Brands and the Business of Relationships with Bill Fleming Transcript

Bill Fleming stops by to chat with Adam about branding, marketing and design. Bill is a Boston-based Independent Brand & Marketing Strategist, and Business Consultant for Designers. On this episode we talk about what brands are, how the cultural work of branding has changed in recent decades with the advent of new and easier to use technologies, and how we can think about brands as conversations - not just between businesses and customers but also between businesses.

Adam: [00:00:00] Hey everybody, welcome to This Anthro Life as always, this is Adam Gamwell. Today I've got a very special episode for you that's working as a crossover between  This Anthro Life and a sister podcast ,we're working on called Experience by Design. I experienced by design as the name seems to imply, digs into questions of how do we design experiences for ourselves, for others.[00:00:26] You know, whether it's something like a puzzle escape or a stadium bathroom, or even questions about whether humans can have shared experiences. I definitely recommend you check out that podcast. You can see it at experiencexdesign.com as well as I'll have a link for it in the show notes below, but today I've got a very special guest.[00:00:46] I'm talking with a good colleague and friend, Bill Fleming. He's a Boston based independent brand and marketing strategist and business consultant for designers. I met Bill a few years ago. We both teach courses at Lesley University here in Boston in the art and design program. And he teaches a really interesting class on professional practices for designers.

[00:01:04] It's something that I have been coming increasingly interested in, both as a burgeoning practicing designer, but also, you know, with just having more business and design centric conversations, as well as bringing anthropology into more direct conversation with business and design practice. So what's cool about talking with bill is that he's been in this space for decades now, and so he is a master guru marketer in brand strategists.[00:01:27] Helping companies, especially design savvy companies, think through what it means to have conversations, ongoing relationships with both customers and businesses. One of the spaces bill has an expertise in is B2B, otherwise known as business to business. And you may have also heard B2C, which is business to consumer or business to customer.

[00:01:45] So in this episode we talk about what brands are and how the cultural work of branding has changed in recent decades, but the advent of new and easier to use technologies. You can think about things like most people can make a podcast now because you have easier access to software, or if you want to make a professionally edited video, you can do that using Adobe software pretty easily.[00:02:02] Or you can make a website using Squarespace or Wix, any different kinds of platforms that have really lowered the barrier to entry for people trying to make creative and or branded work. And the third, we talk about how we can think about brands as conversations and not just between businesses and consumers, right?[00:02:17] But also between businesses themselves and how these practices might differ. It's a fascinating and wide ranging conversation and I can't wait to share it with you. So let's get to it.

Bill: [00:02:39] I'm going to tell you some brands and ask you if you know what the brands are, [00:02:42]

Adam: [00:02:42] okay, I'm to quiz [00:02:44]

Bill: [00:02:44] and then, if you know what their marks are. So first question is, do you know Squarespace?[00:02:48]

Adam: [00:02:48] I do know squarespace. [00:02:49]

Bill: [00:02:49] What does Squarespace do? [00:02:50]

Adam: [00:02:50] They make their a website content builder.[00:02:53]

Bill: [00:02:53] Yes. Who also does e-commerce and email blasts now too, which is relatively new. Anyways, but you, yeah, you get the general gist of what Squarespace is. Do you know what their logo mark is? [00:03:03]

Adam: [00:03:03] A square?. [00:03:05]

Bill: [00:03:05] It's an abstract skewed, two S's.

Adam: [00:03:08] Okay. Did not know that [00:03:09]

Bill: [00:03:09] Bully Boy distillers, Boston based brand? [00:03:11]

Adam: [00:03:11] I have heard of. Yes, I've had, they've had their libations.

Bill: [00:03:14] And what do you think of, what's your memory of the libations? [00:03:17]

Adam: [00:03:17] it's funny. I think I remember the label being orange. Okay. and I, and I think I enjoyed the beverage. Yeah. Again, like it's, it's funny, I just remember that the name isn't the head. [00:03:27]

Bill: [00:03:27] Do you remember the logo? [00:03:28]

Adam: [00:03:28] Is it, is it like a little boy?[00:03:30] No. Okay. Then not,[00:03:31]

Bill: [00:03:31] It's a horse. [00:03:31]

Adam: [00:03:31] It's a horse. See. Nope. [00:03:33]

Bill: [00:03:33] [Buzzer noise]. Do you know Boll and Branch? [00:03:35] Adam: [00:03:35] No, [00:03:35]

Bill: [00:03:35] You don't know Boll and Branch. So Boll and Branch sells organic linens and I  actually often hear them advertised on podcasts. So if you did know Boll and Branch you would probably… [00:03:43]

Adam: [00:03:43] …have heard them on a podcast.[00:03:44]

Bill: [00:03:44] So my question would've been what's their logo? Their logo is this round symmetrical sort of abstract floral floral thing.[00:03:51]

Adam: [00:03:51] Hmm

Bill: [00:03:51] So my point in bringing these up is that these are brands that, for the most part, you're familiar with. You know what they are, what they do, what they represent. And some of them you have an affinity to, but yet you don't know the mark. And I think that that's, that to me is an indication of how branding has changed in that, that visual aspect isn't as… it's necessary, but not vital the way that it once was.[00:04:11] It's the experience of what you have with those products and services that build the brand is in its entirety. And that's what you remember. And that's what, that's what will want you to go back or to recommend it to somebody else. [00:04:23]

