaping the future of the league. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Podcast: <a title="Play in new window" href="https://soundcloud.com/real-world-branding/one-big-idea-hits-from-all" target="_blank">Play in new window</a> | <a href="http://traffic.libsyn.com/realworldbranding/One_Big_Idea__Hits_from_All_Sides_-_The_State_of_the_NFL_Brand.mp3" target="_blank">Download</a><br /><br /> Subscribe: <a title="iTunes" href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/real-world-branding-podcast/id984089067?mt=2&ls=1" target="_blank">iTunes </a>| <a title="RSS" href="http://finchbrands.com/feed/podcast/" target="_blank">RSS</a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Transcription:<br /> Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands clean
One Big Idea: Slogans for President https://finchbrands.com/one-big-idea-slogans-for-president/ Fri, 28 Oct 2016 17:01:12 +0000 http://finchbrands.com/?p=2595 https://finchbrands.com/one-big-idea-slogans-for-president/#respond https://finchbrands.com/one-big-idea-slogans-for-president/feed/ 0 <p>With less than two weeks until election day in the US, we take a look at the role and effectiveness of campaign slogans across the years. With unique insight provided by the glimpse into the Clinton campaign and the road to the final slogan, we take a nonpartisan look at branding presidential candidates. If you […]</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com/one-big-idea-slogans-for-president/">One Big Idea: Slogans for President</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com">Finch Brands</a>.</p> With less than two weeks until election day in the US, we take a look at the role and effectiveness of campaign slogans across the years. With unique insight provided by the glimpse into the Clinton campaign and the road to the final slogan, we take a nonpartisan look at branding presidential candidates. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!

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Bill Gullan: Greetings one and all, this is Real-World Branding, I’m Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands, a premiere boutique branding agency and this is One Big Idea. Here we are, less than two weeks away from election day in the U.S. and the presidential election and really important elections at all levels.

We’re here in Pennsylvania so we have a pretty close Senate race as well as a bunch of other things to really look forward to and everyone’s talking about it. Both the presidential campaign and all the way down. Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on how one looks at it, it’s all going to be over in about two weeks we think, we’ll see if there’s any hanging chads but doubtful given where the polls look today.

We will do a postmortem after the election on the role of branding in the 2016 campaign. I was looking back at a previous episode of Real-World Branding that we recorded in I think it was May, it might have been March of 2015 during which we discussed with Matt Lewis, who’s a CNN commentator and political analyst the slogan and brand approaches of the candidates who had already declared at that time, so we did include Hillary.

That was pre-Trump, though, so we didn’t get too deeply into the approach that the Trump campaign was going to take. I’m not sure they knew at the time, but we talked about probably 10 or 11 different candidates and I can’t wait to look back and to listen to that again to see what we got right and what we got wrong.

One of the things that’s been really interesting about this election season is the glimpse into the Clinton campaign that has been provided through WikiLeaks. By whatever means they acquired these, and somewhat nefarious perhaps, but either way we’ve had really unprecedented access, a window into the decision making of senior staff, their frustrations, their exhalations, and everything in between.

One particular exchange that I’ve been interested in and been thinking about was a release of a list of I think 84 different slogans or taglines that have been presumably tested and considered for Hillary Clinton’s campaign. I think they were going through a relaunch at that point, one of many I guess. They were looking to really solidify the slogan that they were going to take through the end of the primary and into the general and I think there were 85 different options that had been put together by her polling firm and the senior staff was circulating this and they were scheduling a meeting to discuss it. So we can’t hear all the discussions in the meeting but we can certainly look through these different slogans and see where they were thinking and what their directions were.

What’s interesting about political slogans, and the role of slogans and brands on presidential campaigns, is that they do work similarly to that of our corporate clients – whether it’s products or companies and the way they think about taglines. We spoke a couple weeks ago about the possible uses of a tagline, when to have one, when not to have one, what are some great ones over history, what are some of the ingredients of a great tagline, but when it comes to great taglines or certainly political slogans, what you’re really looking for is the right joining of the person in the moment, or in the case of corporate clients, the company or product in the moment and the culture.

We’ve talked from among our clients a couple of taglines from the past that really we were very proud of or Join In, Geek Out for ThinkGeek that was really designed to suggest the roll of the company in bringing together geeks of various types and we all have the geek inside of us and let’s share and become part of this community and raise our hand and say this is what we value and also there was a moment, and is a moment in our culture where geekdom is being celebrated so that’s a tagline that, not only in terms of it’s cadence as effective, but it really does connect company and cultural moment.

Another one we were proud of is you got this for the Scucci brand of Conair and it was really drawing on confidence as a way of connecting with the modern, feminine creed today and connecting that to what Scucci products do and so those are taglines that we’re proud of. In part because they encapsulate the unique product attributes or corporate values of our client and the moment that’s occurring culturally.

I think the best political slogans are like that too. It’s that intersection of the candidate and what they stand for, both in terms of policy but also personal characteristics and the moment in the electorate. A lot of ink, or pixels, have been spent talking about the nature and the mood of the electorate this year, and that’s obviously been a really important factor in the rise of the Sanders candidacy and certainly the Trump candidacy and well beyond.

When we look at what the best slogans are or best taglines for candidates, they tend to be this organizing principle for a candidacy. They’re not too detailed, but they express the personality of the candidate as well as an overarching key theme that links together their policy proposals and their beliefs and all that they are and all that they want to do. It really is that intersection of how the electorate is feeling and what the person who’s running is promising to provide, and we look at a few of these over history, those that were particular effective were at the very least memorable.

Going back to 1984, Ronald Reagan running for reelection, ‘It’s Morning Again in America’ was a campaign slogan that really registered and has withstood the test of time. Reagan was appealing not only because America had come out of the economic malaise of the late 70s and had restored economic growth by 1984. Also a bit of a swagger and sense of pride and purpose and patriotism was back. It also connected to Reagan’s, and again whatever you think politically about all of these things, Reagan projected kind of the sunny, optimistic, idealized view of American patriotism and purpose and so Morning Again in America in 1984 was a really strong encapsulation of a man and a moment.

In 1988, when George Bush, we call him Senior, he’s not really Senior but when George Herbert Walker Bush ran for the presidency talking about a ‘Kinder, Gentler Nation,’ not only did that reference his personality, which in some ways was portrayed to his detriment, but that of being an experienced, gentle, almost courtly soul. While at the same time was suggesting that with the Cold War near its end, that America could begin to focus a little bit inward. Some of the soft underbelly of the Reagan years was some concern when it comes to poverty, when it came to AIDs, when it came to the more vulnerable in the U.S. This Kinder, Gentler Nation that George Bush was championing in 1988 stuck and became a really strong connector between the person and the political moment.

Then 2008, President Obama’s ‘Change We Can Believe In,’ ‘Hope’ and ‘Change,’ a lot of the words that were important currency for the Obama movement both in 2008 and in some ways in the present day. Change We Can Believe In was a slogan that encapsulated not only, what at that time after the financial crisis really in the throws of it and everything else, was a significant desire for a change in trajectory within the country, also fatigue certainly at the end of the Iraq War and the Afghan War and the 7 years after 9/11. This was all wearing thin. The electorate was craving change and Change We Can Believe In, in terms of President Obama, his unique talents and his characteristics, what he represented and what he brought forth into the electorate at that time. Change We Can Believe In is another example of a slogan that really stuck and was very apt for both the candidate and the moment.

Moving on to Hillary. The list that they provided has, let’s see 3, 6, 9 different buckets. They put these into categories. Actually it’s funny because we do this sometimes for clients too so it’s interesting to see how political consultants portray this. There are 9 different buckets and there’s like 84, 85 tagline options overall. One bucket is Fairness and Families. The next bucket is Fighter. The next bucket is Basic Bargain, Making America Work. The next is Strength. The next is Results, etc. etc. On the list, embedded within these 80 some options was the one that they eventually chose to move forward and that their using now which is ‘Stronger Together.’ The slogan of the Clinton campaign is ‘Strong Together.’

I think the question ought to be asked at this point, again regardless of ideology or policy or what happens two weeks from now is, was this the right choice? I guess you could say every choice was right if a candidate wins or every choice was wrong if they lose, but from a perspective of how we’ve defined slogans and their advocacy in terms of meeting the candidates unique characteristics and attributes and the moment within the electorate; is Stronger Together, a strong choice for the Clinton campaign?

One could argue that it represents the moment. Stronger Together speaks to multiculturalism and a focus that is very significant right now, an identity in how the American tapestry includes folks of various types, diversity, a lot about income inequality and what to do to make America’s playing field more level. A notion that the Clinton campaign represents about well chosen, collective government action. Stronger Together may represent, to a degree, the moment. At least some of the elements of the moment. I would argue, however, though that it maybe doesn’t represent the candidate as well as the most successful slogans do.

Hillary Clinton for all of her successes has never really been a unifying figure. She is thought to inspire great loyalty but also strong dislike among her political opponents. Several of the moments in which she faced the greatest amount of trouble in this campaign were when she called half of Trump’s supporters a ‘basket of deplorables’ when she said she was going to put coal miners out of business, when there was controversy over the use of her term ‘super predator’ when it came to the crime bill that the Clinton administration passed in the 90s. The moments of weakness for her have really not been about bringing people together, but separating and stigmatizing them.

However, her strength has always been, I would say and I think even Donald Trump said this when asked the question in I guess it was the second debate to say something nice about ones opponent. He suggested that she’s very persistent and that she fights. She doesn’t give up. When I think about the Hillary Clinton brand and what represents the candidate most effectively from that list of different buckets of taglines is the notion of a fighter.

When she thinks about this mission that she seeks to undertake on behalf of the middle class and other marginalized groups in the U.S. and to fight for families and fight for women and fight for equal opportunity for all, it seems that not only is that a helpful encapsulation of her energy and her animating spirit and her career, it also may go even a little bit further than Stronger Together towards the notion of a very restive electorate and the moment in which we find ourselves.

I would say, I don’t know if there was a better option when we go through the list, that Stronger Together, again though it may be attached to a candidate who rides all the way into the White House, maybe isn’t an example of a transcendent slogan that is just right for a moment and for a candidate that will be remembered long into history. I think in some ways it doesn’t reflect how most of us think about Secretary Clinton in terms of her career and her values, attributes, benefits, etc.

Now, that being said, we might as well look at the slogan of her primary opponent, her major party opponent, Donald Trump. I would argue, again, putting ideology and personality and everything else aside, we’re talking about branding here. That ‘Make America Great Again’ is a much stronger brand expression than Stronger Together.

We could argue as to whether or not we believe it or agree with it but, again, we talk about this meeting of candidate and moment. Let’s talk about the moment. We know, and the data suggests, that there are many, including Bernie Sanders supporters as well as Donald Trump supporters, as well as others who don’t think America really works well today. That it isn’t fair, that it’s rigged or whatever the word is – and I’m not talking about voting booths or ballot boxes but just the whole American system of government and economics.

Make America Great Again is a call to action to those who feel the America they knew has slipped away and the data suggests a lot of people feel like that. For some it hearkens back to a time of simpler values and greater confidence, a return to American confidence and purpose and focus.

Then when it comes to the candidate, Make America Great Again really connects in some ways to the man himself. Make is an active, doing, energetic word. It’s an imperative. As Trump fashions himself as a doer, a builder, an outsider, some have called him a ‘blue collar billionaire’ because even though he is, perhaps, part of the elite financially that he claims to revile and oppose this.

He really shows his insecurities and he’s very human and he cares a lot about status, and he cares a lot about a bunch of different things and he has a lot of concerns about his own place in the world. He’s very human in that way. I think Chris Matthews on MSNBC compared him to Frank Sinatra, as somebody who, again, obviously very financially successful but really wears his insecurities also in the case of Sinatra there were some shady dealings beneath the surface that were sort of made him rougeish, almost a little bit charming in a strange way, so I see that comparison to Trump.

Make American Great Again is polarizing, but I would argue that it’s polarizing because of the man, all that he has done and has said and all that he represents. There is an undercurrent that those who, there are many who don’t see the America he wants to go back to as a place we remember necessarily very fondly, certainly not by everybody and there are certain groups that find that whole notion of some sort of America restoration to be very off putting for understandable and powerful reasons, but just from a prospective of a slogan battle, this may bear out in two weeks, Trump’s in my opinion will be far longer remembered historically and is a better encapsulation of unique candidate attributes, as well as the electorate and the moment in time in which we find ourselves.

Anyway, WikiLeaks is giving us a fascinating looking into how candidates are packaged. There’s two weeks to election day. We’ll see what happens. We’d love to hear comments about your thinking about this. I don’t want to hear ideological comments or pitches on behalf of one candidate or another. This podcast is about branding and about the art and science of building strong brands and businesses and so to the degree that people want to weigh in on slogans, both through political history or this year, or taglines that they think are particularly powerful, we’d absolutely love to hear it and continue this dialogue moving forward on Real World Branding.

We will sign off from the cradle of liberty, happy fall.

The post One Big Idea: Slogans for President appeared first on Finch Brands.

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With less than two weeks until election day in the US, we take a look at the role and effectiveness of campaign slogans across the years. With unique insight provided by the glimpse into the Clinton campaign and the road to the final slogan, With less than two weeks until election day in the US, we take a look at the role and effectiveness of campaign slogans across the years. With unique insight provided by the glimpse into the Clinton campaign and the road to the final slogan, we take a nonpartisan look at branding presidential candidates. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Podcast: <a title="Play in new window" href="https://soundcloud.com/real-world-branding/one-big-idea-slogans-for" target="_blank">Play in new window</a> | <a href="http://traffic.libsyn.com/realworldbranding/One_Big_Idea__Slogans_for_President.mp3" target="_blank">Download</a><br /><br /> Subscribe: <a title="iTunes" href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/real-world-branding-podcast/id984089067?mt=2&ls=1" target="_blank">iTunes </a>| <a title="RSS" href="http://finchbrands.com/feed/podcast/" target="_blank">RSS</a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Transcription<br /><br /> Bill Gullan: Greetings one and all, this is <a href="https://finchbrands.com/category/podcast/" target="_blank">Real-World Branding</a>, I’m <a href="https://finchbrands.com/team_members/bill-gullan/" target="_blank">Bill Gullan</a>, President of Finch Brands, a premiere boutique branding agency and this is One Big Idea. Here we are, less than two weeks away from election day in the U.S. and the presidential election and really important elections at all levels.<br /><br /> We’re here in Pennsylvania so we have a pretty close Senate race as well as a bunch of other things to really look forward to and everyone’s talking about it. Both the presidential campaign and all the way down. Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on how one looks at it, it’s all going to be over in about two weeks we think, we’ll see if there’s any hanging chads but doubtful given where the polls look today.<br /><br /> We will do a postmortem after the election on the role of branding in the 2016 campaign. I was looking back at a previous episode of Real-World Branding that we recorded in I think it was May, it might have been March of 2015 during which <a href="https://finchbrands.com/rwb4/" target="_blank">we discussed with Matt Lewis</a>, who’s a CNN commentator and political analyst the slogan and brand approaches of the candidates who had already declared at that time, so we did include Hillary.<br /><br /> That was pre-Trump, though, so we didn’t get too deeply into the approach that the Trump campaign was going to take. I’m not sure they knew at the time, but we talked about probably 10 or 11 different candidates and I can’t wait to look back and to listen to that again to see what we got right and what we got wrong.<br /><br /> One of the things that’s been really interesting about this election season is the glimpse into the Clinton campaign that has been provided through WikiLeaks. By whatever means they acquired these, and somewhat nefarious perhaps, but either way we’ve had really unprecedented access, a window into the decision making of senior staff, their frustrations, their exhalations, and everything in between.<br /><br /> One particular exchange that I’ve been interested in and been thinking about <a href="http://adage.com/article/campaign-trail/84-rejected-clinton-campaign-slogans-courtesy-wikileaks/306358/?utm_campaign=SocialFlow&utm_" target="_blank">was a release of a list of I think 84 different slogans</a> or taglines that have been presumably tested and considered for Hillary Clinton’s campaign. I think they were going through a relaunch at that point, one of many I guess. They were looking to really solidify the slogan that they were going to take through the end of the primary and into the general and I think there were 85 different options that had been put together by her polling firm and the senior staff was circulating this and they were scheduling a meeting to discuss it. So we can’t hear all the discussions in the meeting but we c... Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands clean
One Big Idea: A (Met) Life Without Snoopy https://finchbrands.com/one-big-idea-a-met-life-without-snoopy/ Thu, 20 Oct 2016 19:09:45 +0000 http://finchbrands.com/?p=2579 https://finchbrands.com/one-big-idea-a-met-life-without-snoopy/#respond https://finchbrands.com/one-big-idea-a-met-life-without-snoopy/feed/ 0 <p>As the company and business model evolves, MetLife recently debuted a new brand identity – the first major marketing change for the life insurance company in 30 years. With the rebrand, MetLife has chosen to part ways with Snoopy and the Peanuts gang. At a time when the Peanuts brand is surging after a renaissance, […]</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com/one-big-idea-a-met-life-without-snoopy/">One Big Idea: A (Met) Life Without Snoopy</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com">Finch Brands</a>.</p> As the company and business model evolves, MetLife recently debuted a new brand identity – the first major marketing change for the life insurance company in 30 years. With the rebrand, MetLife has chosen to part ways with Snoopy and the Peanuts gang. At a time when the Peanuts brand is surging after a renaissance, what does this move mean as the brand moves forward? In this week’s episode, Bill provides comment on the rebrand and decision to drop Snoopy. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!

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Bill Gullan: Greetings one and all. This is Real-World Branding, I’m Bill Gullan, president of Finch Brands, a premier boutique branding agency. Today is One Big Idea. Forgive us, if you would, we’ve taken a few weeks away from this with a promise of getting back to it in earnest as the fall continues. This is, unfortunately or fortunately, depending on how one looks at it, the result of a busy life here at Finch Brands as projects come and go and clients certainly occupy a lot of the head space and hands and resources over here. Sometimes that leads to us having to shift our schedules a little bit, but we’re back.

This week’s topic is something that actually broke this morning it seems. At least, I became aware of it this morning. We were talking about an article, I think from last week, about the Peanuts brand and how it really was a moment of renaissance for a deeply cherished brand that’s been around many decades. There was a big movie last year that I think did a couple hundred million. There was a TV show as a result of it. There’s some interesting campaign work around Rock the Vote and other kind of civic yet non-partisan issues where you see the Snoopy character.

This is a brand that’s definitely on the move and has contemporized in some ways. I’ve got to say, and we’ve spoken about this before on Real-World Branding, that I really appreciate the approach Peanuts taken compared to the Muppets, to pick another example of a brand that was occupied as a special place in the perception of families yet more recently has really turned their back on that equity which led to what one could only probably conclude as a money-grab. The more recent Muppets TV show that was far more adult in content and it disappeared very, very quickly. You know what, they probably deserved it.

