Author Archives: Bre Hiser

Brand Fast Trackers #216 — Back to Basics

Send to Kindle

Branding Strategy

As marketing strategies continue to quickly evolve, our recent podcast with Donna Goldsmith, former COO of WWE, reminded us of core marketing absolutes when approaching branding:

  1. What is the objective you want to convey to your consumer? 
  2. How can you get that message across at the least cost? 
  3. What is the ROI by the messaging or the mechanics used to convey that message?

Specifically in Donna’s experiences with sports and entertainment brands, she conveyed that the product or “brand” she was marketing was often times the talent associated with the NBA or WWE, however, the same strategies applied across the board.

To hear the full podcast, check us out on itunes or stitcher!

[ Lead Image Via Monetized ]

Send to Kindle

Brand Fast Trackers #215- Audience First. Content Second.

Audience Segmentation
Send to Kindle


As Brand Connections is internally in the process of creating a brand new strategy for our social media channels, our recent podcast with Curtis Hougland, Founder of Attention USA, really hit home. Truly, the perfect conversation at the perfect time. In a nutshell, Attention demonstrates the value of social campaigns and channels by using social data and analytics that help brands see where their brand fits in the social space. More importantly, Attention precisely tells us what we should be doing with that information.

Social Strategy

We have spent hours upon hours in brainstorming sessions and meetings deliberating over innovative content to post. How to increase our reach, influence and engagement via a strategy, that is simply, mind blowing. I go into the podcast excited ready for Curtis to reaffirm that our team is on the right track. Then, Curtis lays this stat on us: 70% of content doesn’t work, receives almost no engagement and often doesn’t serve a purpose. He explains, “Everyone wants big content, big strategy, but there is less content innovation this year than there was last year, content is less innovative than it was before.”

Curtis continues to explain that “why people seek content is more important than the content itself.” Interesting- I am listening, “Everyone wants big content, big strategy. No one wants to do the dirty work of seeing how it works and making sure the RIGHT people see it.”

As the cliche saying goes, “don’t put the cart before the horse.” Before we can generate our impressive content strategy, we must understand our audience; their behaviors, relationships, interests and needs. If you reach the right people, in the right niches, that is the best way to go about looking at your content strategy. In sum, you need to understand who exactly your audience is and create content that is relevant and engaging for them, “Get your audience segmentation right then you have a 50% higher chance that your content will be received.”

Tune into the full podcast below or check us out on iTunes or Stitcher for more key insights.

[Lead Image via Marketing Land]

Send to Kindle

Brand Fast-Trackers #213 — Seize the Narrative

213 Giant
Send to Kindle

So Long and Farewell

I hope everyone had a great holiday last week. Today is bittersweet. This will be my last blog post for Brand Fast-Trackers and Brand Connections. After 3.5 wonderful years I’ve found a new opportunity and will be transferring duties to two trusted and wonderful colleagues: Breanne Hiser & Wendy Benstock. Bre will take over writing duties and a lot of the technical aspects and Wendy will manage the overall production of the show. It has been such a pleasure producing and writing about these shows these past few years. What started as a task turned into a true love for podcasting and audio. I’m proud of each and every interview and hope to see Brand Fast-Trackers live a long time into the future. I hope to stay in touch with many of you.

Killing Giants

Now to today’s episode. We first spoke with Stephen Denny when his book Killing Giants: 10 Strategies to Topple the Goliaths in Your Industry came out. Since that time, Stephen has toured the world speaking about book and it is now available in 6 languages. A very impressive feat! As he toured around speaking about the book, he realized there was a supplementary need, so he recently published a Killing Giants eBook update that includes the KG frame work with a few more real world case studies. One of those case studies was of GM Netcon/Jabra and their GM Pete Fox.  Both Stephen and Pete joined us for this interview.

 The Killing Giants Frame Work:

KG Frame workHow many times have you read a really great business book? I mean a really great business book. One that changed how you approach your business? Have you ever read a book that drove you to contact the author and hire them for your business? I am guessing not. But that is exactly what happened when Pete Fox read Killing Giants.

Of the three frames above, Stephen said that the idea of Seizing the Narrative had been resonating the most with his readers/listeners and it was that knowledge that led him to put together the eBook. It was this idea that also sparked Pete to contact Stephen.

Pete_5847_square                                                                                               “I found the book really practical, so I got a hold of Stephen and realized immediately if we allowed our competitor to define who we were, then we would stay exactly there. So changing the narrative was really exciting.”

Giant Slayed

So what were the results of Jabra seizing the narrative with Stephen’s help? An impressive 20MM in incremental sales. That’s nothing to slouch at. Jabra found themselves getting in front of targets in a way no one had the ability to do before with a 20% lead rate to actual marketing opportunities. The “Devices Make Experiences,” campaign is now in its third year.

To hear the rest of this interview click below or catch us on itunes or stitcher.

