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John Jantsch: Hello and welcome to another episode of the duct tape marketing podcast. This is John Jantsch and my guest today is Jeff Fromm. He is a partner at the Barkley ad agency. He’s also the president of FutureCast. He’s a consumer trend expert, speaker, and author of a new book, The Purpose Advantage: How to Unlock New Ways of Doing Business.
John Jantsch: Jeff, thanks for joining me.
Jeff Fromm: Thanks a bunch John. Looking forward to it.
John Jantsch: You also have the distinction of being one of those very few Kansas City guests that I end up having on the show, so I always love that. I never do any of my shows sitting in the same room with people, but we could’ve done that couldn’t we have?
Jeff Fromm: Yeah, we’ll try that. We’ll put it on the calendar for when your schedule allows for that, and we’ll make it a live episode.
John Jantsch: This topic of purpose is so hot that it’s sort of almost starting to get tiresome because everybody’s talking about it, but nobody’s doing it, or not enough people are doing it. Why do you suppose that is?
Jeff Fromm: Well I think part of the reason the topic’s gotten so hot is you have the CEO of Unilever spending a fair amount of time in national and international media talking about some of the brands that they have that do it pretty well. Not all their brands do. They have hundreds of brands.
Jeff Fromm: And then you also have the CEO of BlackRock, which is the other side of the coin, the institutional investor, saying, “In the next few years, if you’re not doing this, we’re simply not gonna invest in your brand. In order to be considered on the list, you’re going to have to be purpose driven.” So you have sort of both sides of Wall Street now talking about it. In terms of the doing it, here’s what I would say. Today’s consumer and today’s employee, all things being equal, leans to purpose or values-driven brands.
Jeff Fromm: But all things aren’t always equal. Sometimes brands are faster, better, they taste better, they’ve got some advantage, and then purpose isn’t going to make a big difference. But when all things are equal, it can be a really big deal. And, and so that’s where I think people need to understand.
Jeff Fromm: And then also you have a lot of, what is the definition of purpose? And by my reckoning, as I’ve looked at a large body of work, there has to be a societal benefit. You could have a really strong brand like Glossier, and it’s a design-led brand. And it’s really interesting. There’s no real societal advantage. Or you could be Amazon and you have a really powerful brand. I’m not sure I see a societal advantage. That doesn’t mean you can’t win if you’re not purpose driven. It just means there are a lot of purpose-driven brands today that are gaining momentum.
John Jantsch: This idea is not new, but why is it, why do you think it’s come to the forefront? What sort of dynamic has made it an essential element now to compete?
Jeff Fromm: You’ve got several factors happening all at the same time. You have really low unemployment, and that means we’re competing in a labor market where I’m trying to distinguish myself, and so if the benefits and the salary and these things are all convergent, being a purpose-driven or values-driven brand can sometimes be an advantage in attracting and retaining staff.
Jeff Fromm: And so even some companies like MOD Pizza compete on that basis. They build that into their DNA. At the same time you have that happening, you have a proliferation, as you know, of direct and indirect competitors. I mean, we could walk down the grocery store and find, I don’t know, 50, 100 different kinds of toothpaste.
John Jantsch: Yogurt. Yogurt’s the one I like to pick on. There’s miles, miles of yogurt.
Jeff Fromm: You know, I had a Chobani yogurt for the lunch today and there are so many yogurts. Now, Chobani is a purpose-driven innovator. I don’t buy Chobani because it’s purpose driven. I Chobani because I love the flavors. In fact, it’s purpose driven, only matters when the flavors I want and the price are about equal. Someone else has better flavors or a significantly better price than, but when things are about equal, then I go to the purpose-driven innovator. And Chobani is one of the purpose-driven innovators that has gone from the relatively smallest player in the category that was probably about as sleepy as any category I could ever imagine to a very hot, vibrant category taking share away from the cereal aisle and taking snack occasions away from people who historically maybe had a candy bar, and now they’re replacing it with a yogurt and a sidecar of sugar.
John Jantsch: I think a lot of times when people think purpose, they think, oh, I don’t know, like Tom’s, you know, like a grand sort of charity. They’re doing all this good in the world. But I think that people sometimes, I think purpose just means that you’re defining what you stand for or why you stand for. And I think a lot of times brands that seem to really take off with this purpose have created a movement or they’ve created some sort of new functionality like Warby Parker, for example. I mean I think they do some nice things and they’ve gotten on the cause a bandwagon as well. But I think originally, they solved a really bad buying experience that people had and that functionality turned them into sort of a movement. Does that, does that make any sense? I think a lot of times people get really hung up on the, we have to give money to charity as our purpose.
Jeff Fromm: I think you’re hitting a really important point. The giving money to charity model has existed for a really long time, and [inaudible] model is only so effective.
Jeff Fromm: In fact, it can be almost ineffective if you’re not careful. The key part is it’s the functionality with something else. Bombas socks, which is a one-for-one sock company, actually makes a technically superior sock, at least relative to all the other socks in my drawer. If it wasn’t a technically superior sock, I don’t know how much I’d care that you’re giving a pair away. But now that I see how superior is, it’s like, well, okay, I feel better about indulging in this more expensive sock.
Jeff Fromm: One of the most powerful brands on the planet is Tide detergent. I think Tide probably cleaned people’s clothes pretty well. Seventh Generation is having great success against this massive brand because I think it probably cleaned about as well as Tide, but I feel a little better about myself when I use Seventh Generation knowing it doesn’t have an impact on the environment and actually at shelf, generally, and you could look at walmart.com and other places, but generally it’s about 10% more.