To their credit, Peanuts, while updating some elements in terms of technology and some of the visual aesthetic, Peanuts has stayed sweet. The brand has stayed true to its roots and its emotional feel of being innocent and sweet yet atmospheric in some ways a bit melancholy, a little bit sassy depending on the characters that we’re talking about. Seeing the Peanuts movie with my daughter, who at that time, I guess, was four, probably about five, it felt like a really fun opportunity to share something with her that was appropriate for her age. In any case, Muppets didn’t do that, but Peanuts has.

The news broke this morning that maybe the most significant and best known marketing partnership that Peanuts has had, and Snoopy in particular has had with the insurance company MetLife, the company is moving on. That partnership is no more. Snoopy and MetLife are parting ways. Hopefully both retreating or moving in the direction of great success and it’s a break up, ‘it’s not you, it’s me,’ but Snoopy and MetLife not together anymore. We dug around a little bit and of course some of the stories about this were more humorous, but in our world, it’s a big deal.

It seems that MetLife has gone through a re-branding process that went live today. The company put forth a press release and other content. I think they’ve changed the website and the app and some of their other easier to change touch points to a new logo, new message, new tagline, and everything else.

When you read their press release, Esther Lee, who’s the chief marketing officer, spoke about the fact that the world is changing and that the company took the opportunity to spend a lot of time with people around the globe. I think 55,000 people is what the press release said in terms of those who were part of the process, their customers around the world. They found that there was a really all-encompassing desire to demystify and cut through what is an overwhelming existence today of how quickly things are changing and looking for partners to trust to help them navigate these changes is what the company said.

The new tag line is ‘Navigating Life Together,’ which is directly from this consumer insights process it seems. The new logo in this re-branding effort is, you know, the logo’s okay. It’s got some blue. It’s got some green. It is what it is. It seems to track very clearly and strongly with the direction of the brand that they’re seeking to make. I think maybe even more importantly for consumers of the life insurance category and insurance in general, the company’s really making reference to changes that are coming in terms of the customer experience and across touch points.

metlife rebrand

It was interesting to read what Esther Lee said about how the Snoopy affiliation and the Peanuts connection, which really began perhaps 30 years ago or so. At the time, the Snoopy connection was really about a desire on the part of the company to make MetLife and the category a bit more friendly and approachable in a time when the insurance and financial services industry in general was seen as kind of cold and corporate and to use the company’s word a little bit ‘distant.’ They used Snoopy over a couple of decades to help, again, create a bit of a friendly and approachable face to what is serious business and often fairly dense to those who don’t know much about it.

The company’s re-brand is designed to herald, or at least they claim, is heralding a shift, in terms of the way they do business and the way they think about product development, the way they think about interacting with their customers. I guess the overriding lesson here is that I love Snoopy, but really to what MetLife says it will do, it’s time to break free. I applaud them for doing so decisively. This is a long time in coming.

Life insurance has a clear marketing template, it’s gauzy emotional pictures of families with the unspoken sense that things happen and that we’re here when it counts. This is a template. Everybody, at least the larger advertisers in the business, seem to communicate in a very similar way. The selling structure within life insurance is almost a cliché at this point. It’s the insurance guy or gal at the party who’s always selling. There’s a lot of fine print. There’d been a lot of legal actions over the years about consumer awareness of some of these elements of legal contracts in the insurance marketplace.

This is a category that, by virtue of doing business in an old-school way, may not be as educational or consumer-friendly as it has the potential to be, so it’s exciting that MetLife is, at the very least, thinking about doing this a little bit differently. I guess the proof will be in the pudding about exactly how that takes place and what that means for folks like you and me who are out here trying to protect our dreams and our family and our most important assets.

If that’s true and if MetLife is truly thinking differently about its business model and trying to up-end some of the ways in which insurance in the life insurance category has marketed and interacted with the consumer, then it is absolutely the right time to think differently about their most high-profile marketing partnership.

What did Snoopy really earn for the brand today? Maybe 30 years ago, it created a smile and a greater connection and sense of friendliness, but more recently, certainly eyeballs, recognition, some vague sense of, you know, if you like the Peanuts brand, then maybe that led to some preference for MetLife, but generally speaking, it’s time to move on.

When we have cherished brand assets, whether it’s logos or names or specific marketing partnerships or ad campaigns, whatever it is, that are well-recognized and have a life of their own in terms of how seriously and deeply they are valued by the company, sometimes it’s hard to evolve. Some of these deeply cherished brand assets are incompatible with brand evolution.

We spoke on an earlier podcast episode about how brand strategy and brand identity evolutions can be a catalyst to herald and underline shifts in business strategy. Well, the opposite of that can be true. Sometimes shifts in business strategy don’t take hold or can’t manifest themselves as strongly if they are cloaked within the familiar to too strong a degree.

We applaud MetLife. I’ll say ‘I.’ I’ll speak for myself, because, as with everything else, this is a topic where I’m sure there are opinions all over the map, but I applaud MetLife. I wish them the best. I think all too often one goes through some degree of change merely for the sake of change.

Despite the fact that we do a lot of work around brand evolution, strategically and creatively, we never want our clients just to change for the sake of change. Sometimes you need to do a cosmetic re-branding to contemporize your look and feel, but brand is not the way for an executive to make their mark – if that’s the only reason or for a company to do something different. The look and feel has to be tied to something significant, something greater. It seems in the case of MetLife, the re-branding process and the difficult, I’m sure, decision to move away from their relationship with Peanuts is an example of this.

Applause for MetLife. We’ll certainly be watching. We wish them the best and, of course, Peanuts certainly doesn’t need our best wishes, because they are a juggernaut when it comes to family-friendly entertainment and other programming. Our sense is that everyone will be just fine. Every now and then there are really interesting branding questions like this one and so it’s fun to think about and talk about.

As always on Real-World Branding, there’s three ways to support what we’re doing. We’d love it if you’d click the subscribe button, so even if we take a few weeks off, you won’t have to wonder when that next episode’s going to come in, because as soon as it’s available, if you’re subscribing to it, it’ll download into the device of your choice. We’d love a rating if we deserved in the app store of your choice. We understand that that does help, particularly for those that rate us highly, others to find us who may find some interest and joy in this content. Lastly, let’s resume or keep that dialogue going on Twitter @BillGullan or @FinchBrands. We always love ideas for guests and topics and questions and everything else.

As fall is here and leaves descend, we’ll sign off from the Cradle of Liberty.

The post One Big Idea: A (Met) Life Without Snoopy appeared first on Finch Brands.

The post One Big Idea: A (Met) Life Without Snoopy appeared first on Finch Brands.

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As the company and business model evolves, MetLife recently debuted a new brand identity – the first major marketing change for the life insurance company in 30 years. With the rebrand, MetLife has chosen to part ways with Snoopy and the Peanuts gang. As the company and business model evolves, MetLife recently debuted a new brand identity – the first major marketing change for the life insurance company in 30 years. With the rebrand, MetLife has chosen to part ways with Snoopy and the Peanuts gang. At a time when the Peanuts brand is surging after a renaissance, what does this move mean as the brand moves forward? In this week’s episode, Bill provides comment on the rebrand and decision to drop Snoopy. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Podcast: <a title="Play in new window" href="https://soundcloud.com/real-world-branding/one-big-idea-a-met-life" target="_blank">Play in new window</a> | <a href="http://traffic.libsyn.com/realworldbranding/One_Big_Idea__A_Met_Life_Without_Snoopy.mp3" target="_blank">Download</a><br /><br /> Subscribe: <a title="iTunes" href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/real-world-branding-podcast/id984089067?mt=2&ls=1" target="_blank">iTunes </a>| <a title="RSS" href="http://finchbrands.com/feed/podcast/" target="_blank">RSS</a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Transcription<br /><br /> Bill Gullan: Greetings one and all. This is <a href="https://finchbrands.com/category/podcast/" target="_blank">Real-World Branding</a>, I’m <a href="https://finchbrands.com/team_members/bill-gullan/" target="_blank">Bill Gullan</a>, president of Finch Brands, a premier boutique <a href="https://finchbrands.com/our-story/" target="_blank">branding agency</a>. Today is One Big Idea. Forgive us, if you would, we’ve taken a few weeks away from this with a promise of getting back to it in earnest as the fall continues. This is, unfortunately or fortunately, depending on how one looks at it, the result of a busy life here at Finch Brands as projects come and go and <a href="http://finchbrands.com/success-stories/" target="_blank">clients</a> certainly occupy a lot of the head space and hands and resources over here. Sometimes that leads to us having to shift our schedules a little bit, but we’re back.<br /><br /> This week’s topic is something that actually broke this morning it seems. At least, I became aware of it this morning. We were talking about an article, I think from last week, <a href="http://www.adweek.com/news/advertising-branding/why-peanuts-gang-surging-popularity-after-so-many-years-173779" target="_blank">about the Peanuts brand</a> and how it really was a moment of renaissance for a deeply cherished brand that’s been around many decades. There was a big movie last year that I think did a couple hundred million. There was a TV show as a result of it. There’s some interesting campaign work around Rock the Vote and other kind of civic yet non-partisan issues where you see the Snoopy character.<br /><br /> This is a brand that’s definitely on the move and has contemporized in some ways. I’ve got to say, and <a href="https://finchbrands.com/rwb24/" target="_blank">we’ve spoken about this before on Real-World Branding</a>, that I really appreciate the approach <a href="http://www.peanuts.com" target="_blank">Peanuts</a> taken compared to the <a href="http://muppets.disney.com" target="_blank">Muppets</a>, to pick another example of a brand that was occupied as a special place in the perception of families yet more recently has really turned their back on that equity which led to what one could only probably conclude as a money-grab. The more recent Muppets TV show that was far more adult in content and it disappeared very, very quickly. You know what, they probably deserved it.<br /><br /> To their credit, Peanuts, while updating some elements in terms of technology and some of the visual aesthetic, Peanuts has stayed sweet. The brand has stayed true to its roots and its emotional feel of being innocent and sweet yet atmospheric in some ways a bit melancholy, a little bit sassy depending on the characters that we’re talking about. Seeing the Peanuts movie with my daughter, who at that time, Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands clean
Branded Tech: Chris Cera, CEO of Arcweb Technologies https://finchbrands.com/branded-tech-chris-cera-ceo-of-arcweb-technologies/ Thu, 22 Sep 2016 15:00:46 +0000 http://finchbrands.com/?p=2566 https://finchbrands.com/branded-tech-chris-cera-ceo-of-arcweb-technologies/#respond https://finchbrands.com/branded-tech-chris-cera-ceo-of-arcweb-technologies/feed/ 0 <p>In this week’s episode, we host Chris Cera, Founder and CEO of Arcweb Technologies, a digital product design company. He shares his insights on the role of the brand in custom software solutions and app development. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating! Podcast: Play in new window | Download Subscribe: […]</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com/branded-tech-chris-cera-ceo-of-arcweb-technologies/">Branded Tech: Chris Cera, CEO of Arcweb Technologies</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com">Finch Brands</a>.</p> In this week’s episode, we host Chris Cera, Founder and CEO of Arcweb Technologies, a digital product design company. He shares his insights on the role of the brand in custom software solutions and app development. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!

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Chris Cera: I do think that there is a revolution of sorts that is happening, and that people realize that they need to care about user experience and customer experience.

Bill Gullan: Greetings, one and all. This is Real-World Branding. I’m Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands, a premiere boutique branding agency. Today, a pleasure of an interview with Chris Cera, the founder and CEO of Arcweb Technologies. Arcweb is a fast-growth, highly regarded, really innovative and interesting company that happens to be in our backyard, but with tentacles that expand, certainly, beyond it.

They are a digital-product design & development firm. They focus on clients in the financial and healthcare sectors. Our conversation veers in the direction of the role of brand endeavors such as those that they regularly entertain, as well as some thinking about Chris’s own story in terms of building the Arcweb company and brand, so enjoy Chris Cera.

We are here. This is the fifth floor, Chris, is where we are in this building.

Chris: Yes.

Bill: We’re here with Chris Cera, who’s the founder and CEO of Arcweb Technologies. Steve, our executive producer, and I decided we were going to walk this thing. There’s a Fitbit challenge. Up we come to the fifth floor, and there’s this highly attractive shaved-head guy, like me, to greet us, and no one else. We’d read all this stuff about this fastest growing … Second in the Philly 100 Fastest Growing Company, 25th nationwide in the software category. All this growth. Where are these people? We ask Chris. Today is a Thursday, so why’s there nobody here?

Chris: We let people work from home on Tuesday and Thursdays.

Bill: Nice! That’s great. Quiet for us to talk through various things regarding your career and the industry, and also a bit of exposure to something interesting culturally. Chris here. Thanks for being with us.

Chris: Pleasure to be here. Thank you.

Bill: Arcweb Technologies. Before we dive in a little bit to where what you do hits brand and some of the things that we’ve been talking about and thinking about, give us a little bit of the scoop on Arcweb and what you all are up to.

Chris: We are a digital-product design company. We’re focused on the healthcare and finance sectors. Our mission is to build products that people love. We’re about 35 people here in Old City, Philadelphia, majority of which are software engineers. The next tier is designers and user-experience designers, and then the top tier is product management and strategy, so we have a number of product managers here.

Bill: Terrific. Healthcare and finance, there seem to be some common threads there in terms of regulatory environments. There seem to be common threads, perhaps, in both of them becoming a little bit more like retailers, a little bit more consumer-focused, perhaps, but how’d you wind up with those two shining verticals within the business that you’ve built?

Chris: In my last company, we ended up doing a lot of work in the banking sector, and so then, after I had left that company, basically, that was one of the industries that I had a lot of experience in. I’d done about 15 projects in the banking sector, so I was essentially branding myself to a degree as a fin-tech person and a fin-tech consultant.

Naturally, starting Arcweb and everything, we started to get projects in in the finance category, and so it was banking, wealth management, overtime insurance. Then, like you had mentioned, they’re very similar, so a lot of the same people cross over from one of those industries to another, because there’s a lot of similarities. So then we started to get a lot of healthcare business. In the last year, we won a healthcare product innovation award with Penn Medicine, one of the largest health systems around here, so we’ve been doing a lot of work in healthcare lately.

Bill: There’s a lot of it here within the region, obviously. That’s fascinating. We’ll get a little bit more into your journey, and the journey of the company, the growth of the company, as we continue. One of the things that I was thinking about, you’re all doing a lot of digital-app development that may be mobile or it may be, I guess, web, you would call it. Given the topic that we’re here to discuss in terms of our podcast, what’s the role of the brand?

We were talking earlier about you’re not a branding guy, but the brand, obviously, is important, it would seem, to expressing something through whatever one builds and offers. Could you speak to where brands intersect with what you all are doing on the technology-development side?

Chris: Sure. It’s absolutely important from a marketing perspective, and depending upon whether it’s a B2B or a B2C company, the brand has benefits and drawbacks depending upon what it is. That’s different depending upon whether it’s a B2B play, essentially, versus a B2C play.

For what we do, digital-product design, development, we’re often asked to solve a very specific problem, and if it’s in a financial services company, it might be something that’s internal to the company, not necessarily externally facing. So we come in there, come into a new company, and we do needs analysis, research, and try to come up with strategy for what is going to solve essentially a functional problem, and then the design and the branding will come in later.

It’s definitely evident in the visual design, how it looks and feels, so if you’re going to do an app, depending upon the audience, you might choose the color pink or you might not choose the color pink. Pink is one of those colors that has a lot of different meanings depending upon how it’s used. It’s not like black. I usually wear black clothes. I’m colorblind, so it doesn’t say much. I can blend in and everything else.

Bill: It’s sliming. You look great. Just for our audience. To your point, you get to a juncture in the process where things like look and feel, things like voice, I would imagine, enter into the workflow.

Chris: Absolutely. To give an example, one of the places I had worked years ago was at ING Direct, and I did a check-processing product that was used on desktops. For example, in a coffee shop, you could go in, and literally, there was a scanner where you could scan a check. This was right around the time, or slightly before the time, that you could scan a check with your phone. I can’t remember the exact messaging, but ING Direct had some very, I would say, punchy, get-in-your-face, get-noticed type of marketing. Their billboards were very punchy. I’m not sure if punchy is a technical term, but it kind of punches you in the face.

Bill: That’s what they teach in business school. ‘Let’s get punchy, here.’

Chris: When you’re not expecting, it kind of hits you in the face. They said something like, ‘Yes, you can really scan a check here,’ or something like that. It was something better. It was much better than that, but it was … I felt like that brand really spoke about that product in a very different way than I think a different bank would have chosen to speak about it.

Bill: I’m sure it was orange, too, when it comes to brand colors.

Chris: There was definitely elements of orange all over it, yes.

Bill: One of the things, we don’t have to go too deeply into it, or as deep as you’d like, but that we were talking about is your own branding experience with building Arcweb and some of the other things you’ve done along the way and in leadership roles that you’ve had. What’s the story behind the Arcweb name and how your brand has evolved overtime?

Chris: Jason Fried from Basecamp had said a long time ago. He had a BasecampHQ.com, or something like that. It wasn’t Basecamp.com, and so people would always comment, because he was growing a business very rapidly and didn’t have a .com, which, at the time, was like a, ‘Hey! How are you doing that?’ type of thing, and he made the point, ‘It doesn’t matter as long as they can find you on Google, and you’re the first hit,’ and so that has always stuck with me. I’ve oftentimes repeated that, because if people can find you, even if it’s a commonly misspelled word, but Google actually knows what the common misspelling is and still presents the right answer, that’s, in some cases, just as good.

Arcweb, the A-R-C is actually the first three initials of my grandmom’s name, and then the web was just kind of bolted on there. I figured that web is this thing that is never going to go anywhere, kind of like I feel like mobile, eventually, will be hot and die, but I felt like the web is eternal. I have a computer-science background. The web is what connects everybody from a networking perspective, so I felt like the web would be a name that would be more built to last.

I figured that people would know how to spell it correctly most of the time, although I never checked A-R-K Web. It would be interesting. I’m going to Google that when I’m done with this. Anyway, so that was the thinking that had gone into it.

Bill: Despite the interesting back-story of regarding the personal side of it, arc as sort of an umbrella shape. I never would have thought that, but I still would have maybe had an idea of what you all might be doing, what the focus might be. It’s interesting.

Chris: Our first logo, I remember when we did some focus-group-like things with it, we were told that it was too masculine, and I think because the name had been decided, and then we had someone do the logo, and then it ended up maybe looking more like a weapon, so anyway, we did …

Bill: The fact that a tank was in it may have been a little bit more masculine, right?

Chris: More like a star, like a Chinese star-type of thing.

Bill: Nunchucks in the area. The whole ninja routine.

Chris: Yeah, so Arcweb was what later someone described to me as a vessel brand, meaning you can attach a number of things onto it, so we could have Arcweb Services, Arcweb, I don’t know, Managed Services. I have to come up with different names of businesses, but if we wanted to have ten different businesses, we could throw Arcweb somewhere in the name, if we wanted to, since it’s rather meaningless and means nothing.

Bill: Right. Well, that’s one of the benefits, from a nomenclature perspective, of being non, I’m not going to use … The pejorative might be generic, whatever the … What’s the opposite of pejorative? The positive might be that it’s not specific, and it’s flexible, and it has room to breathe. That’s cool.

