Dig Deep to Identity Your Brand Persona- Too many executives are afraid of projecting their brand DNA for fear of offending others. However, successful brands carve out a niche and project it proudly knowing full well that some customers will dislike them, but that they will also earn raving fans. Death Wish Coffee, for example, understands the coffee fiends who are their core customers. On Twitter, for example, one post reads: “DRINKING MY COFFEE. DON’T TALK TO ME” repeated 5 times. Hysterical! They also have the courage to post this statement on their site: 100% No-BS Guarantee.
As part of our series about “Brand Makeovers” I had the pleasure to interview Liz Goodgold. Liz is a branding expert who works with entrepreneurs and corporations to brand and speak better. From managing part of the $650 million Quaker Oats brand, she shares how to brand out, stand out, and cash in on your brand. With a fireball of energy, Liz has custom-created talks for Pfizer, Warner Bros, Meals on Wheels, Qualcomm and 200 plus other companies. Quick with a quip, she’s been on every national news channel and 2 TV series including Hollywood Scandals and The Kennedy Files. She’s also the author of 3 books including RedFire Branding and How to Speak Gooder.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit more. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I’ve always been fascinated by brands starting with Bonnie Bell, Jordache Jeans, and Candies. How did they become hip? How does a brand retain cult status? How does a brand remain relevant and yet differentiated? These are the same questions that drive me today.
Can you share a story about the funniest marketing or branding mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I started the DUH! Marketing Awards as a way to fuse learning and laughter. Before the Internet and viral content, my newsletters were everywhere; I even called my first book DUH! Marketing. And, then the reality hit: I couldn’t get hired by the companies that had just received an Award! With the recession of 2007 putting my livelihood in peril. I changed my company name to RedFire Branding representing not only my fiery personality and red hair, but as a symbol of rising out of the ashes of the downturn in the economy.
I learned that first impressions of brand names matter. If you’re delivering a speech called DUH! Branding and meeting planners don’t know you, they’ll assume that you’re mean and nasty. Get the name right the first time.
Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Is there a takeaway or lesson that others can learn from that?
My business blossomed by publicity. Articles, interviews, podcasts, and TV appearances were a major boost. Lesson: boost your visibility to boost your profitability.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
I’ve been coaching many executives recently on speaking better because it forms the foundation of their personal brand. Since first impressions are rampant, it’s imperative that you speak with authority and authenticity. It’s time to kick to the curb the “likes” and other speaking disfluencies that are killing your credibility and career.
What advice would you give to other marketers to thrive and avoid burnout?
It’s important to step away from the job, the PC, and your phone. The world isn’t coming to an end if you don’t respond immediately. Unplug and repeat as necessary.
Ok, let’s now jump to the core part of our interview. In a nutshell, how would you define the difference between brand marketing (branding) and product marketing (advertising)? Can you explain?
A brand is your promise to the customer over the lifetime of your product or service. Advertising is an ephemeral ploy to get folks to buy now. One is a long-term proposition and position, the other is a temporary marketing message.
Can you explain to our readers why it is important to invest resources and energy into building a brand, in addition to the general marketing and advertising efforts?
Creating marketing messages without understanding your brand DNA is like putting up a for sale sign without the address. You don’t know where to start! Investing in branding early saves headaches later.
I frequently see clients who tell me that they are having a copywriting issue. Wrong! They have a branding problem. You cannot write one word of copy without understanding your target, point of difference, personality, vocabulary, and promise.
Let’s now talk about rebranding. What are a few reasons why a company would consider rebranding?
Renaming is at the heart of rebranding. Changing a brand name is serious business; you must weigh the positives of a new name against the negatives of losing any derived brand equity. A company should rebrand because of the following reasons:
- It’s Negatively Impacted by The News — Note the discussions about TikTok looking for a new name to disassociate itself from its Chinese roots.
- It Is Wrapped Up in Merger Mania — We are seeing fewer “squished” names. 20th Century Fox is now rebranded as 20th Century Studios.
- The Name Has Negative Connotations — Do you remember the ’70s appetite suppressant, Ayds? Obviously, chewing the caramel candies doesn’t transmit AIDS, but the tie-in between the brand and the disease obviously hit consumers hard. It died a quick death.
- It’s Outgrown the Name — A great example is Boston Chicken converting to Boston Market. Modem Media remains ripe for a name change adopting the more modern name of its parent, Digitas.
Are there downsides of rebranding? Are there companies that you would advise against doing a “Brand Makeover”? Why?
Legacy brands should hold up their heritage. The New York Times, for example, established its tagline of “All the news that’s Fit to Print” in 1897 and it still remains relevant today. Even with its digital version, the brand persona as the authority of news remains apparent.
Another brand with a great heritage is Wells Fargo. Established in 1852, the brand should never abandon its iconic stagecoach.
Ok, here is the main question of our discussion. Can you share 5 strategies that a company can do to upgrade and re-energize their brand and image”? Please tell us a story or an example for each.
- Dig Deep to Identity Your Brand Persona- Too many executives are afraid of projecting their brand DNA for fear of offending others. However, successful brands carve out a niche and project it proudly knowing full well that some customers will dislike them, but that they will also earn raving fans. Death Wish Coffee, for example, understands the coffee fiends who are their core customers. On Twitter, for example, one post reads: “DRINKING MY COFFEE. DON’T TALK TO ME” repeated 5 times. Hysterical! They also have the courage to post this statement on their site: 100% No-BS Guarantee.
- Develop A Brand Vocabulary — Dogpile, for example, uses “go fetch” vs. go search; it’s a great example of understanding your brand imagery and appropriate terms.
- Change Your Name — The HVLS Company (High Volumes of Low Speed air) caused quite a ruckus when it adopted the Big Ass Fan moniker. Some customers hated it and the company posted their unhappy comments; unheard of at that time. Today, the company is the Big Ass Solutions and it continues to push boundaries. See for example, its You Tube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QmIYMqTao0A
- Invest in a Good Tagline…and Keep It — Too many companies confuse a tagline with a slogan. A slogan is an ephemeral phrase attached to a particular ad campaign whereas a tagline explains the company’s life-long brand promise. The Ultimate Driving Machine (BMW), Tyson (We’re Chicken), Coleman (The Outdoor Company) remain true to their positioning.
- Consider a Mascot — We all smile at Tony the Tiger and Mr. Peanut (who recently died during the Super Bowl), but mascots can work for smaller and business to business brands too. They humanize a brand, simplify a complex message, and boost recall. Hootsuite (owly), MailChimp (Freddie the chimp), Linux (Tux the penguin) have all found a way to make them work.
In your opinion, what is an example of a company that has done a fantastic job doing a “Brand Makeover”. What specifically impresses you? What can one do to replicate that?
Old Spice is a great example of a phenomenal makeover. It not only introduced hip commercials, but also changed the message at its core. It went from the old, staid image of a ship to embracing new packaging, adding new scents (Fiji anyone?), and a brand promise of embracing manhood. The key lesson is that it’s never to late to reinject energy into an older brand.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
Think like your customers. Stop focusing on your marketing and your desired results, ask the prospect!
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Freedom lies in being bold.” Robert Frost’s quote exemplifies the purpose of branding: to take the risk to stand out. If everyone agrees with your brand strategy, I guarantee you don’t have a compelling brand.
How can our readers follow you online?