Adam: [00:04:23] So tell me what was, tell me a little bit about your, your favorite type of coffee, you know, so you only get a dark roast, light roast, medium roast.[00:04:29]

Bill: [00:04:29] I'm a medium roast guy. I, I'm a little bit of a coffee snob. I could not tell you what specific terrior.  I basically I look at the labels of like George Howell and see like, okay, if it's a medium roast and like read the, the fruity descriptions and whatnot. But medium roast. If it's hot coffee, with cream and if it's ice coffee, black.[00:04:50]

Adam: [00:04:50] So, Oh, interesting. Yeah. Oh, it was funny. Like I'm from Texas, and so ice coffee is not a thing, which it should be because it's so hot. Right. But you know, I came here and everyone's getting their ice Dunkin, which is not quality coffee, but no, you know, but it was interesting to see this thing that end and everybody gets ice cream in the winter time. I now do that. I've been converted to winter time ice cream. [00:05:10]

Bill: [00:05:10] It's a very new England thing, a very new England thing. [00:05:13]

Adam: [00:05:13] And  I wonder about that too, cause it's like, is, I mean, I guess kind of the bigger question, like, is there, is there branding around that? Like is there something about the new England brand,  is there a thing that, that new Englanders are like, this is my thing. I want ice coffee. [00:05:26]

Bill: [00:05:26] I think what's interesting is that Boston had a reputation of being very insular. And part of it, I think, stemmed from being a large immigrant destination. And so you had Jewish enclaves, you had Irish enclaves, you had Italian enclaves, African-American enclaves.[00:05:43] And I think the people just stuck to their own groups, their own tribes. And then I think that that sort of stuck, like put them all together and the people, people just stuck within Boston. And so things that were familiar to them or things that they gravitated to. And so Dunkin Donuts being based in Boston just became this ubiquitous  it was a donut shop first.

Adam: [00:06:03] And that, I guess is the name points that, right. [00:06:04] Bill: [00:06:04] Yeah, so now it's Dunk's or whatever, whatever there. Yeah. So, [00:06:09]

Adam: [00:06:09] DN K N

Bill: [00:06:09] But so I think what's interesting is that I think that its popularity has to do with the fact that it was familiar and plentiful. Like there was, there was so many locations. Not because it was good.[00:06:21]

Adam: [00:06:21] That makes sense.

Bill: [00:06:21] And then, and I think Boston at the time, liked it, that anything that was familiar, that was familiar to them in their neighborhood, that's what they wanted to be a part of.

Adam: [00:06:31] Hmm. Interesting. Yeah. Cause you're, you're from Somerville, you're from here in the Boston hood, right? [00:06:35]

Bill: [00:06:35] Yeah.

Adam: [00:06:36] And I mean, Dunkin donuts has been around for awhile. , is this something you remember going to as a kid or did it, did it come later? Like I'm, I'm curious, was it always this kind of institution?  I guess.

Bill: [00:06:45] I remember when Dunkin Donuts didn't suck. I remember, yeah, I, yeah, I do remember when they were around. I was fairly neutral about it. There was a donut shop that was at the end of the street in Ball Square, Somerville that just totally sold donuts and coffee . But if Dunkin Donuts was nearby, that was sort of a good fallback. Now, if given the choice, I would definitely go for the  local donut shop. Just the quality is just so much better.[00:07:11]But yeah, I think, back in the days is like Dunkin Munchkins and they were selling blueberry muffins at one point, and so it was all about the baked goods at one point. And then at some point they realized they were making much more money with coffee and so they did away with that and coffee was their thing.

Adam: [00:07:25] That's interesting. You know, it's funny, like coffee is one of the things that, as an anthropologist I studied for a little while cause I did my research on food stuff and quinoa and also sheep and mutton like  things. Coffee was all part of that.[00:07:37] You gotta look at coffee. And it's interesting cause , the, the story of coffee, coffee is a very global product. It's a very, it's a very like, human integrated food source. And you know, up until the 1950s coffee wasn't really, it wasn't kind of known. Like, the idea is like, you know, coffee shops are so ubiquitous today, right?[00:07:53] Like, you know, Starbucks, Dunkin donuts, or we know true grounds here in the neighborhood. And  60, 70 years ago, you know, there was Folgers and, and, and, you know, maybe Maxwell and like, that's what you'd have. And it was like, coffee was kind of known culturally in the U S as the thing that your grandma's served, you know, after dinner.[00:08:12] And, And then slowly over time. Right. You know, with the, with the parsley, with the introduction of Starbucks in Seattle.

Bill: [00:08:17] I agree.

Adam: [00:08:18] you know, it built what? And Howard Schultz, the CEO of Starbucks, talks about this idea of the third space, right? That made the coffee, the coffee shop. It's not quite work. It's not quite home. And that gave then people, now obviously, you know, people are always on a laptop at a coffee shop. They're always studying. and it's crazy because if you think about that, you're kind of renting the space for like five bucks, four bucks, the coffee that you buy for a couple hours.[00:08:38] And it's like the weird, the ROI,  that's pretty good that it costs $3, $4. I can sit here and work for awhile. but it's interesting cause it's totally changed our relationship with coffee right. And Dunkin donuts as a, as a restaurant, you know, if listeners would ever been there. It's interesting. Like, so basically it's, it's, it's a coffee shop, donut shop, but like, they're not really, if you think of a Starbucks or some a coffee shop that you might go sit and study and you don't see that very often in Dunkin Donuts. Right. The actual interior design is not made for sitting for a long time.