I would imagine there’s a variety of different ways in which you all developed business, and widened your own acquaintance, and, as you say, probably truer now than it even was then, everything is search. It’s not organic, ‘I got to dial it in!’ We still have some clients who, when we’re in a nomenclature exercise, say, ‘Well, we have to get the .com, and it’s got to be ten characters or less, and it has to mean something!’, so you’re like, ‘I know exactly how to do this.’ You have to name it like a pharmaceutical that doesn’t make any sense at all, and hope the people remember it, and of course, there’s budgets you need to do to … Anyway. You’re not my therapist.

One of the other things I wanted to get your take on, given the role that you all have in building these applications and being in a software-inclined business – we’re recording this on the tail-end of yet another Apple product, the fall one, the September release, iPhone 7, and in the commentary about that, one of the things that seems to be standing out is a general belief in … They’re speaking specifically about Apple, and they may be right, but that it’s really all about software at this point.

The WWDC is far more interesting than the hardware release. What comes in the iOS upgrade is far more interesting and more meaningful than what happens in the hardware itself. There were some hardware innovations here: your phone, the headphone thing’s going away. We all know what was in it, but hardware is dead, they say; software is the future. Software is the present. I’m sure someone might have said that the moment before the iPod came out and been proven wrong, so who the hell knows what happens.

What’s your take when you look at the world, and you look at how technology’s expanding? Software’s obviously what this company’s grown on, built on, but your sense of how hardware and software work in with what the future’s like.

Chris: Marc Andreessen, Netscape co-founder, and Ben Horowitz of Andreesen Horowitz huge investor, invested in Facebook, Snapchat…

Bill: Great Twitter follow, by the way. He’s great to follow on Twitter. Very entertaining.

Chris: Yeah. Very amusing. He says, ‘software is eating the world,’ so that, I think, is probably the quote that I hear often used the most. I feel like there’s certainly been consolidation to some degree in the hardware industry, at least in the sense that the phone itself is kind of the focal point, or at least the sinking point, or something, in a lot of devices, which wasn’t as clear 5+ years ago or maybe 10+ years ago.

I think the age of personalization in a lot of industries is happening right here, right now. So I think the hardware industry is extremely hot, in my opinion. I think a lot of software people avoid it intentionally, and people can make their own choices, but I think hardware is alive and well. I think there’s a lot of opportunities for small companies and innovative start-ups to try to disrupt what’s happening right now, so I think it’s an exciting time for hardware. I think there’s certainly some … The big players, like the Apples of the world, that have best stock prices on Wall Street and whatnot, they’re playing it at a different game, but I think at least for the small guys, there’s plenty of opportunity.

Bill: One of the things, before we started, you mentioned Nest, those other hardware plays. If you’re in the 7th generation of an iPhone, it makes perfect sense that it’s not going to be a quantum leap. It might be slimmer, or it might be bigger, or it might be messing around with the headphones or whatever, but to your point, there have been ideas that eight full years ago, like Nest, so home automation, that is software-driven but also hardware being essential to it, that we may never have contemplated, and holy crap, it’s here, it’s amazing.

Chris: That’s right, and so many things are being interconnected, too, so an ADT system today, for instance, actually can connect to a Nest, which isn’t even provided by them, but you can literally change the temperature of the thermostat in your house on your Nest from your ADT system. A lot of these interconnections are happening. It’s a pretty exciting time.

Bill: It is. What a big, wide, interesting world. With regard to what Arcweb’s doing, and I know that you are, just as we are, constrained a bit by confidentiality, and by things that may be still in development and may not be out there, but are there a couple of projects in recent years or whatever that you’re particularly proud of, and that were really stimulating, that you and your team completed that have really solved a functional issue and maybe even gone further?

Chris: Yeah. One example is the Penn Medicine Our Directives Project, which is to help patients complete their advance directive, which is essentially part of a will. When someone passes away, hopefully they have a will, and one of the four parts of the will is a healthcare advance directive, which says, ‘I don’t want feeding tubes. Do not resuscitate. Who’s my healthcare proxy?’ All of the things that … The legal form is very different than how people oftentimes will talk about it, which is part of the challenge of people completing these forms correctly.

Anyway, Penn had set out to solve this problem, and from an experience perspective, we had to, basically, design the experience of how someone would fill out this form. There’s a lot of things from a choice-architecture perspective, and how I ask you the question, like, ‘You don’t want feeding tubes, do you?’, and you can really influence how someone’s going to say yes or no.

This is one of these morally distressful problems in the world where families, doctors, attorneys, estate planners, these can get very legal, very ugly, and very sad. Anyway, it’s an area of moral distress, and I’m really proud to have been selected to work on it and have a project be successful, go through multiple stages, and be something that was award winning, in our case. That’s an example.

Bill: Awesome. A great one. I know there’s hundreds of others, both in your wake and probably on the drawing board right now. You mentioned the word experience. I’ve often bemoaned, both on this podcast and to anyone who will listen, which is a decreasing number of people, how the word branding and the word strategy are two words that have been used so widely and diffusely as to now mean absolutely nothing. I feel like user experience is getting closer in that direction, but as someone who’s a genuine authority, and practitioner, and leader when it comes to UX, how do you think about UX and what it means in terms of the work that you all are doing, and how folks ought to think about it out there?

Chris: I do think that there is a revolution of sorts that is happening, and that people realize that they need to care about user experience and customer experience. I think it’s very different, depending upon what industry you’re in, or what problem that you’re trying to solve, but I think a lot of it is really just are you really interfacing, are you asking the right questions from all of the people that have to interact with this system?

Sometimes, the people don’t interact directly with the system, but they do, whether they receive some form of report or an email, and there’s all these different ways of basically working and solving a problem through workflows. So, much of experience is just a new word for workflows, in a way, or operations. I would agree it’s definitely an overly used term, I think, in the sense that I see a lot of other companies touting their user-experience skills when in fact they’re not really practitioners of it.

Bill: Just to be clear, your definition of it is really about the touch points and the workflows related to … Maybe you’re better at expressing it than I am.

Chris: I wouldn’t say I have a great definition, but I think it’s just about the experience of the people that have to interact with the problem that you’re trying to solve, and trying to make sure that you really understand the stakeholders, you really understand what their concerns are, what they need to get out of it, and then you’re weighting those appropriately.

Because as a product manager, at the end of the day … I heard a joke used once, that the goal of the product manager is to disappoint the least number of people. Kind of like a good artist, or a good piece of artwork, the artist chose not to add everything. They chose, at some point, ‘I’m not going to add a lot of things,’ and so things that you don’t add, in a lot of ways, are just as important as the things that you do add. It’s kind of like how do you weigh all of this feedback, at least be conscious of it, and make a decision, and ship something that ultimately is going to disappoint the least number of people?

Bill: Yeah. No, I think that’s a good way to think about it, as someone who disappoints family and colleagues on a daily basis. When you think about your own journey as a business builder, and as a professional with an incredible resume and set of success stories along the way, what have been important things to you as your career developed, whether it’s mantras or core principles that have helped guide you to make good decisions? What are some things that have been important to you as you’ve grown as a businessperson and a leader?

Chris: Well, this is actually the fourth company that I’ve started, the second that’s actually gotten traction. I try not to use the word success, because I feel like success has to be measured at the end, so second company that’s gotten traction, and second one that made it out of the dining room. My last company wasn’t anything to write home about, but it wasn’t a total failure either.

Anyways, as far as my reflecting on the journey and whatnot, I would say that I have a thirst for learning and constantly trying to learn different things, so as I’ve been able to change my career from being a software architect and a coder, essentially, and more into a business guy, I’m still very challenged in everything that I’m doing. I’m still a maker, so part of this company was to try to build a community of people that are happy to be around each other and have this colloquial community feeling about them.

Part of Arcweb, I feel like, is a community where people … I have a lot of people here that have said, ‘This is the best job I’ve ever had,’ which, to me, is very meaningful and very valuable, and so we’re trying to build a place where people are really happy. That’s what I’m focused on the most. I’m not focused on valuation, exit strategy, or any of that.

Bill: Those are consequences, right?

Chris: Yeah. I’m trying to build a great place to work, and a place where we get jazzed about solving problems. Our mission is to build products people love, and I love that mission statement, because I love building stuff that people love. It keeps me going to work every day and I’m constantly challenged.

Bill: When you wear your various hats, obviously, the business processes and whatnot, but you seem to have the soul of someone who wants to be out on the floor making stuff, how do you, in your own life, balance the various demands that exists for your time from clients, from colleagues, from just the various stuff that won’t get done without you? When you think about your days and how you’re channeling your passions, what does that look like?

Chris: The hardest part … I’m always trying to replace myself. Part of the goal is to just make myself completely replaceable in all these roles. Early in Arcweb days, I actually was writing software for some of my clients. I was a project manager. I was a software architect. Then doing business development, I’m a BD guy as well, so I’ve had to do all of these things. Again, part of that is learning, but then teaching others how to do those roles and how to create a career path and a growth pattern for them has been an exciting part of the challenge in trying to groom the next generation of leaders.

A lot of people … In the tech industry, everybody needs … You need a lot of new … You have to keep keeping people interested every couple of years. Otherwise, they’re going to get bored and go do something else, so it’s easier to keep them interested when you’re a high-growth company, and so with the mindset of ‘I need to be replaceable,’ I’m constantly creating new opportunities here at Arcweb. I’m filling them first, and then I’m building them to someone else, so it’s kind of building this stack of great people along the way. Again, that hits back to the community thing.

Bill: To that end, you talked a little bit about culture. People love collaborating, except Tuesdays and Thursdays, apparently, over here, which makes sense, and I can see someone, a lot of people, really, depending on where they are in life, or geographically, really, finding value in that. Without offending anyone … Well, no one’s here, other than you and Steve. The occupation in which you and your colleagues exist is not always associated with gregarious types of people who are maybe as socially adept as others, and again, totally unfair, but when it comes to culture, when it comes to collaboration, when it comes to building a supportive, winning company, are there a couple key principles that help drive your efforts that maybe require, particularly in a space like this, where folks may not be as emotive as they might be in other environments?

Chris: Since we are a consulting company, and we’re services-oriented, we’ve had to apply a filter in the very beginning before we hired them, that they have to be able to communicate effectively and do a lot of the stereotypical things that technical people lack in terms of skills, whether it’s communication, eye contact, just body language. To be honest, I struggle with all of those things. I’ve made it somewhat of my mission over the last ten years to just be a better communicator, but for a long time, I was that person in the corner, banging out code, and not communicating as much as I probably should be.

The Tuesday and Thursday benefit, and I say benefit because it’s not really a benefit, because to some degree, since we’re a services company, we’re already tracking everybody’s hours to an extent, so it’s like we trust that the people that work here are going to do good work, and it doesn’t really matter where they are. We happened to win a Best Places to Work Award, which I’m proud of, and I’m sure that’s probably a part of it, but when I was an engineer, I really needed the time where I wasn’t in meetings, and I wasn’t getting bothered, so we try not to have any recurring meetings on Tuesdays and Thursdays as well, and just try to have that discipline and sort of DNA in the entire company.

Then the people that hear that, they are makers, and they’re not managers. Paul Graham has a very short post about this, probably ten years old now. The people that are makers, they can literally plow through an entire day in a coffee shop, in their bedroom, or whatever.

Bill: Your work’s probably heads down, I would think, at a certain point in the process.

Chris: Yep. Absolutely, so we kind of balance the best of both worlds. In our space, we have almost a bullpen. It’s a very big open room, and everyone can just tap anyone on the shoulder, myself included. We have that extreme, and then we have Tuesdays and Thursdays, so kind of, I feel like, the best of both worlds. That balance, I think, has built us a stronger culture and company.

Bill: Terrific. How many wins for the Eagles this year, or do you care? Doesn’t care. It’s going to be low, anyway, so I don’t know. I figured it’s about to start Sunday. Steve?

Chris: We’ll go with six.

Bill: Six wins? That’s not unlike what Vegas is thinking. Steve, what do you think?

Steve: I’m thinking 16 wins.

Chris: What about the playoffs?

Bill: My answer’s probably somewhere in between. I figure we can look back at this as the season goes on. Chris here, Arcweb founder, CEO, thank you so much for your time and your insight.

Chris: Pleasure to be here. Thank you so much.

Bill: Many thanks to Chris for his time and his insight. Even 5 1/2 years or so into the life of Arcweb Technologies, what a collection of stories, and successes, and growth, and excitement. Definitely a company to watch.

Three ways to help us as always. Get some of this business out of the way here. We certainly appreciate a rating in the app store of your choice. If we deserve it, five stars, or something similar, and comments as well, reviews as well of hopefully the value that folks are taking from what we’re doing here. As always, we love for that dialogue to continue @billgullan on Twitter, @FinchBrands on Twitter. Ideas for future guests, comments. Our skin is thick, as noted. As well as ideas for future topics, and just general thoughts about the world of brand and business building, which is really our focus here.

Then, lastly, just to make sure you don’t miss a one, if you want to click subscribe in the app store of your choice, this’ll automatically download when new content comes available. I’m looking at our executive producer Steve right now and suggesting that we haven’t always been predictable about what day and time. What we do here typically is in every other week, we have an interview with a brand and business builder, like Chris. In off weeks, weeks in between, we’ll do what’s called One Big Idea, which tends to be a smaller version of Real-World Branding, but focused on one particular concept. It’s designed to be actionable and quick. Hopefully, for those who may be thinking about particular topics, it’ll give them some sense of what to do tomorrow. Thank you all for your time and continued support of what we’re doing.

Signing off from the Cradle of Liberty.

The post Branded Tech: Chris Cera, CEO of Arcweb Technologies appeared first on Finch Brands.

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In this week’s episode, we host Chris Cera, Founder and CEO of Arcweb Technologies, a digital product design company. He shares his insights on the role of the brand in custom software solutions and app development. If you like our podcast, In this week’s episode, we host Chris Cera, Founder and CEO of Arcweb Technologies, a digital product design company. He shares his insights on the role of the brand in custom software solutions and app development. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Podcast: <a title="Play in new window" href="https://soundcloud.com/real-world-branding/branded-tech-chris-cera-ceo-of" target="_blank">Play in new window</a> | <a href="http://traffic.libsyn.com/realworldbranding/Branded_Tech__Chris_Cera_CEO_of_Arcweb_Technologies.mp3" target="_blank">Download</a><br /><br /> Subscribe: <a title="iTunes" href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/real-world-branding-podcast/id984089067?mt=2&ls=1" target="_blank">iTunes </a>| <a title="RSS" href="http://finchbrands.com/feed/podcast/" target="_blank">RSS</a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Transcription<br /><br /> Chris Cera: I do think that there is a revolution of sorts that is happening, and that people realize that they need to care about user experience and customer experience.<br /><br /> Bill Gullan: Greetings, one and all. This is <a href="http://blog.finchbrands.com/blog/topic/podcast" target="_blank">Real-World Branding</a>. I’m <a href="http://finchbrands.com/team_members/bill-gullan/" target="_blank">Bill Gullan</a>, President of Finch Brands, a premiere boutique branding agency. Today, a pleasure of an interview with <a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/chriscera" target="_blank">Chris Cera</a>, the founder and CEO of <a href="https://arcweb.co" target="_blank">Arcweb Technologies</a>. Arcweb is a fast-growth, highly regarded, really innovative and interesting company that happens to be in our backyard, but with tentacles that expand, certainly, beyond it.<br /><br /> They are a digital-product design & development firm. They focus on clients in the financial and healthcare sectors. Our conversation veers in the direction of the role of brand endeavors such as those that they regularly entertain, as well as some thinking about Chris’s own story in terms of building the Arcweb company and brand, so enjoy Chris Cera.<br /><br /> We are here. This is the fifth floor, Chris, is where we are in this building.<br /><br /> Chris: Yes.<br /><br /> Bill: We’re here with Chris Cera, who’s the founder and CEO of Arcweb Technologies. <a href="http://finchbrands.com/team_members/steve-radzinski/" target="_blank">Steve</a>, our executive producer, and I decided we were going to walk this thing. There’s a Fitbit challenge. Up we come to the fifth floor, and there’s this highly attractive shaved-head guy, like me, to greet us, and no one else. We’d read all this stuff about this fastest growing … Second in the <a href="http://www.philadelphia100.com/history/past-winners/281-2015-philadelphia-100-awards" target="_blank">Philly 100 Fastest Growing Company</a>, <a href="http://www.inc.com/inc5000/list/2016/" target="_blank">25th nationwide in the software category</a>. All this growth. Where are these people? We ask Chris. Today is a Thursday, so why’s there nobody here?<br /><br /> Chris: We let people work from home on Tuesday and Thursdays.<br /><br /> Bill: Nice! That’s great. Quiet for us to talk through various things regarding your career and the industry, and also a bit of exposure to something interesting culturally. Chris here. Thanks for being with us.<br /><br /> Chris: Pleasure to be here. Thank you.<br /><br /> Bill: Arcweb Technologies. Before we dive in a little bit to where what you do hits brand and some of the things that we’ve been talking about and thinking about, give us a little bit of the scoop on Arcweb and what you all are up to.<br /><br /> Chris: We are a digital-product design company. We’re focused on the healthcare and finance sectors. Our mission is to build products that people love. We’re about 35 people here in Old City, Philadelphia, majority of which are software engineers. Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands clean
One Big Idea: Do We Need a Tagline? https://finchbrands.com/one-big-idea-do-we-need-a-tagline/ Fri, 09 Sep 2016 19:19:11 +0000 http://finchbrands.com/?p=2546 https://finchbrands.com/one-big-idea-do-we-need-a-tagline/#respond https://finchbrands.com/one-big-idea-do-we-need-a-tagline/feed/ 0 <p>In this week’s episode, Bill examines the factors that are critical to deciding whether or not a tagline is appropriate for a brand. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating! Podcast: Play in new window | Download Subscribe: iTunes | RSS Transcription Bill Gullan: Greetings one and all. This is Real-World […]</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com/one-big-idea-do-we-need-a-tagline/">One Big Idea: Do We Need a Tagline?</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com">Finch Brands</a>.</p> In this week’s episode, Bill examines the factors that are critical to deciding whether or not a tagline is appropriate for a brand. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!

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Bill Gullan: Greetings one and all. This is Real-World Branding. I’m Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands, a premier boutique branding agency, and this is One Big Idea. We’ve heard a lot recently in our own work and just, scanning the inter webs and other media sources, about taglines, for whatever reason. A question we get a lot, and it’s a good one, is do we need a tagline during a re-branding process or, just in general, when folks are approaching their marketing efforts and their identity?

There’s a couple of different dimensions to this. First of all, I think the general, overarching principle is that taglines do seem to be less important today. A lot of the famous best taglines that you hear are, frankly, old. These existed in the times when brands communicated in print or via major TV spot moments where they was a lot of copy and a lot of script, and really, a tagline was used to encapsulate the whole idea. Some of the famous taglines of old came to life that way.

Many of the taglines that today are regarded as among the best and in some ways it’s because of their longevity. They’ve become inseparable from the brands to which they’re attached. There aren’t that many of those. There’s a lot of ones that when you read top hundred list or whatever it’s the same ones over and over again.