Jeff Fromm: They’re charging about a 10% premium at shelf. Consumer doesn’t write a check to the environment. They don’t say, “I’m going to write a check to the Environmental Defense Fund” or anything else. They say, “I think it cleans as well as this other thing that I’ve heard about, Tide, but I think it might be a little better in terms of how.” And so it’s not charity. It’s I feel a little better about myself as a person and I don’t pay a lot extra for it.
Jeff Fromm: The key part is there’s a functional benefit, as you pointed out, and there’s a small price premium, although in the world of a Unilever getting a 10% price premium over a brand is strongest Tide, not so small. But that assumes you’re actually getting credit for your purpose, which in the case of Seventh Generation, they probably do. There are plenty of brands that fail to get credit for their purpose too.
John Jantsch: A lot of my listeners are small business owners. So far we’ve talked about really giant businesses, but I think it goes down to the the plumber or the restaurant or the local restaurant. I think that that people get behind things because of maybe what they think it stands for.
John Jantsch: And I’ll give you a really obscure example. Our listeners won’t know this, but you might. There’s a little, there’s a little bar cafe in Kansas City in Westport called Ca Va, and I’ll give them a great shout out. They serve primarily, if not exclusively, French champagne. I think you can actually get other drinks there, but that’s their thing. And it’s very dark. It’s very French. It has a vibe, and I think that in some cases what they’re trying to do is bring that to the world, bring that experience to the world. I feel like that’s a purpose.
Jeff Fromm: Yeah. It meets some definitions of purpose. The one that we put forward in the book was around societal benefit and we also added that even though purpose is a noun, metaphorically, purpose needs to be a verb.
Jeff Fromm: It would not meet the standard we put forward in the book. That doesn’t mean they don’t have a reason for existing like Glossier, like Amazon, or like other businesses, but they have a clear reason for being. I’m not that familiar with this particular fine establishment, and it seems, it seems like when I need to get to.
John Jantsch: You need to get to. But here’s my point that you just made. Is it enough to provide the societal, what did you call it, societal benefit?
Jeff Fromm: Societal benefit.
John Jantsch: Societal benefit of making people feel better for that afternoon or that evening? I mean especially since I’m sort of in charge of whether or not it made me feel better? Isn’t that providing a little bit of a societal benefit? I’m trying to take this down to the level where every business says that we can do this. [crosstalk]
Jeff Fromm: There are plenty of people who would agree with you, for sure. They would say that meets the definition, and same with Glossier and Amazon. They all have very clear progress. In the book, we’ve defined it around societal benefit, meaning positive impact on sustainability or cultural issues like issues around equality or any number of things. It doesn’t meet the definition we put forward in the book. It clearly needs the needs of you and other people are wouldn’t be open and doing such a wonderful job.
Jeff Fromm: And so does Amazon and I use Glossier because they’re both bigger companies. The definition we’ve chosen is a little more narrow in order to try to get clarity around the fact that there has to be something that company’s doing, and there are plenty of companies that do things.
Jeff Fromm: There are plenty of B2B companies that are doing things in the sustainability space, and local companies do things. There are local companies taking on everything from urban farming to, you know, help people who don’t have food to other things that are important to their local consumer or customer.
Jeff Fromm: For me, the big part is, in the brands I try to highlight in the book, connecting that purpose to your business model. Seventh Generation is getting a premium from a consumer concerned about getting clean laundry functionally and doing good by the environment, and then they have to reinvest in new product innovation and other things. You try to build a virtuous cycle into the model, whether you’re a small business or a big business, and ideally it helps to fuel how people who use the brand and your employees feel about that brand.
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John Jantsch: Do you see any danger in people saying yes, this fifth P we have to do it? What would be a good purpose? That’s what we’re going to … let’s get our ad agency communicating our our good purpose.
Jeff Fromm: Yeah, I think that is a problem. I would say this. Typically, for me, a starting point, you would be very familiar with this, is you sort of look at the heritage and the original reason for being of a company, and a lot of times when you dig back to the roots, you’ll find a functional reason, and then you’ll find some other things about the history of that company.
Jeff Fromm: If you can sort of dig into those roots and find something that’s very true, then that would be a probably better path forward as opposed to why don’t we append this donation onto when everyone buys X we donate 5% to cause X.
Jeff Fromm: It doesn’t usually work out as well when you append it on. And to your earlier point, that functional thing that you do, if you do it really well, it’s important. I’m not arguing in favor of all brands must have a purpose. I think there are a lot of brands that are winning today because that purpose gives them an edge with their employees and their consumers who are spreaders.
John Jantsch: To some degree, could you say that starts with community officially communicating what you believe as a business, is maybe a starting point for this?
Jeff Fromm: Yeah, I think a lot of companies try to do that, and hopefully they start inside their organization so that everyone can feel that internally, and then act on that externally, and all big companies started as small companies as a general rule.
Jeff Fromm: Ben and Jerry’s was once very small. These companies that are purpose driven are also trying to use the term purpose-driven innovators. Ideally they have some beliefs that the founders hold true. Perfect world, it creates a virtuous cycle where those beliefs actually help them retain their employees, that help them acquire their customers and retain customers, and there’s a cycle as opposed to just the append kind of a strategy. We’re going to do this charitable piece, which I think is generally a less successful way to think about this topic.
John Jantsch: As brands are embracing this idea more and more, and so people feel like, “Yeah, I’m a part of a movement,” or “I’m a part of a community,” or you know, “This makes me feel better, to be a part of this brand.”
John Jantsch: Do they run the risk of their consumer then feeling like, “Hey, you have to live this. You have to walk the talk at all times.”.
