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

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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.

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Brand Fast-Trackers #210 – Picture Your Business Strategy

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Picture Your Business Strategy

In mid-April I attended the Ad Age Digital Conference and at some point found myself sitting next to a woman who was drawing the conference. We’ve all seen those fantastic business-doodles that represent the “big idea” or the most salient points of a presentation. But seeing one of these unfold in person is another matter altogether. I was enthralled to see one of these drawings in progress and especially impressed because the artist was drawing solely with her iPad. This got me thinking about how one goes about drawing in this way and I was lucky to come across a fantastic book about this very topic.

Today we are joined by Chris Chopak, the author of Picture Your Business Strategy: Transform Decisions with the Power of Visuals. Chris’s company Alchemy helps companies of all varieties use visual/drawing techniques to both tell their stories and solidify their strategies. So what do you do if you can’t draw. I know this is a fear of mine. During the interview, Brian mentions he has the same fear. As Chris puts it though, it’s not about the drawing, it’s actually about the critical listening skills. She says, If you can draw a circle, triangle and an arrow, you can do this.”

Drawing Goofy


This led Brian to share an anecdote that really resonated with me. He recently spent a bit of time with a Disney animator. (I promise this all relates.) At first, you think how magical animated characters are and how complicated they must be to draw and make lifelike, but the animator pointed out to Brian if you can draw a circle, a square and a few others things, you can draw Goofy.  I don’t know about you, but this sounds an awful lot like what Chris is talking about. So I took the point to heart and came up with the image you see here. Now if I can draw something someone can at least recognize as Goofy, all of us can put Chris’ advice to work and draw for our respective businesses.

Listen Without the Intent to Respond

I can’t tell you how many times this has been drilled into my head by our esteemed host, but Brian is right. When you really focus on what someone is saying, you can identify needs in a way you won’t be able to if you are instantly trying to interject your opinion. The bottom line is that 83% of us are visual learners. Why is this so critical?

  • By the time we are 27, our neural pathways are very well established.
  • Our brain like consistency and repetition. We like patterns.
  • There are only 3 mediums that engaged both sides of our brain and the left and right sides are firing neurons across the hemispheres — Art, Music, and Mathematics.

Imagine the possibilities that drawing can lead to when you embrace it during a more logical, left-brained strategy session. I’m excited already. To hear the rest of the interview tune in below or check us out on iTunes or Stitcher. 


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Brand Fast-Trackers #209 – The Holy Marketing Grail: ROI

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What is the Holy Marketing Grail? ROI, ROI, ROI

Okay, brand marketers, ROI is the holy grail, so where have you assigned your best copywriters and content generators to achieve that ROI? If I had to guess, I would say it’s still in your TV/Broadcast advertising. Despite how TV is changing with an evolving on-demand culture, conventional wisdom tells us broadcast still works, so this marketing focus/spend is still the right way, right? RIGHT? Well, maybe not, shares today’s guest.

Meet Email Marketing’s Rebel Extraordinaire

DJ Waldow joins us today to discuss this very issue. DJ is the co-author of The Rebel’s Guide to Email Marketing: Grow Your List, Break the Rules, and Win (along with past BFT guest Jason Falls). He is known through the digital/social marketing space as the email guy. If you get a unique email, you tag DJ on FB or Twitter and say, ‘Hey DJ, have you seen this?” The point is, he knows his stuff when it comes to email. 

‘Email, how boring,’ you may scoff, but as DJ shares during the interview, there is a $40 return from every dollar spent on email marketing. Let me say that again, the Return on Investment for Email Marketing is $40 for every $1 spent. Is the same true for that $4-5 Million you spent on that one Super Bowl TV spot?

For DJ, email is a missed opportunity for a lot of brands. Yes, they’re sending emails, but they are not optimized for consumption by different devices, nor are they designed to always provoke a response (SALES). As he puts it:

Email is your best return on investment, so you should have the best team on it, the best writers, the best designers, etc dedicated to your email marketing efforts. 

3 Key Tips on How to Amp Your Email Marketing

Beyond putting your best people on your email marketing, DJ offers these 3 tips to see the holy marketing grail – true ROI – come to fruition.

  1. Leverage Social. Give your consumers an incentive to share the email or connect with you on social networks. Email is inherently social. And it works both ways. Make sure you are on Facebook etc and giving people a reason to subscribe to your email list.  
  2. Be more human. Your emails should not be overtly salesy and read ‘blah blah blah buy my stuff.’ That just doesn’t resonate. You must capture people’s attention and you can do that through being more human in your approach and assigning your best people to your email initiatives. 
  3. Test, test and test some more. Email gives you an opportunity at immediate feedback, so don’t waste it. What is your average open rate? Are you testing subject lines? Images? 

