What is branding really? Ask 10 people and get 10 different answers. Brand gurus try to make it sound mysterious and hard. But never fear, The Brand Brothers are here to show why it’s simple! In fact, if it’s not simple, it’s not a real brand. Here’s the first step to find yours!
Lorenzo: You wrote two books on marketing and branding, that I’ve read, that I love and tell our
audience about them.
Bill: First of all, I want you to know that I’m sitting across my brother, my younger brother, is
also the author of a book, an amazing book called, wait let me see the title so I can, no, of
course I know the title, it’s the Cilantro Diaries, business lessons from the most unlikely
places, it was published this year. It is a real live book it’s not a pamphlet. It’s actually two
hundred ninety-five beautiful pages and we found out today, ladies and gentlemen, out
there in radio land, if you can hear within the sound of my voice that the book was just
picked up by a major, globally renowned university, can I say which one it is?
Bill: Yeah. The Subway Community College of Sandwich Making, no… But ahh.
Lorenzo: Yeah, Texas A&M.
Bill: Texas A&M University.
Lorenzo: Required reading.
Bill: And it’s becoming required reading, not for all fifty thousand, that’s the next thing, but
for a major class, required reading. That is quite an honor, Lorenzo, let’s hear it for
Lorenzo: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Although I will tell the listener that I had a little, in
the movie the social network where Justin Timberlake rebrands Facebook, where he says
you know, take out “the” Facebook and- “Facebook”.
Bill: Oh yeah, huge.
Lorenzo: When I was writing Cilantro Diaries, my original subtitle was business lessons from
unlikely places and we were actually at the Valencia and Bill said, “no, no, no- the most
unlikely places, it needs to be superlative”. and this is the power of, we never stop, we
never stop branding.
Bill: Well, right. And that’s again another lesson that’s going come up, but that’s the power of
the superlative, which means if you’re going to be branded as anything, you gotta be the
best at something, and, and then people say, well, that doesn’t sound like me, I promise
you, when you know what, to look for and, how to get it, and how to express it, you’ll
find what you do that nobody else does. So you know what, that’s actually a good segue,
let’s get to today’s topic. Which is- what is branding?
Lorenzo: One of the things that we did as well as a treat for our listeners, we took it to the masses.
We went to Geekdom, largest co-working space in San Antonio, and we asked the
question, what is branding?
Interview 1: What comes to mind first would be identity and distinguishability.
Interview 2: You know, name recognition, it’s what’s on a product that you see at the store or online or
when you’re investigating a particular thing you want to buy.
Interview 3: A brand can be anything- you can be a brand, us, ourselves as care professionals, we have
to brand ourselves, a school, a company, a software, literally anything can be a brand.
Interview 4: Some kind of symbol that shows that, that you think of, maybe the logo is part of the
Interview 5: I think of like, imagery a lot when I think of branding.
Interview 6: It really is the the first glimpse or the first idea you get in your head of, a company, or
what they do, or how they do it. That impression that you get from all the different kind
of media that they have, you know, printing, and, different ways that they present
Bill: Is that it?
Lorenzo: That’s it
Bill: Okay, first I want you to fire the person who did those interviews. I thought they, I paid
for funny, I wanted funny, I told him funny, you know, hey, look, you gotta have one
tantrum if you’re in show business, don’t you, I just had mine.
Lorenzo: That’s right, that’s right
Bill: No, those were perfect, I’ll tell you this, the first thing you get obviously is that you ask
ten people, you get ten different answers which is interesting, but some of those were
pretty right on, definitely right on- what do you think Lorenzo?
Lorenzo: Yeah, so I think, you know, before I ever studied the subject, I actually was one of those,
I used to think it was the logo. You know you think it’s a logo, you think it’s the Nike
Swoosh. Which really is, I think a lot of it, people, if you haven’t studied it, you think it’s
very visual. You gotta have a catchy, you know, everybody wants a Nike Swoosh, and to
me, that’s really not what branding is. And I think that the whole idea that it, we’re
attaching a name to an idea. But, the golden arches, very famous you know, someone
talked about that, what is it about that? Because the brand, the golden arches are not the
Bill: No, well, they okay, let’s, can you, can I, may I?
Lorenzo: Please, please, Doctor.
Bill: May I respond?
Bill: Respectfully, brother?
Lorenzo: Doctor, please.
Bill: Yes professor?