Bill: [00:09:02] It's orange and purple and hard…

Adam: [00:09:06] Hard plastic and hard surfaces, you know? and that's interesting. Like there's no bookshelves with random things or, no, like the, the dark wood of Starbucks kind of pointing out. you know, some sort of rich looking heritage, you know, it's very interesting. and that, that really kind of, again, speaks to idea of like coffee, is again, it's a little plant and then it's a bean that you can then roast.[00:09:25] And then this I think kind of really helps us think about this idea of like brand differentiation or brand segmentation too, right? Yeah. so we're kind of digging that with , you as a brand expert, as a brand consultant to , help us think about. You know, kind of what is a brand, right?[00:09:37] And like coffee is one way of thinking about that. We see these differences. cause it has to like, you know, again, if you did a blind taste, as many people probably couldn't tell if they're having a Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks or even more so like a Terasa or a Costa Rican, Ethiopian Harrar. Right. Yeah. but the fact that those also exist is quite interesting, right? Cause those themselves are kind of brands, you know. So let's dig in a bit and like, tell us, tell us like in your ideas. What is a brand?

Bill: [00:10:03] So it's interesting, my work is primarily in the business to business space where one business is selling their product or service to another business.  [00:10:10] Branding in general, whether it's consumer or business focused, there was a point where it was about a series of memories. So you remembered the iconology or the logo mark and the color choices and the certain taste of things, like a taste of coffee and whatnot. So there were these memories. [00:10:28] But my observation now is that it's really more of a series of conversations or experiences. I think I see that differently because of my experience with B2B, a lot of business to business the, the sales cycle is not binary. It's not yes or no. Like, yes, I want to buy that technology. No, I don't want to buy the technology. It's a bunch of conversations that happen. You might compare different types of technologies. [00:10:50] So say if an event tech company was looking for something to improve their email marketing system so  looking at other email marketing systems and they have to evaluate different, different types of software companies that, that make that. There's a lot of conversations that have to happen with it and in order for them to say yes. And so my take is, is that at one point, branding was a series of memories, but now I see it as branding is more of a series of conversations and experiences.

Adam: [00:11:17] Interesting.

Bill: [00:11:18] So that's my take.

Adam: [00:11:19] Does it, does that make it feel like, I guess in one level that then brands are now less discrete in terms of like discreet meaning that there was like a starting and the stop point, I get that there's, we'll just say the Nike swoosh logo. That's something that we all recognize. Right? but now it's, it's not so much that by itself, but how does a consumer feel about the product or how does the business feel about, do they want to do business with Nike and supplying rubber or cloth or the shoes or whatever? Right.

Bill: [00:11:43] Yeah so, on the supplier side of things I think what's interesting is that, I don't know what it was like at the beginning for Nike, in terms of sourcing the rubber and sourcing the canvas and sourcing the leather that they need. And, I would imagine when they were just starting off , I think two things are probably happening at once.[00:11:58] One was that the demand for those types of materials probably wasn't that particularly high, or maybe it was high because of World War II. And so maybe there was more surplus of those type of materials so vendors could supply easier than I would know about. But also I think that Nike wasn't known at the time and so the vendors may have it would have been, I don't think they would have been as incentivized to try and sell to them those materials as they are now. [00:12:25] Because now that Nike is known as the international brand, and the billions of dollars that it makes the, their suppliers know the more they can sell to Nike, the more the Nike sells, the more that they can sell to Nike.[00:12:36] And so I think that that. I think the, the, the evolution and the rise of Nike has changed the dynamic of what the supplier relationship is. And I do think that the brand of Nike influences the supplier's likelihood of wanting to either cut deals, or expand deals. So I think that that's that's become part of the process.

Adam: [00:12:56] that's super interesting. And so, I think what's, what's cool about this too is that, you know, in the broad sense, like the, the B2B of the business to business space like is, can be often contracted kind of to the B2C, the business to consumer, customer space. And I think it was, what's great about this is that a lot of people, unless you work in the B2B space, don't think about it.[00:13:12] How do businesses buy and sell or Brand themselves to each other? Right? And so again, when we think about Nike, we are talking about the swoosh and Air Jordans back in the day and like, you know, do I have the, the new dope shoes, you know, how are my kicks? You know? And like that also is definitely part of this conversation.[00:13:28] But then I think what you're saying too, what's interesting is that like that even that conversation, the B 2 C filters over into the B2B, where, you know, suppliers of rubber or Candice may feel a new kind of incentive as the brand grows for consumers, for them to, there's actually a prestige in being the canvas supplier for Nike, right?