John Jantsch: And we can take this from the headlines right now of what’s going on with Soul Cycle and, I forget the name of the other brand that are caught up in a little bit of consumers who’ve, who are their passionate, loyal customers because they believe in what the brand stands for, that Soul Cycle is not just about … it’s about you as a person and not just about exercise. And then all of a sudden, it comes out that a board member holds a big Trump fundraiser, a lot of their people object because they feel like that’s not the brand.
John Jantsch: Are we as marketers now getting to that point where every misstep is going to be felt and determined by a market who now has their own TV stations?
Jeff Fromm: Yeah, yeah. There is no doubt that you’re right, that first of all, it’s better to not be out front on some kind of a purpose-driven topic if you can’t offer proof.
Jeff Fromm: Gillette might be the classic case study coming out as a big company in the Superbowl on toxic masculinity without having laid a foundation around their actions. What are you doing as a company to change that conversation?
Jeff Fromm: One of the mistakes small companies can make is getting out early in the communications cycle before you’ve laid a foundation with your internal stakeholders, before you’ve put down a little proof.
Jeff Fromm: The flip side is you don’t have to wait five years to talk about your purpose. It’s not like what we have to have done. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10. If you could get action on the first couple of things, so people don’t think you’re a phony, it’s okay to start a conversation.
Jeff Fromm: But there is a cycle of communication, and I think one of the traps is to quickly try to get credit on something where you don’t have some history.
Jeff Fromm: It’s entirely fair for Nike to start a conversation around a number of topics that are related to cultural things because they’ve done it for a long time. Same with Ben and Jerry’s, but if I had a brand I was working on that had no history, I’d have to come at that a little more cautiously.
John Jantsch: So what if a brand has in the, you know, in their market’s mind, a purpose, and they have loyal fans, but they want to make a change? They believe something new. For example, Patagonia is an example of that a lot of people use. They really had a place in the mind of their customer and then they really went big in the whole reuse, you don’t need to buy new thing. And I think for some people, that was quite a purpose shift. I’d love it if you kind of talk a little bit about, and hopefully you’re familiar with that, but if you talk a little bit about.
Jeff Fromm: I think Patagonia is an interesting example and worth conversation, obviously not a small brand, but they act like a small brand. Their original purpose was sort of a do no harm kind of a purpose and they built quite a following around that.
Jeff Fromm: Then they did a major shift from do no harm to protect and defend. It’s interesting to me. I’m not on the inside of it, but here’s a brand that’s probably in the top 1% of purpose-driven brands with, I would argue, without having data, price elasticity advantage, frequency of use advantage. I mean, people walk around airports with T-shirts that say Patagonia and it’s like, okay. When people start to tuning your brand on your hat and your T-shirts that they’re wearing, you’re a pretty strong brand.
Jeff Fromm: Someone made a choice that consumer trends have changed. We have a lot of competitors that are also trying to do no harm. We’re going to up the ante. And they took action. I think, I think they may have been the company that donated a $10-million tax refund that they got through some new tax law changes all back to environmental charities, if I’m not mistaken.
Jeff Fromm: Here’s a company that has said, “Okay, we’re a purpose-driven, innovator,” and their products had to your earlier point, strong functional appeal. I think other people caught them on functional.
Jeff Fromm: I think other people that caught them on purpose and then they just re shifted on purpose again and to a [inaudible] worse kind of an audience that’s concerned about that kind of a purpose. Now they’re back to “Wow, what a love brand does. They changed the rules.” And so I’m not inside that organization in terms of knowing it, but as an outsider looking at it, I say it’s a great example of a company that staying ahead of the trend and appropriate pacing. You don’t want to be too far ahead. Right? You don’t want to, I’ll kick your whole-
John Jantsch: I don’t think it was that radical. I mean, it was a pretty safe bet that their customer, at least a percentage of their customer, cared about that as well, the traditional sort of outdoor person and not necessarily the fashion person cared about that that new messaging as well.
John Jantsch: If somebody’s listening to this or somebody called you and said, “This really makes a lot of sense but we’re not sure we’ve found what it is or how to communicate it.” Is there a process, a set of exercises, a strategic planning session to find some of this?
Jeff Fromm: In the book, in The Purpose Advantage, I literally lay out step by step the typical process we would use with a mid-size or larger company to identify their purpose. And I say typical because you might modify it slightly based on information presented by company executives about where they are in the cycle, okay?
Jeff Fromm: But it’s designed so any business strategists, even at a small company, could take it and apply it themselves so that they can diligently work towards here’s where I am and here’s the phases of looking through how I move my business forward with that framework.
John Jantsch: Jeff, we’ve presented a lot of big organizations as examples, but again, I contend that this is important to the smallest organization. The impact that they might make at a societal level might be different, but I think the impact to their business could be just as large. Where can people find out more about your work and of course the Purpose Advantage?
Jeff Fromm: I would invite people to connect directly. Whether that’s LinkedIn, Jeff Fromm, or you can email me, email@example.com.
Jeff Fromm: The Purpose Advantage is coming out in a couple weeks and it’s on Amazon and you can literally get not only the stories of these brands but the entire workshop in the book. And I think Amazon sells that for all of $10 or $12.
John Jantsch: Dependent upon when you’re listening to this, a couple of weeks means middle of September, 2019.
Jeff Fromm: Yeah. Middle of September. I would expect them to ship the book no later than that, at the very latest. And the idea behind the book was that we are laying out not only the inspiration in the stories [inaudible 00:22:48], so the, the back half of the book is a how to create a more purpose-driven organization. Even for companies that have one, how can I refine? Because I think a lot of companies have one but they want to do better. I want to engage my employees more. I want to have a more engaged customer base. I think the examples you shared, several of which are fabulous examples, particularly your last question about Patagonia, a company that upped the game.