Bill: Ok, I would say this, when the way, the brand is, it’s several things and branding, just like
branding a horse means, when you stick labels on things that represent your brand. So
logos and paint schemes and things with effect are, but a brand only works. If it’s an idea
of that difference, it makes my life better and the way our brains think our brains reduce
everything down to one or two words. They do that, our primitive brains have done that
for fifty thousand years for a reason. It was for survival. So once you get an idea, for
example, Volvo, that’s the safe car. Now safe cars a difference. If I’m if I want the safest car
for my family and I want those things, safe car’s a difference. Once I understand that
difference, that’s the difference that makes me want to go to Volvo. When I put the logo
on there and the color scheme on there and these, those pallets and I paint to building a
certain way that’s the flag. That’s the flag that’s the sign by the side of the road that says
here’s where the brand is, here it is. When I see the golden arches I stopped and I say
wow McDonald’s you know, I know everything that McDonald’s means to me golden
arches here it is, and the golden arches after awhile again it’s that flag that here’s the
symbol now I know where to find it and that symbol starts to stand for that big long story,
but all it is is a visual flag, but they’re and they’re critical just like a uniform and they
used to have the redcoats and the blue coats. Well you needed to be able to identify who
the British and who are the Americans and each one was a different brand it’s the same
thing but the Americans stood for something they stood for that revolutionary colony the
British stood for the king’s monarchy the most powerful country in the world- that was
the brand but the uniform was the logos and the color pallets. So the uniforms are critical
that’s not what you do first, right?
Lorenzo: Right, rights.
Bill: So it’s, that little idea.
Lorenzo: What about Coca-Cola? Right? Another one mentioned in there, one of the famous ones.
I think that you know, I once heard someone say, “well, you know, the brand of coke is
that they never show an advertisement where there’s anything but happiness. It’s always
happiness on there.” I think it was, well, that’s, not the brand. I mean, it’s just a tactic.
Bill: Yeah, you know, I’ve often thought, wouldn’t I love to see a commercial where they’re a
bunch of people weeping, and uh, and throwing their, and beating themselves with sticks.
Lorenzo: But I want edgy Coke.
Lorenzo: I want, like, the first Batman.
Bill: You know, I swing a coke and I start whipping myself, you know, like. And what was that
the thing about those books?
Lorenzo: I want the goth, I want the goth version of Coke, That’s probably Coke Zero.
Bill: Yeah, throwing themselves off of cliffs. I don’t think that that necessarily sells soft drinks
that opposite thing, where someone’s going to come up with it now that we said it you
know- by the way, that’s our idea don’t steal it. I mean there are certain obvious things you
want to do I mean you will you create an atmosphere around where happy people are
enjoying the product but still that does not see there are some people that would say “oh that’s
the whole, that’s the advertisement.” No, it’s not. All advertisements do that that’s table
stakes but I think we talked about coke you know, it’s hard to pin it down. I’ve actually
talked once the guy who was a creative director at Mccann and Erickson, a guy named
Scott Miller from Boston who was the creative director on Coke back in its heyday, and
he told me, you know, “a Coke and a smile,” he said, “you know, smile it’s a little thing,
but it’s a really big thing,” he told like it was the pope talking to me, but when you have
five hundred billion dollars worth of an advertising budget, you can advertise a smile, say
a coke and a smile and sing a jingle and everybody can remember it. So you have the
power of that kind of thing. Remember the people that are listening to us don’t have
budgets like that. They have to have a real difference. Anyway, when Coke first came out,
you know the difference was? The Coke actually had cocaine in it. No, it really did.
Bill: This is when America was really great. No, you got it at the drugstore. The druggist
mixed it up. And he mixed it up, and you could have cocaine in it. And that you could
have anything in it.
Lorenzo: That’s one way to build a customer base.
Bill: Yeah. I mean, you talk about well, you can have coffee- or you can try this, but it’s
Lorenzo: the old days were better obviously.
Bill: it’s the real thing it’s, refreshing and boy oh boy, will you feel good, it really did, I don’t
know how they advertised it in those days. But the thing was, as it went on because it was
the oldest and was original- there’s actually an earlier one called Moxie was actually
Moxie. If you’re from Maine, you know what Moxie is. But the problem with Moxie was
it tasted like a piece of paved road. Did you ever see newly paved roads, smell the
asphalt? It actually tasted like that. That was its problem, but Coke tasted good, so Coke
is the first one. It tasted good, and nowadays, over the years, it became the real thing,
they would say, basically, Coke is the original thing. It’s the one that we all remember, it’s
the one we grew up on and it really was, so that’s kind of what they did, but they have
these massive, massive budgets, but even Coke, even those brands, are starting to fail,
they’re lagging because people want other health benefits and things.