Bill: [00:13:44] Yes. So I could take this conversation into two places, and we'd can go into both one and two. One of it is on the B2B side of things. What's interesting is that , so I teach at Lesley Art and Design in Cambridge, Massachusetts and I teach Professional Practices of Design. It's for undergraduates who are graphic designers and interactive designers. And the course is meant to help students with their career development and also to learn about marketing business practices, legal issues, all sort of the nuts and bolts things of design. All the non-design aspects of design, let's put it that way.[00:14:17] And so there's a class exercise that I do. Because all the students throughout their entire school career are all being given these projects that are very consumer centric. Whether it's a nonprofit that's trying to push an anti cigarette campaign or anti smoking campaign, or a product such as like a, you know, Starbucks, or a fake coffee company or whatever. So they're very consumer centric projects that they're working on. [00:14:40] So there's a, there's an exercise that I do where I have them look at different types of, businesses. So say like a ski resort versus a bank headquarters versus a university. And then I have the students put up post it notes to say, okay, what services do these organizations need in order to thrive and survive? So things like landscaping or plumbing or parking. And so all these different types of types of things. [00:15:08] And then what I do is I show the students that those businesses are selling to the big businesses. So a landscaping company would be selling to the bank, and would be selling to the university, and would be selling to the ski resort.  It's kind of this aha moment when the students see this, like, Oh, there's this whole other transactional world that's going out there. [00:15:26] And then I follow it up with an exercise that I give a list of about a hundred non  B2C industries. So like aerospace, broadcast infrastructure, shipbuilding, plastics.  Things that are industries that stand on their own, but we don't, they're not geared towards, consumers, they are geared towards that business selling to another business. So suppliers selling to to Nike for example.[00:15:49] And what's fascinating is that when I get feedback at the end of the semester , one of the questions asked is what assignments did you like? And more often than not, I get this B2B assignment, because it opens  up their perspective that what they thought the stuff that they'd be working on is one thing, and for many of them it's true, but what I say is for about 70% of them, 70% of the designers, they're going to be working with B2B projects, business to business clients.

Adam: [00:16:14] It makes sense, yeah. [00:16:15]Bill: [00:16:15] And they're not exposed to that at school and so I, I feel lucky that I get to introduce them to that. And I'll be curious to see if anybody starts working for NASA or beyond that because of it. But, it's good to be able to enlighten them with that. So I think part of that, part of that starts with schooling.[00:16:32] And then the second part of the question, which was what I see is the technology is enabled do it yourself websites, do it yourself e-commerce shops, do it yourself videos that are professional quality, do it yourself email marketing campaigns, do it yourself advertising online, pay per click advertising and whatnot.[00:16:53] And so the ability to roll out a product, after you've had the ability to manufacture it, is really simple compared to where it was 20 years ago. And I think what that's done is enables these micro brands, is what I call them, to get traction and become viable. [00:17:14] So one company that, they'll never be as big as Nike, but Allbirds, for example, is getting to be some prominence and hopefully they're profitable and hopefully they're sustainable. But they're a lesser known brand that has a lot of brand loyalty and like what I find interesting about that is that, so you've heard the brand.

Adam: [00:17:34] Yes, yeah yeah. I like the shoes too.

Bill: [00:17:36] Yeah and what do you like about them?

Adam: [00:17:38] I mean, they seem, well they seem like softer versions of Tom's for a comparison.

Bill: [00:17:45] So what's interesting is that, that the symbolism of Nike that was so like, like that's the important driver, for Allbirds you don't need to know what the logo mark is. You need to know that you see your see friends or call, you know, somebody walking down the street and see those shoes. And you're like, Oh, those cool shoes. And then you've got an ad that pops up on Facebook and it's like, Oh, those are the shoes that I saw with that person on the street. And then you look into it and you see some good reviews and so I'm going to, I'm going to check it out, I'm going to try, try them on. And their logo mark, by the way, it's a wordmark with a script font. Pretty simple.

Adam: [00:18:15] Okay. Interesting. Yeah.

Bill: [00:18:16] But what's interesting is that the the symbolism, you don't need to know the symbolism in order to appreciate the the brand. And that's where, back to my thinking of branding is a series of conversations.

Adam: [00:18:26] Yeah, that's, that's a great point too, in terms of helping us just raise our awareness about a logo market self, right? Again, if you're coming to this, just saying, okay, I hear the word logo or a brand, then you might begin by saying, I think of the Nike swoosh, but you're right.[00:18:36] Like the logo mark of Allbirds in this case, right, is script right? Scripted type. And so to even have ourselves, Dunkin Donuts is similar too, right? it's like it's got a very, very recognizable typeface. I don't know what it's called. Dunkin. [00:18:48]

Bill: [00:18:48] Dunks I think or Dunkin or Dunkin.