A couple other reasons I think that taglines seem to be less important. One is that, as noted, as we’ve moved away from these big anthem level brand campaigns being the center of folk’s marketing budget, we’re dealing with small screens.

You’re dealing with a hundred and forty character limits. You’re dealing with different methods of delivering messages, social media, etc, that maybe aren’t as conducive or don’t require the delivery of a tagline alongside the core messages of an idea. In some cases, if it’s a banner ad for example, it’s just too crowded. You don’t need to stick another line of copy on there. The name’s enough. People are able to experience it in context.

The second piece is that, often, brand communications are found in a commercial context that encapsulates what a company does and is trying to communicate. If you are searching on Google for x, y or z, it is the algorithm that will get you there, not some fancy tagline that is designed to express clearly what the name of the company and what the brand of the company is trying to accomplish. The addition of context particularly in the digital realm and particularly on mobile, provides a release valve where you may not need a tagline to get your message across.

The third thing that we see is reducing the necessity or the frequency of tagline development is, brands today are about values, about personalities, maybe more than product differences and core feature identifiers. Some of the greatest taglines in history, and we’ll go through them in a minute, where really built upon one feature based point of interest. ‘Great taste, less filling.’Where’s the beef.’ These are classic taglines that were really used as positioning ladders to get across a core differentiable element. The fact that brands are communicating at a level more of values and lifestyle, larger thematic approaches makes at least that type of tagline a little bit less appropriate and related.

Lastly, and before we move into answering that question of should we or should we not, brand has gotten more flexible. Consistency still matters a lot obviously when it comes to message and color and personality and tone, but there’s also a strong emphasis on brands not trying too hard, not delivering an imperative to their audience, not top down.

The fact that social media and other elements have made the brand conversations more of a dialogue than a dictation or an imperative has made it so that taglines often come across as being a little bit too eager. You don’t see fashion brands that are designed to have this mystique, ever really taglines. It’s fashion brand x, ‘providing the best shirts,’ you don’t see that. it just doesn’t work.

The brand nature of the dialogue today and the way strong brands are built and constructed are with flexibility as well as with authenticity. Taglines, may to a degree, rob that, if not well executed.

These are reasons why taglines seem to be less important, but now to the fundamental question and the topic and the title of this One Big Idea, which is do we need a tagline? The answer of course is situational and it depends. I think there are four primary reasons to think about. In terms of a checklist, if the answer to these questions or one of them is yes, then maybe you should consider developing and using a tagline as part of your identity – either locked up with it or in a prominent place alongside of it.

The first is does the name of the brand require some degree of modification in context that advances a position? One example, and there’s a ton of them, that’s close to home here is Finch Brands. We have a tagline that’s ‘Building brands for the real world.’

What we wanted to do and accomplish through that and the reason we developed a tagline was that the name Finch Brands doesn’t necessarily say exactly what we do nor does it define, by itself, what is distinctive and memorable about us, what makes us different. The use of a tagline is that next level of positioning detail alongside a name that isn’t as directly descriptive, was an important and is an important part of our brand expression at Finch.

I think you can think of a lot of different companies. Some have proper names. Others may have names that are more general, where a tagline is used to deliver a more specific and descriptive message, while also advancing a core argument of the brand. If the name needs additional description and modification and it exists in a context that doesn’t automatically have that built in, a tagline is worthy of consideration.

The second thing to think about are taglines that evoke a feeling. One of the most famous is ‘Just Do It.’ Nike is the Greek goddess of victory. The name in and of itself didn’t mean anything. Then again, Nike starting in track and with marathon runners, did have a context surrounding what it was doing, but Nike wanted to advance a system of belief and a feeling, a personality and Just Do It was a way of expressing that.

One category that does this, I think, very well actually is the insurance category. Some of the best known and best regarded taglines come from insurance. ‘Like a Good Neighbor, State Farm is There.’ ‘You’re in Good Hands with Allstate.’ ‘Nationwide is on Your Side.’ These are enduring taglines that, yeah, they lean into the category of service or product that’s being offered but they’re designed to evoke a feeling that is central to brand differentiation and identification. The second reason to consider a tagline is if you really find it to be competitively relevant to evoke a distinctive feeling or personality. A tagline may be a good way to do that.

Third, and I think very importantly, is a tagline has the ability to herald a shift in brand strategy. Two examples from our recent past. Fathead, known for vinyl wall graphics of various types, started originally, at least was the core of their advertising approach was, life-sized NFL wall decals. When we were working with the brand it became clear both from our research as well as what they were doing, that Fathead was a lot more than life-sized NFL wall decals.

First of all it wasn’t just NFL. It was across the sports world, across the entertainment continuum with a fully integrated custom offering so you could have your daughter’s soccer team or anything else. Certainly the licenses were extending into Disney princesses and other characters. The brand was a lot more than the context in which consumers held it, that was largely of Fathead’s own making.

Their original tagline was, ‘Real Big.’ When we began to work with them and as a brand strategy and communication strategy shifted more in the direction of promoting the full diversity of the line of offerings that fathead could bring to market, in addition to just different characters and different images, Fathead had a ton of different sizes. The Real Big product was the one with which it was most intimately associated, but Fathead was a lot more than that.

In fact to drive the business forward it was important that the marketplace understand that Fathead was more than about life-size wall graphics, because how many places can you really put one in a house? Maybe you have a so called man cave where you can put three or four that’s dedicated to watching sports or whatever but most people don’t have that. It was important that the marketplace understood that Fathead wasn’t just about this, really high intensity but exclusive product application.

The tagline had been Real Big, as noted, but then as the brand strategy shifted, and as we helped Fathead shift the brand strategy, the tagline shifted into ‘For Real.’ It was Fathead, For Real. The idea there being not about size but about the vivid nature of the graphics and how they were represented and delivered across entertainment and athletic franchises and across product sizes and formulations.

A small shift in tagline from Real Big to For Real, heralded a shift in brand strategy and in communications emphasis. It was a very good use not only of a tagline but an example of how a tagline can help shift brand strategy. The company name wasn’t changing, the brand equity was a tremendous asset for Fathead, but they just needed to contemporize it and shape it in a way that helped the business grow. A tagline was indispensable to that.

Another example, is, we’ve talking about it on this podcast before, ThinkGeek, ecommerce purveyor of licensed and home grown merchandise for the geek in all of us, was really undergoing a major shift at the brand strategy level. Again, not changing name but at the brand strategy level it was shifting from this out of date perspective of a geek as a pejorative term of a socially awkward, inwardly focused person living in a parent’s basement and communicating with a small group of folks over a game of dungeons and dragons.

That was the old version of geek. The new version of geek was embracing this moment of sharing and community and Comic-Con and all these things that had made ‘geeking out’ the verb of choice to describe going deep with your passions regardless of whether they were traditionally geeky or not. In addition to the rebranding at the visual identity level and everything that came along with it, we shifted the tagline.

The original tagline had been ‘Stuff for Smart Masses.’ Emphasizing that old school version of geek as being smarter than everybody else and snarky. It was a play on smart asses, smart masses, but the new tagline which was designed to really usher in this era of geek as a verb, geek as a high social currency, very active community driven reality, became ‘Join in. Geek out.’

It was a subversive nod to Timothy Leary for those who got it, although I’m sure most in the target market didn’t, but Join in. Geek Out. was welcoming. It was about sharing. It was about geeking out and going deep with the things that you love. That was another example from Finch’s recent past of using a tagline to cement a meaningful shift in brand strategy.

Then the last checklist item of should we have a tagline or not, is do you have a core benefit that you need to underline that is essential and fundamental to what the brand stands for and the basis on which folks in the marketplace may want to choose it over its competition?

Some examples from history of this, although some still exist, is ‘Burger King, Have it Your Way.’ Customization of the whopper and the entire menu at Burger King was a major competitive benefit, worthy of underlining and representative of differentiation. ‘McDonald’s, Billions and Billions Served.’ The same old thing, Burger King, Have it Your Way, was a tagline that was helpful not only to again underline something fundamental about the brand choice but also as a way to send vibes about the personality and the welcoming nature of what the brand sought to embody.

Another one again, at the product level is ‘Bounty, It’s the Quicker Picker Upper.’ It does it faster, a core benefit within the product proposition was solidified, extended, and made ever more memorable and accessible through the use of a tagline.

Another one, interesting historically, that also maybe heralded a brand shift was Verizon. ‘Can you Hear Me Now,’ ultimately became the tagline for Verizon mobile and if you recall, Verizon was formed out of the merger in I guess, the mid probably late nineties of GTE and Bell Atlantic. These were two old line phone hardline long distance phone companies dealing primarily with long distance calls from landline phones within houses. The markets were changing. The companies merged. They took the bold step of creating a new brand, Verizon, to identify this new organization, in part because the marketplace was moving in a direction of mobile and they saw that, and neither of those brands really stood effectively for mobile. Or for technology for that matter.

They were basically public utilities was the way the marketplace perceived them and once Verizon was rebranded as such and it became clear that mobile was a dominant present and future nature of what the company was seeking to accomplish, Can You Hear Me Now became of way of underlining the strength and supremacy of their mobile network.

Can You Hear Me Now, was taken directly from many of the early and continued frustrating conversations that one would have with their mobile device as they reach the level of roaming or when the tower was a little bit too far away. As a memorable and potent and functionally important tagline, Verizon Wireless’s Can You Hear Me Now, of course backed up by a lot of dollars and a campaign and everything else, was a really effective way to underline a core benefit of their offering. We’ll leave it there.

Suffice it to say as noted that taglines may be less in favor and in fashion in our industry than they used to be for a variety of valid reasons but at the same time brands can benefit extensively and meaningfully from the adoption alongside their identity of a very effective tagline and again, those four things to think about are:

1. Do you need a tagline to modify and describe what your company does for a name that maybe doesn’t do that alone?

2. Do you need your tagline to evoke a feeling or a strong brand personality as in the case of just do it or State Farm is there or you’re in good hands with Allstate, etc?

3. Can a tagline be a helpful part of the arsenal to herald a shift in band strategy? Like Fathead going from Real Big to For Real or ThinkGeek going to Join In. Geek Out?

4. Or is there still a core benefit that really animates the brand and crystallizes the choice that you want to emphasize? Can You Hear Me Now, the Quicker Picker Upper, Have It Your Way, etc?

With that, thinking around taglines we’d love to hear your feedback as always on this and everything that we do. We’ll sign off from the Cradle of Liberty.

The post One Big Idea: Do We Need a Tagline? appeared first on Finch Brands.

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In this week’s episode, Bill examines the factors that are critical to deciding whether or not a tagline is appropriate for a brand. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating! Podcast: Play in new window | Download Subscribe: iTun... In this week’s episode, Bill examines the factors that are critical to deciding whether or not a tagline is appropriate for a brand. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Podcast: <a title="Play in new window" href="https://soundcloud.com/real-world-branding/one-big-idea-do-we-need-a" target="_blank">Play in new window</a> | <a href="http://traffic.libsyn.com/realworldbranding/One_Big_Idea__Do_We_Need_a_Tagline_.mp3" target="_blank">Download</a><br /><br /> Subscribe: <a title="iTunes" href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/real-world-branding-podcast/id984089067?mt=2&ls=1" target="_blank">iTunes </a>| <a title="RSS" href="http://finchbrands.com/feed/podcast/" target="_blank">RSS</a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Transcription<br /><br /> Bill Gullan: Greetings one and all. This is <a href="http://finchbrands.com/category/podcast/" target="_blank">Real-World Branding</a>. I’m <a href="http://finchbrands.com/team_members/bill-gullan/" target="_blank">Bill Gullan</a>, President of Finch Brands, a premier boutique <a href="http://finchbrands.com/our-story/" target="_blank">branding agency</a>, and this is One Big Idea. We’ve heard a lot recently in our own work and just, scanning the inter webs and other media sources, about taglines, for whatever reason. A question we get a lot, and it’s a good one, is do we need a tagline during a re-branding process or, just in general, when folks are approaching their marketing efforts and their identity?<br /><br /> There’s a couple of different dimensions to this. First of all, I think the general, overarching principle is that taglines do seem to be less important today. A lot of the famous best taglines that you hear are, frankly, old. These existed in the times when brands communicated in print or via major TV spot moments where they was a lot of copy and a lot of script, and really, a tagline was used to encapsulate the whole idea. Some of the famous taglines of old came to life that way.<br /><br /> Many of the taglines that today are regarded as among the best and in some ways it’s because of their longevity. They’ve become inseparable from the brands to which they’re attached. There aren’t that many of those. There’s a lot of ones that when you read top hundred list or whatever it’s the same ones over and over again.<br /><br /> A couple other reasons I think that taglines seem to be less important. One is that, as noted, as we’ve moved away from these big anthem level brand campaigns being the center of folk’s marketing budget, we’re dealing with small screens.<br /><br /> You’re dealing with a hundred and forty character limits. You’re dealing with different methods of delivering messages, social media, etc, that maybe aren’t as conducive or don’t require the delivery of a tagline alongside the core messages of an idea. In some cases, if it’s a banner ad for example, it’s just too crowded. You don’t need to stick another line of copy on there. The name’s enough. People are able to experience it in context.<br /><br /> The second piece is that, often, brand communications are found in a commercial context that encapsulates what a company does and is trying to communicate. If you are searching on Google for x, y or z, it is the algorithm that will get you there, not some fancy tagline that is designed to express clearly what the name of the company and what the brand of the company is trying to accomplish. The addition of context particularly in the digital realm and particularly on mobile, provides a release valve where you may not need a tagline to get your message across.<br /><br /> The third thing that we see is reducing the necessity or the frequency of tagline development is, brands today are about values, about personalities, maybe more than product differences and core feature identifiers. Some of the greatest taglines in history, Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands clean
The Truth About Digital: Mitchell Reichgut, CEO of Jun Group https://finchbrands.com/the-truth-about-digital-mitchell-reichgut-ceo-of-jun-group/ Thu, 01 Sep 2016 16:49:16 +0000 http://finchbrands.com/?p=2523 https://finchbrands.com/the-truth-about-digital-mitchell-reichgut-ceo-of-jun-group/#respond https://finchbrands.com/the-truth-about-digital-mitchell-reichgut-ceo-of-jun-group/feed/ 0 <p>In this week’s episode, we host Mitchell Reichgut, Founder and CEO of Jun Group. With over two decades of applied experience, Mitchell explains how advancements in mobile and digital media are transforming the way brands communicate with consumers. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating! Podcast: Play in new window | […]</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com/the-truth-about-digital-mitchell-reichgut-ceo-of-jun-group/">The Truth About Digital: Mitchell Reichgut, CEO of Jun Group</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com">Finch Brands</a>.</p> In this week’s episode, we host Mitchell Reichgut, Founder and CEO of Jun Group. With over two decades of applied experience, Mitchell explains how advancements in mobile and digital media are transforming the way brands communicate with consumers. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!

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Mitchell Reichgut: In all the years that I’ve worked in digital media, I have never seen anything like the rapid and complete change that mobile has brought.

Bill Gullan: Greetings, one and all. This is Real-World Branding. I’m Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands, a premier boutique branding agency. Thank you for joining us for this week’s interview with Mitchell Reichgut, who’s the CEO of Jun Group, a New York based but with offices all around, a real pioneer of ad tech with an advertising platform to help brands get their messages across in the new world.

Mitchell’s going to take you through his own career, but, interestingly, began on the art direction and creative side in a traditional advertising environment at Grey, obviously, a well-known and cherished name in the American advertising landscape, but quickly gave way to a fascination with digital, as he was there in the early days of designing the first websites that brands like the Wall Street Journal and Reuters and others put into the marketplace in the mid-90’s.

From there, shortly thereafter, he was at Bates, which was also a well-known ad name, running really the digital and what they called the interactive side of the house there. For the last almost 15 years, starting in his house, founding Jun Group, and he’ll take you through the growth of the brand. Mitchell Reichgut, CEO and founder of Jun Group.

Here we are through the wonders of Skype with Mitchell Reichgut, who’s the CEO of Jun Group in New York and wherever he happens to be any given day. Thank you for joining us, Mitchell.

Mitchell: It’s a pleasure. Glad to be here.

Bill: Good. We’re grateful for your time and for your insight. Perhaps a good place to start would be a bit of discussion about your own career journey, which has been a fascinating set of positions that you’ve had. We’d love to hear a bit more about some of the milestones, if you don’t mind.

Mitchell: Not at all. Happy to talk about it. I started my career as a creative guy. I was an art director in advertising. I was fortunate enough to be able to create print ads, television commercials, and outdoor ads for some big brands early on in my career. Quite by accident I fell into this thing called, ‘Internet web development,’ in 1993.

Bill: That’s early.

Mitchell: It is. I built the very first website, not by myself, but with a great team, the very first website for the Wall Street Journal, for Reuters, for Rodale Press, Men’s Health, Women’s Health, and a number of other brands back then. It was really fun.

I did a bit of a tour of Silicon Valley as it was all just starting. It was a thrilling time, really just halcyon days of change, and wound up running the interactive group within the United States for a global ad agency then called Bates Worldwide.

I was in my late 20’s by then, and it was a dream job. I stayed there for four years. It was wonderful. Toward the end of it, it got to be a lot of New York advertising stuff, where it was a lot of pressure. I had a wife and two kids by then and a house and a mortgage, and I decided it would be a good idea just to leave.

Bill: Right. Very responsible decision-making; right.

Mitchell: Exactly. My wife was great about it, really supportive. I honestly didn’t know what I wanted to do with my career at that time. It was a bit of a crisis for me, because I had achieved what I wanted to achieve. I didn’t want to go back to advertising.

It’s hard to believe, but internet experience at that point was almost like a black mark on your resume. This is post 9/11 now, right after the Web 1.0 crashed, so I started Jun Group out of my house. I did so as a way to earn a living while I wanted to figure out what to do next.

I had never had any dreams of being an entrepreneur, no ambition to start my own company, and yet when I did it, I found that I really liked it, and I just kept doing it. I learned some important lessons, that fear and pain are wonderful motivational tools, gets you right out of bed in the morning.

I’ve just been doing Jun Group ever since, and that’s really it.

Bill: What a story. I think sometimes the accidental entrepreneur is the most compelling story, as opposed to today, people coming out of business school knowing that that’s what they want to do and looking at white spaces on a board and all this data. What a great story. Here we are. ‘Jun’ means ‘Truth.’ Tell us a little bit about the development of the company into what you all are doing and focusing on today.

‘Anyone who’s worked in branding knows that it’s all about finding that kernel of truth within the organization that you’re working for.’

Mitchell: Sure. Early on, as I said, I was just trying to make a living, so I did the stuff I knew how to do. I did advertising. I did brand development and brand strategy. Anyone who’s worked in branding knows that it’s all about finding that kernel of truth within the organization that you’re working for.

I’d studied Kung Fu for most of my adult life. I once met a guy, a Chinese guy, who said his name was Jun, and it was spelled J-U-N, and I asked him what it meant. He said, ‘Truth.’ I never saw him again, but eight or nine months later when I started the company, I thought, ‘Wow, that’s a great name for a company that is going to do brand strategy,’ and I’ve just kept it all this time.