Lorenzo: So so, what were your thoughts on our brand in the street?
Bill: I think what I heard that I expected was people talking about logos, color palettes,
identities those kinds of things. I think somebody said it’s a glimpse of an idea- there
were a couple of things, they were getting at it, but again, you know, it’s hard to
articulate unless you really bring it down to these simple things and so we say it’s an idea
attached to a name. If you can own an idea in this world, one idea of a difference where
there are five hundred million messages going by your head every single second, if you
can own one you win the ballgame nowadays. So it’s that idea that makes me want to buy
it, find that thing that you do best and then you do your logos, then you do your color
palette and everything you do must advance the idea at the center- that’s the key.
Lorenzo: i’m going to switch to a segment we have which is stories from terrible ad agencies,
potshots at terrible at agencies.
Bill: Ads we hate.
Lorenzo: Ads we as we hate, and this wasn’t an ad agency but you told you once told me a story
about a, just to keep the innocents safe, a marketer from an agency that thought that the
color red was a campaign.
Bill: That was one of those low moments that were so low they were so despicably, dastardly,
incredibly low. So I was found myself hanging over the pit of doom, twisting in the wind
over the pit of despair that was so low.
Lorenzo: Tell us, tell our Listeners
Bill: That finally, I realized it was so bad, there was a thing of beauty. It was an actual- it was
the mona lisa of badness. It was what they were thinking was so incredibly mindless, and
further adding to the beauty was the chief marketing officer was probably making seven
hundred fifty thousand dollars a year to tell me this.
Lorenzo: Just say “red.”
Lorenzo: Drop the mic. Go home, cash your check, boom.
Bill: Well, what happened was…
Lorenzo: What happened?
Bill: They went and they told me they were going to do this big campaign and they’d been
working on it for months, and they were going to roll this thing out. And she showed me,
this is the big insight. They’d hired research. They had hired consultants.
Lorenzo: As you do.
Bill: Yeah. They had an agency working on them with this, and what they had discovered was
that- and she pulled out a page. And there was a collage of fifty little ads of all the
competitors computing companies, all blue. They look blue, she said, “see these, they’re
blue” and I go. Yeah, well, the sea is blue and the sky is blue, and getting to a point,
they’re blue. She looks at me. She pauses for dramatic effect. Looks me right in the eye,
“ours are going to be red.” And I said, and I
Lorenzo: and your head exploded
Bill: I thought there was more that was going to come and then she stopped there and she was
Lorenzo: There it is.
Bill: And she showed me an example of their ads, were going to be red, it’s kind of like from
This is Spinal Tap. Our amps go to eleven, the guy says,”Well, why can’t your amps just go
to ten but be a little louder?” “Ah, yeah, but ours go to eleven,” he never got it. She says
“Ours, are red,” and she showed me the red one. And I realized in a moment of bliss,
because it was so beautifully stupid that this person thought the campaign, the difference
was red, the color red!
Lorenzo: You know what? She deserves another seven hundred thousand dollars. I mean, I’m just,
I’m just saying.
Bill: Well, i’m just saying.
Lorenzo: If I was her agent, i’d say, you can’t just get that anywhere but my client.
Bill: Well I’m gonna say its hard own red. You know, tomato sauce is red. I mean, they’ve got
a monopoly on red. I mean, what else is red? Roses are red, but ok, I think she thought
that was a difference; you see, if she had a difference and then they used the red color
palette to have a consistent look on their side,
Bill: then fine, but people didn’t buy their computing because it was red and I honestly don’t
think she knew the difference. And sure enough, they took another year to come out with
a campaign, and they’re red.
Lorenzo: That’s Probably my favorite story.
Bill: By the way, we’re in show business now. Can we have drugs now? Wait a minute, John,
our producer, he’s supposed to bring the drugs in here. I’m gonna have another tantrum. I
mean, shouldn’t we have it? Okay,
Lorenzo: Now you once wrote a blog post called the differentiators versus the image sellers. For
our listeners out there, we will provide a link to the differentiators versus the image
sellers on our website. And when you wrote it, I loved it. Obviously, you know, cause I
love everything you write,
Bill: Thank you.
Lorenzo: You know, as a good brother does.
Bill: You know just what to say.