Adam: [00:18:51] But thinking about that too, it's like that, that what are the kind of pieces that might, that might, you recognize, but also realizing that part of that of course, is things like typography and color, right? It's not just going to be a abstract image. That's part of it, of course. but then that, that like, again, mentally that piece shows us how deep of a conversation, the cultural conversation that requires us to understand, you know, how much we actually already know is cultural citizens living in the places that we live of how to both interpret and understand the brand, right? We may not get the nuances of it. And I think that's what I think is so important about this kind of work too, is, is that we recognize a logo, an image, maybe a typeface, but we, or even some color scheme perhaps, you know. like the Olympic rings, you know, if you see those colors together, you might say, okay, I understand this, that's the Olympic colors. Especially if they're in the ring form, you know, they're in blocks. Maybe not. You know, the, the funny thing is there's a lot of intellectual work that goes into that, that, you know, that we. Are both given a lot in fed a lot, but you know that as, as consumers. But then I love the idea thinking about this as a conversation, right?[00:19:47] And it's a cultural conversation that you have, you know, with, with each other, with ourselves, with, with our peers, with advertising, and then still still there is this world of B2B that like, not everybody always sees, right. This, that, to me, it's almost like talking about like this like deeper form of conversation, right?[00:20:02] Yeah. Then it goes in two directions. You know? I think that that's super cool to think about because it is how does a business have to differentiate, but also how does, how does a business have to differently articulate a brand, you know, its brand to another business if they're trying to do B2B. I love the example of the exercise you do at Lesley because it is, is getting students to think, cause you're totally right.[00:20:21] You know that a lot of students then they kind of approach it as interactive designers, graphic designers thinking, that, Oh, I want to be a designer. I want to make a new UI, user interface, for kayak, or I want to make, you know, whatever. Some nice, I want to do some type work for the BBC.

Bill: [00:20:35] Or consumer packaging, or posters for a rock concert or something. Yeah.

Adam: [00:20:39] But then it's like, well, how about making posters for landscape business? Yeah, yeah. No, that's, I think what's interesting about that idea in this exercise that's so powerful is that. Basically you're saying, here's a thousand other conversations you could be having. Yes. You know, and your work as a designer is to help think about how do we bring that conversation for two businesses to come together?[00:20:59] What are some of the major differences between like a B2C and a B2B? How do they talk about the relationships and what does that conversation look like?

Bill: [00:21:05] Well, first we'll start with the similarities. I think it's still human to human contact. So you want to humanize your brand, and that doesn't make a difference if you're consumer centric or if you're business centric. That's something that's really important. [00:21:16] I think a lot of the consumer stuff is focused in on either a tangible purchase or a service purchase. So, I want to buy a TV. I can go to Amazon and I can order a TV. A TV is delivered to me. I want someone to set up my TV and put it onto a wall. I can go to a Task Rabbit and  pay somebody on TaskRabbit to put on and put up the TV.[00:21:38] And so there are very binary considerations. You know, you choose this TV or that TV. Okay, I'll go with this TV. And you say, yes, I'll purchase this TV. Um okay, I need it installed. Go to Thumbtack. Yes, this person gets good ratings. Yes, I'll do this. So it's a fairly quick process depending on what the item is. A car buying a car is a different type of process. Yeah.[00:21:57] With, I think a lot of business to business stuff I think  that kind of,  buying a TV is an impulse buy. But like that, that quick decision making or relatively quick decision making, it isn't there. And so B2B it  it works in concert with marketing. So it's not just about how the brand presents itself, it's about how the brand promotes itself. And so how is it reaching out to the people that will either influence the decision on, yes, we need to have this product or service. Or the people who are actually the decision makers to get them from tipping from let me think about it to yes, let's sign the contract. And so I think that the, there's the process of business a business is a longer sales lead than it is for consumers. And I think the decision making process is a lot more protracted compared to a consumer stuff.

Adam: [00:22:48] One of the pieces you shared from lippincott.com that is looking at brands kind of in the human era is transactions now kind of operate as a relationship, kind of what you're saying. And you know that when in the B2B space, it seems like that in this case, because it's kind of a more protected process in terms of, you know, they're not trying to get this new flashy thing out. They're trying to help. A business solve a problem.

Bill: [00:23:05] Correct.

Adam: [00:23:05] Right. And given that, like it, it's more like how do you become a partner over time versus like, you know, the consumer is not punished if you buy X TV versus Y TV. Right? But a supplier is if you don't buy from them. Yep. And so it is interesting to think about how you build that relationship and it, and it isn't all about sort of promotional marketing, which I also want, I want to dig into that section after this because that's a really important piece to have. It's not just about showing it to you, but it's how does it get pushed out there? Do you have a tee shirt cannon, or do you have like a, a death star cannon to get your stuff out there?[00:23:37] I'd love to think about that too. And if you, in some of your experiences, , how do you see that relationship  develop over time and like what are some of the strategies to think about if you want to sort of build a, I'd love to get my landscaping company to come do your work.

Bill: [00:23:49] Yeah so what's fascinating, so you know Moore's  law, which is the founder from Intel in the 60s. The concept is, is that, with microprocessors the faster they're made, the cheaper they can be made, the more that can be made, the more that will accelerate the next generation. And so things will exponentially get faster and faster and faster.[00:24:09] And I think that there is sort of a a byproduct of that is, now that so much is able to done online with computers, 20 years ago the only ways that you would be able to make direct contact, a big direct contact with with a sales prospect from one business to another business, it would be reaching out on the phone or maybe sending a mailing to them or going to a conference.  Or maybe it's a, a print ad that was in a trade  publication. [00:24:39] And I think in the past 20 years it's definitely been this whole acceleration of all these different vehicles that marketers can use now, that you don't have to rely on a consultant or an expert or a large ad agency to do it. You can have, for some people, you can have an intern set it up. and, and, and put it out there. So things like , email marketing is become massive, both in the consumer space, which we got bombarded with it, but also in the B to B space. [00:25:05] The way they do it in the B2B space, that was typically much more informative. It's much more giving you content that's stuff that you could use. And so that you're getting an affinity for that  organization, from one business to another business. Like, Hey, this business understands my business. And and you get these in little drips. They actually do call them drip campaigns.[00:25:24] And they have these sophisticated, there's much more sophisticated, automated marketing tools where sort of an if then. If, if somebody opens this email, then a week later send them this different email. And if that person doesn't open an email, send them a different email. The hope is is that to have enough touch points with that person, so that person, the more you see they're engaged, the more that they will likely turn into a lead. The lead will then turn into a conversion. [00:25:49] And so I think that there is, the technology has enabled us to get really fast with that. Much faster than we were 20 years ago. Much faster than  we were 10 years ago. I mean, the iPhone only came out I think 12 years ago. Yeah, 2007. Yeah. So, like just the ability to have, like to have your email and check out an email and send out an email blast using your phone. Like just everything is, the evolution of the technology I think made it a lot easier, and therefore a lot of trickier, to get the word out there.