John Jantsch: So Jeff, thanks for something by the podcast and hopefully we’ll go have a glass of French champagne at Ca Va sometime soon.
Jeff Fromm: I’d look forward to it and thank you for having me. And I’m happy to help anyone who would like more information if they want to get in touch. All right?
John Jantsch: Awesome. Thanks Jeff.
Jeff Fromm: Okay. Take care.
Today on the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I speak with Jeff Fromm, president of FutureCast, partner at the ad agency Barkley, and author of the upcoming book The Purpose Advantage: How to Unlock New Ways of Doing Business.
Through his work at FutureCast, Fromm studies consumer trends and consults with major brands on how to best reach their customers.
On today’s episode, Fromm and I speak about The Purpose Advantage and the major trend amongst companies to embrace a purpose-driven strategy. While it’s paid dividends for some major brands, like Glossier and Bombas socks, it’s been hard for others to make it work. We discuss what any business needs to know about creating an effective business model centered around a meaningful purpose.
Questions I ask Jeff Fromm:
- What’s the best starting point for a brand who wants to define their purpose?
- As brands embrace the purpose-driven movement, do they run the risk of disappointing their customers?
- Is there a process to finding your business’s purpose?
What you’ll learn if you give a listen:
- Why purpose needs to, metaphorically, be a verb for your business.
- How to connect your purpose to your business model.
- How finding your purpose can create a virtuous cycle.
Key takeaways from the episode and more about Jeff Fromm:
- Learn more about Jeff Fromm, FutureCast, and Barkley Ad Agency
- Pre-order your copy of The Purpose Advantage
- Follow on Twitter
- Connect on LinkedIn
Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!
This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by Gusto. Everyone loves payday, but loving a payroll provider? That’s a little weird. Still, small businesses across the country love running payroll with Gusto.
Gusto is making payroll, benefits, and HR easy for modern small businesses. You no longer have to be a big company to get great technology, great benefits, and great service to take care of your team.
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Transcript of How to Build a Brand that Drives Growth written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing
John Jantsch: This episode of The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by Klaviyo. Klaviyo is a platform that helps growth-focused eCommerce brands drive more sales with super-targeted, highly relevant email, Facebook and Instagram marketing.
John Jantsch: Hello, and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch. My guest today is Lindsay Pedersen. She is a brand strategist and leadership coach, and also the author of a book we’re going to talk about today, Forging an Ironclad Brand: A Leader’s Guide. Welcome; thanks for joining me.
Lindsay Pedersen: Thanks for having me, John; it’s good to be here with you today.
John Jantsch: As I know you know, a lot of people think brand, especially consumer goods people, which you have a background in, think brand and they think logo, colors, packaging. But I really think so much about the way people buy has changed today that I think you could make a case for saying, “A brand is everything including a whole lot of stuff that’s out of our control.” So how do we deal with that?
Lindsay Pedersen: Oh my gosh, it’s so true. The word “brand” takes people to such different places. Any conversation about brand requires a definition of terms. What I mean when I say “brand” is what is the meaning you stand for in the mind of your audience? What is the thing that you represent to your target customer?
You used the word “everything.” It is the sum total of everything that your company does. From the overt things that you do, to the implicit things that you do, from the big things to the small things, from messaging to product to pricing.
It’s all of the things that you mean; that the sum total of those things reinforces in your customer’s head what you mean, what you stand for. It’s true; there are a lot of people who would define brand as a logo or the look and feel and zeitgeist of a business. Or, sometimes even the name of the company, is the brand. And sometimes brand is advertising, like Mad Men.
All of those things are manifestations of brand, or at least they ought to be. But they can’t be equated with brand, either.
John Jantsch: Well, that’s interesting, because I’ve been saying this for 20 years to small business owners who really don’t think about brand, or at least don’t think about brand in this sense. And yet, every business has a brand. I think the only question is, whether or not you’re controlling it or trying to guide it.
Lindsay Pedersen: Exactly. It’s funny because the reason that brand matters is that it gives the leader clarity. It gives the leader a North Star against which to make decisions for growing the business.
When I think of companies that most gain from that, that’s the companies, the leaders of companies that are small businesses, that most need focus. Because their resources are so constrained.
It’s a funny thing, and it’s one of the reasons I wrote the book that I did. I wanted to demystify it because the people who are most likely to misunderstand brand as a small thing are the same people who stand to benefit the most from it.
John Jantsch: I want to bring us back to a point, though, because for a lot of people, when they have this big brand discussion, they say, “It’s not about the logo, it’s not about the packaging, it’s not about the colors.” Design is still super important, I think, for a brand.
In fact, I know a lot of companies that invest in great design. It allows them to communicate what their brand stands for in such a potent way.
Lindsay Pedersen: A hundred percent. The name of your business, the logo and the iconography and font and colors and shapes and imagery and photography that you use … it’s like a superhighway to the limbic system of the brain of your audience. It’s wildly important.
What makes it powerful is when the development, the design and the creative decisions that you make to convey whether it’s the name or the logo or the font that you choose, or the tone of your voice; what’s really powerful is when they’re congruent with the meaning that you want to stand for. They’re not random; they are a deep and direct reflection of that promise that you want your business to bring to your customer.
John Jantsch: Yeah. The accounting firm that has a really fun website, is suggesting “We’re a little bit more fun that the other people.” I think that’s such a great way to actually get not only your differentiation, but maybe your promise across.