Lorenzo: And what I loved about it, is that I just, you know, to me, it really articulated us versus
them, right? What is it? We’ve talked a lot about the image sellers, you know, things like
the color red, but let’s talk a little bit about the differentiators. We talked a little bit about
that, but tell us a little bit about that blog post, because I think that to me, it sets up what
we’re doing here so perfectly.
Bill: The differentiators versus the image sellers was what we called that blog post and there’s
one little part of it I can I can actually read a little piece of. We said the emotion sellers,
they’re the ones who are the image sellers they think their job is to create feelings: the
spotlight should be on the creative departments, clever executions and not on the product,
but the differentiators do the opposite. They make the product of the star: the most
interesting part of the commercial is the message they’re conveying. To do that they lead
with something called the facts of the difference, which are the compelling facts they knit
together into an irresistible story, a story of the facts of the difference. Then they let the
customer connect their emotion to those facts based on their own experience, their own
lives. They know that those kind of feelings are more vivid and more powerful than
anything the advertiser could ever make up because the customer’s experience are the
ones that really live in their heart and in their soul. That’s why- a couple of good
examples- When Apple introduced the revolutionary ipod, they didn’t need to remind you
of the joy of music- they didn’t show people dancing around. Instead, they gave you a
startling revolutionary fact- it’s like having ten thousand songs in your pocket. Okay offer
me that, and it fits in your hand. Tell me that’s not going to interest me. I can figure out
how great that’s going be, right, you guys? When Boeing, the aircraft company, offered a
747, they said it’s the first jumbo jet- it can carry five hundred passengers from new york
to sydney nonstop. Nothing could ever do that before. That’s pretty fantastic. When
netflix appeared first appeared, they told you the facts of their difference. It was videos in
the in the mail instead of videos in the store like Blockbusters- suddenly there’d be no
more late fees. No more being told that all the hits were out and you could keep it as long
as you want again, I can see the difference- I can make up for how I feel about that. When
Kindle came out with something called the new Paper White reading tablet it showed you
a difference. Now you could read comfortably even on the beach. And when Chobani
created a yogurt sensation they got straight to the point. It told it’s the super food because
they said compared to regular yogurt, it’s twice the protein, half the fat and see, those
facts are so dramatic and so wonderful and so great I can make up the story myself and
the story I make up myself, always the most powerful, so don’t make up the story for me
to give me emotions, tell me the facts so I can make up my own story. As I was going
through my transition and finding the true religion of branding here and getting to the
point of where we actually did this program, because there was just so much going, on so
much fake stuff going on
Bill: so much dumb stuff, so much wasteful, and I have to tell you, untruthful stuff, in other
words, people selling people what branding was that either they didn’t know better, or they
did, and they were really hoodwinking their clients. Honest to god, they were selling
them something fake, because the truth is, when you have a product that’s a really great
product, you have to believe that the world needs your product, you’re selling it, you want
to sell them because you want to get from what’s in your head, how good you really in
your heart know it is into their heads because you know it’s going to help them and you
know, but you’ve got to convince them. When you start to brand something, I mean, if
you don’t believe in your product that strongly you should get another product. And so
you want to find what’s the truth in all this. How do you really persuade people, you
know, that was all part of it? What happened was when they would talk about, you know,
buying is an emotional feeling. It is. But if you try to create emotional feelings for
people, for example, if I say if someone’s got a headache and you decide well, it’s
emotional feeling, so you show them all the emotions around having a headache, that’s
one thing, but they already know they’ve got a headache. If they’ve got a headache and
you say my product is going to take your headache away in five minutes without any
without any side effects, that difference and that benefit- that person who has that
headache has all the emotion that they already need. That’s the fallacy is that we create
these emotional setups and create a scene, and then you’ll see these people do is they’ll
stick a brand at the end of that commercial and say, see what you just saw. Well, what you
saw is how you should feel about that and that’s the end of the commercial, whereas, the
fact is that if you make a dramatic difference, make the difference as dramatic as you
possibly can, showing the person what the difference is when they see that difference,
that person will create more emotion than you could ever possibly give them, and they
will create it from their own mind and their own life and their own circumstances, which
you could never duplicate. And so you know what? So what was the original question?
Because i’m going off in the whole thing, but no, so one of the things again, it that that
the same place that talked about the red versus blue, they had also seen some ted talk about
ah, your branding, it shouldn’t be about what it’s supposed to be all about why.