Adam: [00:26:21] That's actually, that's great to think with cause I'm, I'm even thinking of the example of MailChimp. The all in one marketing platform is what they call themselves now. and they used to just be kind of an email campaign group..

Bill: [00:26:31] Yes.

Adam: [00:26:32] And so it's interesting to even say again that evolution, cause when you're talking about doing emails and your phone, I'm thinking of the MailChimp app on the phone, which is quite sophisticated little screen.

Bill: [00:26:40] Absolutely.

Adam: [00:26:41] And, and so you're, you're, I mean, you're totally right there. And, and. I've always had this fascination. Maybe it's a morbid curiosity with if then like drip marketing campaigns, you know, cause it's, to me, I'm like, what is the alchemy behind thinking about if they do this, if they don't do that and like, and how, how far do you have to branch out, you know?

Bill: [00:26:56] Oh it's highly targeted. I've gotten involved with it. It's fascinating. It's  basically, if this person isn't responding, then we do a low touch point. If this person or this person isn't engaging with this email, if they're not opening the emails, they're not clicking on the email, then you want to do a followup that's a soft followup. Versus somebody that that did click on something, and you can see that they have clicked on something twice, it's like a huh, all right, they're interested in this. So you want to send the next email to them that's a little bit more of a slightly harder sell. And so you have analytics to know, okay, how do you, how do you interact with that person. [00:27:28] But then there's also other things, there's a whole other worlds of online advertising.  I don't know how it's been for you, but. So Facebook I use exclusively for personal purposes. I do not use it for for professional purposes, good for you, whatsoever. Twitter is primarily business. Instagram is a little bit of a hybrid. LinkedIn is all business. But Facebook, no clients, no colleagues, no like, that's like, that's my own  private world. And not that I have anything that's all that private that I need to have. I just I want to keep it protected

Adam: [00:27:53] You need to have some space..

Bill: [00:27:53] Some space. It's my own space.

Adam: [00:27:55] But not My Space.

Bill: [00:27:56] But yes, not My Space. Yes. So what's interesting for me though is, of course throughout my work I'm looking at different software applications, like, you know, MailChimp is promoting itself now as this, , all purpose marketing platform. So I look at their website and next thing you know, I go on to Facebook and I see MailChimp ads and I see Constant Contact ads and I see a marketing coaches, how to improve your email best practices.  [00:28:21]So these ads are popping up on my Facebook, clearly they're picking up on the cookies from the other sites that I had been on. But the advertisers are getting much more sophisticated in that  they know that, okay they're on Facebook and maybe they're not using it for any purpose for business whatsoever, which was my case. Yeah. But these people are making decisions about business stuff, and so we want to make sure that we get in front of them. And  if they're poking around on the on the web, trying to find information about something, we now know that about them and let's put ourselves in front of their face so that they make us aware of it. [00:28:48] So you get awareness and then you, hopefully you get some engagement and that turns into a lead generation and conversion.

Adam: [00:28:56] That actually dovetails perfectly into the kind of the other, the other topic I was that you brought up before that I'm quite interested in, I think our listeners are too, is that this is not always about making something pretty, but it's about this promotional, like promotion is in like how big is your, your cannon, you know? and that's such an interesting piece too that I think a lot of us don't think about.  there's the two sides I'm thinking about here, cause one is that , as you said, because technology is shifted so much and we can, we can, I can run a marketing campaign on my iPhone with MailChimp for free for now until you get, you know, get more subscribers and you can join your different tier or whatever.[00:29:28] I mean, I've used services like crowd fire, which is. is this social media like content helper? You know, super useful, you know, for, for, building a Twitter. Community, nice. And, and whatever. I mean, that's just any picture number of things, right? And, and, or, or I mean, even like Adobe premier rush that like took the video editing capabilities of premier pro and like con condensed it into make this for YouTube

Bill: [00:29:52] Or Tik Tok

Adam: [00:29:52] Or Tik Tok and i yeah that's right you know,? And on your phone now too if you want. And so it's incredible. And then Photoshop is also now on, on iPad for example. And so we're seeing like even the most sophisticated of products are like filtering their way into mobile or mobile friendly platforms. And so. Meaning that like these is, I love the idea of this, like sort of micro brands or micro enterprises have some semblance of a, there's some way they can begin to enter the space that's already crowded, like terrifyingly, like giant Nike's over there, or Google or Amazon. How am I going to get into like, you know, a need, an e-commerce, like, you know, Shopify, they're trying to make it easy for anybody to open a shop. Yeah. [00:30:25] All these pieces to say then, yet that may or may not do much if you don't have any capacity to promote. Yes. How well, can you push that thing out there into the stratosphere?[00:30:35] Yeah, and Facebook's a great example. You'd like, I'm looking at MailChimp or whatever, or reading, we'll just say about Allbirds, you know, on an Allbirds website, and then I go to Facebook, unrelated to go check on my niece, and then bam, I get an ad for all birds. And you're like, huh?