Lindsay Pedersen: Absolutely. You also brought up this idea of intention and control. Maybe even in this media environment that we all live in today, where there’s so much information, and our attention is so scarce. How much control do we really have of our brand?
The way that I want to splice that question to first, you do have agency in declaring what you want your brand to be. It’s position or be positioned, right, as the old adage goes. If you want to have the positioning that’s going to create the most value for your business, then you’re deliberate about defining what you want that thing to be.
That’s the first thing. And that’s frankly what most people get wrong, is that they just don’t get deliberate and intentional about identifying their brand to begin with. That is leaving a lot of power on the table. It’s leaving a lot to chance, that your customer is going to perceive you the way that you want your customer to perceive you.
I kind of flip it to before you talk about the ways you can communicate and express your brand; which you’re right, there’s only so much control, quote-unquote control that you have about the way that it’s going to be perceived in the marketplace.
But you sure have a better chance of succeeding if you’ve done the work and the soul searching to define what you want that thing to be, so that it can be your business’s North Star.
John Jantsch: A lot of people kind of whine about that. “Oh, people are out there saying stuff.” I think that’s a great opportunity, because it used to be you could break your promises and if you had a slick ad, it didn’t matter maybe.
But now, if you break your promises, somebody will create a YouTube channel talking about it. So I think the companies that stay true to their brand, that keep their promises, I think they actually have an advantage today.
Lindsay Pedersen: Yes. It’s true. There was a short period in human history … the second half of the 20th century, essentially … when the company that had the largest budget, had the loudest megaphone, and could spend the most to get word out, usually via TV media, and there wasn’t a lot that the customer could do. It wasn’t a two-way conversation.
That is no longer the case. Because the megaphone is democratized. Now we all can talk about it. The funny thing is, though, John, that I think about with this, is in some ways it’s new. That we have a two-way megaphone. But in some ways, what was a blip is the way that it was when TV advertising was having its heyday.
Because most of human history, we can tell our friends if we don’t like the butcher down the street or the baker where we got stale bread. We do have voices. It’s just that now, we can talk to more people with less time and money than it might have taken before.
John Jantsch: When I hear you talk about brand, all I hear is strategy. I think that that’s a part a lot of people miss, is that this really has to be done at the strategic level for an organization, doesn’t it?
Lindsay Pedersen: It does. In fact, in some ways, the way that I think about brand … and this is true for a lot of the people that I interviewed for my book, as well.
In some ways, when you define your brand strategy, it’s just a consumer-facing way of defining your business strategy. It’s a more closer-to-the-ground way of defining how your business is going to succeed.
A lot of times business strategy gets a little esoteric or a little bit devoid of empathy. Brand strategy can take whatever that business strategy idea is, and make it more meaningful to the people who are creating those bonds with the target audience; either person to person or with the products and messaging that they’re developing.
Yes, brand strategy. Just like with any strategy, it’s about taking a step back, looking at what you have, what your strengths are, what the competitive strengths and white space might look like, and learning about what your target customer wants and needs that others can’t provide.
That’s the essence of business, that’s the essence of commerce. If you’re making a trade, why should they come to you rather than to somebody else? Or rather than not buying anything at all?
So when you define that, you are defining your business strategy. But you’re also defining your brand strategy in a way that can be easier and more potent for bringing to life with your customer.
John Jantsch: I like the way you really positioned this, because I think a lot of people think of brand and they think, “How do we want to be perceived?” I think you come at it more from a “What problem are we solving, who can we bring the most value to,” and obviously, “Who could be a valuable customer to us as well?”
But I think starting with that customer point of view about the brand, it’s almost like, “How do we want to be experienced by them?” as opposed to, “What are we trying to make them think?” Does that make sense? [crosstalk 00:11:34]-
Lindsay Pedersen: Yes!
John Jantsch: … because I see that throughout your book.
Lindsay Pedersen: Yes, I love the way that you articulated that. A hundred percent. It comes back to, why are we in business? Why are we doing what we’re doing? It’s to serve a certain person who has a certain problem.
We have a way of solving that problem that others don’t have. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have differentiation; therefore, we wouldn’t have strong enough margins to stay in business.
When you get very precise and intentional about what those elements are; who is your customer, what is the problem that they’re trying to solve, how do you uniquely solve that problem. You can make decisions across your business and across the customer journey that reinforce that thing.
At its basis, and the reason that I think this is so powerful for leaders in particular, is it’s a focusing mechanism. You can make decisions with your brand as a filter. You don’t have to litigate; every little and big decision you make, can be so much easier if you’re putting it through the filter of, “Does doing X, Y, or Z bring me closer to delivering this unique promise to this target customer?”
If “no,” don’t proceed. If “yes,” then proceed.
John Jantsch: We’ve joked for years. Do you remember the bracelets? I think they’ve been used for a lot of things. But What Would Jesus Do? Do you remember [crosstalk 00:13:13]?
Lindsay Pedersen: Oh, sure. Yeah.
John Jantsch: For years, we have had, “What Would Duct Tape Do?” That was sort of our idea about our filter.
Lindsay Pedersen: Awesome! John, that is so great; I love that.
John Jantsch: I want to remind you that this episode is brought to you by Klaviyo. Klaviyo helps you build meaningful customer relationships by listening and understanding cues from your customers. This allows you to easily turn that information into valuable marketing messages. There’s powerful segmentation, email auto responders that are ready to go, great reporting.
We’re going to learn a little bit about the secret to building customer relationships. They’ve got a really fun series called Klaviyo’s Beyond Black Friday. It’s docuseries, a lot of fun, quick lessons. Just head on over to Klaviyo.com/beyondbf. Beyond Black Friday.