Apparently, this guy Simon Sinek and he has ten million views of his ted talk on the
internet or whatever. And he’s the most popular guy and I hate to say it, it’s so wrong and
it’s so misleading and it’s so misguided that I don’t know what to tell you, because the fact
the matter is what is what the benefit is- what are you gonna do to make my life better?
He was talking about what people care about is why the company decided to go do this
and the purpose that they felt when they decided to start this company and I want to tell
you you go to a restaurant and the food stinks and you just paid one hundred fifty
Lorenzo: Yeah you don’t care why they did it.
Bill: One hundred fifty dollars i’m sorry but I don’t want a relationship.
Bill: I came there for really, really good food, good service I came to get away from the
kitchen and bring my wife out to dinner or whatever and have this wonderful experience
and if the experience is terrible I don’t care that the cook cares about organic cooking and
Lorenzo: You’re right
Bill: And in a world where, because we don’t have time in the world anymore for anything but
resultswe’re too busy, we’re too frazzled, we’re too stressed and too squeezed for money
because everything’s getting more expensive and so show me that thing and show me
what you’re going to do and then and then I might have a relationship but you have to
Lorenzo: Yeah, I also think that you know in our world you know, using the why for a brand is
absolutely incorrect I do think though, that there may be some utility in the inspiring
mission, right? But that’s for employees that’s not for your customers.
Lorenzo: And I think, you know, in a future episode I think we’re going to talk about return on
vision as well.
Lorenzo: I think which I think we can expound upon that
Bill: Right, but let’s be careful about one thing the why. So some people misinterpreted what
this guy was saying about why. Because why also can mean why do you need it? Why
does it work? That’s important. Because once you make a proposition to someone you say
this thing is going to take my sore throat away, now everybody makes the same claim.
Then it’s very important why you should believe us and there is this magic ingredient that
no one else has or believe us because we’re the number one in the world, most popular,
you know, ten million people can’t be wrong, that kind of thing but he’s not talking about
that kind of why, that’s critical. He’s talking about the purpose of what they felt about and
why they started the company. That’s important to the employees- that’s important to the
people inside the company because that is critical in there. But when you’re outside the
company you need, first of all, I need it to work I need it to perform. I need it to do what
you say you’re going to do for the money I paid. And then after a relationship with you,
sure, I care that you’re good people and that you believe in organic farming and you give
money to ah, you know, what do you call it, children without borders or something, you
know? Yes, and those are all good things, but I still need something to make my headache
Lorenzo: That’s right. So I want to I want to add one thing to that because I think it’s great. You
once told me a line that i’m gonna butcher. It was like, the hardest thing to do is to make a
great product interesting. Well, what does it tell us that quote?
Bill: Ah, the great Arthur Schiff, may he rest in… I don’t know where he is. He may be resting
in the hot place for all I know going, but wherever you’re resting Arthur, you know i’m
thinking about you right now. Arthur was the guy that wrote the famous Ginsu knife
commercial. He really wrote the real Ginsu knives, one of the most perfect pieces of two
minutes of selling that has ever been done in the history of television., if anyone’s ever
seen that commercial. Matter of fact we should link to that, by the way, people should see
these things, these are the greatest.
Lorenzo: We’re going to talk about him in one episode.
Bill: Right? Right, right, right. But what Arthur said is that it’s easier to make a crappy product
look great than to make a really great product look half as good as it really is. Now that’s
kind of a complicated thing, but what he was saying is, you know, when you have a
simple product with just a few dimensions, you can focus on those dimensions and really
dramatize them. But when you have a really complex, wonderful product, it’s hard to
make people really understand how how great it is.
Lorenzo: And he was the master.
Bill: He was the master. We’ll have to segue, though into those two minute commercials.
Those two minute commercials that everybody makes fun of actually are, once you get
into this stuff, you’ll see the magic of what they do. They actually get people, get up off
the couch and buy something at two o’clock in the morning, that’s, not easy.
Lorenzo: That’s right
Bill: They’re, very, very smart, what they do.
Lorenzo: He was a differentiator.
Bill: Big time, big time He said, “In Japan, the hand can be used like a knife,” and he showed
Lorenzo: Don’t do it, don’t do it on this, we’re going to do it another one.
Bill: See that’s the thing, just remember, see Arthur believed, sure, you can have a dramatic
opening that’s very cinematic and dramatic. Just gets people’s attention, you’ve got to get
their attention, but once you get their attention, then you’ve got to make him buy it.