Bill: [00:30:49] Or other sneaker companies or other shoe companies.

Adam: [00:30:51] Yes, yes, right. so let's talk about that , this promotional piece is clearly very important. Like it's, it's not so much about if it's pretty, but like how big is your Canon as a metaphor in my head? Right.

Bill: [00:31:00] So what's interesting, so we can even take this back to Nike in that there's so many people that gush over the, the Nike logo and the Just Do It tagline. In fact that it's only three words. And the impact that, that, that both of those have separately in, in tandem. And I am a lot more cynical about it in that the logo, it's nice. Like I get it. And the tagline, you know, that's great. But the millions and millions, and at this point billions of billions of dollars that Nike has invested in making sure that that mark is on every single box, on every single tag, on every single poster, on every single ad, on every single. It's the billions of dollars that they put behind that mark to make sure that it's this ubiquitous thing that gets associated with fitness and being an athlete. [00:31:48] The mark itself is just, it's a pretty object. But in terms of it having resonance, there has to be the resources, the finances, to push it out there so that it's ubiquitous. I think the era of those types of big businesses have changed. I don't even know if Nike is a public company or not.

Adam: [00:32:08] I don't either. Let's find out.

Bill: [00:32:10] Cause I think that that makes a difference too. I think that public companies, they often go, they often go public for funding sources so that so they can take their company to the next level. But then they're at the mercy of, stockholders, right?

Adam: [00:32:23] So the answer is yes, they are a publicly traded company.

Bill: [00:32:25] Great. So, so now they're at the mercy of stockholders and so they have to be, their CEO, their upper level employees, all the employees are now accountable to the shareholders and making sure that there's profits and dividends and stock valuations and all sorts of other stuff.[00:32:40] And this also I think with the stock market there's this huge emphasis on growth year after year growth, year after year growth. And then it's disappointment because it was flat, like that's bad that it's flat. Right. And my sense is there's a lot of us individuals that, I would like to be making more money year over year, but I don't need to be making money year over year. I need to be able to sustain myself so that I can afford my mortgage and I can afford my food and I can afford my way of living and and, invest for retirement and savings and whatnot. I need to be able to maintain that. That to me is what's, what's important to me. And I think that's true for a lot of people.[00:33:16] I think sustainability of a business, and I don't mean that in an environmental sense, I mean that in a financial business sense, I think has shifted in that we're going sort of back a little bit more to the little bit more of a mercantile society where the individuals like, the all, Allbirds, they don't have to be as enormous as Nike.

[00:33:36] If they are building a brand and they're selling enough shoes and they're able to sell the shoes at a profit, that the people that are working there can make a fair living and they can keep on promoting and evolving the business so that they can keep on maintaining that. And even if those sales stay constantly flat, but constant, and those people can pay their mortgages and they can pay for their food and pay for their way of life. Yeah. That to me is a successful business. That to me is, that, that to me is, I don't think that they need to go against Nike and prove themselves. I think it's, I think that there is validity for a company to say we're going to do this because we can provide a good product or service. And we're going to do this because I need to sustain a way of living. And that's good enough. It doesn't need to be, more doesn't mean better.

Adam: [00:34:24] Amen. Yeah.

Bill: [00:34:25] Yeah so I think that, that, I think that, that there is, that's what's happening now. I think with, again with the do yourself e-commerce do, it yourself Shopify, do yourself email blasts, I think that there is a lot more of those independents I think have a ability of not just putting out a shingle, but, but like, okay, if I can maintain just shingle, I'm good.[00:34:44] So that, that to me, I think shifts, I think shifts the what a brand means. Because I think for Nike it represents billions of dollars, both in money spent and revenues earned. And I think for a company like Allbirds, I think the brand represents affinity and making sure that people are attracted to the brand want to, when their shoes die out, they want to buy the new shoe, or when somebody is walking down the street they see somebody wearing an Allbirds they want it too. I feel like that to me has as much value than billions of dollars for a company. [00:35:23] Yeah so I'm going to get into things like streaming has obliterated the entertainment industry. So Spotify and Apple Music. There's more artists being exposed through algorithms or through shared lists of other people and whatnot. And it used to be that there was a day that people would sit and listen to an album and experience the album, so that they would have an affinity for that artist. And so then they would buy the next album and maybe go to a rock concert maybe buy a tee shirt. Yeah. And now Spotify, I have this love frustration with it. I love the fact that Spotify, it says you might also like, and I listen to it and I'm like, yeah that's awesome.

Adam: [00:35:55] And I do also like that.