John Jantsch: As I hear you talk about this, there are big companies that have departments and divisions, and they sell different products and they have different markets. In a lot of ways, it’s hard for them to keep all the moving parts in place. But I think for a small business, would you go as far as saying that brand could be their culture?
Lindsay Pedersen: Yes. Yes. In fact, it’s funny; when I was doing this research to write my book, and I interviewed about 50 leaders across big companies, small companies, lots of different industries, the thing that most surprised me when I was interviewing these leaders about the value of brand, was how much they expressed it as a tool for culture building, for galvanizing employees around a purpose or an idea.
It’s the internal beacon that I did know that that was valuable, but I was surprised at how often this came up. That brand is a way to make something really intangible, like culture, have a single point. To have a definition of what it is.
When employees feel purpose, and brand is one way of coalescing with a purpose, they give more to their business. They’re set up to be happier and they’re set up to create more meaning in their own lives, and to create more value for your business.
It’s all this happy virtuous cycle of employees have purpose, they know how to succeed in their job, they feel great about it. And it ties them to the target customer, the person that they’re serving, which makes for a more vibrant work environment.
I totally agree with that, and it’s something that I didn’t know, or I didn’t appreciate deeply when I first set out to write this book.
John Jantsch: Well, one of the good news/bad news things about that is you can’t really fake that. That’s a really positive thing for somebody that really does have purpose.
But how about these organizations that … a lot of them start that way. It’s like, “Here’s what we believe, here’s how people need to be served.” Then all of a sudden they’ve got a hundred employees, and it’s like, “How do we keep them?”
Lindsay Pedersen: Yes. Yes. I think one of the things that I have noticed … and the reason that I wrote this book for leaders as opposed to marketing people is that when brand/culture is delegated; brand can be delegated to marketing, and culture can be delegated to HR. When that happens, it loses its whole power.
Or it becomes something; it might be a neat marketing campaign if marketing is driving it. It might be a neat team-building idea, if HR is driving it. But the leader needs to be modeling it and feeling it and breathing it. If that’s not happening, they’re not giving air cover to the rest of the organization to make trade offs according to this brand or according to this culture.
As a company grows, it’s particularly useful and particularly incumbent upon the leader to keep reinforcing why we’re here and why we do this. What is it that makes us different from other companies who are either in the space or who are serving the same target audience. What makes us different?
It’s like Stephen Covey talks about things that are important, but not urgent. Both culture and brand, I believe, fall into that quadrant. It’s like taking care of your health by eating well and by exercising and taking good care of your relationships. That’s important but not urgent.
But if you don’t do those things, then you wind up in urgent situations. You wind up at the emergency room. It’s the same thing with leading a company.
By embracing the thing that’s important but not urgent, so that the tenets of the brand, the elements of the culture, you prevent getting into an emergency with customer relationships or with employees fleeing the organization as soon as the economy goes in their favor.
It really does take this leadership believing it, and having conviction in it, and energy for it, that will take them from startup phase to medium-size company phase. It’s really hard to do even with a brand. But it’s really hard to do if you haven’t sat down and distilled what it is that we want to mean? What is it that’s going to make us different in the long run?
John Jantsch: We’ve been having such a lovely time chatting that I haven’t asked you the money question. What is an ironclad brand, then?
Lindsay Pedersen: Yes. Yes, what I contend is that all of the brand positioning territories that you could claim as yours, there are some that are more attractive than others.
There are nine qualities, nine criteria for an ironclad brand that I define in this book. When you have those nine qualities, you’re setting yourself up to create the most value for your business.
Would you like me to go through what the criteria are real quick?
John Jantsch: You bet.
Lindsay Pedersen: Okay.
John Jantsch: Although we do want people to buy the book, so.
Lindsay Pedersen.: I appreciate that. Well, I’ll be really quick so that people might still want to buy the book.
The criteria are that your brand is big. The number one criteria is that your brand promise is big enough to matter to your customer. That it’s a big space in the customer’s head.
The second is that it’s narrow. Although it’s big enough to matter, it’s also narrow enough that you can own it. That you can dominate it.
The third is that it’s asymmetrical. It uses your company’s lopsided advantage, your unfair advantage as a company.
Number four is that it’s empathetic. It addresses a deeply relevant, meaningful need for your customer; that it has your customer’s interests at heart.
Number five is that it’s optimally distinct. It strikes a balance between familiar and novel. It’s not so familiar that it’s boring; but it’s not so novel that it’s unrecognizable, and hard for somebody to learn and remember.
Number six is that it’s both functional and emotional. It serves the customer at this critical intersection of the customer’s heart and mind. It’s not just emotional, but it’s also not just functional; it’s both.
Number seven is that it’s sharp edged. It entails a single specific simple promise. It’s ridiculously clear to customers what you do and do not promise as a business.
Number eight is that your brand promise has teeth. It’s demonstrably true. It’s not just true, but it’s clear that it’s true, because you provide concrete proof.
Lastly, number nine, is that your brand promise delivers. You deliver on it every time consistently with the big things to the small things, from the new customers to the loyal customers. You’re nailing not just the letter of the promise, but also the spirit of the promise.
An ironclad brand encompasses all of those qualities, and therefore creates the most value for the business.
John Jantsch: Let’s wrap up on the thing that people tend to gravitate towards quite often. If you pull this off, and you create an ironclad brand, what’s the ROI? What’s the benefit? Because in some cases, you’re going to have to invest. You’re going to have to evolve. You’re going to have to train. What’s the payoff?