Over time, as I decided to become serious about running the company and really growing it, I didn’t want to just be an advertising agency. Back then they used to call it, ‘Integrated advertising.’ I met my now partner, Corey, who was at Sony, and he started telling me about peer-to-peer, which at the time Napster, LimeWire, Kazaa was 60% of the internet’s bandwidth, and that was our first distribution platform. Then we, together, had this vision of taking a file and getting millions of people to see it, and that was the birth of the modern company.

Bill: Obviously, when it comes to creating value in the enterprise, the ad agency business or the brand consulting or agency business that we’re in, is services-driven. You have growth. You throw people at it, and it’s a growth challenge. In terms of the platform work that you’ve been doing, how has that evolved, and how do brands today fit you into their roster of key relationships?

Mitchell: It’s funny, because the technology’s changed about a dozen times since we started, but our mission hasn’t really changed all that much. Our promise to our clients is that we will get millions of people, the right people, to engage with your content.

We’ve been doing it over social media. We’ve been doing it over mobile for a number of years and across channels. The technology is less important than the delivery of the goods.

When our clients use us, they know that it’s simple to understand. They know that we’re honest people and that we’re going to put their best interests at heart and really deliver for them. As much as the landscape keeps changing and the technology keeps changing, and all this stuff is dizzying, really the core tenets of the business have remained the same all these years. We say everything about our business changes except our values.

’If you think of a mobile phone, that is for most people now the first screen, and it functions completely differently than any other computer that’s ever come before it, so I’ve never seen anything so dramatic.’

Bill: Right. Right. That’s helpful. Speaking more generically, beyond obviously the experience that you’ve had, being part of the tip of the spear as the web was forming, as a commercial enterprise beyond just information and CompuServe disks in the mail and whatnot, AOL disks, how has the shift from what at the time was overwhelmingly traditional, then broadly digital or integrated, to use the word that we’ve heard a lot and that you mentioned earlier, and now obviously mobile has changed things yet again. How has all of this shaped the way that brands communicate and engage with those they seek to attract?

Mitchell: In all these years that I’ve been working in digital media I have never seen anything like the rapid and complete change that mobile has brought. It has absolutely fundamentally changed the internet. It has changed culture in general. It’s changed the way we communicate. It’s changed the way we interact with one another and interact with computers. It’s actually staggering.

I think the results of what’s happened over the past 24 months are only now really starting to become appreciated by brands and advertisers. If you think of a mobile phone, that is for most people now the first screen, and it functions completely differently than any other computer that’s ever come before it, so I’ve never seen anything so dramatic.

Bill: At the same time, you also spoke about the primacy and eternal nature of values. I would imagine when it comes to great brand communications, regardless of the platform, that there are some common denominators, regardless of the form of media. Is that still true, or are all the rules different than they used to be?

Mitchell: I can answer that in two ways. One, absolutely, it’s the same as it ever has been. Number two, there really is a big shift. It’s the shift that, I think the promise of digital is that we can finally leave the Wanamaker story behind us.

Just for those who don’t know that, famously, a man named Wanamaker said, ‘Half my advertising dollars are wasted. I just don’t know which half.’

Bill: John Wanamaker, by the way, a Philadelphia-based department store magnate, so we’ll take some regional pride in that quote, but continue. Sorry.

Mitchell: That’s right. You guys are in the Wanamaker Building, aren’t you?

Bill: We’re close. We’re actually seven or eight blocks from the Wanamaker building, which is now a Macy’s. We’ll see how much longer.

Mitchell: Yeah. There you go. The internet’s changing that too. In that way, I think what we’re slowly starting to see is brands demanding business outcomes instead of media outcomes. In other words, I give you half a million dollars. Okay, great. You can show me this number of impressions, this many views. They want to see how did it affect my sales. We’re just beginning to be able to deliver on that, which is really exciting.

’We’re slowly starting to see brands demanding business outcomes instead of media outcomes.’

Bill: No, absolutely. It used to be, to the point about Wanamaker, things like 800 numbers and coupon redemptions, were the traditional way for folks to try to tie in some degree of accountability, but reach and frequency only goes so far. Ad equivalency, on the PR side, only goes so far, and to have all of these tactics that have built-in metrics, all the way up to clicked and transacted, is a powerful answer for those of us in the marketing realm who have often over our careers faced that question of ROI.

Mitchell: I tell you what, it’s the promise, and the actual delivery can be somewhat different, because it’s worth noting that right now Google reports 46% of online video is not seen by a human being. The AMA (American Marketing Association) says that ad fraud will cost the industry 7.2 billion dollars this year, so it’s not all sunshine and daisies.

Everybody in black jeans and a blazer in ad tech says that they’re going to deliver X, Y and Z to the right person at the right time, etc., etc., but there is a lot of shakeout that still needs to happen in this industry to really fully realize the promise that, I think, is what we all want to capture.

Bill: No, absolutely. You look at YouTube. You look at pre-roll in general. We talk about the connection between new media, so to speak … not really new anymore … and traditional media. You see oftentimes if you look in your pre-roll, it’s a TV campaign that’s been re-purposed. It’s a cheap way, you’ve produced it already, etc.

With the explosion of mobile and digital, what’s your outlook on traditional? I know, a bit outside the lane, but where you started, traditional media and the role of new, and what we would call old media, in terms of getting across key messages and overall brand values?

Mitchell: It’s funny. I think all this ad fraud has been great for television. Television CPMs are going up. Advertisers can’t put enough money into TV, because they know what to expect there.

I think the ad tech community has let them down to the extent where they really don’t trust it, and they shouldn’t with numbers like the ones that we quoted earlier, and there are several others. Everyone always says TV is dead or whatever. Personally, AM radio is something that I listen to all the time, and I think it’s still a really powerful, viable medium. I think traditional media is going to be A-OK.

Bill: No doubt. When it comes to content, and you mentioned ad fraud. You mentioned other threats to this value proposition that either come from inside or outside the mobile and the digital marketing realm. What are some things that are working really well? You talk about video in some cases not working, but the biggest trends you’re seeing in terms of best practices on the content side of the types of content that’s breaking through in this new alignment of publishers and sources that consumers can access from anywhere.

Mitchell: It’s interesting, because somebody at our company framed 2016 this way, and I think it’s really adept. It’s a battle between opt-in and auto-play. If you look at what Facebook is doing, it’s auto-play; right? You see all those ads that appear in the stream of someone’s social profile as you breeze by on your mobile device, and that’s been enormously successful. They’ve captured a ton of market share using that tool.

Yet there’s a whole school of thought, of which our company is a part, by the way, that doesn’t believe in that. I don’t like interrupting people. I think that if you look at younger consumers, they demand not to be interrupted. We can talk about ad blocking [for hours].

Opt-in, how do you present ads to somebody in a way that’s non-interruptive? We’re big believers in what’s called value exchange, where you get something in return for your time. We’ve seen results of that for years. I think you’re seeing the great battle between those two schools of thought this year.

Bill: Right. It used to be, with the history of this thing and the golden age of television, all these shows were brought to you by … and that was the implicit, A, it was obviously fresh and new, but it was implicit that this is what kept the medium free was because advertisers, and then you see moves in the direction of product placement. Now as technology is, there’s all sorts of new-fangled issues related to opt-in and everything else. When it comes to pioneering new forms of unobtrusive, yet effective, media approaches for brands, what are some of the core principles that you counsel your clients to embrace as they think about content?

’One of the things that’s changed so much is the customer journey, the consumer journey.’

Mitchell: The first thing I tell them is to fish where the fish are. What I mean by that is, I mentioned this dramatic change. One of the things that’s changed so much is the customer journey, the consumer journey. Not too long ago, in 2014, it started with a Google search that led you to an HTML page. You hyper-linked to another one and another one and then back to Google. That really is a small percentage of what happens now.

Ninety percent of what goes on in a mobile device happens in an app. That journey is completely different. In-app advertising is critical to success. Apps are not editorial-style websites. They’re just totally different. To understand the moors and the culture around apps is to understand your user and to have a much better way of contacting that person.

Bill: You talk about obtrusive versus unobtrusive and opt-in versus auto-play. Just in my own traipsing about through the apps that I value, the games that I play or whatever, there seems to be, it’s certainly clear that people haven’t figured this out, or that some have but many have not. You see folks who have the advertising approach for an app, for example, where it pops up and it takes you right to the app store. All the technologies that have been created, as you say, around ad blocking, etc. have been positioned as allies of the consumer who does not want to be interrupted.

When we look at the future, we’ve talked about the incredible changes that mobile has wrought, obviously going back earlier in your career and mine, the changes of just basically the commercial internet, that those were created, and none of us can perfectly see the future. What’s next? Is it another era, or is it individual changes as we all catch up to this?

When you and your futurist colleagues of Jun Group are helping counsel brands for how to get ahead of these things and to get ready for what’s next, what are some beliefs that you have about what’s going to happen and how the future will unfold for all of us in this industry?

Mitchell: I think you can look really clearly around right now and see the future taking root in the present and these dramatic changes still continuing to happen. If you said the word, ‘Television’ to a guy like me even five years ago, it was a physical thing that lived in my living room with a little cable box under it. You say that to my kids, they have no idea why I have that thing hanging there.

Television is a style of content for them that they can enjoy over any device they wish whenever they want to. If you just look at that one facet of what’s going on right now, you see the television transforming into the internet. That is an enormous massive change. You look at the way people communicate with one another, especially … I have two teenage boys, and you watch ten of them in a room, all of them on their devices, talking to one another over their devices. It’s absolutely amazing.

Bill: Right. Yes.

Mitchell: It’s just phenomenal. The cultural changes, the way we interact with each other, the way we interact with brands, it’s changing before our eyes. If you take these things that you see in the present and you project them just a little forward, it makes for a future that’s really exciting in some ways and a little sad in other ways and still hard to predict. I can’t tell you the next Snapchat that’s going to pop up. I don’t even understand that fricking thing.

Bill: You’re not alone. Not alone.

Mitchell: There was a wonderful article, if anybody’s interested, in BuzzFeed about that several months ago, where a 30-year-old was tutored about how to use Snapchat by his younger sister who is a teen. I watch my kids on Snapchat, and it’s a whole different thing.

That kind of stuff is unpredictable, and yet the larger media trends and social trends, I think, don’t happen as quickly as everyone thinks they do. Apps didn’t just happen. It took three or four years.

Bill: Bringing that into the workplace, yours and mine, you built a company here. As you think about creating workplace culture and team alignment, there are, as we experience too and our clients do also, there are generational forces that shape what the workplace is like, that shape how folks expect their professional careers to unfold, and what they need to feel actualized in the workplace with the company that they may have chosen.

As a Gen-X-er like me, looking at those teen boys sitting around the sectional, looking at how they’re interacting … You didn’t say it, but I will. I’m completely befuddled and in many ways scared for the future when you look at something like that, until I can talk myself off the ledge. Key principles that you’ve employed as you built your team and your culture that may have to do with the multi-generational workforce and changes in expectations that that brings?

Mitchell: It is a real challenge. The latest generation of people to enter the workforce right now, they are wired left and right, up and down. They bring a skillset that is unbelievable. They are often rather entitled, I think, in general. They have a high expectation set that we’ve not seen in the workforce before.

What you have to do is find the work ethic and the passion, because the skills and the talent are almost baked in. You find people that are passionate about what they do, and you can really hit a home run. We’re so proud of the team we’ve built here. We work really, really hard to make sure they get the support they need and the understanding they need and the tools they need. Then we just sit back and learn from them, honestly.

Bill: Natives in the technology, no doubt. Do you think, and I’ve been thinking about this a lot … I don’t know what the answer really means or if it even matters, but as an intellectual exercise, when folks … We’ve always thought young people are knuckleheads, whether it’s millennials today or back then when we were the knuckleheads, and the generation above us thought we were knuckleheads. Will folks today, understanding the different realities of how they communicate and all that that means in terms of social styles and work-styles, when they reach that next phase in their career, in their life, and they begin to mature and see the future a little bit more, will they become a digital version of what we became, or is there something fundamentally different about younger generations today given what they’ve grown up with and what comes naturally to them and the expectation that that creates?

Mitchell: That’s a great question. I think there’s something fundamentally different. I think that when you look at people that have grown up with cell phones and grown up with digital media in a way that you and I did not, they function in a different way, and they have capabilities that are just beyond the stuff that you and I have.

Snapchat is perhaps the best example of that. If you watch a teenager use Snapchat, it’s actually scary. In a space of three to five seconds, they can answer eight or nine snaps. That is a skillset and an understanding and a state of being that I’m never going to accomplish and probably you won’t either.

I think that our job is to harness that as much as we can, and that’s what we do here, is learn from these guys as much as we can and direct that energy and that passion that they have and that expertise in ways that are beneficial. The stuff that you and I can teach them is, ‘Hey, if you send a paper thank-you note to someone, they’ll actually remember you.’

Bill: Right. Right. I get a lot of eye-rolls around here. My kids are three and five, so they haven’t quite figured out how to roll their eyes, but they’re going to get ready for Dad talking about the good old days. In that spirit of the path that you followed, that you took us through and from being on that, the vanguard of website creation for various entities that were figuring it out, and you were figuring it out too, coming from a design background, all the way through to what you’ve built it at Jun Group. Any words of wisdom that you’d like to share with those who’ve been inspired by the path you’ve taken, beliefs that have served you well that are core to who you are as a business person as well as a leader?

Mitchell: Oh, yeah. It’s funny, because, and you referenced this earlier, starting a company now is a hip and cool thing to do. I will tell you a quote from AC/DC, ‘Folks, it’s harder than it looks.’

Bill: The philosophers of our modern age; right?

Mitchell: Exactly. I forget who it was, one of my early bosses, said, ‘You have to give advertising everything that you’ve got, and if you don’t give it, advertising will take it anyway.’ If you want to start a company, it’s quite simple. Just don’t stop. Just give it everything you have. The temptation to quit, to feel sorry for yourself, to just wilt, is overpowering at times. It’s a simple principle. Just keep going.

Maybe the corollary to that is, you head off in a direction that’s almost always incorrect. There are very few people that see the future of their company and get to the right place. Even Zuckerberg famously made some big changes. People that are successful do those two things. They just keep going, and then they make the changes that need to be made at the time that they need to make them. Neither of those two things is easy, and running a company is not easy. If you’re looking for an easy life, don’t start your own ad tech firm or any kind of firm.

Bill: No doubt. Thank you so much, Mitchell, for your time and your insight. We’ll close with this, unless I lie and something else comes up, given how you answer it, but when you think about how you’ve evolved as a leader, and you’re at a point and your company’s at a point where clients are coming to you often, I think, with palms up, likely expecting and seeking expertise and counsel in areas that they may not have a great deal of comfort, and I would imagine those in your workforce, that may be a new experience for them, or one that the date on their birth certificate may not indicate that they would have this level of expertise and be sought after the way that they are.

One of the challenges, I think, at Finch … ‘Challenge’ isn’t the right word, but one of the things that people who join our team need to get their arms around pretty quickly, even though they may not feel like experts, they’re being consulted for their expertise, and often the product becomes us. It’s different for somebody who may have started their career in retail or as a brand manager at a CPG company or whatever, they weren’t the product.

This is a long, rambling way to ask the question, are there particular leadership lessons or team development lessons for folks who on your team are in a client interaction situation, who are really being relied on to be both client satisfiers but also experts and trailblazers and ideators and creatives when it comes to helping clients supercharge what they’re seeking?

Mitchell: Yeah. Over the past several years I’ve come to value the idea of clarity. I think that when you can provide clarity for anyone, whether they realize it or not, they’re so grateful. Clarity does not come easily. It takes a lot of thought. There’s a particular thrill that comes with solving a problem, whether it’s an internal company problem or a client’s problem.

Yeah, the folks that we have here who really run our business every day on the account services side, on the sales side, on the operations side, they’re making big decisions. These are young people, frequently that millions of dollars ride on their expertise and their decision-making. Part of the reason that they chose to come here is because we entrust them with that, and there’s nobody more capable.

Alongside that comes some pressure, and that’s not always easy to deal with. You just made a mistake that could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. That’s not an easy thing to have on your head. Yet, that’s how you get better, by facing those demons. I think as I’ve grown as a manager, that’s one of the things that I’ve learned is important, is helping people cope with the pressure that comes along with success. Success looks great on a television show. In real life it’s not always easy.

Bill: To your point, there are probably moments … You said just keep going. I think another thing is don’t look down. When you’re up at the top of the cliff, they always tell the climbers not to look down. When you’re in a situation like this where you’re being called upon to direct, whether it’s a lot of money or manage a key relationship or whatever, there are moments when the gravity of that rises up, wells up within you, and you are either fueled by that, or you’re petrified by that.

Either way, both of them are natural. Yeah, to your point, in those moments of awareness and those moments of having to rise to meet the moment or the situation, it probably helps to hear what you like to share with folks at those important times.

Mitchell: Yeah. You have to show them how to do it. That’s not something you can tell someone. When a client is really upset, when something’s gone wrong, when you’re having a problem, how are you as a leader going to react? Are you going to be calm? ‘Okay, let’s think this through,’ or are you going to lash out at someone or blame someone? I think that it is the key lesson I have learned is coping with that fear, that pain, that thing that we all wish we could avoid, and yet it’s so integral to our success and our health really, is coping with that kind of stress. You have to embrace it. When you do, it makes you feel better.

Bill: No doubt. Perfect place to stop. Mitchell Reichgut, CEO of Jun Group. Founder, entrepreneur, digital pioneer and visionary, thank you so much for your time and insight, both about your own career and the things that have helped you grow, and also just about the industry that everybody watches and is in, either as consumers or, in your case, certainly in our case, to a degree, as practitioners, so much change, so many fascinating ideas, some of which amount to nothing, others of which absolutely change everything. Thank you for your time and being with us.

Mitchell: Gosh, it was such a pleasure. Any time. Thank you for having me.

Bill: Thank you, Mitchell, for your time and insight. The work we’re doing here at Finch is, I guess we would call upstream often. We’re focused on the strategic and creative elements of how a brand connects with its audience and how it defines who its audience is and how it puts forth what it values and how it seeks to be perceived. For our clients and brands across the world, the downstream conversation includes how to get these messages across, both in terms of selecting the right platforms and putting forth the right content.

The digital world has changed just in my own career, first of all, it was created, and it’s changed so much and within one-, two-, three-, four-year increments, everything we thought we knew is different. There are parts of the toolkit that remain standard for winning brand communications no matter the media that’s selected, but there are other things that are equally vital that, again, change with every new innovation. Mitchell’s perspective and insight on that, I think, is tremendously helpful, as our listeners think about how their own brands and careers can take shape in and around digital and particularly mobile. We really appreciate your time.

Three ways to engage with us and to support what we’re doing here at Real-World Branding. The first is subscribe. Clicking that Subscribe button within the app store or podcast player of your choice ensures that you will not miss a one, and we’re pretty much live every week here. We like to do an interview with a brand and business builder, such as today, every other week. Then in weeks in between we do what we call, ‘One Big Idea,’ which is a shorter, more focused discussion, generally just with me talking about an issue that seems to be important to our clients and our listeners. Then those interviews every other week. That’s one way to make sure you don’t miss is to click Subscribe.