[Lead Image via Creative Commons by Chipmunk Raccoon2 ]


Send to Kindle

Brand Fast-Trackers #212 – The Age of the Entrepreneur

The Age of the Entrepreneur
Send to Kindle

Employees, Entrepreneurs & Intrapreneurs

One of the key tenets of this podcast is entrepreneurship or how do I go from being an employee to an entrepreneur? We have certainly have had many entrepreneurs on this show, and have also recognized the growing trend of intrapreneurship. Today speaking with today’s guest made perfect sense. Julie Cottineau has a long history in the agency world at Grey and Interbrand and spent almost 5 years as the VP of Brands for Virgin. I don’t know about you, but when I think about famous entrepreneurs, Richard Branson certainly comes to mind. Now Julie oversees her own brand consultancy and uses lateral, out-of-category thinking to help agencies and entrepreneurs innovate through BrandTwist and BrandSchool.

Lessons from Richard

Richard Branson

Richard Branson at Gulltaggen

One of the must ask questions for someone who has worked with Richard Branson is what did they learn, so we asked Julie what her key takeaways were from her time at Virgin. I found this particularly fascinating because Virgin plays in so many different buckets and succeeds.

How do you translate the Virgin brand across categories successfully in everything from mobile to credit card to airplanes? In asking Julie what lessons she took with her, she shared four key nuggets:

  1. A Clear Core Promise Julie shares the biggest thing she learned is that the reason why Virgin can go into so many different categories is that they have a really clear core promise, which is about shaking things up and delivering a good promise to the consumer.
  2. Your Brand is the Product/Experience Your offering must deliver what it promises to do. This is key and comes before the messaging.
  3. Embrace Failure Failure is embraced at Virgin as a learning opportunity. Only through failure can you go on to succeed the next time.
  4. Know your Brand Framework Virgin is involved in multiple industries and verticals so knowing the brand tenets was key. If you can’t stay true to who you are as a brand when expanding into new opportunities, you will likely fail. Your brand should not be a document; it should be a living tool.

The Age of the Entrepreneur

The conversation with Julie covered a lot of territory, but one trend she pointed out is that it is the age of the entrepreneur. It has become easier and easier for inspiring entrepreneurs (and intrapreneurs) to launch their businesses quickly as easily. There has never been a time where there were so many resources at our disposal. So the next time you have a big idea, run with it. You never know what may happen. To this end, I stumbled across this fun little infographic and thought it was help some of you to make the leap. Tune into the full podcast below or check us out on iTunes or Stitcher.

Getting Over Fear On The Way To Becoming an Entrepreneur


[Lead image via WickedStart]

[Branson image via Creative Commons by Gulltaggen

Send to Kindle

Brand Fast-Trackers #211 – The Stories of Brand Equity

brand storytelling, brand equity
Send to Kindle


For today’s episode we return to Shopper marketing series with Chris Brace and discuss brand equity. The first thing that came to my mind when thinking about brand equity were things like Harris Interactive’s Brand Health Tracking and a few examples of the reputations of certain brands plummeting after poorly-handled PR crises. I also think of specific measures that give you overall brand health ranking. For Chris, however, brand equity is defined quite differently. He agrees there are a set of assets linked to the brand and brand symbol that add value, but it goes way beyond those. It’s really about the story.

The Stories of Brand Equity

For Chris, your brand equity is actually the stories that consumers have about your brand based on the experiences they have had with your brand. That’s a mouthful, but it makes a lot of sense. The word storytelling gets tossed around a lot in the marketing space. And that’s when it really hit me and Chris’s words made sense: Storytelling is all about making memories. So how can you brand make memories for your consumers much like I was making with my older daughter in the image above? I might be idealistic, but it can be done.

What’s Missing?

So given that true brand equity comes from storytelling, what are brands missing or how can they approach storytelling? Chris offers this key tip:

“Create communications that trigger memories that the shopper already has about the brand and that also allows them to create new memories. You build brand equity when these communications/experiences go into long-term memory.”

Who is Getting it Right?

NYDJ, brand equityA brand that immediately comes to mind for me is NYDJ. I must have read about how fantastic their jeans were in some beauty magazine. So I started researching them and discovered their stories. I went and tried on my first pair and I felt thin and beautiful and you better believe I spent the $100 those suckers cost. And now, a few years later, they are my go-to jeans. I know they fit me, and I will feel beautiful in them. You may say, ‘Kat, I don’t buy that,’ which I get, but if you were able to get a consumer to associate your brand with feeling confident and beautiful like NYDJ has for me, wouldn’t you do it?

southwest storytelling, brand equity

Not buying it? Okay, what about Southwest? I recently saw Brooks Thomas present at a Ragan PR Conference about how Southwest uses storytelling. The thing that made his presentation unique was that he didn’t speak at all. He used music and videos of these Southwest stories to tell the story. I guess that made it very meta. I wish I had the audio, but check out his presentation. I think you will get the idea.

For more of Chris’s insights on building brand equity through storytelling, tune into the full podcast below. Or check us out on iTunes or Stitcher.

Send to Kindle