Lindsay Pedersen: Let me separate strategy from tactics. Developing the statement of what you stand for as a business, it only takes the time and money that it took you to either read my book or sit at a whiteboard and figure this out.
You can hire a brand strategist to help you with that, or you can do it yourself. That’s the strategy. You haven’t put meaningful money, working media dollars against that yet. That’s the North Star.
There isn’t an ROI on your brand just like … It’s the whole business strategy. One way of thinking about the ROI for the brand strategy is that everything that you do internally, you save a lot of time and energy because you’re not chasing small ideas; you’re only worrying about ideas that are big ideas.
But I think what you’re asking more, John, is now that you have this idea that you want to reinforce inside the head of your customers, when you spend money against it, how do you know that you’re going to recoup your investment eventually? That is more a function of what your business goals are.
Because a lot of the businesses that most benefit from a North Star, from the focus of a brand strategy, are not going to spend any money on marketing. They’re the mom-and-pop coffee shop down the street, or the retailer that has three locations in your city. To them, marketing is a website and a logo and maybe some flyers and maybe some free samples, if it’s a coffee shop.
That’s a small marketing budget. Your brand is the thing that you want to reinforce, not just with your marketing activities, but with everything that the customer experiences.
It might help you decide where to have office space. It might help you decide how to price. It might help you decide who to partner with. And yes, it’ll also help you decide how to promote and message and advertise what you have to offer.
But a lot of those things are free. Or they’re not free, they’re things that you’re already doing. You’re already deciding where to have office space. You’re already developing a product.
This is about harnessing the power of focus so that all of those things by defining the one thing, all of those levers can work together to reinforce that.
John Jantsch: Yeah, I guess in some ways what I was getting at is, I think when people get this right … I’ll use your coffee shop example. I drive by three or maybe four coffee shops to go to the coffee shop that I like. I’m willing to do that because I like the experience. I like what they stand for. I think that that’s the point, I guess, I was really making.
I’ll give you another example. I was a professional speaker long before my first book came out. My first book came out and sold pretty well. All of a sudden, people were willing to pay me four, five times what I was charging, just because my brand meant something to them.
Lindsay Pedersen: Yes. Yes, and I think when we go back to the definition of what is brand, it’s the thing that you stand for in the mind of your audience.
Whether the audience is people who hire you to do speaking engagements, or people who sell you coffee, or you’re buying coffee from; those by distilling it to one thing, you’re more likely to be reinforcing a single idea.
When you reinforce a single idea, you’re making them do less work to understand who you are. And when they do less work to understand who you are, they’re more likely to like you and to remember you.
It’s like, don’t do any expensive product development or promotion or media when you haven’t done this, because it’s going to be such a poor ROI if you’re throwing a lot of things against the wall.
John Jantsch: Well, and I spend a lot of time reading Google reviews of our customers and prospects, all types of businesses. I can tell you, 90% of them don’t even mention … sometimes you can’t even tell what the business does. But what they talk about is the great experience, the great people, how easy it was, that kind of stuff.
Lindsay Pedersen: Yes.
John Jantsch: I think that’s what people need to realize is the brand today, isn’t it?
Lindsay Pedersen: It is. It’s the way that people feel having interacted with you. They might remember something functional, or they might just remember the result of how they felt because you were able to solve a problem they otherwise weren’t able to solve. That’s exactly right. This is all about connecting human to human with your audience.
John Jantsch: I am speaking with Lindsay Pedersen, and we’re talking about her book, Forging an Ironclad Brand: A Leader’s Guide. Lindsay, where can people find out more about you and your work and your book?
Lindsay P.: Thank you so much, John. Yes, my book is Forging an Ironclad Brand. It’s available on Amazon and all that. If listeners are interested, I have a free giveaway on my business’s website, which is ironcladbrandstrategy.com.
The giveaway is a workbook that I adapted from the book, Forging an Ironclad Brand. It serves as a supplement to the book. It’s this step-by-step workbook guide of the Ironclad method to building a brand strategy. You can find that at ironcladbrandstrategy.com.
And I’d love to be connected with your listeners; if anybody wants to link up with me on LinkedIn or Twitter, I would very much enjoy that.
John Jantsch: Awesome. We’ll have all those links in the Show Notes, as always. Lindsay, thanks for dropping by, and hopefully we’ll run in to you soon out there on the road.
Lindsay Pedersen: It was my pleasure, John. Thanks so much.
On today’s episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, my guest is Lindsay Pedersen. She is a brand strategist and owner of Ironclad Brand Strategy.
She has advised numerous companies, from startups to corporations such as Starbucks, T-Mobile, and IMDb.
Prior to starting Ironclad, she served as a P&L owner at Clorox, where she led businesses like Clorox Bleach, Armor All, and Brita. She was responsible for increasing those business’s value, and it’s this perspective that she brings to teaching other businesses how to create a strong brand that grows ROI.
Today, we talk about her book, Forging an Ironclad Brand: A Leader’s Guide, and she shares the nine points that define a successful brand—the kind that empowers your team and drives your growth.
Questions I ask Lindsay Pedersen:
- What is an ironclad brand?
- What’s the link between brand and strategy?
- Would you go as far as to say that, for a small business, brand can be their culture?
What you’ll learn if you give a listen:
- Why you need to be deliberate about defining your brand from the very beginning.
- How brand can affect both your external audience and your colleagues.
- How businesses can hold onto their brand as they expand.
Key takeaways from the episode and more about Lindsay Pedersen:
- Learn more about Lindsay Pedersen and Ironclad Brand Strategy
- Order your copy of Forging an Ironclad Brand
- Check out the special book supplement on the Ironclad Brand Strategy website
- Follow on Twitter
- Subscribe on YouTube
- Connect on LinkedIn
Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!