Also, if we’ve earned it, a rating and a review within the app store of your choice, the podcast store of your choice, helps make sure that others who would appreciate this content and our perspective on these issues will be able to find us as they search for podcasts, who engage a long commute or a flight, or whatever the case may be, or just, hopefully, or I guess, not hopefully, folks who are trying to go to sleep more easily. I think some weeks we can be guilty of helping within that process.

Lastly, we so value the dialogue here. Our skin is thick. We appreciate feedback, good, bad and other. We certainly appreciate ideas for future topics, future guests, questions to ask those guests, topics that are important that we may not have covered adequately here. We really appreciate our listeners providing their own input to make sure that the greatest amount of value is derived from the time you spend with us, hopefully, weekly.

In that spirit, as, hopefully, the heat wave cools to something manageable, we will sign off from the Cradle of Liberty.

The post The Truth About Digital: Mitchell Reichgut, CEO of Jun Group appeared first on Finch Brands.

The post The Truth About Digital: Mitchell Reichgut, CEO of Jun Group appeared first on Finch Brands.

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In this week’s episode, we host Mitchell Reichgut, Founder and CEO of Jun Group. With over two decades of applied experience, Mitchell explains how advancements in mobile and digital media are transforming the way brands communicate with consumers. In this week’s episode, we host Mitchell Reichgut, Founder and CEO of Jun Group. With over two decades of applied experience, Mitchell explains how advancements in mobile and digital media are transforming the way brands communicate with consumers. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Podcast: <a title="Play in new window" href="https://soundcloud.com/real-world-branding/the-truth-about-digital" target="_blank">Play in new window</a> | <a href="http://traffic.libsyn.com/realworldbranding/The_Truth_About_Digital__Mitchell_Reichgut_CEO_of_Jun_Group.mp3" target="_blank">Download</a><br /><br /> Subscribe: <a title="iTunes" href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/real-world-branding-podcast/id984089067?mt=2&ls=1" target="_blank">iTunes </a>| <a title="RSS" href="http://finchbrands.com/feed/podcast/" target="_blank">RSS</a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Transcription<br /><br /> Mitchell Reichgut: In all the years that I’ve worked in digital media, I have never seen anything like the rapid and complete change that mobile has brought.<br /><br /> Bill Gullan: Greetings, one and all. This is <a href="http://finchbrands.com/category/podcast/" target="_blank">Real-World Branding</a>. I’m <a href="http://finchbrands.com/team_members/bill-gullan/" target="_blank">Bill Gullan</a>, President of Finch Brands, a premier boutique <a href="http://finchbrands.com/our-story/" target="_blank">branding agency</a>. Thank you for joining us for this week’s interview with <a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/jungroup" target="_blank">Mitchell Reichgut</a>, who’s the CEO of <a href="http://www.jungroup.com" target="_blank">Jun Group</a>, a New York based but with offices all around, a real pioneer of ad tech with an advertising platform to help brands get their messages across in the new world.<br /><br /> Mitchell’s going to take you through his own career, but, interestingly, began on the art direction and creative side in a traditional advertising environment at <a href="http://grey.com/global" target="_blank">Grey</a>, obviously, a well-known and cherished name in the American advertising landscape, but quickly gave way to a fascination with digital, as he was there in the early days of designing the first websites that brands like the <a href="http://www.wsj.com" target="_blank">Wall Street Journal</a> and <a href="http://www.reuters.com" target="_blank">Reuters</a> and others put into the marketplace in the mid-90’s.<br /><br /> From there, shortly thereafter, he was at Bates, which was also a well-known ad name, running really the digital and what they called the interactive side of the house there. For the last almost 15 years, starting in his house, founding Jun Group, and he’ll take you through the growth of the brand. Mitchell Reichgut, CEO and founder of Jun Group.<br /><br /> Here we are through the wonders of Skype with Mitchell Reichgut, who’s the CEO of Jun Group in New York and wherever he happens to be any given day. Thank you for joining us, Mitchell.<br /><br /> Mitchell: It’s a pleasure. Glad to be here.<br /><br /> Bill: Good. We’re grateful for your time and for your insight. Perhaps a good place to start would be a bit of discussion about your own career journey, which has been a fascinating set of positions that you’ve had. We’d love to hear a bit more about some of the milestones, if you don’t mind.<br /><br /> Mitchell: Not at all. Happy to talk about it. I started my career as a creative guy. I was an art director in advertising. I was fortunate enough to be able to create print ads, television commercials, and outdoor ads for some big brands early on in my career. Quite by accident I fell into this thing called, ‘Internet web development,’ in 1993.<br /><br /> Bill: That’s early.<br /><br /> Mitchell: It is. I built the very first website, not by myself, but with a great team, the very first website for the Wall Street Journal, for Reuters, for <a href="http://www. Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands clean
Nothing but Nets: Elisa Padilla, SVP and CMO of Brooklyn Sports and Entertainment https://finchbrands.com/nothing-but-nets-elisa-padilla-svp-and-cmo-of-brooklyn-sports-and-entertainment/ Tue, 16 Aug 2016 15:47:51 +0000 http://finchbrands.com/?p=2488 https://finchbrands.com/nothing-but-nets-elisa-padilla-svp-and-cmo-of-brooklyn-sports-and-entertainment/#respond https://finchbrands.com/nothing-but-nets-elisa-padilla-svp-and-cmo-of-brooklyn-sports-and-entertainment/feed/ 0 <p>In this episode, we host Elisa Padilla, CMO of Brooklyn Sports and Entertainment. An accomplished media professional and sports marketer, she walks us through the intricacies of the Brooklyn Nets’ rebranding process as the team moved from New Jersey. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating! Podcast: Play in new […]</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com/nothing-but-nets-elisa-padilla-svp-and-cmo-of-brooklyn-sports-and-entertainment/">Nothing but Nets: Elisa Padilla, SVP and CMO of Brooklyn Sports and Entertainment</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com">Finch Brands</a>.</p> In this episode, we host Elisa Padilla, CMO of Brooklyn Sports and Entertainment. An accomplished media professional and sports marketer, she walks us through the intricacies of the Brooklyn Nets’ rebranding process as the team moved from New Jersey. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!

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Elisa Padilla: We are selling an experience and we’re selling a moment, because for us, it’s all about creating memories.

Bill Gullan: Greetings one and all. This is Real-World Branding. I’m Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands, a premiere boutique branding agency. Thank you for joining us. Today is a pleasure for a couple different reasons. One, to be able to talk to somebody whose enthusiasm for what she calls her dream job, that she’s achieved, is palpable through the microphone, through Skype, across distances, and also the substance of what Elisa Padilla is going to talk to us about is of great interest and value to brand and business builders.

Elisa is the chief marketing officer for Brooklyn Sports and Entertainment, which is the umbrella organization that managers the Brooklyn Nets, as well as the wonderful Barclays Center where they play and where a heck of a lot of fun things happen.

Elisa’s career has been a series of fascinating posts, starting with the Knicks, New York Knicks in the 90s, continuing the sports marketing experience, taking that to Disney, spending some time with the mother ship at the NBA, and then moving in a different direction towards media with Nickelodeon with HBO, doing more product base corporate work with AT&T through ’08 and 2010, where she landed then, as director of marketing for the New Jersey Nets. Then I think significantly at least in recent years, managed the re-branding as the Nets came to Brooklyn.

That brand was built, that franchise was created. The fan base was recruited, acquired, captivated, and hopefully maintained. Elisa, in her own characteristically, high energy, congenial, and insightful way, will take us through what has been an incredible career with great lessons for all. Enjoy Elisa Padilla.

We are so excited to welcome Elisa Padilla, the CMO of Brooklyn Sports and Entertainment, to our humble little Real-World Branding podcast. Thank you so much for your time.

Elisa: Thank you so much for having me. I’m happy to be part of the conversation with you today.

Bill: It is absolutely our pleasure. If you wouldn’t mind, your background has been really, really interesting across the various roles and types of organizations that you’ve worked with, and grown up in, and led. Could you give us a little, just a sense of the journey and how it’s been for you?

Elisa: Sure, absolutely. First of all, I can say that I am so grateful for all the opportunities that I have had throughout my career. I have been in sports and entertainment for 20 plus years. I started off as a marketing assistant, working for the New York Knicks.

I was fortunate enough to work for and with someone who really inspired me. My career goal was to become director of marketing for a professional NBA team. The person that I worked with there, taught me everything about the fundamentals of marketing, and marketing a team, in a big market like New York.

I left the New York Knicks and took a job at Disney because at that time, Disney was about to open up the Wide World of Sports Complex. I wanted to diversify my career. I didn’t want to be pigeonholed in basketball.

Ironically, I remember my last day at the Knicks was April 17th. I was starting with Disney on April 19th, and it was surreal. I moved to Florida and I was working on the Tennis business, and 6 months into the job, Disney decided that they were going to eliminate the sports marketing group because there is already a much wider marketing group that they wanted sports to roll into.

I was in Orlando, Florida for a very short time, then came back to New Jersey. I went to work for the NBA, where I spent 5 great years. At that point through my NBA tenure, I decided to go back to school for a graduate degree in marketing. My thought at that point was, you know what, I want to get an advanced degree. I really want to understand all the functions within the organization, how they all work together, because I thought that that would make me a better marketer.

I made a conscious decision when I started business school, that I really wanted to be a diversified marketer. I left the NBA and went to work for a media company, actually 2 media companies, to really understand the landscape of the media world. I worked for Nickelodeon and I also then worked for HBO.

Spent an enormous run at HBO, really learned the business of boxing, pay-per-view, which was great. Then I decided, you know what, I need a little bit of a change. I am going to go learn about technology. I went to work for AT&T, where I handled all their Hispanic segment marketing.

I was there for 2 1/2 years when I got the call about this position in Brooklyn. When I interviewed for the position, I thought, oh, you know what, I’m probably never going to get this job. The fact that 15 years, I guess, or 16 years into my journey, I got a call about my dream job, I feel very, very fortunate. I’ve been with Brooklyn Sports and Entertainment for the past 5 1/2 years, and I’ve been in my current role for 2 years.

Bill: That’s great. Dreams come true, and you deserve it. A couple of questions about what is a really interesting bio. Are you a New Yorker originally?

Elisa: No. I was born and raised in Newark, New Jersey.

Bill: Excellent. When you went down to Orlando, that was a meaningful change. Happiest place on earth perhaps, but not for very long, I guess, given what Disney was doing.

Elisa: No.

‘It doesn’t matter whether we’re selling water or the second worst team in the NBA, the approach should be the same.’

Bill: Across the bio, you’ve worked with media brands, as noted, both of which, by the way, are very popular in my house. The technology and what we used to call telecom experience at AT&T, and also extensively, you’re both before and since, in the live event and sports marketing side of the world. Any differences in how you approach the fixed product marketing experience where you have features and benefits versus what you’re doing today, which is deeply experiential?

Elisa: No. I think that inherently, I approach everything through the 4 Ps. I think through the product whether they were selling a cell phone or were selling a basketball game, which is a live experience. Then think through the pricing, the placement, and then the promotion. I think that the core values stay the same.

It’s interesting because I joke with my internal team here and said, ‘it doesn’t matter whether we’re selling water or the second worst team in the NBA, the approach should be the same.’ I’ll make a comment just in terms of extending beyond the 4 Ps, is we really, really take the strategic approach of being where our consumers or potential consumers live, work, and play.

Bill: Sure, sure. Makes sense. When you came back and earned this opportunity, it was the New Jersey Nets, yes, at the time?

Elisa: Yes.

Bill: Although with the move on the horizon, were they still at Brendan Byrne, or had they moved at least a little closer up to Manhattan up to Newark?

Elisa: No. You know what, when I joined the team, the team was playing at the Prudential Center.

Bill: Yep, sure, okay. You’d gone halfway into the city.

Elisa: Yes, halfway.

Bill: Early, one of the things that obviously has had a tremendous impact on the industry, was something we at Finch respected so much and was a process you led, which was re-branding the Nets as they transitioned into Brooklyn – as well as obviously, the opening of the Barclays Center, which is an amazing facility. Can you tell us a little bit about that process and that project from the inside of what obviously was a tremendous and successful endeavor?

Elisa: Of course. The first thing that I will say is that, for all of us who worked on this project, it’s really a once in a lifetime opportunity – to re-brand and transform a team, and to open up an arena. It was a labor of love.

From the Nets perspective, we spent countless hours in countless meetings, talking about the strategy and the brand voice, and what it meant to the team. We knew that the New Jersey fans were not going to follow the team, due to the geographic location. We took the approach of, ‘you know what, this is really a huge opportunity for us, to really develop a new fan base.’

What I will say is we did research to understand Brooklyn, the community, the people who live here in Brooklyn. Also to really understand what it meant for residents of Brooklyn to have another sports team, because there had been a void for 43 years since the Dodgers had left, so it was really, really exciting.

When I joined the team, the logo had already been designed, and we were in the midst of the uniform design, so we were working very closely with the NBA and with our partner Adidas in developing the uniform, and what that meant. When you looked at the uniform colors, black and white, very much inspired by then part owner of the team, Jay Z, because he and his team created the logo.

We were like, ‘Okay, you know what, this is a timeless brand. This is classic, and this is for us. This is going to be everlasting.’ As we went through that process, we talked about the band voice. One of the things that we made a decision early on, was that we wanted the brand voice to come from within the burrow.

We know that residents of Brooklyn are very prideful, they have an attitude. They are very respectful, and they are scrappy. We didn’t want to come in as the big bad NBA, where it was speaking to them. We wanted our voice to come from within the burrow. That’s how our branding campaign of Hello Brooklyn came to life. Again, very humble approach.

What’s the first thing that you say to someone when you meet them, you say hello. For us, we really wanted the residents of Brooklyn, to really embrace this team as their own. We accomplished that, I think. To add a little twist of the story, when we launched on April 30th of 2012, we only had 4 players on our roster. The only thing that we had to on goal was our log, and it was very successful for us.

We launched the Nets brand in April, and September 28th we opened up the state-of-the-art venue, unbelievable arena. Jay Z opened up with 8 sold out nights, and it’s just been incredible. My role in that, is just strictly from a branding perspective. I was able to touch and feel every design element in terms of bringing the brand to life.

When you come into the arena, what the staff is wearing, I had an influence on that. The imagery that you see in the arena, I had an influence on that. From the marketing perspective and thinking about the consumer journey, it’s been an unbelievable experience.

Bill: Right, no question. What a thing to live through and certainly to lead. To that end, you mentioned what is likely the inescapable reality, the sort of New Jersey Nets, Bernard King fan base wasn’t likely to follow for other reasons of simple geography, which make sense, as well as perhaps some sense of loss. What you were moving into was, yes a very prideful burrow that obviously has very distinctive qualities compared for example, to Manhattan or the other burrows. At the same time, you know the Knicks, you know well having created that bond in part, have had a really strong hold on the whole city for quite a while. When you thought about targeting, how did you process some of these dynamics as you and the team thought about laying claim to a distinctive home in Brooklyn?

Elisa: I think that the first thing is that the NBA helps us with that because we have a marketing territory 75 miles from our arena. From the beginning, our mindset wasn’t to come into Brooklyn and convert Knicks fans. That wasn’t on our radar. We had been very respectful, when you look at us on the map and you look at the 75-mile radius. We have been very respectful.

We will not do any marketing above 14th Street in Manhattan. We want to be respectful of our neighbors. At the end of the day, there are 2.6 million people in Brooklyn. I think that there’s enough this year that we can fill up a 17,000 plus arena.

For us, we want to be very authentic. We are the new kids on the block. In no shape or form, do we walk around with rose colored glasses, thinking that we want to compete with a legacy brand like the Knicks – and on the Barclays Center, like Madison Square Garden. That’s not our approach. We want to develop a really authentic relationship, if you will, with our fans and with our guests at Barclays Center.

Bill: Right, right. No, it makes sense, and as you said, there’s certainly enough basketball fans to go around in the area that you all inhabit. If you look at other franchises in other sports, I am not sure how important this was to what you were thinking. Likely in the absence of the Colts when the Ravens came into existence in Baltimore, there had been folks who embraced the Washington team. Having something that’s home and that represents you authentically is a reason to rally around.

You mentioned earlier the fact that there is a marketer’s toolkit that is practiced independent of how the team may be doing, up or down in the standings. There are definitely similarities that you do 24/7 365 as a marketer, but even in the short tenure of this franchise, there have been significant ups and downs in terms of the standings, players coming and going, big name, free agents joining, and then folks leaving in favor of something a bit more youthful. While the fundamentals still remain the same, is there anything that causes the mindset to shift based upon what the upcoming season might look like or anything like that?

Elisa: I think that when you’re in the sports industry, I think this is the way that we look at it, we are selling an experience, and we’re selling a moment. For us, it’s all about creating memories. When we think about last season, look, at the end of the day, yes, we were marketing the team and we didn’t have the best performance on the court, but we were able to rally around our brand new arena. You know what, we’re still the newest arena and we will be until Sacramento opens up their arena next year. When we think about our home where we play, we’re a very tech savvy building, and we think about the customer experience, first and foremost.

We have been an unbelievable culinary program, where we know that attending any event, sporting event, we know that food and eating is part of that experience. Our Brooklyn taste program where we feature over 55 Brooklyn vendors in the arena, is a sexy proposition, if you will. For us, what was in the forefront of our mind, is, ‘Okay, you know what, yeah, you’re going to come to the basketball game, the team may not win, but look at all these other things that are going to be part of your experience.’

I think that when you think about folks that think about driving ticket sales, every single day and from a brand perspective and a brand positioning, being honest about the facts and not trying to hide behind what wins or losses. I think that fans see that.

What I’m really, really excited about for next season, is that our new general manager and coach, had put together a team that, you know what, they’re going to work hard and play hard, and I know that fans rally around athletes that give their best. They may not win every single game, but I know that the team that they’ve assembled, is really going to play hard. You know what, fans know when players show up and fake it. We’ve lived through that, and I’m excited to say that there is something different on the horizon.

Bill: Sure, as long as the future is in mind, and it’s an exciting time to be part of something that’s going to grow into something bigger. We were at Finch working with your old colleague Scott O’Neil on the Sixers campaign a couple of years ago.

I’ll never forget, we came into our first meeting, and there was a sense that the franchise had overdone nostalgia, so we weren’t going to do that. There was also a sense that the cast of characters were likely to change considerably from the beginning of the year to the end, in terms of on-court folks. We certainly didn’t have superstars to anchor the work tours.

I think we did a little bit of what you’re talking about, which is looked at the fundamental premises on which these connections with fans are based, that don’t have to do with whether you’re the 1 seed, the 8 seed, or missing the playoffs, but that are more eternal and has to do with connecting with the character of the market, and what’s authentic about Brooklyn or about Philadelphia, as well as all these other things that you have made part of the experience within an incredible arena.