Bill: [00:35:55] I do also like that! And so I click on all these different artists that I've never heard of, but like the music is totally spot on. Some artist who have been amazing and. But then it gets to the point where I don't remember their names. There's so many of them I can't remember them. I can remember the gist of the song. But so to go back and find out like, how do I find that song? How do I find that artist? There isn't the back in the days with , whether it was vinyl or CDs, there was a physicality to be able to see artists as a brand. And I think that now, that part of the brand is sort of diluted and I think it's also become much more ephemeral.

Adam: [00:36:27] I love that too, because it's in, no ironic sense, I was actually at a vinyl party with my friends last night. Nice. Nice. You know, we put on steely Dan's Asia and a bunch of other stuff in there, but you're totally right. There is something about both the album arts, right? The, the, both the physicality, but like, you know, cause an LP is big, right? Yammer, you know, see these are CDs got tiny, which is still cool, but I'm actually having the LP itself and then you gotta put it, you got to flip it from side a decided to be. There are purists that say it sounds better. I don't, I don't really know. but it sounds great, [00:36:56] But then it's like, but also the listening of that too, in that space is like, we're listening together and there's also like, it doesn't make me love steely Dan more necessarily, but it makes me think about. When I'm with friends, I might then think about the communal experience. Yeah. It's a communal experience. Yeah.

Bill: [00:37:10] So my sense is that, so I think the music industry I think has reverted back to that probably what it was like in the medieval times where there was no recording in the medieval times. You would go watch a performance. And I think now we're getting back to the place where people, they consume music through these streaming devices, whether it's paid or unpaid services. But the way that these artists make money is through their concerts and so that they can create these communal services. Like Taylor Swift is, whether you love or hate her, she's masterful at creating those communal experiences. Yeah. [00:37:37] I feel like there are so many different factors that are influencing a brand's longevity. I think it's not just the way that that mark is and what people remember, it's about the experiences that they go through in order to make sure that they latch onto it, so that I'm part of their tribe.

Adam: [00:37:53] But I think that the, that experiential piece is, is like, is quite an important aspect of this too, you know, and I want people to, like the United States is unabashedly individualistic, right? Yep. And so it is like, I want you to be, you. and of course, that like, what's, what is okay to be you as change, as you're, as we're saying to you, like we see much more acceptance of difference in diversity and also like a much more call for it in business space and, and universities, you know, and a lot of spaces in, you know, I think that like, so part of it is, it's like there's always this back and forth between the individual and the communal in this case. And  it's interesting to think about how brands interface with that sometimes. And then, I don't mean Nike so much, but just like the ideas of brandness. Right? And what does it mean to have a recognition and an affinity for something, whether product service or even in, in, you know, I'm not going to brand a lifestyle, you know, but there are things like lifestyle brands, right? And there are celebrities, we may think of Kim Kardashian

Bill: [00:38:43] Kardashians.

Adam: [00:38:44] Right? Or even Seth Godin, right? The market guru. He kind of pushes the idea too of the brand of being like the, the tribal marketer, right? Yep. You know, and I think that, I don't know that there's, there's a lot of interesting pieces there too cause I, I'm, I'm juxtaposing in my head these differences of the ephemera, cause I think you're, you're spot on. Spot on Spotify or like the, you know, the, the, the ephemerality of , what artists do I stick to, or I'm gonna listen to one song and they just make, make a radio from that song, you know?[00:39:11] Yet , we have celebrities that make their individual self the brand. Yes. You know. Does that mean they're going to be a ephemral? Just kind of, maybe the Kardashians would just fade away and I don't know.

Bill: [00:39:20] I think the ability to have everyone's 15 minutes of fame, as Andy Warhol once proclaimed, I think the ability is much easier than it used to be. But to hold onto those 15 minutes is much more difficult.

Adam: [00:39:32] Ooh, I like it.

Bill: [00:39:33] That's, that's my take on it.

Adam: [00:39:34] Bill, this has been amazing. Cool. Thanks so much for, for talking on the show today. Let's, let's keep building the conversation.

Bill: [00:39:41] All right cool. Thank you

Adam: [00:39:46] Cheers. Bill: Cheers.

Adam: [00:39:47] Alrighty I hope you enjoy the conversation with Bill Fleming here on This Anthro Life and Experience by Design.[00:39:53] You can check out more of Bill's work at  www.billfleming.com . Again, we'll have this linked in the show notes as well as if you want to find him on Twitter or LinkedIn or Instagram. His name is bill Fleming without the eyes. So B, I. L. L. F. L. E. M. N. G. so bill , a little harder to say, but better because, Hey, he's as he likes to say, there's no I in team speaking of gifts and giving, if you're still with us, we would love if you could support the show.[00:40:21] Maybe a dollar a month, maybe $5 a month, or just a one off donation of 25 bucks. Whatever works for you. You can check us out on patrion.com/this anthro life. Every dollar, every amount makes a huge difference for production costs, for helping pay for website stuff. all the good things. It helps us know that the show shall go on and we are incredibly excited to bring you this conversation and many more heading into the new year.

[00:40:43] So we will catch you all soon. Ciao. This is Adam Gamwell  and we'll see you next time. Bye.

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Start listening to Brands and the Business of Relationships with Bill Fleming
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Start listening to Brands and the Business of Relationships with Bill Fleming
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