This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by Klaviyo. If you’re looking to grow your business there is only one way: by building real, quality customer relationships. That’s where Klaviyo comes in.
Klaviyo helps you build meaningful relationships by listening and understanding cues from your customers, allowing you to easily turn that information into valuable marketing messages.
What’s their secret? Tune into Klaviyo’s Beyond Black Friday docu-series to find out and unlock marketing strategies you can use to keep momentum going year-round. Just head on over to klaviyo.com/beyondbf.
5 Great Ways to Add Video to Your Website Experience written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing
Video has become a major marketing channel. More and more people are saying that it’s the way they want to consume content. Why scroll through a long blog post or text-heavy web page when you can instead watch a quick, visually-engaging video and get all the information you need?
As consumers’ attitudes towards video shifts, it’s up to you to meet that demand and give the people what they want! There are tons of great opportunities to incorporate video all throughout your marketing efforts, from social media to your website.
Here, let me walk you through five of the most effective ways to add video to your website experience.
1. Share Your Mission
You started your business because you’re passionate about what you do. But sometimes that passion appears diluted when you try to write about it. If you’d like to share your mission and value proposition with your audience, why not do it with a video?
You can include this front-and-center on your home page. A mission video is a great way to grab attention and immediately begin to build trust. When visitors to your site can see you speaking with conviction and commitment about the work that you do to help your customers solve their problems, they feel an emotional connection to you and what you’re saying.
2. Explain Your Benefits
No matter what it is that you’re selling, a video can help you clarify the benefits of your products or services. Plus, while everyone else is relying on words (and perhaps still images) to showcase their offerings, you’ll stand out from the crowd with a video.
Video is certainly beneficial if your business does something that’s complicated or technical. Say, for example, you’re a B2B software company who provides data analytics for retailers. A video can help you quickly and easily share what your product does, why data analytics matter, and what data can do to help your prospects solve their business problems.
Even if your product is more straightforward, video can give you an edge of the competition. Take, for example, Anthropologie’s line of wedding wear, sold under their BHLDN label. They include videos in many of the product descriptions for their wedding dresses. The 10-second clips show the models moving around in the dresses, and give brides-to-be a sense of how the fabric looks and moves on an actual person. Anthropologie clearly understands that choosing a wedding dress is a costly and emotional endeavor. The video makes it a little easier for prospective shoppers to picture what the dress would look like on the big day.
3. Spread Industry Knowledge
You know that content creation is a key component of establishing your presence as a thought leader and expert in your industry. If you’ve owned your business for a while, you’re hopefully in the habit of creating regular blog posts (and maybe you’ve even taken things a step further and designed some hub pages to share all your incredible content).
But even if your blog posts are filled with nuggets of wisdom and incredible advice, sometimes your audience wants to consume information another way. Video can help break up the monotony of your blog by injecting some bold visuals into your posts.
Plus, with video, you can get a lot of content bang for your buck. Filming a three minute video on a topic you know well takes hardly any time at all. If you have your phone on-hand and a basic mic hooked up, you can create a pretty professional-looking clip in minutes. Get that video transcribed, and you can turn that content into another blog post, or break it up and share quotes from the video on your social media—there are so many other uses for the content! With video, you can get multiple forms of content in a fraction of the time that it would take to write even one traditional blog post.
4. Highlight Your Team or Customers
I’ve already touched on a few other ways that video can help to build trust with your audience. Creating videos featuring your team or customers is another important way to inspire faith and confidence in your brand.
Videos that introduce your team make your customers feel more at ease. They can see a bit of each employee’s personality and charm, and grow to feel like this employee is someone who is personally invested in creating great customer experiences. It’s a trust-building element for any company, but it’s an especially great tool if you run a service business where technicians are dispatched to clients’ houses. Creating a video with each technician, where they introduce themselves and share something about why they do what they do, makes people feel a bit more at ease about welcoming them into their home. Your technician becomes a familiar face, rather than a total stranger in a uniform.
Video testimonials build trust from another angle. When potential customers watch a video about how you solved an issue for your existing customer, there’s an instant flash of recognition. That prospect sees themselves in your customer! The person in the video has had the same problem and found great success by entrusting your company to solve it for them. Video allows you to build an emotional connection between prospect and happy customer in a way that a written testimonial couldn’t.
5. Tackle Frequently Asked Questions
We’ve all scrolled through FAQ pages, scanning for the information we really want and then glazing over by the time we finally find it, bored to death by a solid wall of text.
Video can turn your FAQ page from informational slog into something far more fun and engaging. FAQ videos are an opportunity for you and your team to show a bit of brand personality. Ask a handful of employees to get involved with answering questions, so that there’s variety on the page. And try to unite the videos thematically in a way that ties in with what your business does.
If you’re looking to keep prospects and customers engaged on your website, video is a great way to do it. There are a number of ways to incorporate video into your messaging and marketing, and doing so can help you build trust with viewers and stand out from the crowd.
My weekend blog post routine includes posting links to a handful of tools or great content I ran across during the week.
I don’t go into depth about the finds, but encourage you to check them out if they sound interesting. The photo in the post is a favorite for the week from an online source or one that I took out there on the road.
- Icebreaker – Encourage team bonding with these get-to-know-you questions.
- Email Verification for Google Sheets – Scan for email bounces in Google Sheets, before you send things to your mailing list.
- Gifski2 – Create high-quality gifs from videos.
These are my weekend favs, I would love to hear about some of yours – Tweet me @ducttape