To that end, your portfolio includes not only obviously the Nets franchise, but the Barclays Center in general, that has a ton of other events. I’m a Davidson Grad so I know the Atlantic 10 tournament was there for a couple years, and WWE comes through, lots of concerts, lots of different things. Is there a different hat that you wear when you think about building the Barclays Center brand alongside the franchise themselves? How do you think or parse out those roles a little bit within your work and your team?

Elisa: First of all, I’m fully transparent working on multiple brands. It’s like changing the channel, because if you think about basketball fans, they’re very different then Barbara Streisand fans, and they are very different than Mark Anthony fans.

When I think about Barclays Center and I think about all the events that we bring through, whether it’s professional boxing, whether it’s a concert, whether it’s a family show, whether it’s college hoops, or whether it’s college hockey, it’s really about understanding who the target audience is. Really putting our message out there in a relevant way that’s going to evoke the right emotion.

’What’s the consumer experience? How is the consumer going to experience our brand to drive and get them excited?’

One of the things that my team and I talk a lot about is, ‘Okay, what is our story? How are we telling it? How are we evoking the right emotion to try the action?’ I often challenge my team when they’re thinking through, ‘Oh, we’re going to do this, we’re going to do this.’ I’m like, ‘Okay, well, what’s the consumer experience?’ How is the consumer going to experience our brand to drive and get them excited about wanting to spend, whether it’s $75 or $150 on a ticket to an event?

I think one of the principles, the foundation is the same, meaning tying it back to the 4 Ps. I think as we think, or at least as I think, of all these other brands, it’s really drilling down to the specific target and who we’re trying to reach, and making sure that we’re reaching them again, in an authentic and relevant manner.

Bill: Shifting into the inside stuff here. You mentioned a bit some of the inside jokes that you and your team have, and obviously all of the effort that’s gone into being part of the leader of a team that’s accomplished what you have. What are key approaches for you as a builder of teams, a driver of culture internally, some of the things that you think are ingredients in creating a winning team off the court?”

Elisa: I think it’s really, really important to understand that when you are in a position like mine, that your position isn’t about you. What I mean by that, is that I’m not here as the chief marketing officer of Brooklyn Sports and Entertainment, to enhance the Elisa Padilla brand. I am there to make my boss look good and to set up my team, and set them up for success.

I think that’s the first thing just in terms of mindset, and then the second thing is, I have an open-door policy. For me, it doesn’t matter whether you’re the intern, whether you’re one of my VPs, whether you’re one of my directors, if you have a question or you have an idea, and you want to be a contributor, and you want to make a contribution, I welcome that.

The third thing that I will say is that I’m completely transparent. I’m probably too transparent with my team, but I think that it’s very, very important that as a leader, I have to tell them the facts and they need to know the information. They need to understand, and it’s my job to explain to them, what their piece is of the puzzle if we’re going to build the entire puzzle.

Bill: When you think about building that team, particularly where you are now, I would imagine that there are a lot of folks who maybe come to your door with a ton of product knowledge and passion. They love the game, they love live events. They love whatever it is, but then there’s obviously functional expertise that needs to be part of this as well as nurtured, if someone is a digital marketer or somebody does X, Y, or Z.

How do you balance, or maybe a better way to say is, what do you look for in terms of the mix between really deep passion for the product versus the functional expertise to check all the boxes associated with the job description?

Elisa: What’s actually very interesting, to me it’s more important to make sure that the people, that our online team, that they are passionate about the function first. For example, it’s much more important for a graphic designer on my creative team, to be passionate about graphic design and telling a story through visuals, than it is for me to have a graphic designer who is a basketball junkie.

Then what happens is that those types of folks, yes, it’s great that you’re passionate about basketball, but you know what, you’re going to be focusing more on basketball, and the stats, and the rankings, than you are about the function that you’re going to be doing.

That’s really, really important. Also, what’s important to me, is that the folks that I had brought on to my team and the potential folks that I interviewed, just in terms of potentially working here, is that they have to be flexible, and they have to like being part of a team.

Whether you work in merchandise or whether you work in creative, or whether you work in traditional marketing, or you work in digital, the reality of it is that you need to work with other people to get the job done, and the folks that aren’t team oriented, those people haven’t lasted very long on my team.

Bill: Particularly about the nature of the NBA today – I was amazed just thinking about it. I was talking about it over breakfast with somebody. I don’t know when this happened, but all of sudden, it is year-round, there is no off season. It was amazing how quickly it seemed, and of course, we in Philadelphia are very focused on the draft these days. That’s what keeps our fires burning.

It seems like right after the finals, during the playoffs, the lottery selection, the lottery is there, and then the playoffs play themselves out. The finals happen, then the draft is right away. Then you’re in the summer league, and then you’re in free agency. All this different stuff. Areas of newsworthy qualities for the franchise, and opportunities based upon what happens to connect with folks around sponsorship and season tickets, and mergers, and all these other things. This is truly 12-month job, all day every day, isn’t it?

Elisa: Yes, it is, it is. It’s really all year-round, all year-round, that’s for sure.

Bill: Was it like that when you were back with the Knicks? You had a great period there in terms of you and stars and some great teams, Mark Jackson, that they had in New York. How was the NBA different with a 15 year or so gap, between your first exposure since you’ve come back in this leadership role?

Elisa: It’s very interesting. What hasn’t changed is that I get to touch everything. As an assistant, I got to touch everything, and now as a CMO, I get to touch everything. What has changed is, I remember being an assistant, and I remember back then during those Florida days, we would go deep into the playoffs, but we really were able to catch our breath for the month of July, part of August.

I remember, I was actually thinking about this the other day because we were anticipating when the schedule would come out. I just remember being an assistant and thinking about, okay, you know what, I have to help coordinate what we’re going to give to our fans who are going to be lining up at the box office to buy their tickets.

I remember that that time was always usually about mid-August. It’s now mid-July, and we’re talking about the potential schedule release. I think that that’s the big difference. When I even speak to my counterparts at other teams, it’s the same feeling, is that we don’t have any downtime. It’s to your point earlier, that it’s the NBA. As the NBA is growing the brand to really be global, it’s an all year-round experience.

Bill: No question. Obviously, back then, and I remember that time in my career, the digital channel didn’t exist. There’s a heck of a lot more ways to create those cohesive touch-points and keep people engaged.

As we depart, thank you so much for your time and insight, and everything else. It’s been wonderful. I think a segment of our listener base tends to be starting out or starting over, and thinking about their own career path. For those who’ve been inspired by all that you’ve accomplished, Elisa, any words of wisdom or words to live by that are important to you, as you’ve thought about your own career and that maybe can help some folks look at things the right way as they think about theirs?

Elisa: Absolutely. I think that when I look at my journey, and I think about my success, the first thing that I’ll say is, no matter how high in the rankings you get, meaning in terms of the executive position, C level, is to remain humble. I think that’s very important, because I often tell my team, ‘What goes up is going to come back down, so keep that forefront.’

The second thing is to really identify your ultimate goal, whether you want to be a reporter, or you want to be a TV analyst, or whether you want to be a CMO somewhere, find someone who is in the role that you aspire to be, understand what they have done to get to that role, have that be part of your road map, and work really hard. Work really hard.

I remember when I started with the Nets 5 1/2 years ago, my number one goal was to put my head down and just to work, and to deliver the best possible work. I am proof that if you work hard, dreams do come true, as we opened up the podcast.

Bill: No, there’s no doubt about that. A lot of dreams have for you. You speak about people that you can connect with who are on that path or further down the path, that one may envision or imagine for oneself. I have found, at least in my own career, that those folks tend to be very generous with their time.

As long as they run across, as you say, somebody who is willing to work and willing to do whatever it takes, I think the mentorship and paying it forward is something that so many executives that we interview, and those our own lives, is something that we view as part of our responsibility to the next generation and everything else.

Elisa: Absolutely.

Bill: Elisa Padilla, award winner, leader, visionary, all these things that are true of you. We’re so grateful for your time and insight. Thank you so much for being with us.

Elisa: Thank you.

Bill: Thank you to Elisa Padilla for her time and her insight. What a really nice person, in addition to all that she’s accomplished. It almost makes us route for not only her to be happy, but the franchise that she represents, and I have to check myself, realizing that as a Sixers fan, the Nets can be successful, most nights, but hopefully when our squads meet up, that the Sixers win out. Maybe a few years till that happens.

In any case, 3 ways to help us here at Real-World Branding, as always, give us a rating if we deserve it, in the app store of your choice, subscribe through the app of your choice. Make sure you never miss an episode of what we do here.

Then let’s keep the dialog going. Find us on Twitter: @BillGullan or @FinchBrands, and please share your feedback, as well as ideas that you have for future guest and topics.

We’re really enjoying the rhythm here at Real-World Branding, and putting together this podcast is a ton of fun for us. Not only to try to master and always get better to audio/visual. I guess not much visual, but the audio and the production part of this, but also using this as an opportunity to reconnect with clients who you maybe haven’t spoken to in a while. Those who we are speaking to, to give them a chance to tell their stories.

We learn something I think, every time we do this. Not only about the production, but about the people that we’re talking to and their own career development, and what they think about, and how they approach the task of building businesses and brands. Signing off from the Cradle of Liberty. Great day all.

The post Nothing but Nets: Elisa Padilla, SVP and CMO of Brooklyn Sports and Entertainment appeared first on Finch Brands.

The post Nothing but Nets: Elisa Padilla, SVP and CMO of Brooklyn Sports and Entertainment appeared first on Finch Brands.

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In this episode, we host Elisa Padilla, CMO of Brooklyn Sports and Entertainment. An accomplished media professional and sports marketer, she walks us through the intricacies of the Brooklyn Nets’ rebranding process as the team moved from New Jersey. In this episode, we host Elisa Padilla, CMO of Brooklyn Sports and Entertainment. An accomplished media professional and sports marketer, she walks us through the intricacies of the Brooklyn Nets’ rebranding process as the team moved from New Jersey. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Podcast: <a title="Play in new window" href="https://soundcloud.com/real-world-branding/nothing-but-nets-elisa-padilla" target="_blank">Play in new window</a> | <a href="http://traffic.libsyn.com/realworldbranding/Nothing_but_Nets__Elisa_Padilla_SVP_and_CMO_Brooklyn_Sports_and_Entertainment.mp3" target="_blank">Download</a><br /><br /> Subscribe: <a title="iTunes" href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/real-world-branding-podcast/id984089067?mt=2&ls=1" target="_blank">iTunes </a>| <a title="RSS" href="http://finchbrands.com/feed/podcast/" target="_blank">RSS</a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Transcription<br /><br /> Elisa Padilla: We are selling an experience and we’re selling a moment, because for us, it’s all about creating memories.<br /><br /> Bill Gullan: Greetings one and all. This is <a href="http://finchbrands.com/category/podcast/" target="_blank">Real-World Branding</a>. I’m <a href="http://finchbrands.com/team_members/bill-gullan/" target="_blank">Bill Gullan</a>, President of Finch Brands, a premiere boutique <a href="http://finchbrands.com/our-story/" target="_blank">branding agency</a>. Thank you for joining us. Today is a pleasure for a couple different reasons. One, to be able to talk to somebody whose enthusiasm for what she calls her dream job, that she’s achieved, is palpable through the microphone, through Skype, across distances, and also the substance of what <a href="http://www.nba.com/nets/elisa-padilla-bio/" target="_blank">Elisa Padilla</a> is going to talk to us about is of great interest and value to brand and business builders.<br /><br /> Elisa is the chief marketing officer for <a href="http://www.brooklynse.com" target="_blank">Brooklyn Sports and Entertainment</a>, which is the umbrella organization that managers the <a href="http://www.nba.com/nets/" target="_blank">Brooklyn Nets</a>, as well as the wonderful <a href="http://www.barclayscenter.com" target="_blank">Barclays Center</a> where they play and where a heck of a lot of fun things happen.<br /><br /> Elisa’s career has been a series of fascinating posts, starting with the Knicks, <a href="http://www.nba.com/knicks/" target="_blank">New York Knicks</a> in the 90s, continuing the sports marketing experience, taking that to <a href="http://www.disney.com" target="_blank">Disney</a>, spending some time with the mother ship at the <a href="http://www.nba.com" target="_blank">NBA</a>, and then moving in a different direction towards media with <a href="http://www.nick.com" target="_blank">Nickelodeon</a> with <a href="http://www.hbo.com" target="_blank">HBO</a>, doing more product base corporate work with <a href="https://www.att.com" target="_blank">AT&T</a> through ’08 and 2010, where she landed then, as director of marketing for the New Jersey Nets. Then I think significantly at least in recent years, managed the re-branding as the Nets came to Brooklyn.<br /><br /> That brand was built, that franchise was created. The fan base was recruited, acquired, captivated, and hopefully maintained. Elisa, in her own characteristically, high energy, congenial, and insightful way, will take us through what has been an incredible career with great lessons for all. Enjoy Elisa Padilla.<br /><br /> We are so excited to welcome Elisa Padilla, the CMO of Brooklyn Sports and Entertainment, to our humble little Real-World Branding podcast. Thank you so much for your time.<br /><br /> Elisa: Thank you so much for having me. I’m happy to be part of the conversation with you today.<br /><br /> Bill: It is absolutely our pleasure. If you wouldn’t mind, your background has been really, Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands clean
One Big Idea: Wearing the Brand https://finchbrands.com/one-big-idea-wearing-the-brand/ Fri, 05 Aug 2016 16:09:10 +0000 http://finchbrands.com/?p=2483 https://finchbrands.com/one-big-idea-wearing-the-brand/#respond https://finchbrands.com/one-big-idea-wearing-the-brand/feed/ 0 <p>In this week’s episode, we use Starbucks’ recent change in uniform policy to consider the role of visual consistency in brand personality. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating! Podcast: Play in new window | Download Subscribe: iTunes | RSS Transcription The post One Big Idea: Wearing the Brand appeared first […]</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com/one-big-idea-wearing-the-brand/">One Big Idea: Wearing the Brand</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com">Finch Brands</a>.</p> In this week’s episode, we use Starbucks’ recent change in uniform policy to consider the role of visual consistency in brand personality. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!

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The post One Big Idea: Wearing the Brand appeared first on Finch Brands.

The post One Big Idea: Wearing the Brand appeared first on Finch Brands.

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In this week’s episode, we use Starbucks’ recent change in uniform policy to consider the role of visual consistency in brand personality. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating! Podcast: Play in new window | Download Subscribe... In this week’s episode, we use Starbucks’ recent change in uniform policy to consider the role of visual consistency in brand personality. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Podcast: <a title="Play in new window" href="https://soundcloud.com/real-world-branding/one-big-idea-wearing-the-brand" target="_blank">Play in new window</a> | <a href="http://traffic.libsyn.com/realworldbranding/One_Big_Idea__Wearing_the_Brand.mp3" target="_blank">Download</a><br /><br /> Subscribe: <a title="iTunes" href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/real-world-branding-podcast/id984089067?mt=2&ls=1" target="_blank">iTunes </a>| <a title="RSS" href="http://finchbrands.com/feed/podcast/" target="_blank">RSS</a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Transcription<br /> Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands clean
The Mother of All Brands: Agata Clevenger, Destination Maternity https://finchbrands.com/the-mother-of-all-brands-agata-clevenger-destination-maternity/ Thu, 28 Jul 2016 15:14:32 +0000 http://finchbrands.com/?p=2473 https://finchbrands.com/the-mother-of-all-brands-agata-clevenger-destination-maternity/#respond https://finchbrands.com/the-mother-of-all-brands-agata-clevenger-destination-maternity/feed/ 0 <p>In this episode, we host Agata Clevenger, whose impressive career includes leadership roles at both David’s Bridal and Destination Maternity. We take a look at how branding helps companies succeed in fixed categories with short consumption cycles. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating! Podcast: Play in new window | Download […]</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com/the-mother-of-all-brands-agata-clevenger-destination-maternity/">The Mother of All Brands: Agata Clevenger, Destination Maternity</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://finchbrands.com">Finch Brands</a>.</p> In this episode, we host Agata Clevenger, whose impressive career includes leadership roles at both David’s Bridal and Destination Maternity. We take a look at how branding helps companies succeed in fixed categories with short consumption cycles. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!

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Agata Clevenger: Really, neither one of those brands is a brand that can grow the pie or the market. You’re dealing with a constrained amount. The market is only so big, you really have to figure out how you’re going to capture what’s already there.

Bill Gullan: Greetings one and all, this is Real-World Branding, I’m Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands, a premier boutique branding agency, and your host for today’s interview with Agata Clevenger, the Vice President of Strategic Partnerships at Destination Maternity, which is a fascinating business. She came also from David’s Bridal. These are high emotion, short time horizon retail concepts, omni-channel really, that are focused on building strong connections with female consumers. Agata will take us through an amazing and interesting career with twists and turns, she’s brilliant, she’s high energy, she’s really fun to talk to, enjoy.

Here we are in the lovely headquarters of Destination Maternity in Moorestown, New Jersey with Agata Clevenger and soon to be something else. We were talking and you’re in the midst of last name changing, which is not a pleasant thing apparently, but thanks for joining us.

Agata: Thank you for having me.

Bill: It’s our pleasure, and thank you for hosting us. Amazing, interesting career with quite a journey. Would you mind starting by just telling us a little bit about the twists and turns of the career journey up to this point?

Agata: Sure, well I came to the US when I was 21 years old and I changed my major. I decided I was going to study Economics and International Business and then that’s what I studied. When I graduated I was lucky enough to get enrolled in this financial leadership program with Johnson and Johnson. I don’t know if you guys have heard those programs. General Electric has a similar thing, or UniLever.

They essentially take people who are coming out of school and they put them in high exposure positions where every eight or so months you end up having a new job with a different company or a different responsibility. You get a lot of access to executives, you get a lot of additional training, and it’s a really fabulous experience in general if you can get in one of those programs. They are quite competitive. Every time you come in for a session together you see fewer people. You’re like, ‘Okay, where did my five friends go that I had from the last session we were in?’

It was a great experience. I got to work on the finance side with supporting marketing on Tylenol, Motrin, St. Joseph’s aspirin, I worked on Splenda. I also moved to the pharmaceutical side and worked on biologics that were in development, so they were being tested on animals and also on humans.

Bill: Sure, all three phases, yeah, the whole thing.

Agata: All three phases, yes, you got that. I was lucky enough to work for Centicore which is part of J&J …

Bill: Sure, Remicade right?

Agata: There you go.

Bill: First Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, amazing. Yeah.

Agata: Absolutely. Some of those compounds I got to work as well so I was kind of the finance person with a bunch of mad scientists who didn’t know a thing about building a budget or what not. It was a really great experience learning how to work with different personalities, because you go from a company like McNeil when you’re working with really world class marketers who are great business people.

Most of them are MBA’s from Ivy League schools and I was the finance partner, if you will, so I was the person telling them, ‘No, don’t spend on this. Spend on that,’ or, ‘How do we measure that?’ You’re looking back in the early 2000’s where some of those metrics we have today in marketing were not in place, so how do you measure success of a campaign?

It’s funny because now I’m on the other end, often times talking about how I need metrics, or I say, ‘Marketing is not only data. There’s quite a bit of art to it.’ I used to be that person on the other end telling them, ‘No, it has to have an ROI. You have to stay in budget.’