Tune into the full podcast below for this and many more tips on making your email efforts work even better for your brand.

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Brand Fast-Trackers #208 – Content Disruption

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The Perfect Storm

We last spoke with Edelman‘s Steve Rubel way back in 2010. Today he’s back on the show and in a fairly new role at Edelman as their Chief Content Officer. Content, content, content. We’re hearing it everywhere, but what does it mean and especially, what does it mean for you as a brand marketer for your brand? For Steve, there is something fundamentally profound going on – a perfect storm similar to social media storm that happened between 2004-2006. Steve believes that in many ways this is even more disruptive and impacting the media environment over everything else.

Content Disruption

So what is this content disruption? Steve sees 3 key trends happening simultaneously.

  1. There is more and more content available on mobile devices, both tablets and smart phones. It is scaling at the like of which we have never seen before. Banner ads were never extremely effective. I’ve read stats around .2%. Not great by any stretch of the imagination, but when you apply that to the entirety of the web, there are significant sales dollars there. The move into mobile content completely erodes efficacy of banner ads.
  2. Major changes are happening in the media business. Steve points to a large inventory of content, but only a limited demand for it. Consumers have less and less time and attention to consume content (your brand’s advertising). What we are left with is a tremendous amount of inventory that is not being monetized. Enter demand-sized platforms that are traded like any other commodity. Overall CPM cost is being driven down. The pressure this puts on media companies leaves them with limited options. Subscriptions models are hard to do. We have seen many paywall and premium content strategies fail. Media companies must offset these loses.
  3. Simultaneously there is a willingness and appetite by brands to tell their story their own way. Their success in social they now feel they have the confidence and infrastructure to do that. Enter Native Advertising. This is a reinvention of the advertorial or product placement for the web. Owned media is intersecting with paid media to allow brands to have significant real estate on some of the largest media platforms in the world.

 More about Native Advertising

I came across the infographic from last year as I was writing this post. It gives a good overview of native advertising, so wanted to reshare it here. For the rest of Steve’s interview, scroll down below for the audio. The show is also available via iTunes and Stitcher Radio. Have a great weekend!

Native Advertising, content disruption


[Illustration by Hallie Bateman]

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Brand Fast-Trackers #207 – So Delicious

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For those of you that follow me on my other social accounts (Hey, connect why dontcha? Twitter, FB, LinkedIn), you know I am at minimal, very health conscious. I’m gluten free, mostly dairy free (cheese, must have it), and sugar free when I am really on my game. That being said, it was a special thrill to have Mike Murray, VP of Marketing for So Delicious® Dairy Free on the show. Mike is a classically trained marketer who spent the bulk of his career at General Mills. And this at a time when both digital and social media marketing gained their footholds and fundamentally changed brand management.

Mike is now overseeing the fast-growing So Delicious® and helping the brand bring joy to dairy free lives. For Mike, growth comes from 3 key marketing philosophies:

  1. Understanding, evaluating and leveraging trends. This really resonated with me, as Mike talked about the macro trend of health and wellness and the micro trends of dairy free and veganism. It makes sense that a brand focused on dairy free products has a lot to draw from here, but the lessons apply to all brands. Pay attention to what consumers are thinking about or paying attention to and finding a niche to serve them becomes easier.
  2. Using Hyper-Targeted Marketing. This thought ties back the podcast we did with Erika Napoletano. Figure out who your customers AREN’T, then focus on your customer. Mike puts it like this: “The correct way to grow [a brand] is to be more exclusionary with your target consumer. It seems counter-intuitive but it is not. The more exclusive you are, the better you can understand and meet the needs of that consumer. The outer circle growth takes care of itself. The reason it works is the increased empathy will yield stronger, more relevant consumer insights.”
  3. Mission-based Brand Identity. We’ve talked a lot about this through various shows, whether    we were speaking to UNICEF’s Caryl Stern or Method Home’s Eric Ryan or Seventh Generation’s Joey Bergstein. One part of me thinks this won’t apply to every brand, and another part of me asks ‘why not’? Find a mission that makes sense with your brand identity, integrate it, make it resonate for your customers. Be authentic, but also take advantage of it.

Brand and agency marketers alike, i really think there is a lot to glean from Mike and this interview. Tune into the full episode below. And hey, if you haven’t yet read our new eBook - Career Advice from 5 of the World’s Best Marketers compiled from the brilliant guests of this very podcast, click below. 


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