Bill: Now you tell your finance person to, ‘Shut up and let me do it. This is magic that we’re making here.’ Perfect.

Agata: Yes, but it really gave me a wonderful exposure to marketing and the inner-workings, and how to make marketing campaigns successful when it comes to the ROI and getting that investment back and how do you measure that. Then going over to Centicore, learning how to work with someone who was MD, PhD’s, mad scientists in the lab. You talk about budget and they look at you like you have three heads growing out of your neck.

Fabulous experiences again, they would change, they would bring us together for sessions and they would bring Ivy League professors to teach us negotiations and marketing and finance. I graduated from that program, ended up in, of all places, financial planning and allowance. It’s like this is the last place a person with my personality should probably end up. I just had way too much personality for those guys. I’m like the one person on the team that doesn’t have a CPA.

Bill: Right, you get to talk to the clients. Everyone else sit and crunch the numbers.

Agata: This is, FPNA at J&J, it’s a hardcore finance function so you’re doing profit and loss statements, you’re doing cash flows, you’re making some really complex journal entries as well. I was not an accounting major and my heart was not really in it, but if you perform well no one is going to push you out of the company.

This is a fabulous company to be part of so as far as poking around, looking at other areas of the business, I went to my CFO and the CFO says, ‘Agata, you’ve been here for a few years. What do you want to do, what do you want to be when you grow up?’ I said, ‘Listen,’ his name was Don. I said, ‘Listen Don. I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up but I don’t want to be you.’

Bill: I’m sure he took that well.

Agata: To this day, this is a person who is actually a reference for me quite often, so we had a fabulous relationship. He started laughing and he’s like, ‘That’s really nice of you to say. What else would you like to do? Let’s see if there are opportunities internally and if there’s something external you want to take a look at you should.’

We started looking internally, I started looking also externally, and an opportunity came up. It was kind of odd. It was a company that I’d never heard of. The company was called Korn Ferry. It’s a preeminent global advisory firm when it comes to senior talent. It’s executive search, it’s also talent management solutions. It’s leadership development, all those things.

An opportunity came up with this company in their healthcare practice. They knew I had this experience from J&J, they knew I understood enough to be their interest about the different types of businesses within pharma and healthcare services, so they took me under their umbrella in this healthcare practice and I got to work with a superstar of a business developer.

This guy was just a pleasure to watch. When you talk about doing business development as an art. He had it down. It was just an unbelievable thing, to see how someone can develop relationships, maintain them, how you can ask questions and be consultative. I made this 360 degree switch from spending my entire days in Excel spreadsheets, in general ledgers, working on pivot tables, doing analysis to spending 100% of my day talking to people about people.

Bill: It’s a switch.

Agata: Quite a switch. I remember when I told people at J&J that I was going to leave to do this, honestly people had very interesting reactions to that. They said, ‘You are completely out of your mind. People who get into the J&J and graduate from this program, you should not leave. This is a mistake. You’re going to regret it. This is the best company to work for. This is not good. This doesn’t make any sense for your career,’ but I really liked the guys I interviewed with and I felt there was a connection and we’re going to work well together. I’m like, ‘I’m going to do it. I’m going to take a chance on that,’ and they were taking a big chance on me as well.

Bill: Yeah, you were A-typical in terms of background.

Agata: Absolutely, but I was able to really take off and I took it as an opportunity to really hone in on my business development skills, negotiation, on storytelling. Often times what you have to do in a business is you have to be able to go out and spend four or five hours with a senior leadership team of an organization or a board of directors and they tell you a story of what they need in terms of a talent. You need to then kind of package it, make it exciting, take it out to the market and sell it to people and find someone who is super successful today and convince them that they actually need to drop everything they are doing today.

Bill: Throw it all away!

Agata: Throw it all away, and come work for this organization because this is the story I am going to tell you. This was a lot of fun because you’re 20 something and you get to work with CEO’s and boards of directors and you get to ask them questions.

Bill: Travel around. It’s glamourous.

Agata: Travel around, and wine and dine, and all kinds of things. You’re working with these superstars of partners within the firm who are just amazing builders and just amazing at what they do and they’ve been doing it for many years. I spent there about five or six years at Korn Ferry. During that time I also decided I was going to do my MBA, so I was working full-time and I was getting my Executive MBA full-time at the same time.

Bill: That’s a lot.

Agata: It was a lot. It was a pretty tough couple of years but fabulous from the perspective of making new friendships. I think there’s a few friends I lost along the way because my social life outside of school and work did not exist whatsoever.

Bill: Right, not a lot of happy hours or anything.

Agata: No, there’s no happy hours. You’re going home and you’re working, and then the weekends I was never home because the weekends you were obligated to actually stay on campus. Imagine this, you’re working and you’re traveling, because my job involved a lot of travel. You’re traveling a lot for work and then come the weekend, no you don’t get to go home. You go to school and you stay overnight at school.

Bill: In the dorms! Right.

Agata: Yeah, it was the executive program so it was kind of fun actually. They feed you well. It’s very nice. A phenomenal program, and as I was going through the program my boss was given additional responsibilities. He was a big biller so he was making all kinds of money and he was given this responsibility to grow this international healthcare service business but honestly there was not enough hours in the day for him to do that.

He said, ‘Agata, I have this thing. Can you just take on this and run with it?’ I really jumped at the opportunity and it was a very successful project. We were able to develop a business case for expansion of healthcare services internationally, pulling partners from all around the world, grow that business and really put it on a very successful trajectory. In the course of working on that I ended up being promoted to Principle, which is like a junior partner in the firm, which I was pretty happy with myself because I was one of the youngest junior partners in the firm at the time, so pretty happy with that.

I was also finishing up my MBA and I think I’m not unique in that sense that when you’re finishing an MBA or a graduate program and you had worked before you’re kind of looking for something new, like what else should I go …

Bill: It’s a switch, typically a path to a switch.

Agata: It is. There was some kind of switch in the trajectory, and I also had this memory of me traveling with my new boss at the beginning when I joined Korn Ferry. We’re traveling for a client meeting and we had a drink and he tells me how he wishes he didn’t start in this business because he makes so much money now that it’s very difficult for him to make a switch to go back to doing what he loves.

Bill: It is a first world problem by the way, but yes, fair enough.

Agata: It is very much. I’m like this is a good problem to have, so I asked him questions. ‘What do you mean by that?’ He’s like, ‘Well now you have this mortgage, you have this house at the shore. You have all these cars, you have kids in private schools. My happiest professional days were when I was a VP of sales for this organization,’ he shared with me.

When I was finishing the MBA and I was thinking about my trajectory, like do I stay at Korn Ferry? Now I have a great launch pad, I was promoted, everyone loves me. I can take on this international thing now and really blow it out, or do I move on into something else? I remember that conversation because literally this was a conversation I had with a guy in the first week I joined the firm.

It really resonated with me that here is someone who you really would aspire to be and this is the story they’re telling you. I’m like, okay, if there was a time in your life to make a change, if you want to try something, this is the time I should do it.

Randomly I saw an opportunity posted at David’s Bridal. No experience whatsoever in fashion, no experience whatsoever in retail, absolutely zero. I submitted my resume. I actually didn’t expect to even get a call back, and I get a call back. We spend about five or seven minutes with this woman on the phone. It really felt like speed dating at that point. She just powered through a couple of questions and she was done with me even though we had half an hour scheduled. She was just like, ‘I want you to come in.’

I met with her. Our one-hour interview turned out to be a four hour interview, somewhere midway I do recall her assistant knocked on the door to check if she was still alive or if I was some random person off the street there dead, that something bad in the office and that’s why we’re not getting out.

Bill: Came in, murdered her. Right, yeah.

Agata: We really hit it off. This is a woman who had a tremendous amount of experience in partnerships. She had a tremendous amount of experience in retail. She came out of the music industry, some agencies, and when you talk partnerships she knew it all. She took me in. Within a week I was there.

Soon after joining I realized that, okay, not only am I going to be doing this thing that’s new to me but also, they gave me to sell and pitch these new partnerships that no one before was ever successful in. You have something that call you endemic categories and non-endemic. If you’re coming in to sell something you want to sell something that makes sense. Here was a situation where I was given this opportunity to grow something that no one was successful doing before. Really, when you think about the bridal space …

Bill: You can’t screw it up.

Agata: You can’t screw it up. It wasn’t done before, but you can do nothing. Nothing might happen, and that’s not good when you’re in a situation where you’re supposed to create new partnerships, bring new partners. When you think about the wedding category, I had to think from flowers, to jewelry, travel, those are some key endemic categories.

When you think about non-endemic categories, some of the partnerships I brought in were with NationWide, Home Depot. How do you create a story and how do you create a connection between Home Depot and a bridal space? It took a lot of really thinking and storytelling and research as well, to validate some of the points, statements I was making, to create a story and be able to package it and sell it to the senior marketing teams at those organizations.

That position at David’s Bridal was really a launch pad for me and I learned so much over time. I took over a local sales team and then a few years in, when my boss left, I took over the entire department, so all of the partnerships when it comes to sales but also the client services, the analytics teams. A really great opportunity for me to learn from some of the best and really continue to grow the business for David’s Bridal.

I remember the CEO, of David’s Bridal, on his last stay we had this farewell lunch with him and I was working on that Home Depot deal and I was working so hard. He goes to me, ‘If you close this deal it’s going to be the end of the world. This is an impossible deal.’ It was his last day. ‘This is an impossible deal to close, just so you know.’ 48 hours later we did close it, he wasn’t there to celebrate, but I said, ‘No Bob, I will close it. You’ll see.’

When I was at David’s Bridal I took over the department and on LinkedIn I followed different companies in the areas, opinion leaders, stock leaders, companies that may be of interest to me at some point, I want to see what they are up to. This thing at Destination Maternity pops up, that there is a VP of Partnerships position open. I knew that Destination Maternity did a similar thing that David’s Bridal did, which is those revenue generating and other types of partnerships. Out of curiosity I reached out to them.

They called me right away and they brought me in, but it was more about me learning about what are they doing. I really was going to the interview trying to figure out is there something they are doing that we are not doing. I come in and I really hit it off with the executive team. They bring the CEO to the meeting, they bring the CFO, and everyone. By the time I make it home from the meeting I have an offer. This is a 60 minute drive we’re talking about, so I’m like, ‘Wow, they really want me,’ which is a great feeling to have.

Bill: Sure, right. That was your first career switch that actually made sense perhaps.

Agata: It is, but then I made it in to not make full sense actually, because I think the only way to truly grow is to do something you haven’t done before. My condition on joining sort of was, ‘Okay, I’ll come in and I’ll do the marketing partnerships but I also want additional responsibilities,’ so I was given the celebrity and licensing partnerships. We have a line with Jessica Simpson, we have other celebrity partnerships as well.

I was given all the sports licensing partnerships. I was given international business development and all of our franchise partnerships, and all of our lease partnerships. Today we have more than 150 stores internationally. We have operations in Mexico, and Israel, and middle east, in South Korea, we have in the UK.

Bill: Poland?

Agata: Poland no.

Bill: Uh oh.

Agata: I’m trying to put it on the map. I’m working on that.

Bill: Krakow needs a bunch of these.

Agata: Have you been to Krakow?

Bill: I have not but I know of it.

Agata: It’s a beautiful city.

Bill: I’ve heard it’s beautiful. I’d love to go.

Agata: We have a huge relationship also with Macy’s. It’s our biggest lease partner, so imagine an idea of renting a space, a shop someplace else. So that’s another relationship that’s really big that I manage from this strategic point of view. While I have this half of a background of things I did, I grabbed and held onto additional ones that I thought, ‘I think I can transfer the skills that I developed so far at David’s Bridal and my prior positions into this opportunity.’

I took the position and it was an interesting one because I came in and I essentially had to rebuild 90% of the team. I find myself today to be in a really good spot, having a fabulous team and people working so well together. Literally I have people on the team come up to me and say, ‘I’m just happy to come to work.’

Bill: That’s great.

Agata: It’s a great feeling to have, and we even recently had some additions that we stole from your ex-employees.

Bill: We’re still irritated by this, although there was something in between so that’s fine. How long have you been …

Agata: For one year.

Bill: For about a year. That’s great. Thank you for the description, what a ride and much more to come. One of the things that’s interesting, parallel I think with terms of David’s and Destination Maternity, you’re dealing with a consumer that has a certain window of time where they’re engaged in the category.

I know you view this from a partnership but also a brand perspective. What are unique challenges of working to market brands or build partnerships where you really have a consumer that is deeply engaged but for a fixed period of time. Both of these things, whether it’s weddings or the process of pregnancy are very emotional. They’re high emotion. When you look at the world through that sort of lens of these limited time windows but deeply felt beliefs, what are the challenges associated with those that might be unique?

Agata: It’s a great point and it’s very comparable between bridal and pregnancy space actually. It’s a great point. Both of those are major life stage events if you think about it. Things like brand affinity is changing, brand loyalties are changing, it’s what enables the partnership side to really exist actually because it is a life stage event. On the other end, when you look at the marketing to those types of customers, it is a very sensitive moment in their life, whether it be bridal or being pregnant.

Bill: Both of those moments in my household, by the way, I couldn’t do anything right.

Agata: There you go.

Bill: Probably partially true but partially the emotion of the periods of time.

Agata: When you’re planning a wedding you’re so stressed out, there’s all those things happening, all of this planning, everyone has their needs and wants. There’s all of those loose ends you have to tie so you’re very sensitive because of that, because it’s so much on your mind.

Actually we search that suggested that an engaged woman spends about 10 to 12 hours a week planning her wedding at work. As you can imagine, on our team, it’s a highly female skewed group. There was a group that was in that age range, to be engaged, recently engaged, having babies. I remember we have to account for one FTE of someone who is going to get engaged and is going to be planning. When you are in a bridal company and you’re walking past someone if they are on a bridal website maybe they’re doing work research or maybe not.

Bill: Sure, right.

Agata: Very interesting from that perspective how much pressure is placed on a young person and they really never had to plan an event like that in their life. To your point earlier Bill, having this limited window, it was always important at David’s and it is also important here, to attract the customer as early as you can.

Bill: Yeah, you have to engage. There’s not much time to waste.

Agata: There’s not much time, there is only so big of a window of opportunity to capture her. In bridal, you also have the very high likelihood that the first place that she’s going to go to look at the dress, she will find the one she wants.

Bill: Yeah, right.

Agata: It’s very easy. I forget the exact statistics but I think it was close to 60% of people picked their favorite dress on the first visit, so if you’re not the first shop that she’s visiting …

Bill: You’ve got to be there.

Agata: You’ve got to be there. Number one, the sensitive time when you’re stressed, you’re planning, then on the maternity side you’re stressed and you’re sensitive because your body has changed in a way that you never experienced perhaps.

We as a brand over index heavily on first time mothers, so it is the first time she’s experiencing this in her life. In both situations, the sale is much more consultative. This is not someone coming in and saying, ‘I’m just going to get this, this, and this.’ People are actually getting caught into the selection process, our consultants, and we call them consultants, our sales associates serve in a very consultative way.

There is a very high level of trust, and those things are similar between bridal and maternity. The level of trust that you have to develop with the client is really deep, so you have a short period of time, you have to capture their attention, they are sensitive, they are emotional.

With bridal you are also competing for the wallet. She’s going to have to plan this party, she is going to have to spend money on the honeymoon and how many guests she is inviting. This is a dress she is going to wear once. This is the dress of her lifetime, hopefully, but it is a one-time kind of wear.

Bill: A lot of different voices in that process too, to make a check.

Agata: Absolutely, you have the mother of the bride, you have all kinds of people with opinions standing around. Then when you look at the maternity side we compete very much with her mindset. It’s this race, she’s trying to see how long can she survive without having to get maternity clothes.

Neither one of those brands is a brand that can grow the pie for the market. You’re dealing with a constrained amount. The market is only so big – in the wedding space you have two million weddings a year; in the maternity space you have four million babies born a year. That’s been pretty constant.

While it is a beautiful thing for a business because it makes your business cycle quite predictable, the work is on you to do a good job, but the size of the market is quite predictable. The back end of that, you can’t grow the pie.

Think about a Fitbit, that market didn’t exist. The market for wearable fitness technology did not exist. Someone came in and created it and suddenly it’s huge, but that happened in the last few years. Here, you cannot come in and grow the pie. You really have to figure out how you’re going to capture what’s already there. The importance of getting them early, getting their attention, and working through some of those emotional things that exist and knowing how to work with this client.

A lot of times some of the most successful people when it comes to our sales associates are people who have spent a tremendous amount of time with our company and they know how to talk to the client. I think those are the key things. The sensitivity of the life stage that is happening, the constraint demand, and getting them early, because with pregnancy, if we wait until she’s in her third trimester we’ve lost this entire length of her journey.

Also educating. It’s a lot of education for those brands. In maternity, our number one educational goal now is how do you show her that these clothes are not clothes that are one and done. You can actually wear many of the maternity clothes after you have your baby. You don’t have to dispose of them. They are absolutely wonderful fashion that you can wear later, so really showing her that.

Then the last one would be the guilt factor. The one who is pregnant, she feels guilty perhaps spending on herself because she has this baby coming. Right there and then you’re competing for your fashion versus the money for her baby. In the wedding, you’re competing the money for the dress versus the money for having a better type of alcohol for your guests or a better venue. There’s always these competing forces that are in place.

Bill: It must be fascinating to, on the data side, watch the reactions of people across that life cycle, limited though it may be. When it comes to the partnership side that you’re working on day in and day out with your team, as noted there is likely a strong desire to do as many as you can, to help get them early and make sure that they’re feeling and touching the brand in different parts of life.

Then again, with retail and with consumer facing concepts, there’s the notion of the brand fit. How do you and the team balance this desire for maximum amplification of the message, just getting the name out to begin to engage with defining what is or isn’t the right fit for the company and its brands?

Agata: I think it’s a very important question. The brand fit is very important. It really comes first. If the brand is not a good fit, if it’s not relevant, at the end of the day the campaign is not going to be successful because the customer will not engage.

If we want to realize whether it be a broader reach or some kind of financial benefit from a partnership, because we have all kinds of different partnerships, it will not be a success if there is not a good brand fit. Sometimes it may be obvious that there is a brand fit and sometimes you have to do a little bit of research and actually validate some of the statements.

You also have to be careful because at the end of the day the number one priority for us is our own brand. There is always this halo effect, what is it going to do to us when we associate ourselves with someone? Is that the right message?

We do say no to certain types of partnerships quite often. It’s whether someone doesn’t have a great reputation or we definitely research the companies. Even once we go into a partnership we constantly monitor what’s happening in the news, what’s happening on social media with our partners, to be able to spot something that might be alarming, because we are associating ourselves through those partnerships with brands.

I think number one is a good brand fit because you’re going to realize the engagement you’re hoping for and then you’re going to have a repeat business or a repeat partnership. At the end of the day I do not want to have to create new partnerships every few months. The best partnerships are the ones you have going on for years and years for many years and you’ve optimized them over the years and